‘Doctor Who’ Recap: The Rebel Flesh

S6E5: Even though we had a rather tremendous episode this week for Doctor Who, I feel in order to properly review it I need to twiddle my thumbs for a week (or two weeks depending on what side of the pond you’re on but more on that later). It’s the start of a two-parter, the classic Who set-up of being, well, all set-up and little resolution.

“My mum’s a massive fan of Dusty Springfield.” – Rory

“Who isn’t?” – The Doctor


The Doctor attempts to dump Amy and Rory off to investigate Amy’s seemingly Schroeder’s pregnancy, but they don’t buy it for a second and sure enough they’re swept up in a solar tsunami. Too soon? Well, it wasn’t a liquid tsunami so I think that’s different enough and it was written well before the disasters in Japan. Anyway, they land in an old monastery but of course things aren’t as they seem. The odd things set up in this episode are:

The church pumps out a deadly acid.The people working the acid use human copies of themselves to work the acid, they’re called Gangers.The copies come from this vat of “living” and “programmable” flesh.So, what happens? Everything that can possibly go wrong goes wrong; after all, this is Who we’re talking about. The acid starts spewing out and puddling, thus cutting off various pathways. The solar tsunami basically cuts the link between the Gangers and the originals so they become autonomous. Then Rory has to go and be all caring and nurse-y and take a sympathetic ear to a Ganger girl. Oh yeah, the Gangers have the acid suits so they can go wherever they need to go and since the human leader pretty much ruined the chance of peaceful negotiations when she killed a Ganger, well, that means war. Not to mention the TARDIS sank below ground in a puddle of acid.

Ah, but not all is lost. The Doctor cloned himself in the living flesh and viola: we’ve got a creepy fleshy Doctor. Yay?

So, even though we have little resolution, there were a lot of good set-ups that if followed through properly (and I totally imagine they will be) shall create a really great two-parter. It would be too easy to worry about Rory starting to have feelings over the Ganger. We’ve seen him wait for two thousand years for Amy so I doubt he’d run off for a Ganger. Instead, he’s a nurse. He cares. He can’t just run off, he’s compelled to help, much like the Doctor, only slightly more grounded. And the us/them factions that arise at the end is the typical Who philosophy that will undoubtedly be solved by a fantastic Matt Smith monologue which is always something to look forward to.

Actually, it’ll probably be two monologues since we now have two Doctors. I imagine the Doctor Gangered himself so the other Gangers would listen to it since they don’t trust him. Really smart move. Unless of course Ganger Doctor turns bad, in which case it would be absolutely amazing. I’m almost giddy at the thought.

“Yes, it’s insane. And it’s about to get even more insanerer. Is that a word?” – The Doctor

And checking out the “Next Time,” we see that, yep, that’s pretty much what happens. It’s pretty much a war and with two Doctors running around things get really confusing. Hooray! Too bad people who rely on BBC America will have to wait two weeks for the resolution since the-corporate-heads-that-be believe that it being Memorial Day weekend next week that most people won’t turn out to watch it. So, we’ll have to wait two weeks to figure it out. Unless, of course, you remember this is 2011, there are friendly Brits over the pond who love to share the show, and realize that nothing is stopping you from watching next weekend via means even the Doctor wouldn’t mind. So thanks BBC America! And thanks iTunes for not putting this episode up at all this weekend for those who wished to rent it to aid in their reviews (cough-hint-cough). BBC America, you almost had it! You gave us the first 5 episodes when they aired in Britain but you dropped the ball! Good try though. You have the second half of the season to make up for it.

As for the connections to the season-long arcs, we didn’t get much. Despite being shown in the previews last week (and for next week), Eye Patch Lady only showed up for two seconds and didn’t even say anything. So, we’re no closer to knowing who she is, although she definitely appears when Amy is worried. Take that for what it could be. Also, the Doctor keeps checking Amy’s pregnancy, so that is still happening. Does anyone else get overly worried about Amy’s safety? Whenever I see her fall I’m like “Ahhh!! She’s pregnant!! Wait, kinda sorta pregnant but still!!! She shouldn’t trip like that!!” Speaking of Amy, how effin cute is she when she smiles like this? Grrr, too cute.

Side note: one of the things I admire about all of Who that the new shows have taken to the most clever extremes is how well they use their limited resources. Like the acid. From a production stand point it’s really easy to show and narratively they use it in really imaginatively. They combine that with the monastery setting and you have a really creepy maze to run through. It’s imaginative and clever, using all available resources to create a really creepy setting with small production costs.

So yeah, that was pretty much the episode this week. A lot happened but it was left open and will be resolved in a week or two depending on how you spell color. I guess I shall leave you with the only message of the week: Don’t stick your hand in a vat of living flesh. Got that?