Written By: Liam Walters
Being from the same writer as ‘Fear her’ (Doctor Who: Series 2), I must admit, I had my doubts whether this double episode story could be all that good. I am glad to say that although not perfect, ‘The Rebel Flesh’ and’ The Almost People’ have certainly passed my expectations. The main problem with Fear Her, seems to be the story was written with little time and little budget to work with. But we are here to look at ‘The Rebel Flesh’ and ‘The Almost People’, and the climatic cliffhanger we were left on before the mid-series finale.
Warning: From This Point Onwards, I Will Be Talking Spoilers.
So the pre-credit sequence introduces us to three of the four characters we will be following through this episode, whilst also introducing the concept of the Gangers purpose (although left a mystery as yet to be explained). Afer the titles role, we meet up with The Doctor, Amy and Rory just more or less relaxing inside the TARDIS (something you rarely see) before The Doctor suggests dropping Amy and Rory off for them to go get some Fish and Chips, as he has something he needs to do (whilst looking at Amy’s pregnancy scan, which is still switching back and forth between pregnant and not pregnant.
One of the main things about this story seems that it’s setting up quite a few plot points for the next episode, as well as the big reveal at the end of The Almost People (such as the Doctor saying something along the lines of “I think we’re here. This is it”, before Amy and Rory pointing out they got there by accident). There is also The Doctor, who keeps telling Amy to “breathe”.
There are many good points in this episode, with the one that stands out for me is when The Doctor tries to bring some peace between the humans and the Gangers, with Jimmy and his Ganger discussing their Son. You can feel how strongly the Ganger feels about his son, even though in a technical sense, he isn’t actually the boy’s father, as the original Jimmy is. The fact that the Ganger has such strong fatherly feelings for his son shows that the Gangers are pretty much human, even if their origin wasn’t.
I also have to give the story props for actually giving Rory some independence in this story, and actually going against The Doctor and Amy at one point for what he believes is a good cause. Even though ultimately, Rory is used to place the Doctor and co in a trap, for a long time before that, having been separated from Amy and The Doctor, he comes into his own as a companion, as we get to see the caring side of Rory that we all love.
Unfortunately, where there are good points, there are also bad points. The first of these, is that even when the Doctor is trying to make peace between the Gangers and the Humans in The Rebel Flesh, us as the audience know it isn’t going to really work. It’s practically the same from Series 5 with The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood, where the Doctor tries to hold diplomatic relations between humans and another species. As the audience, we know this won’t work because then theres no threat. There no climax. Most of the fan base that this point knows Doctor Who well enough to know that if we have an alien species, and the Doctor is trying to make peace between them and the humans, and we still have a whole episode with them to go… Then we know that something is going to go wrong.
There are other, more minor details that just seem to let the story down little by little. Cleaves’ blood clot, although seems like an interesting idea (that the Ganger would have it as well) ultimately didn’t really go anywhere, and was much too easily resolved by the end of the episode with the Doctor’s magic potion (Which she doesn’t even thank him for).
The Ganger’s themselves make for interesting villains. When you get down to it, they aren’t really villains at all (well, not counting Jennifer). Most of the Gangers are just scared and don’t want to be killed, therefore feeling as though they have to fight back and retaliate. They don’t really want to fight and kill, you can see this with how easily Jimmy’s Ganger switches sides, going to free Jimmy in order for him to speak to his son. Cleaves even states on a number of occasions she doesn’t really want to fight.
Going with Jennifer as the main villain was an interesting choice, as Cleaves was in actuality the real leader of the group, having instead Jennifer take charge show her independence and determination to fight and survive for all Gangers. You can see that Jennifer, whilst doing bad, still have reasons behind her actions, which still helps with the whole moral dilemma of humanity that the story deals with. A big problem with Jennifer is near the end when she transforms into [Insert Generic Who Monster 465]. I mean, I know Doctor Who is all about running down corridors whilst being chased by a monster, but after such a fantastic story with a true moral defining dilemma, it’s just kind of sad to see the story having to reduce itself to such a cliché for a climax.
There also seems the problem that everything sort of seemed equally balanced out for the end of the show. Of the main characters, there are either just the originals, or the Gangers of each character left. With Buzzer Dead, we are left with The Doctor, Cleaves, Ganger Jimmy and Ganger Dickens. There’s no conflict left between the character and their Gangers because there’s no conflict left to be had. The end result just seems to clean. I can understand the Ganger Doctor dying, as having two Doctors survive would be a bit off-putting, but it seems like they made Ganger Cleaves stay just so that there would only be 1 Cleaves left.
As for the whole Doctor/Ganger Doctor thing with Amy, I thought it was done well, making Amy see that she could not actually tell the difference between them, but it could have been explained easier. At what point did The Doctor and The Ganger Doctor switch shoes. Was it before or after Amy told ‘Ganger Doctor’ that she saw The Doctors death. The Doctor does make a reference to inviting people to his own death later on in the episode. I do hope this is something that is brought up later in the series, as it seems to have been a staple of the series up to now, and it would be a shame not to get an answer.
The reveal at the end of the episode, though, was quite an interesting and all be it, unexpected twist. I can say for certain I was not expecting Amy to be a Ganger, and so I am now eagerly awaiting the mid-series finale. I will see you all after Episode 7.