Doctor Who: The Almost People

Doctor: 'Would you like a Jelly Baby?'

Matthew Graham has definitely gone up in my estimations. I liked this episode a lot. Admittedly, it had a few problems—the dialogue was occasionally clunky, the CGI predictably rubbish, and there was far too much telling rather than showing. ('Who are the real monsters?')—but these are minor gripes in what was, an otherwise, event laden episode. And now that we know who died back in episode one, the question must surely be: what has happened to Amy?

I can live with the fact that a Ganger (and not our Doctor) died back in 'The Impossible Astronaut'. There's a modicum of logic to it—if that is indeed what happened. The Moff went to great lengths on Doctor Who Confidential this week to explain that the Doctor and his Ganger were mentally and physically identical. When they swapped boots, even Amy couldn't tell them apart. The timing of when they swapped boots is perhaps harder to nail down. I'm guessing that it was some time prior to the Doctor giving up his sonic screwdriver, and telling Amy to trust his Ganger. Earlier than that wouldn't make any sense.

Seeing the Doctor interact with himself was a rare treat. The Doctor's always had this internal monologue going on, and making the internal, external provided the perfect platform for all manner of shenanigans. (Beautiful word, shenanigans). It also afforded Graham the opportunity to write some cracking dialogue, and for Matt Smith to act his little (though likely big) socks off. Finally, someone the Doctor can relate to. Someone who can concur unequivocally with his stratospherically high opinion of himself, and yet not feel inferior in comparison. What's true of the Doctor, is also true of him.

Despite feelings of outrage and anger over the injustices done to the Gangers, the Doctor's Ganger remained essentially unchanged. He didn't succumb to feelings of animosity and revenge. It was interesting to see how the various moral dilemmas affected the Ganger-crew: Miranda, tempered by her own mortality, ended up sacrificing herself to save the humans; Jimmy, moved by seeing holo-Sam, ended up feeling compassion for his human counterpart to the extent of actually replacing him (at Jimmy's request); even Dicken stopped sneezing. Was that a dropped thread? Or am I reading way too much into this whole sneezing thing?

Jennifer's transformation from Anakin into Darth Vader was perhaps less successful. I get it that she was pissed off with humanity, but would that really have changed her personality so radically and in such a short space of time? One minute she was all timid and demure, the next she was inciting genocide against the whole human race. I'm not saying the issues didn't have far reaching implications, but this was an intimate tale, with a small cast, and her megalomania and ambition felt way too big for the story.

The CGI (as already mentioned) fell on its arse again. They keep trying to pull off these big CGI monsters but they just don't have the budget. The Doctor's transformation was effectively done, as was Jennifer's elongating jaw, but her turning into a monster felt (a) too much like 'The Lazarus Experiment' and (b) like an excuse to inject some random action into proceedings where absolutely none was required. There was enough going on without it.

I was a little puzzled by the Doctor obliterating Ganger-Amy. For two episodes now he's been banging on about the Gangers being real people (Gang banging, if you will)—so why the sudden need to kill off Amy's Ganger? Obviously to break the connection, but didn't she deserve to live? Wasn't the whole point of the episode that the flesh was more than just moss? Unless the Doctor knew her molecular memory would survive (as the Ganger-Doctor's surely must), and that she'd eventually come back.

Quibbles aside, that was some cliffhanger! How long has Amy been missing? Was she taken when the Silence captured her back in 'Day of the Moon'? The Doctor's been telling Amy to 'breathe' since at least episode two. Or was the switch made in the three months between TIA and DotM? Could it even have happened prior to the events of TIA? I was surprised, too, when Rory let the Doctor kill Amy. I half expected him to shield her—yet he didn't. Did he sense that something was wrong? Or is he just starting to trust the Doctor?

Eye Patch Lady is a mid-wife? What kind of a creepy hospital is Amy in? All, no doubt, will be revealed next week. The trailer for 'A Good Man Goes to War' looked amazing.

Other Thoughts:

—I loved hearing Tom Baker's voice at the start. Nice tip of the hat, too, to Pertwee's classic line: 'Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow'. Marvellous!

—The moment anyone says 'You need to trust me', it almost certainly means that you can't trust them. And you can trust me on that.

—How did those eyes in the wall make any sense? Were they there just so the Doctor could crack his 'The ayes have it' joke?

—What a stroke of luck the Doctor had that onion-tasting clot cure in the TARDIS. Is that the only condition he has a cure for?

—We'd best be on the lookout for stolen biscuits. Jammy Dodgers in particular.

—The code word was badboy? Saucy.

Quotes:

Ganger-Doctor: 'Is that what you were thinking?'
Doctor: 'Yes, it's just so inspiring to hear me say it.'
Ganger-Doctor: 'Ha, I know.'

Doctor: 'Breathe!'

Doctor: 'Yowza! An escape route. You know, I'm starting to get a sense of just how impressive it is to hang out with me.'
Ganger-Doctor: 'Do we tend to say Yowza?'
Doctor: 'That's enough. Let it go.'
Ganger-Doctor: 'Okay.'
Doctor: 'We're under stress.'

Rory: 'I'll break out the big guns.'

Doctor: 'We both wear the same bow ties. Which is cool.'
Ganger-Doctor: 'Cos bow ties are.'
Doctor: 'And always will be.'

Buzzer: 'I should have been a postman like me dad.'

Miranda: 'You can't let him go. Are you crazy?'
Doctor: 'Am I crazy, Doctor?'
Ganger-Doctor: 'Well, you did want to plumb your brain into the core of an entire planet just to hold its orbit and win a bet.'

Doctor: 'Call me, Smith. John Smith.'

Doctor: 'If you have 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.'

Doctor: 'Have you been getting up very early and jumping on the bed?'
Adam: 'Yes, really high.'
Doctor: 'I expect chocolate for breakfast. If you don't feel sick by mid-morning, you're not doing it right.'

Ganger-Jimmy: 'Hang in there, mate.'
Jimmy: 'I'm quite handsome from this angle.'

Amy: 'I never thought it possible.'
Ganger-Doctor: 'What?'
Amy: 'You're twice the man I thought you were.'

Doctor: 'Miranda Cleaves. Marvellous! Beware of imitations.'
---
Also posted at The Time Meddler.

28 comments:

zob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul Kelly said...

Great comment, Zob. I think you nailed it. I'm not sure about Jennifer having pre-existing mental issues, though. She seemed just as startled to see the discarded flesh as Rory was.

Paul Kelly said...

I'm just going to stick a line of crap in here so the comment doesn't show in the sidebar and spoil anything for anyone who hasn't seen it, but, if killing Ganger-Amy broke the connection to Amy, then why didn't she wake up in a harness? It looked more like a birthing chamber. Newer technology, maybe?

The Dark Shape said...

Yes, it's a later version. Remember, the Doctor went on at length about how this was the technology's early days. Imprisoned Amy and Madame Kovarian are in a later time.

I don't think TIA Doctor was the ganger. Too easy.

zob said...
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Dave said...

The Doctor who died in the Impossible Astronaut had had later adventures with River ( Easter Island/Joe the Fish) than our current Doctor. The Ganger Doctor in this and the last episode is a duplicate of the current Doctor and hence has his current memories. Therefore if the Doctor who died is a Ganger it must be from a later duplication after the Easter Island adventure with River.

Steven said...

I don't think the Doctor that died in the Impossible Planet is a ganga. It feels to me like the writers are teasing the audience a little. The Doctor's Wife seemed like it might finally answer the mystery of River Song but they gave us a twist by making it about the TARDIS. The Flesh seemed like it might answer the mystery of the death of the Doctor in The Impossible Planet but they gave us a twist and told us that Amy was a ganga. Thus I don't expect that the Flesh will be relevant to the Doctor's death. The twist has been done and they will next move on to the next tease.

Does anyone else feel that Doctor Who is becoming a bit like Lost?

Paul Kelly said...

Steven: "Does anyone else feel that Doctor Who is becoming a bit like Lost?"

Haha! If it's a ganger who dies instead of the Doctor, and Song turns out to be the Doctor's wife, then no. If Song turns out to be the Doctor's daughter, and a polar bear (wearing a man suit) dies instead of the Doctor, then yes ;o)

Dave said...

"Does anyone else feel that Doctor Who is becoming a bit like Lost?
"

Unfortunately Doctor Who has always been worse than Lost in that it often resorts to Deus ex Machina solutions. The classic, and very literal example, being the Rose Tyler and "Bad Wolf" resolution where suddenly looking into the heart of the Tardis transforms Rose into a being with Godlike powers. Noone could possibly have foreseen that from earlier episodes - The only previous occasion someone had looked into the heart of the Tardis being the Slitheen Blon/Margaret Blain who regressed to an egg.

Ainsley said...

I sympathise with your confusion. The whole point of this episode was to make clear that the Flesh had a low grade sentience. It felt pain every time a ganger perished. So the Doctor killing Amy's doppelgänger was an act of violence. That's why he said he'd kill her as humanely as possible. But it was still murder (or a murder experience.) Hence the wall of accusing eyes and Buzzer screaming as he dissolved. It's almost as if the Flesh is learning from its hosts every time it takes on human form. So the Doctor killing Amy's doppelgänger not only put Amy though the emotional turmoil of death, it also caused the Flesh pain. Which may be for the greater good as far as Amy's concerned. But what about the Flesh?

The Dark Shape said...

At that point you have to make a decision, then -- either Amy or the Flesh. If you don't dissolve the possibly sentient mass, you don't disrupt the signal and you probably never find Amy.

zob said...
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Paul Kelly said...

Thanks for that, Zob.

Ainsley said...

Interesting quote, Zob. I'm still having some difficulty with Matthew Graham's explanation. How do you define person? It had a human body and a human soul (albeit borrowed.) That to me is a person. And even if Amy didn't feel anything, what about the Flesh? It still felt the emotional trauma and pain of execution. It just seems such a strange thing for the Doctor to do after spending two episodes confirming that the Flesh was sentient and could feel pain.

zob said...
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Dave said...

The doctor in this whole series seems to be acting slightly out of character

Instructing the human race to kill the silent on sight ie Genocide

Leaving self confessed pirates in charge of an advanced technology ie a spaceship


Killing sentient flesh - I don't see why he needed to break the mental link in order to track down the real Amy.

migmit said...

OK, the previous episode confirmed one of my theories (about two Doctors), this one confirmed another one (about two Amys, only one of them being pregnant). I feel lucky.

Ainsley said...

I agree, Dave. The Doctor could have should have found another way to locate Amy.

shawnlunn2002 said...

Better than the previous episode and the cliffhanger was certainly unexpected.

Girl Wednesday said...

Didn't the Doctor say "The eyes have it?"

Anonymous said...

No, the ayes have it" is a popular saying in Parliament. It was a play on words.

Patryk said...

Also the Doctor now knows about his death 200 years into his future because Amy spoke about it with his Ganger not knowing they switched boots.

Anonymous said...

I think the crux of the whole matter is, who retains the ganger's memory? The Flesh or Amy?

Kathy said...

A couple things:

1. The Doctor and the Ganger probably switched shoes when they were behind the counsel working on it. The way they kept popping up and down out of frame lead me to believe they had switched shoes then, once the reveal came about. Therefore, throughout most of the episode, the Doctor was impersonating his Ganger, and the Ganger was impersonating the Doctor.

2. Amy told the Doctor about his death. The Doctor was impersonating the Ganger pretty much the whole time. It's revealed in a throwaway line at the end when the Doctor mentions not being invited to the Ganger's death.

3. I'm pretty sure the Ganger wasn't the one who was killed in TIA. As mentioned, the Doctor mentions other adventures with River Song. The Ganger made a heroic sacrifice and was killed in this episode.

4. I don't think this Amy Ganger really had sentience on her own. She was so closely linked to Amy to have any real sentience. As previously mentioned, this was a way of severing the tie. It's sad that it was a violent way of severing the tie. But, the Doctor did what he had to do.

5. Also, the fact that Ganger!Amy favored Ganger!Doctor was a big clue, at least for the Doctor. He said that they had to learn about the Flesh through her eyes.

Of course, unless the Moff tells us differently, that's what I'm choosing to believe.

Kat

killaboi24 said...

I know im late for the party but I have a few opinions

1: if you watch the rebel flesh youll find that when the crew gets in the chambers and assume the roles of their flesh counterparts they are in what seems to be a sleep state. I think the doctor destroyed the ganger amy in order to awaken thw real one. Because when you see her in the birthing chamber it seems as if,she had no idea where she was. Ganger amy would see the eyepatch lady and had no clue wat was going on. It seems that the tru amy was seeing things thru the eyese of ganger amy and had no recollection of her actual whereabouts. So to that point he had,to destroy ganger amy to show the real pond the truth.

2: I think the doctor that died was indeed a ganger. We all kno that in doctor who time travel is this ball of timey whimey energy so there is a good chance that future doctor did use a ganger in his place in TIA. I mean amy told the present doctor of his future selfs death. Do dont u think future doctor knew of this event?

Paul Kelly said...

No such thing as being "late for the party", killaboi. Sure, the choice sandwiches may be gone and the good wine drunk. But there are mini-sausage rolls in the oven and a can of Morrison's own brand lager in the fridge with your name on it ;o)

Michael Colvin said...

We finally got to see this episode in the states (a week delay because of the Memorial Day weekend)...

I didn't see Amy being the ganger at all - but have to admit that I had a hard time following some of the logic of the episode.

Paul - I'm not certain that the it was the Doctor's ganger who we saw die in The Impossible Astronaut.

I think that Amy was replaced during the "three months later..." that happened between "The Impossible Astronaut" and "The Day of the Moon" . Might explain why Amy didn't change clothes while Rory did...???

About this episode - I think that there were some very sweet moments, but this could have been a phenomenal one part episode and it lagged a little as a two parter...

Cesar said...

Basically, I agree with all of Kathy's points, so just some observations:

As far as I understood, "the Flesh" as a whole is alive (and possibly sentient), but the duplication of consciousness only happened during the solar tsunami, so no "Amy" died, the connection was just severed. (I believe that had the connection been closed without the destruction of the almost-Amy body there could have been a duplication)

While watching I thought the eyes in the wall were meant to clue us in that the whole place was made of Flesh and the emphasis on 'monastery, 13th century, medieval' on the Previously would have some significance, but apparently not (both things remain without explanation for me then)