Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
“Yowza!” This week’s “Doctor Who” episode, “The Almost People,” provides a cool cliffhanger as we head into next week’s mid-series finale (which promises its own jaw-dropping cliffhanger).
Kudos to writer Matthew Graham for the good job of realizing his monster, the vengeful Flesh seeking to divide at will. Some might note an inconsistency in the gangers’ nature, especially with ganger Jennifer so extreme in her hate for the humans. But the fact that she is so ruthless as to replicate a sacrifical ganger of herself to lure the unsuspecting Rory into a trap and to devour the human Buzzer tells me that she’s not so much a replicate of softhearted Jennifer, but a manifestation of the Flesh entity itself. And the line, “The eyes are the last to go,” is so effectively creepy, nicely explaining the gangers’ eye-like appearance in their unstable state: As they are melted or “decommissioned,” the gangers’ eyes witness all the suffering of their kind, and the question of “Why?” is imprinted in their molecular memory. Seeing the pile of discarded Flesh replicates was quite sad in its own way. I also liked the gruesomely cool scene in which the Doctor comes across the Flesh’s eyes on a wall. I bet some kids about to go night-night in the UK will never look at the walls in their bedroom the same way again.
Though I felt them initially contrived, the substitutions of the gangers Jimmy and Dicken for their human counterparts feel somehow fitting (I like how the Doctor tells the ganger Jimmy, “You’re a Dad,” a nice tie to the theme of pregnancy in the series). And there’s also something fitting about the resolution provided for Miranda Cleaves (whom we find out has a blood clot, which the Doctor, acting like an actual doctor, cures in the end). The ganger foreman goes down with her factory, while the real foreman tells the world the truth about the suffering of gangers to hopefully stop the future inhumane use of the Flesh.
As for the case of the switcheroos: How fun it was seeing the Doctor and his ganger finish each other’s sentences like twins, bandying inside jokes between the both of them. The switcheroo they pull off not only conveyed a moral lesson to the kiddies, but it also allowed the Doctor to understand the nature of how it is to be in both the kidnapped Amy’s and her ganger’s predicament. I must admit though that I’d previously thought of the possibility of Amy being herself a ganger, so the episode’s cliffhanger didn’t have as much of an impact on me (all my labyrinthine theorizing unfortunately has ruined many an ending for me, haha!). But it was nice to finally get an answer to the whole pregnancy conundrum (the TARDIS scanner’s wonky readings regarding Amy’s pregnancy had been caused by signals being transmitted to the Flesh). And I like the complication introduced in this episode by ganger Amy having inadvertently told the real Doctor (whom she had thought to be the ganger Doctor) the secret he wasn’t supposed to know (now the Silent’s hypnotic suggestion to Amy from “The Impossible Astronaut” makes sense–to tell him what he must never know, i.e. his own death). The Silence seem to have planted an intricate trap for the nameless Doctor. I’m also interested in how the real Doctor’s line to his ganger about molecular memory surviving might resurface in a future episode; I wonder if that will somehow play a role in the resolution to the future Doctor’s impending death on Lake Silencio in the Plain of Sighs.
And now onward, soldiers, to Steven Moffat’s “A Good Man Goes to War” next week. (If you haven’t already, watch the prequel to episode 7 as well as the episode 7 trailer, which features the return of the blue man Dorium from the Maldovarium in “The Pandorica Opens”). That it’s penned by the Doctorly Steven Moffat (“Doctorly” is a term of highest honor in my patchwork vocabulary) bodes well for it. As the Moff has teased: “Want to find the most dangerous place in the universe? Easy. Harm a hair on Amy’s head any just wait. But as the last of the Time Lords and the Lone Centurion blaze across galaxies to save the woman in both their lives, history is unfolding. In her cell, in Stormcage, River Song knows the time has come at last. She has a secret, and this is the day she tells it. The battle of Demons Run has begun. And the Doctor’s darkest hour is now.” Exciting stuff!
Looking ahead, I’ll posit my really outlandish idea about River Song here and now, based on this other teaser from the Series 6 Part 1 box set: “And waiting for them, at the end of all this, is the battle of Demon’s Run, and the Doctor’s darkest hour. Can even the truth about River Song save the Time Lord’s soul?” I personally think that River will somehow be a receptacle for the Doctor’s soul (or some such complicated wibbly-wobbly arrangement), making her the Doctor’s literal “soul mate,” which would thus explain all the teases about her being the Doctor’s wife.
And again, I stand by my claims from my review of “The Impossible Astronaut” that the deadliest secret under our nose throughout the entirety of this series is the Doctor’s name; that somehow the Silence, who seem preoccupied with names (the Silent in the series six opener specifically went out of its way to mention the name of the White House staffer it had killed, Joy; also it rather oddly uttered Amy’s name: “Your name is Amelia”), are after the answer to the “Who” of “Doctor Who.” As Moffat has riddled to us before, “…our heroes will set out on the long road to the deadliest secret in the universe – and when it stares you in the face, you might just discover you’ve known about it all along.”
I love being a Whovian!
- “One day we will get back. Yes, one day… Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow…Would you like a jelly baby?” -The ganger Doctor trying to stabilize as he wades through all the Doctor’s previous regenerations.
- “Created by the Cybermen. They kill by feeding off brainwaves.” -The Doctor and his ganger talk Cybermats to prove they’re on the same wavelength with each other.
- “I’m starting to get a sense of how impressive it is to hang out with me.” -The Doctor admiring himself through his ganger reflection.
- “The eyes are the last to go.” -Ganger Jennifer tells her fellow gangers the eerie truth about the slaughter their kind will inevitably face.
- “Tough, dependable, sexy.” -The Doctor describes the TARDIS (nice allusion to “The Doctor’s Wife”).
- “I’ll break out the big guns.” -Rory about to show off his manliness to ganger Jennifer.
- “The ‘eyes’ have it.” -The Doctor, upon seeing a wall of accusatory Flesh eyes.
- “Rory Pond! Roranicus Pond!” -The Doctor, scolding a tricked Mr. Pond (nice allusion to “The Big Bang”).
- “If you’ve got a better plan, I’m all ears. In fact, if you have a better plan, I’ll take you to a planet where everyone is all ears.” -The Doctor’s promised reward to the human or ganger with a workable escape plan.
- “I’ve helped him into an act of humanity.” -The Doctor corrects ganger Jennifer’s accusation that he’s made ganger Jimmy weaker by inciting him to save his human counterpart.
- “You’re twice the man I thought you were.” -Amy, upon realizing that the Doctor and his ganger had switched shoes and proven that everyone can indeed get along.
- “Push, Amy. But only when she tells you to.” -The Doctor, urging on Amy amid contractions to listen to Madame Kovarian.
- “Beautiful word: shenanigans.” -The Doctor’s word for accidental adventures he gets pulled into amid other plans.