The Almost People easily bested last week’s The Rebel Flesh episode – throwing in fanboy fodder in the shape of two Doctors, and delving a little deeper into the complexities of having sentient clones running around and what those clones’ rights might be.
But in the final five minutes, The Doctor himself turns a sonic screwdriver on one of the Flesh creatures and kills it. Completely negating his pacifist stance in the rest of the episode. Huh?
But let’s get spoilery, shall we? American viewers who haven’t naughtily torrented the episode look away now!
Ok. I know I’ve grumbled a fair bit this series, but The Almost People was a marked improvement on the rather vague first part. Giving us a clone Doctor was a real treat, especially for the long term fans of the show, especially with Jelly Babies and reversed polarities. And after the initial titilation of The Doctor enjoying his own company (“You know I’m starting to get a sense of how impressive it is to hang out with me.”), he pulls the old switcheroo on Amy (and us) to expose her prejudice against the inferior Flesh.
Of course, that’s not exactly why he brought them to the acid mining fortress: he admits at the end that he needed to find a way to break the connection between the flesh and the original. So many of you were right in your assumptions that he’d planned to go there. Which means that there was a lot going on behind the scenes that wasn’t covered in the episode.
The subplot featuring Rory getting duped by Jen into trapping The Doctor and the humans and blowing up the castle felt superfluous. Especially considering the more important issues at play in this episode. And again, if I were Amy, I’d be asking why Rory’s suddenly developed this weird bond with a rather creepy factory worker.
A couple of repeated themes came up in The Almost People that I wanted to bring up:
- The discarded flesh. Reminded me of Idris witnessing the graveyard of TARDISes in The Doctor’s Wife. Is there an ecological message in this about how things get used up and thrown away?
- At the eleventh hour, The Doctor arranges a holo-call from Jimmy’s child, which inspires compassionate behaviour in the clone Jimmy. We had something similar in The Curse Of The Black Spot, with Avery’s child showing up on board. It’s not like either child has a major role, but their presence seems to be pivotal to how the characters behave and how they see themselves.
Amy tells The Doctor he died. Without realising it.
I’m sure you lot picked up on this. Amy follows what she thinks is the Clone Doctor into the corridor and reveals to him that she saw him die. Except it’s the real Doctor.
After weeks of keeping his death a secret, she inadvertently blurts out:
I’m sorry. What I said about you being almost The Doctor. It’s just really hard, I’ve been through so much with him. I’ve even seen the moment of his…can you die? If you really are the same then you can die. Be killed. I might’ve seen that happen.
There’s plenty of weirdness at work in those scenes, especially because Amy’s just seen the strange eyepatch lady again. And this time, The Doctor seems to be aware that something strange is happening to her.
Later on, as The Doctor and his clone part company, there’s another bit of revealing dialogue. But before the clone Doctor meets his death, we discover that he might be able to survive it using his “molecular memory”. Hmmm. But here are the two Doctors saying farewell:
Clone Doctor: “Well, my death arrives, I suppose.”
The Doctor: “But this one we’re not invited to.”
Make of that what you will. Does The Doctor believe that it was his clone who died? And if so, doesn’t that seem a bit…obvious? It would be a tad disappointing if that shock death in The Impossible Astronaut was laboriously built up with something as obvious as this clone storyline.
Amy Pond Pregnant…And Cloned?
So let’s fast-forward to the end of the episode. Suddenly we understand why the TARDIS scanner had trouble working out if Amy was pregnant or not: the Amy we’ve been seeing for weeks now is a clone. Not only that, but a clone with a bizarre neurological connection to the real Amy, who’s been kidnapped and held in an isolation tank. And she’s pregnant. And in labour. Yikes.
The problem most people seem to have with the end of The Almost People is The Doctor levelling his sonic screwdriver at Clone Amy and wiping her out. Sure, he says he’s doing it humanely, but why’s it OK for him to have a clone running around, but not Amy?
There are bigger picture questions here as well: who’s got Amy? How did they arrange the swap (I’m guessing sometime between The Impossible Astronaut and Day Of The Moon)? Why do they want Amy’s baby? This all leads neatly into next week’s A Good Man Goes To War, as Rory and The Doctor try to find Amy and free her.
It has to be said – all those dangling plot threads are being tied up nicely. Amy seeing the strange woman in the hatch, the indecisive TARDIS pregnancy test all dovetailing into this mid-season finale. And there’s a sense now that even the adult viewers are being kept guessing as the story throws up as many new questions as it resolves. And we’ve got River Song thrown into the mix – does that lend weight to the theory that River is Amy’s daughter? You tell me…