22 May 2011

Doctor Who - The Rebel Flesh

Just to warn you, there will be spoilers.

The opening scene is an island monastery, in which safety-suited workers monitor a dangerous substance. One falls in and starts to disintegrate, this is treated fairly casually by all involved, including the melting guy. Moments later he reappears and complains. So far, so weird, which is what we want from Doctor Who really, isn't it?

A solar flare/storm knocks the TARDIS to the island. I'm not really sure why that happened, as the explanation -if there was one- was shouted over loud sound effects. While I can appreciate that loud FX and shouting lend a sense of urgency, I do like to hear the dialogue.

Rory is initially, and sensibly, hesitant to race into the unknown. Understandable as he seems to regularly come off practically dead from these adventures, through no fault of his own.

On the island acid is being pumped, again I'm not sure why, but that isn't particularly important. It's a factory of some kind and the workers deal with the dangerous acid by using 'gangers, doubles created from Flesh -a kind of primordial goo- and their downloaded consciousnesses. These (as we have seen) are expendable.
So far, so transhuman.

The Doctor's warnings of another solar storm are ignored by the boss, Cleaves, she's got a quota to fill. There's a power surge and everyone is knocked unconscious. They wake and reconvene, but things are no quite right. How long was everyone out? And where are the 'gangers?

The Doctor argues for reason and understanding as usual (well, they aren't Silence). Rory shows the compassion that no doubt led him to nursing. The Doctor investigates the Flesh, perhaps a little too closely considering it feels like it's scanning him back.
Predictably the situation escalates, and beings that should understand one another more than anyone else go to war.

Jennifer's 'ganger was obviously supposed to be a sympathetic character, one who showed the difficulty of being a double. Except she tries to attack Rory who has shown her nothing but kindness. Then she rallies the others to destroy the humans (even though it would make far more sense for the Cleaves-ganger to do so). Either Jennifer is a lot more bloodthirsty than she appeared, or these doubles are not as faithful to the originals as was suggested, which tips the argument towards them being monsters after all. Either the choice of sympathetic character was mishandled, or we were only meant to feel sorry for the 'gangers briefly.

"Always with the Rory!"
Very impressed by Rory this week, especially after Amy taking charge in previous weeks. Rory's initial caution is thrown to the wind when Jennifer is in danger, and he leaps heroically into action. This shows that Rory's isn't there to just worry about Amy, he genuinely cares for people. Basically he's a lovely bloke, and he doesn't deserve the Doctor's lack of concern.
Amy understandably goes after him, but she's not cautious at all, and of course he's foremost in her mind.

I liked the shot with the Doctor's smoking boots. The traditional use of that image is subverted by having him tiptoeing away in the background, a nice visual gag.

Eyepatch lady returns, but no words this time.
My only theory here is that Amy is (or will be) under some kind of observation. This observation I suspect will be psychically or temporally weird, possibly involving/affecting dreaming or memory. There's something clinical about eyepatch lady, but whether it ties into the mystery pregnancy* I'm not sure. Though really we've not been given enough info to figure out what's going on here.

The Doctor's 'ganger appears, not much of a surprise as it was heavily foreshadowed. Is he 11.5, or possibly Doctor Goo? (Sorry that was pretty bad.)
This development does lend credence to the two Doctors theory that's been kicking around since last series. I must say I don't trust the Doctor Who team not to be teasing us again. Perhaps the sheer number of unanswered questions is making me suspicious.

I enjoyed this episode, despite a few niggles, and I'm looking forward to the next one.

* The Doctor seems to be getting kinda obsessive over this pregnancy scan. It seems like a weird fixation to have. But perhaps unanswered questions get to him as much as they get to the viewers.

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