When last we left off in this series of Doctor Who reviews, BBC America had shown “The Rebel Flesh” before taking a brief hiatus for the Memorial Day holiday.
Last night, BBC America returned Who to North American television screens with “The Almost People,” the second part of a two-part story about a mining base under siege by duplicate humans called “Gangers.” At the cliffhanger of “The Rebel Flesh,” the humans had barricaded themselves in a crypt, Rory was out in the base searching for Jennifer, and the Doctor makes the discovery that he himself had been Gangered.
The story at the base breaks down into four strands:
1) How human, emotionally if not physically, are the Gangers?
2) What’s the deal with the Doctor Ganger, and how will the humans react to it?
3) Will Rory find Jennifer?
4) Will anyone escape from the base?
The first point, on the Gangers’ humanity, is handled fairly well, if a bit sub-PKD. Some Gangers are more aligned with the personality of their human originals, others aren’t. And the resolution turns on one Ganger discovering his inherent humanity.
(On a side note, other than Miranda Cleaves, the base leader, and Jennifer Something-something, I have no idea what the names of any of the humans/Gangers were. First, they all looked alike in their orange outfits. Second, we never really got to know them individually. Basically, it’s Eric Saward-level writing — look at “Revelation of the Daleks” for a prime example.)
The second, on the real Doctor and the Ganger Doctor, well… That was, frankly, hilarious. Matt Smith’s comic timing with himself was astonishing, and what we got was pretty close to a multi-Doctor story, albeit one with the same Doctor.
The third, Rory and Jennifer… Of course Rory finds Jennifer, but it’s all part of a convoluted plot. All in all, a bit weak, though the scene with Rory flexing his muscles was cute.
Finally, escaping from the base. Which naturally happens, even if it just so happens that the world ends up with no duplicates. This does lead to an idiot plot moment — if the sonic screwdriver can melt a Ganger, why didn’t the real-Doctor use the sonic screwdriver on the Ganger Monster, instead of leaving the Ganger-Doctor to do it? Then there would have been no need to bar the door and have two Gangers make an heroic sacrifice. The scene seemed designed more for eliminating duplicates than for its logic.
And then we reach the final act and its revelations.
Important revelation one. Real-Doctor and Ganger-Doctor switched places, which means that Amy revealed to the real-Doctor (while thinking it was the Ganger-Doctor) that the Doctor will die in “The Impossible Astronaut.”
Important revelation two. Amy herself was a Ganger — and has been for a long time, since before the season itself started.
Important revelation three. Real Amy was being held captive somewhere — and she’s about to give birth.
Yes, the blockbuster cliffhanger for episode six, which Steven Moffat had promised would be big, was big. The Amy we’ve seen all year hasn’t been the real Amy. Her Schroedinger’s pregnancy, which had bothered me, had an explanation — the TARDIS was scanning Amy, and it was seeing both real-Amy (imprisoned somewhere else) and Ganger-Amy (aboard the TARDIS).
It’s difficult to find something else to say about the episode, because other than the final few moments, in terms of the plot it was adequate and it flowed well. It didn’t do anything groundbreaking, but, unlike the first part, neither was it underwhelming.
Adequate is probably the best description of “The Almost People.” I don’t see myself sitting down and rewatching this episode, or its predecessor, any time soon. The importance of the episode (and the two-parter as a whole) was to lay the groundwork for the Ganger Flesh and reveal that the Doctor’s enemies have kidnapped Amy and replaced her with a duplicate.
But now the Doctor and Rory are on to them, and that’s going to lead us to the mid-season finale, “A Good Man Goes To War,” next week: