Thursday, June 9, 2011

Doctor Who Double Whammy: Episodes 5 and 6

Episode 5, "The Rebel Flesh"   

"A lot can go wrong in an hour."
--The Doctor, "The Rebel Flesh"
Basic Plot

In a half-hearted attempt to reveal Amy's negative/positive pregnancy, the Doctor and company are swept up in a solar storm, hurtling them back to Earth. Upon discovering a factory manufacturing fully programmable matter called "the flesh", the doctor, Amy and Rory have to rescue its crew before the solar storm hits. The crew is half human and half doppleganger, or ganger--the flesh employed to protect the real people from the dangers of the factor. The crew, heedless of the doctor's warnings, stay on, and in an extraordinarily colorful solar storm, remain plugged in with their gangers, giving their counterparts more than just a semblance of life, but real life, with real souls and real thoughts. Fully in control of themselves, but possessing copies of real lives and memories, the gangers rally in fear and contempt. The Doctor tries to reconcile them, but to no avail, especially when confronted with a fully functioning other half.

Matthew Grahame's Writing

Grahame lacks the stop-gap timing Moffat but continues the linear time frame style of narration. However, there is a period of time that cannot be accounted for by the doctor, the span of an hour, in which the gangers had ample time to try on their new lives,  memories and feelings for size. One of them, Cleaves--the leader of the crew---attempt to fool the doctor into thinking she is her human counterpart. Can it truly be an attempt to fool him, though, if Cleaves' doppleganger fully believes she is Cleaves. She looks like Cleaves. She talks like Cleaves, she even admits to acting like Cleaves when her human counterpart threatens her. Jennifer's ganger is also obsessed with the idea that she is the real Jennifer, a stronger Jennifer. Her human counterpart spends a great deal of time in hiding, lost and confused, more the opposite of her confident, self-righteously angry ganger.

This episode is full of fabulous one-liners, particularly the

Best Line:

"Trust me. I'm the Doctor."

"Trust me..."
This line is repeated three times. The first time for comic effect. The Doctor tells the ganger-Cleaves that to trust him, he's the Doctor. We know that; that's why its funny. Its also ironic. The smirk on his face is a clear example of that if nothing else. The second time the line is uttered is technically two times. After making contact with The Flesh, The Flesh begins to program itself as the Doctor. The first time it is  uttered by The Flesh, only a pair of lips speak as a form of foreshadowing. The Flesh speaks it again when Jennifer comes across a blobby hand in a corridor, which so horrified her that she ran in terror. The third time, The Flesh took full form. That was truly disturbing. I don't know what that was, but it was not the Doctor, and I did not trust him. Aaah, but how long can I hold out?  

Episode 6, "The Almost People"--Spoilers Ahead!

"I'm beginning to get a sense of how impressive it is to hang out with me."
"Do we tend say 'yowza'?"
"That's enough. Let it go."
--The Doctors "The Almost People"

I would just like to take a moment to reflect on this episode and its surprise ending. *End professional facade* What the Hell just happened? Really, I wish someone could have taken a picture of my face as I stared at the credits in horror, tears filling my eyes, turning to my husband and saying "What just happened?" The end of "The Almost People", while filling in a great deal of plot gaps, leaves this potentially crushed viewer wondering what the Sam Hill people like Moffat and Graham have in mind for poor Amy now that they've effectively killed the one we've been watching all season. Now Amy must give birth alone in a cold place without her husband or the Doctor. I'm sorry, ever since that episode, where they tried to take Scully's baby, I've been a little sensitive about pregnant science fiction characters. Lets move on.

The Writing

The one-liners keep coming in this fabulously touching and humorous episode. My favorite, other that the one above being, "We both where the same bow tie, which is cool."

"Because bow ties are."

"And always will be."

The two Doctors can finish each other's sentences. The genius behind the Doctor's conversations with himself is that the writing is seamless, as well it should be. However, my main problem with the Doctor's ganger is that just like himself, we never really know what he's thinking. As a fan, I'm befuddled and irritated. As a reviewer, I'm astounded and delighted. The Doctors have us completely fooled, right up until the end, when they reveal how they have tricked Amy into believing they were each other's opposite, teaching her a valuable lesson, and hopefully the other humans and their gangers as well: there is no point to prejudice.

But finally, I have come to what I consider to be a slight, slight, oversight by the writers, and that is the Doctor's ganger in general. Am I alone in this? We shall soon find out.

I agree with Amy: The Flesh Doctor cannot be the real Doctor. Why? The part where he is a time lord. Why is this relevant? Let us return to the first episode of the season, where River Song, Amy, Rory and Canton standing on the lake side. River said, "A Time Lord's body is a miracle." If this is true, how can The Flesh Doctor truly be a time lord? The Flesh cannot re-create the "miracle" that is the Doctor. Or can it?...If it can there is a distinct possibility that The Flesh can potentially re-build the time lord population. However, since I'm siding with Amy, I'm of the opinion that this isn't possible. The only time the subject of the Doctor's ganger difference is approached when Amy tries to tell the Doctor that she's seen his death.  If the ganger can die, then perhaps the Doctor that dies on the lake in 2011 is not in fact the real Doctor but his ganger. Something else that is not quite touched upon, but may have incredible repercussions, as I mentioned, is the fact that the two Doctors switched places while trying to teach Amy a lesson. If that is the case, then Amy may very well have violated the Prime Directive and accidentally revealed the Doctor's death in 2011 to the real Doctor, something she should not have done under any circumstance (at least according to River Song). This, I'm certain, will come back to play in the future.

Best Line

Not pain. Terror.
The best line in the show, arguably the most important is the Doctor's insistence that Amy, "Breathe." Little do we know that what appears to be a line intended to calm a very high strung Amy Pond is in fact a warning. It is not made fully clear to us until the end that the line is also very important to women giving birth. "Breathe," we say to a woman having contractions. I don't know about anyone else, but that had never occurred to me, and the genius behind that is that the question of her pregnancy is not exactly a secret. We are reminded that she is either shifting in and out of realities and that her pregnancy is in question. The connection she has to her pregnant self is not metaphysical, but a true Flesh connection, fluctuating in and out of Flesh and human state just like the other gangers. 

Next Week, "A Good Man Goes to War"

In the last episode before the summer break, River Song's identity will finally be revealed. Amy and Rory will be reunited in a battle meant to end the Doctor. In an episode that will surely test my resolve as well as the Doctor's, we will soon discover the significance of Amy and Rory's baby. I'm sure I'm going to cry. Saturday is only two days away...

The Doctor is an often imitated, but never duplicated, Time Lord of Gallifrey. In the coming days, his closest and dearest friends will be tested in ways we have yet to witness. So many questions remain: who is River Song? Where is Amy? Despite the impossible odds, why do I get the feeling this war is one sided?

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