Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Rebel Flesh and The Almost People



Episodes 5 and 6 of this season of Doctor Who mainly serve to move the season-long plot along. They have some interesting ideas, but they are not really explored. The basic plot is as follows: The Doctor and his companions arrive on earth in the future where a factory is being run by a small crew using surrogate-style clones. The surrogates gain independent life through an electrical surge and the originals and copies fight it out over who gets to live the life and memories they share. Hardly the stuff of a two episode adventure.

Digging a little deeper, (and we are in spoiler heavy territory now) we see that the Doctor intends to drop Amy and Rory off somewhere for this adventure. He is not going to this factory by accident, and it must involve the couple in some way. Once there, we also see that the Doctor already knew about the “flesh” and the surrogates are called, only in a more advanced stage of their development. While there, he intentionally creates a surrogate of himself and tests the limits of how convincing the copy can be.

This is where the ideas that could have been explored more emerge. This story poses the question: what makes us who we are? The answer according to this story is that we are more than the sum of our physical being and our life experiences. There is an intangible part of us that ultimately defines who we are.

Of course, the real purpose of this story—as already stated—is to further the season long plot. We finally find out (partially) what happened to changed Amy between episodes one and two, and Amy unwittingly informs the Doctor that she has seen him die. All of these greater revelations are intriguing and raise even more anticipation for the eventual answers the season will deliver. That and several of the set-pieces and visuals are, as ever, thrilling.

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