Doctor Who: Series 6
“The Rebel Flesh”
Aired: May 21, 2011
Writer: Matthew Graham
Director: Julian Simpson
“I thought I was going to die.”
“Welcome to my world.”
I feel like this week’s episode was something a Hollywood pitchman would come up with at three in the morning to try to save his job. “It’s Frankenstein meets Avatar meets Clayface from Batman: The Animated Series.” And it wasn’t just that the idea of clones and avatars feels like familiar ground in movies and television at this point, it’s that they didn’t find a particularly original or interesting slant to take on the concept.
Now granted, a lot of this week’s episode was set up and there’s a chance that they could find a way to wow us all in part two, but as it stands I wasn’t terribly impressed with this week’s outing. Particularly frustrating to me was when Cleaves cattle-prodded one of the ‘gangers, which seemed totally forced and stupid. It reminded me quite a bit of when Ambrose killed Alaya the Silurian captive in last season’s “Cold Blood” – both deaths seemed like clunky plot devices and both instantly made me turn on the character doing the killing. (Oddly enough, both deaths involved electrocution as well.)
The one part of this episode that I did think worked was the Rory-Jennifer storyline. For one thing, I love that Rory dying every week has now become a joke on the show. It was fun hearing him acknowledge that fact this week. But beyond that, this storyline was a fascinating way to shake up the Rory-Amy dynamic on the show.
Up until this point, Amy basically takes Rory for granted. She’s thrust him into this life of adventure and just basically expects him to go along with it without complaining. She’s always running off recklessly and just expects him to follow her. Amy’s not particularly affectionate or appreciative toward him either. And, he just has to put up with the fact that she has a huge crush on The Doctor. (He even knows that Amy and The Doctor kissed the night before their wedding, but has to just suck it all up and never say a word about it.)
So along comes sweet Jennifer, a damsel-in-distress who actually appreciates Rory and has no problem telling him how great he is. Suddenly Amy is the one who is jealous and unable to control the spouse who recklessly goes running off after someone else. It’s fun to see the roles reversed and to see how the two react when in each other’s shoes.
(And honestly, who could blame Rory for falling for a gorgeous girl like Jennifer?)
It helps too that Jennifer is actually a compelling characters. The rest of her team all seem very flat and forgettable (except Cleaves, who just seems bitchy), but Jennifer is well-rounded and interesting. ‘Ganger-Jenny is a bit unstable though, as her stretchy bathroom freak out and determination to murder all of the humans at the end of the episode revealed.
So overall, not the most compelling episode of Doctor Who in the world, but I’m holding out hope that I will be wowed in part two. I am particularly interested to see what they do with The Doctor’s doppelganger. Since The Doctor seemed familiar with the goo from the get-go and since his decision to stick his hand into the vat seemed pretty deliberate, I’m guessing he intentionally got himself cloned for a reason – perhaps figuring that his double would have an easier time reasoning with the duplicates. I am anxious to see how that all turns out.
And another thing …
- Was it just me or was all of the Dusty Springfield love in this episode a bit odd?
- When The Doctor flashes the psychic paper to someone to show off his credentials, does it have a random full name on there or does it just say “The Doctor”?
- I can’t believe they passed up on the opportunity to have there be a Rory ’ganger so that he could die in a spectacular fashion.
- One week after revealing that the TARDIS has thoughts and emotions, it’s kind of a dick move to stick her in a giant pool of acid.
- In case you were ever wondering, we now definitively know The Doctor’s shoe size is 10-wide. Well, this incarnation of The Doctor, anyway.
- And finally, since two photos of people with melty faces just isn’t enough, here are the top four contestants in our “Lord Voldemort look-alike contest” …
Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff
I imagine some people out there might be thinking that the ’ganger version of The Doctor will end up being who gets killed by the person in the spacesuit in “The Impossible Astronaut.” Just to refresh everyone’s memory, it’s explicitly stated that that can’t be the case.
During that scene, Amy says, “Maybe he’s a clone or a duplicate or something.”
Canton Everett Delaware III responds, “That most certainly is The Doctor. And he is most certainly dead.”
I do imagine that the doppelganger Doctor will die though. Probably in a heroic fashion during next week’s episode. I imagine him going into that pool of acid to rescue the TARDIS or something like that.
But while it can’t be the ’ganger Doctor who gets gunned down in episode one, I do have a possible explanation for The Doctor’s death, the mysterious one-eyed woman (who appeared once again this week) and Amy’s possible pregnancy.
In the recap for “The Curse of the Black Spot,” I talked a bit about Multiple Branching Universe Theory and how it could explain the three unexplained things above. However, I have now gone back and rewatched all of last season and would like to modify my theory just a bit.
In the first episode of series five, Prisoner Zero tells The Doctor that “The Silence will fall,” (a clip which flashed again this season when The Doctor learned about the existence of The Silence). In case you are hazy on last season, the running plotline was that there was a crack in the universe that kept expanding and that eventually the entire universe was going to be destroyed by the TARDIS exploding on Amy and Rory’s wedding day.
In the season finale, The Doctor begins to wonder what drew the TARDIS to Amy’s wedding day and caused it to explode. With Prisioner Zero’s explanation that The Silence “will fall,” I believe that they somehow existed on the other side of the crack – the “never-space” outside of the universe – and they were somehow able to set a series of events in motion that caused the TARDIS to explode, freeing them and bringing them to Earth. (In “The Vampires of Venice” last season, Signora Rosanna Calvierri talks about multiple cracks in the universe, saying: “Some were tiny, some were as big as the sky. Through some we saw worlds and people, and through others we saw Silence, and the end of all things.”)
The fact that no one can remember The Silence after they are gone might be tied to the idea that anyone who was absorbed by the crack was completely erased from history. They aren’t supposed to exist in this world, which could be why the memory wipes them as soon as they leave your field of vision.
In the finale of series five, The Doctor gets shot by a Dalek, but has enough energy left to pilot the Pandorica into the exploding TARDIS, which saves the universe by creating the Big Bang 2.0. As a result, he gets trapped in the “void between the worlds” and we see him start to get erased from history. But he manages to remind Amy of his existence and she is able to recreate him and bring him back to the Universe 2.0, just like she does for Rory and her parents.
But perhaps The Doctor that gets trapped on the other side of the crack survived. The Pandorica would be able to heal him. And if The Silence were able to fall from that world to ours, then maybe The Doctor can come back from the “never-space” (or one of the alternate worlds Rosanna describes) as well. Then there would be two identical versions of The Doctor in this Universe and neither one would be a clone. The death on the beach could be necessary in order to correct this anomaly.
Similarly, the woman with the eye-patch could also be from that other side of a crack. Perhaps she has found a way to check in on our world from the other side.
As for Amy – clearly she is the center of all this. The first crack originated in her bedroom and she has the power to bring people back who are erased by it. Since she is special, perhaps she is somehow straddling both our world and the “never-space” on the other side of the crack and is able to be pregnant in one of those worlds and not pregnant in the other.
I could be totally off base on all of this, but it’s the best theory I have right now. If I am right though, feel free to call me a genius. Really, I won’t mind.
Gratuitous Amy Pond photo of the week
Written by Joel Murphy. If you enjoy his recaps, he also writes a weekly pop culture column called Murphy’s Law, which you can find here. You can contact Joel at firstname.lastname@example.org.