Episode Title: "The Almost People"
Writer: Matthew Graham
Director: Julian Simpson
Previously on "Doctor Who":
The Doctor (Matt Smith) and his companions, Rory (Arthur Darvill) and Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) found themselves on Earth during the future, where a group of factory workers led by Miranda Cleaves (Raquel Cassidy) used artificial duplicates of themselves called Gangers to perform dangerous and sometimes fatal tasks. The Doctor also noted that "The Flesh" that formed the Gangers was scanning him while he was scanning it. Soon after, a freak accident knocked out everyone in the factory and gave the Ganger duplicates the lives and memories of Miranda and her crew.
Rory became somewhat overprotective of a girl named Jennifer (Sarah Smart), who was initially horrified that she was actually a Ganger. The Doctor managed to get almost all of the Gangers and crew members to set aside their differences… until the real Miranda went a little nuts and killed one of the Gangers. The Jennifer Ganger than began to whip the surviving Gangers into a murderous frenzy. Rory was separated from the Doctor and Amy as they barricaded themselves within a chapel to save the crew. But inside, they found that the Doctor had a Ganger of his own, who urged them to trust him.
FULL SPOILERS AHEAD!!
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The Doctor's Ganger appears to be having trouble dealing with his previous regenerations, which the actual Doctor attempts to stabilize. Amy notes that the two Doctors are identical except for the Doctor's borrowed boots. Outside, the Gangers of the crew are about to burst through the chapel, but the Doctors find an escape hatch for the humans just in time. Elsewhere in the complex, Rory follows Jennifer from a distance because he isn't sure if she's a Ganger or not. The Doctors and their group soon find a control room and signal the mainland for help. While there, crewman Jimmy (Mark Bonnar) notes his son's birthday, while at the same time, the Jimmy Ganger also remembers it.
The Jennifer Ganger continues to inspire her comrades to violence and tells of her ambition to lead a Ganger rebellion worldwide. At the control room, Amy alienates the Ganger Doctor by suggesting that he's less real than the original. When she goes to speak with him privately, she inadvertently hints at the Doctor's immanent demise and he flips out. Scared, Amy insists that he keep his distance from her. The other humans also gang up on the Doctor's Ganger and insist upon his stationary position. Meanwhile, Rory finds two Jennifers, both of whom claim to be the original. As they fight, one of the Jennifers is accidentally killed, revealing herself to be a Ganger.
After finally locating Rory, the Doctor gives his Ganger duplicate his sonic screwdriver to demonstrate his trust before the Doctor Ganger accompanies Buzzer (Marshall Lancaster) on the search. Elsewhere, Jennifer suspiciously insists that Rory unlock certain doors that she should have been able to open herself. She brings him to a room full of injured Gangers, who can not die or escape their pain because of what they are. Rory is moved by their plight and agrees with Jennifer's plan to expose the truth to the world, While closing in on Rory, Buzzer knocks out the Doctor Ganger because Miranda ordered him to.
Buzzer than encounters Jennifer and realizes that she is a Ganger too before she murders him with her disproportionately large mouth. The other Gangers find the Doctor Ganger and recruit him to their cause. With Rory's help, the real Doctor, Amy and the human crew are trapped by the Jennifer Ganger. Rory realizes that he's been tricked, but the Gangers restrain him from freeing his friends before an acid buildup will destroy them. Even the Doctor's Ganger holds Rory back, until a phone call from Jimmy's son leads the Jimmy Ganger to have a change of heart and free the others.
However, the real Jimmy was fatally wounded while attempting to free the humans. As he dies, Jimmy urges his Ganger to take care of his son. Realizing that the Doctor's Ganger has been working against her, Jennifer's Ganger mutates into a monstrous form and pursues the survivors. The Miranda Ganger and the Doctor offer to stay behind and allow the others to escape, but Amy insists that the Doctor's Ganger stay instead. Then the Doctors reveal that they switched shoes hours ago, to infiltrate the Gangers. Heartbroken at losing a Doctor, Amy embraces the Doctor's Ganger, who enigmatically tells her to push when the time comes.
As the TARDIS fades out, the Doctor and Miranda Gangers activate the sonic screwdriver, dissolving themselves and Jennifer. The surviving crew of Gangers and the real Miranda are dropped off after promising to help change the situation for Gangers around the world. But when the Doctor and his friends go to leave, Amy is overcome by labor pains. The Doctor tells her that she is pregnant and that she hasn't been with them for a very long time. But he promises that he will find her. Amy is terrified as the Doctor explains that the entire visit to this time was to learn more about The Flesh and block its signal… which he then does to Amy… dissolving her body in the process.
Amy suddenly wakes up as a prisoner in a white chamber, where she is also visibly pregnant. The Eye Patch Lady from her visions then opens a door to the room and tells her that she's ready to give birth.
That was a fantastic cliffhanger.
This week's episode was an improvement on last week's first part of the story. But it was the ending that really gave this one a resonance and an emotional punch. I'm reminded of the "Cold Blood" episode from last year; which ended a pretty uninspired two parter with the stunning death and erasure of Rory. Both moments were incredibly effective, but I think that they may have actually make their respective episodes better than they should have been.
The story of "The Rebel Flesh" and "The Almost People" is still comparatively weak to most of the "Doctor Who" episodes. It seemed like the actual story content was only enough for one and a half episodes of the series, with a lot of padding in the first episode to make this into a two parter. Once the Doctor's Ganger was introduced, the story finally had some life to it. Matt Smith is almost always terrific as the Doctor and he played both iterations of the character with his usual high energy.
Amy's arc with the Doctor (whom she thought was a Ganger) was the most compelling part of the main story. She wasn't entirely unjustified in her fear of the Gangers, after seeing the other duplicates attempt to murder their human counterparts. And I love that she may have unknowingly tipped off the Doctor to his death in the future.
My main problem with the Gangers and their human counterparts is that they seemingly changed their perspectives on a dime. Jennifer's Ganger was particularly egregious and I had a hard time believing that she could become such a violent revolutionary so quickly. And in last week's episode, Miranda was the one who attacked the Gangers and killed one of their own. Now she's the one who's going to campaign for their place in the world?! There just wasn't enough to justify her change of heart. At least the turn for Jimmy's Ganger was set up earlier in the episode, as was the Doctor's timing of that phone call.
Rory's portrayal also bothered me a bit here, as he seemed more concerned about Jennifer than he was about his own wife. He also comes off as a bit of a fool when he leads the human crew into a trap. When he stepped away from Amy at the Doctor's order, it also seemed like a backwards step for his character. He was just too passive for a major moment involving his wife. I expect that will change dramatically in the next episode as the search for Amy begins.
Which brings us to one of the central mysteries of Amy's predicament. When exactly was she taken? She experienced pregnancy pains all the way back in the first episode of this season and she saw the Eye Patch Lady before she was captured by the Silence in the second episode. I have to admit that I didn't guess the truth about Amy's hallucinations and I didn't suspect that she was a duplicate with Amy's mind in control. That reveal was extremely effective and startling.
The best cliffhangers in "Doctor Who" should keep us guessing and I can't stop speculating about what's next. There's only one more episode left before the show goes on hiatus for a few months and Steven Moffat has promised a game changing cliffhanger for the mid-season. I don't know how he'll top this, but feel free to leave your guesses in the comment section below!
Crave Online Rating: 8 out of 10.