Jun 7 2011 3:01pm

Doctor Who S6, Ep 6: “The Almost People”


I know, Amy. I know. Me, too.

Apologies for not getting this review up yesterday. I was kept from doing so because, among other things, seeing the episode made my brain explode, and I had trouble scooping it back into my skull. I’m fine now.

“The Almost People” was the second part of the ganger story started in the previous episode, “The Rebel Flesh.” At first, it seemed like a mediocre episode. I was watching it, and the story was all right, but it wasn’t doing anything spectacular for me. That is, until the last five minutes wherein I realized that the entire two-part story was one long lead-up to figuring out what was the matter with Amy.

And something is very much the matter!

“The Almost People” begins with the Ganger Doctor wrapping himself around The Doctor’s more complex physiology and memories, and the Doctor insisting that his ganger be allowed to help the humans. The gangers, under the fierce leadership of Ganger Jennifer, decide that the only way to ensure their survival is to revolt against the humans—not just here, but all gangers in every place in the world where they exist. The humans, meanwhile, devise a plan where they reach out to the mainland and send for help to pick them up, while leaving the gangers behind to be destroyed along with the facility. The gangers trap them, however, through the misguided but well-intentioned help of Rory, who is opposed to the way the gangers are discarded, but doesn’t realize that Ganger Jennifer has killed Human Jennifer until it’s too late.

Eventually, Ganger Jennifer goes completely insane, while the other gangers help the humans, realizing that they don’t want to be a part of a revolution. At the end of the episode, it is revealed that while Amy was sure that she knew “her” Doctor, and was at first suspicious, then begrudgingly accepting of Ganger Doctor, the Doctors had switched their tell-tale shoes, so the one that she’d been defending as the “real” Doctor was actually the ganger the entire time. And as the one surviving human and one of the surviving gangers are brought home to tell the world of the injustice done to gangers, you think that the reveal of the real Doctor was the only twist ending there could be.


Because the entire reason for the Doctor having gone to this monastery in the first place, the reason why he knew so much about the gangers, and the reason why the TARDIS has been having trouble figuring out if Amy is pregnant is because Amy isn’t human.



This episode is yet another two-parter that works better when you watch it all at once, or at least in quick succession, which just makes me upset that BBC America aired them two weeks apart! After all, any self-respecting Whovian would find a way to watch/DVR it, Memorial Day or no Memorial day! I’m sure many did.

In any case, on their own, “The Rebel Flesh” and “The Almost People” are okay episodes. Solid, but not particularly great. Watched together, they become an amazing, intricate set-up not just of the future of this season, but of context for everything we’ve watched before. Writer Matthew Graham has done an excellent job constructing this very important piece in the Series 6 puzzle, and most of it hung on Matt Smith’s wonderful performance. Going back and watching his face, knowing what he knows, it’s clear what nuanced, specific choices he was making in every moment (in addition to his fabulous Tom Baker impression).

And now, we are left with delicious questions! How long has Amy been pregnant in a creepy white tube? My guess is that she’s been a ganger since “Day of the Moon,” when she first started seeing Silver Eye, and when we know that Team TARDIS spent a 3 month stint in Utah that we don’t know much about. Whose baby is it? I would guess (and hope, and pray) it’s Rory’s, but as Amy was told that she would “bring the Silence,” it could be up in the air! Who put her in the tube and attached her to a ganger? Again, the Silence are a prime suspect, but what does Silver Eye have to do with it? Is she in charge, or is she working for someone else?

“The Almost People” ended with the most unnecessary To. Be. Continued. ever! Yes, we KNOW there’s more story here, and I, for one, can’t wait to watch!

Doctor Who airs Saturdays at 9PM ET on BBC America.

Teresa Jusino wouldn’t mind being locked in a TARDIS with two Doctors. She can be seen as the teen geek in the current Bordertown book trailer. Her “feminist brown person” take on pop culture has been featured on websites like ChinaShopMag.com, PinkRaygun.com, Newsarama, and PopMatters.com. Her fiction has appeared in the sci-fi literary magazine, Crossed Genres; she is the editor of Beginning of Line, the Caprica fan fiction site; and her essay “Why Joss is More Important Than His ‘Verse” is included in Whedonistas: A Celebration of the Worlds of Joss Whedon By the Women Who Love Them, which is on sale now wherever books are sold! 2012 will see Teresa’s work in two upcoming sci-fi anthologies. Get Twitterpated with Teresa, or visit her at The Teresa Jusino Experience.

Ursula L
1. Ursula
I found it somewhat odd that the Doctor spent so much energy teaching people that the gangers were real, and deserved a life of their own, only to turn around and destroy ganger-Amy.

I'm not sure if what the Doctor was doing was ensuring that the ganger technology would be perfected, so that they genuinely had no independant life, and he could safely break the connection between Amy and her ganger-duplicate without harming a living thing in the duplicate, or if he was learning how to ensure that when he destroyed Amy's ganger he'd do it as humanely as possible.

Also, destroying Amy's ganger seemed to be a certain way of letting Amy's captors know that the Doctor had discovered their substitution, because instead of having a sleeping Amy in a ganger-harness, they have an awake Amy. Which kills any chance of surprise when trying to rescue Amy later.
Joseph Kingsmill
2. JFKingsmill16
Great episodes and a great reveal. Rory taking charge and doing what he feels was right and NOT getting killed (again) was a pleasant change.

I wish Matt Smith didn't talk so flippin fast.
Steven Halter
3. stevenhalter
This two parter had amazing amounts of stuff. Cool and puzzling. Ganger Doctor uses the sonic and is disolved, but prior to that he mentions that there may be a way back. So there is an opening for him to return and still be the dead Doctor from ep 1.
We now know why Amy has been seeing Silver-eye.
Since a lot of the episode involved showing how gangers are people too, I was somewhat confused as to why the Doctor sonic emulsified ganger Amy at the end. Any ideas on that anyone?
Sky Thibedeau
4. SkylarkThibedeau
Maybe it explains why Sexy said the only water in the Forest is the River because the Pond wasn't real.
5. UrsulaMinor
Well, the difference, it seems between the Amy Ganger and the factory Gangers are that the factory gangers are moving independantly, and have been given that independant movement due to freak lightnig accident. Ganger Amy is being driven by actual Amy, just as the factory gangers were being driven by the factory humans. Ganger Amy is not an independant seperate being like the factory gangers became. If you seperated Ganger Amy from Amy, Ganger Amy would probably dissolve, or at least lose form.

The whole point of the 'gangers are people' thing, I think was to make sure everyone involved realized how very, very unethical the whole process is - creating life for the purpose of being less valuable than other life. The flesh, presumably, is constantly retaining some memories of the people that it forms (hence all the screaming), which means The Flesh is somewhat sentient, and should not be used for the purpose it is being used.

I also feel he kind of had to disconnect Amy from the Ganger, because she was freaking in labour, which is hard enough when you know you are pregnant and set up to go. It would be much harder when you were wandering around wondering why the hell you had horrible contractions without any sign of pregnancy, and absolutely no context to understand why pushing should occur.

So, to sum up: Ganger Amy: No independant life outside of Amy. Is essentially an extension of Amy

Ganger Factory Workers: Independant life outside of factory workers. Will continue to be alive even if originals are killed. Weird circumstances of birth do not negate existance. Also proof-of-concept as to why Rory did not notice his wife wasn't human.

Flesh: Alive and retaining bits of all the things it was, including horribly deformed factory rejects. Should probably not be used to make more people, especially since those people can, in some cases become independant. Using the flesh is morally wrong.

That is sort of my take on why there was so much emphasis on Flesh as people .
6. KMR
So Amy being a total victim doesn't bother you in the least? Has the entire world gone pear-shaped?????
7. ClintACK
I think the gangers only start to become people once the harness-connection is severed.

So thousands of people were born in vats of acid to die while still coming to grips with the fact that they are alive. Ugh. ("Why?")

So, ganger-Amy wasn't yet a person -- the harness was still connected.

Not sure why he severed the connection, though. I'd have thought he'd trace it back to the source to find her.

I'm definitely going to have to rewatch the season --- I *love* reveals like that, though I do now wish I had bought, rather than rented, the episodes on iTunes.

EDIT: Ah, breaking the connection for a healthy birthing process. That sounds entirely plausible.
8. cranscape
Amy's ganger was a true avatar, not the lightning zapped sentient things from that year's Earth tech or even the disposable ones the company was using. That was our Amy in there not realizing anything was wrong besides the moments she really "woke up" and saw that lady's face through the wall (though someone should have noticed she wore the same shirt the whole season). The Doctor investigated these earlier gangers because he had to be sure how they were intended to work (their signal to the host, how the signal could be getting into even the Tardis, if it was even really her in there etc). He's playing for all of the marbles right now.

I was under the impression he went to that time period because gangers were discontinued soon after (and well, the Ark in Space situation happened after so there wasn't much to look at on earth for a while). Whoever is doing it now is doing it for other reasons with later technology. He said it himself he wanted to do it the most humane way possible. Being an avatar the real Amy had to be hooked up and sleeping for it to work. Unplug her and it would be empty. It certainly is a moral grey zone, but not the exact same one as the unstable, disposable labor gangers or the independent gangers we saw. No easy way through that situation. The signal seemed to be coming to a conclusion anyway. Amy was waking up.

It is interesting to rewatch it realizing that the Doctor knows something is wrong with her from the start. When he tells them humans and gangers give off slightly different signals he points the sonic screwdriver at Amy just prior to that while experimenting. Worth rewatching for those details.
9. Elayne
On the second watch, I tried to pay more attention to the shoes, but sadly, it wasn't clear exactly when they switch. I think it was when they were both behind the console turning the power back on. It would have had to be a time when Amy wasn't watching.

Based on later dialogue that would mean Amy told the real doctor that he invited them to see his death and he was the one getting a little violent with her when she revealed it. I am sure his knowledge of his own death will lead to him trying to prevent it during the second half of the season.
Regina Nigro
10. Regina Nigro
@KMR, a friend of mine called the Amy plot twist out as a use of the "women in refrigerators" trope. I understand there was a consciousness connection between Real!Amy and Ganger!Amy but inevitably the dramatic thrust of this first half of the season was Rory and the Doctor rescuing Amy. Did not love.
11. icantthinkofone
Why, in this season, does Amy never change her clothes, but constantly change her nail polish?
Ashley Fox
12. A Fox
@8 Shhhhhhhhh. These are Americans, they havent seen Demons Run yet! And its a good one :D

A non-spoiler suposition. The Doctor the astronaut killed in Day of the Moon was Flesh. (There is more to this theory but you're not ready for it yet...)
13. cranscape
dramatic thrust of this first half of the season was Rory and the Doctor rescuing Amy

Rory had no clue what was going on. The Doctor (the older one who got shot) probably knew more but the younger version from the diner onward seemed to be working from square one on what was going on with Amy. The first half episodes were adventures on their own and Amy was there as far as Rory and Amy both knew and the Doctor was treating her like she was there until he knew the specifics about gangers and even then at the end he was talking to her, the real Amy. I don't feel like the first half of the season was a waste. It wasn't all a dream or anything. That wasn't a fake Amy as far as I am concerned as real!Amy will remember it all. From her perspective and Rory's she was there the whole time until suddenly she wasn't. I'd be a little pissed if everything was a dream, but that's not the case.
Steven Halter
14. stevenhalter
So real Amy (in a box) was "piloting" ganger Amy the whole time while her physical real Amy self was mostly unconscious of the box surroundings. Ganger Amy wasn't really serperately sentient, but by severing the link (souping the ganger) the Doctor reawakens real Amy. OK, got it--thanks to previous posters.
Jenny Thrash
15. Sihaya
The Doctor figured it out pretty early on. In the Silence duology, He's listening to Amy's psychic comlink - the one that was installed in her hand, but torn out by the Silence. She's talking about being trapped in a small, dark place, sounds entirely claustrophobic, and she's ranting endlessly, either to Rory or the Doctor. The Doctor responds by asking Rory if he remembera being a centurion. The Doctor is deflecting Rory's thoughts, yeah, but he's also catching on to the fact that he's listening to *actual* Amy's thoughts. Something about his question to Rory is very important. Amy told him she was pregnant nearly three months ago (and she was probably a ganger then, since she told him what was and wasn't true, according to the Silence), and yet nothing about her has changed, as pointed out by Theresa.

I still wonder if the whole universe still sits inside Amy's brain. I mean, she had to wish her reality into existence pretty much, didn't she? That's an endless rabbit hole, though, and I don't imagine that the writers want to go down it.
16. cranscape
@A Fox

I am American. I'm not sure what I said. That Amy!ganger was different than those other gangers? I guess it is only speculation, but that's what it seemed. The Doctor was talking to her like the real Amy could understand even though she was in an avatar. Why would he do that if it wasn't her? How could it be a sentient ganger? Those were made that way because of the electricity. As far as I am concerned that was Amy there all season more or less. Otherwise that would be a lot of character growth gone. She might have been fridged or whatever in body but that was Amy in spirit all season.
Jenny Thrash
17. Sihaya
cranscape @#16 - oh yea, that's definitely my POV. For the most part, Amy is consciously aware of her ganger's surroundings and only subcounsciously aware of her own body's predicament. She's saving the universe remotely.
18. ali87
Can I just say, this was a pretty bizarre episode to watch at 9 months pregnant? I mean, really!
Helen Peters
19. Helen
I'm holding myself in really tightly coz I really really really want to answer your questions.

But I'm going to be good and just say all your questions and more will be answered when you see the next one. The only problem is it's a good one, and you think, yep, s'good. Then you get told it's a two parter, but we have to wait several months for the second part coz you guys to the west generally have a break mid-series!!!! How could you do that to us?!?!?!
20. sofrina
i'm with helen. the most disturbing part was the mention that we have one more ep till "the summer break." who told bbc-a they could take a vacation? didn't this season just start?

also, why did the first silence amy meets (in the ladies room) tell her to tell the doctor she's pregnant? what's their stake in it? now that seems designed to tip the doctor off, but it seems like that must have been before amy was abducted...

i demand a marathon.
21. KMR
I immediately thought of Women In Refrigerators! Don't have a problem with characters being married and stuff but the way Moffat does it makes my stomach turn. Amy is the most passive character ever but then that's Moffat for you.
Ursula L
22. Ursula
also, why did the first silence amy meets (in the ladies room) tell her to tell the doctor she's pregnant? what's their stake in it? now that seems designed to tip the doctor off, but it seems like that must have been before amy was abducted...

That's not necessarily what they did. The Silence said "You are Amelia. You will tell the Doctor what he must know, and what he must never know."

That leaves several variables. What is it that the Silence thinks that the Doctor must know? What is it that the Silence thinks that the Doctor must never know? Why do they think that the Doctor must or must not know these things? And are they instructing Amy to tell the Doctor these things, or are they recognizing her as the person who will tell the Doctor these things?
Bryan Price
23. bytehead
I'm still confused if the Doctor never knew about his death or not. Yes, Amy spilled the beans, but then, how did he know that they would need gasoline for the pyre if he didn't already know it happened? I thinks it's still possible, from what was said at the end of Ep 6 that he actually watched what happened. The ganger says "My death arrives I suppose" The real says "But this one we're not invited to".

@A Fox, I do believe that you are right. And to avoid spoilers, I will just say that I think Demons Run confirms my thought on who pulled the trigger on the dead Doctor.
Ursula L
24. Ursula
Regarding the Doctor knowing about his death - the old Doctor certainly seemed to know that he was about to die, and arranged both for his own emotional support in having people he cared about with him and for them to be meeting up with the younger version of himself.

But the old Doctor knowing he was about to die doesn't tell us when he found that out. We're intended to assume that he found it out now in terms of the storyline, and that his death ties in to the adventure he sent his younger self on, but really, he might have found it out only days before the event.

And it is the old version of the Doctor who arranged for the gasoline. He knew he would die, but not necessarily from now.
Chris Meadows
25. Robotech_Master
Just a note: that's not a Tom Baker "impression". That's Tom Baker's actual voice, recorded during a Big Finish session especially for use in this episode. That's right, Tom Baker actually appears (so to speak) in Doctor Who in a non-archival capacity for the first time in who-knows-how-many years. I mean, how cool is that?

And the midseason hiatus thing is something new the BBC is trying—perhaps due to lower ratings in the last season. Also, it lets them do two end-of-season cliffhangers for the price of one. A number of American shows are already being produced that way; Burn Notice for example.

Given that this means a relatively shorter wait after this season ends before the next season of Doctor Who (which I just heard was confirmed by the BBC today, by the way), I don't mind waiting a couple months to pick up after "A Good Man Goes to War".
Teresa Jusino
26. TeresaJusino
KMR @6 - Sometimes, people are victims. It happens. Even the best, strongest characters have bad things happen to them. What will make me angry is if it's done without a good resolution, or if she doesn't grow/change from the experience. We're only at the beginning now. Ask me at the end of the series if her "victimhood" makes me upset. :)

Elayne @9 - While I did realize that the Doctor did hear her mention his death, I didn't think about the fact that he was the one that pushed her against the wall. That makes that moment so poignant - because he's talking about the gangers asking "Why?" just before they die...I wonder if part of him is asking the same thing. "Why, Amy? Why did you have to let me die?"

Regina Nigro @10 - it is way too early to tell if this is "women in refrigerators." Just because a woman is in danger doesn't mean this is exploitative. Sometimes women are in danger, sometimes men are in danger. And how many times has Amy put her life on the line to save Rory? Just because Amy's been a ganger doesn't mean that the real Amy has had nothing to do with her. Human Amy has still been with us, controlling her. I can't get behind the idea that any time a woman is in trouble, someone's going to call foul.

I actually love that it's important that it BE a woman in trouble in this case. Clearly, her pregnancy means something to someone. It couldn't be a man in this situation - it has to be Amy, which makes her important, and makes this much more interesting.

A Fox @12 - There was nothing that I noticed @8 that was spoilerish at all. All that could've been gathered from this episode. Also, I posited that Ganger Doctor was the Doctor that was killed in The Impossible Astronaut two reviews ago! :) Keep up! (heh)

Robotech_Master @25 - You know, I wasn't sure. I thought it might have been a recorded voice, but it was pretty seamless. Also, I didn't actually think doing Tom Baker's voice would be that difficult. Also, why would they do that with Tom Baker's voice, but not Jon Pertwee's I wonder?
Chris Meadows
27. Robotech_Master
Probably because John Pertwee isn't around to record new lines. Of course, they could just have repurposed existing dialogue from old shows— like this guy did:

Chris Meadows
28. Robotech_Master
Probably because Jon Pertwee isn't around to record new lines. Of course, they could just have repurposed existing dialogue from old shows— like this guy did.
Teresa Jusino
29. TeresaJusino
Robotech_Master @28 - well, yes. That's what I meant. Unless someone has a really good Ouija board, I wouldn't think Jon Pertwee could record anything new. :)
Helen Peters
30. Helen
And if it were Jon Pertwee we'd just think Worzel Gummidge.

22. Ursula The Silence said "You are Amelia. You will tell the Doctor what he must know, and what he must never know."

Leaving it on its own like that it also looks like it could be a prediction or a simple statement of fact, rather than a command or suggestion.
Ian Gazzotti
31. Atrus
On the subject of ganger!Amy, I seem to remember that what the Doctor did was simply disconnect the signal between her and real!Amy, not actually dissolve her like ganger!Doctor did with Jen. Had the ganger retained any memory, IMHO, then she should have survived. (I might have to rewatch the scene, though.)
As for why he did it, in addition to the fact that she was going into labor, there was also the fact that the bad guys might have been using her as un unwilling spy in the TARDIS.

I also don't think that this reveal means that Amy has been put in the refrigerator for the first half of the season. Minor spoiler for the next episode: the Doctor tells her that, while it was a duplicate body, it was guided by her actual mind and heart. So she did have those adventures, she did save the Doctor, and so on.
Ashley Fox
32. A Fox
@26 Ahh i was called away to Chelsea flower show, so missed my media tidbits that week :P

There was a 'fairenough' comment wih loling @19..buts its disappeared. mmm. Roll on autumn and Lets kill hitler!
Ursula L
33. Ursula
Regarding Amy telling the Doctor what he needs to know, and what he must never know, could the Silence have been planning to intervene? To allow Amy to tell him what he needs to know, but then to separate her from him before she tells him what he must never know?

If you know that someone is going to tell someone something that they must never know, it makes sense that you'd try to stop them.

And why must the Doctor never know what the Silence thinks he must never know? Is it just because him knowing will mess things up for the Silence? Or is there a larger issue, one that has to do with the safety of the universe, in the way that last seasons "Evil Alliance" were desperately trying to get the Doctor to stop flying the TARDIS before it blew up and took reality with it?
Chris Meadows
34. Robotech_Master
I read that whole "needs to know and must never know" thing as being that the Doctor does need to know that Amy and Rory saw an older version of him die, but Amy and Rory think that he must never know. In that respect, Amy did tell him that, during this episode.

On that note, the whole thing about the dead Doctor's age being 1100 whereas the current one is only about 900 kind of interests me. Steven Moffat has a bit of an interesting attitude about the Doctor's age. He has said:

"The thing I keep banging on about is that he doesn't know what age he is. He's lying. How could he know, unless he's marking it on a wall? He could be 8,000 years old, he could be a million. He has no clue. The calendar will give him no clues."

(I don't necessarily agree with that, of course. If the Doctor can tell how old a structure is by tasting it, why shouldn't he be able to tell how old his own body is by how it feels? But the show runner is the one who runs the show, so…)

So, since we know Moffat's philosophy about the Doctor's age, does the claim of the Doctor who died to be 1100 years old have any significance? Did the Doctor just say it to make Amy and Rory think that it was a him from the future? Wheels within wheels…
35. sofrina
@31 - i don't think the amy ganger could spy on anyone. when amy was in the orphanage, freaking out, the wall opened and silver-eye said "i think she' s dreaming." so she must have been screaming in her little white pod too. if they could see her thoughts, they'd know what was going on.
Ursula L
36. Ursula
As far as the Doctor's age goes, even if he's lost track of his total age, or never really knew it in terms of Earth years because Earth years didn't matter to him before he started hanging out with humans, he should still be able to estimate the distance between two events in his life, in terms of the amount of time he's experienced.

Just as someone from a culture that doesn't really track age closely can still say something happened last year or the year before.
Ursula L
37. Ursula
I think it is safe to say that the Doctor at the beginning of TIA is much older than the Doctor we've typically been seeing. Not because the age he was talking about is necessarily strictly accurate. Rather, we know he is older because he was able to synch his diary with River's, with a lot of things that we haven't seen, and that the version of himself that turned up later didn't know.

I don't think the Doctor is cruel enough to first present himself to River as her long-time beloved, and then pretend not to know her. I don't think he's canny enough to fool River about events that she's experienced and cherishes enough to remember in detail.

The Doctor we saw at first is one who knows River well, who has traveled to Easter Island with her, and who shares a friendship with her and Jim the Fish. The Doctor that shows up later doesn't have all those shared experiences with her.
Ashley Fox
38. A Fox
I only sporadicly watched season 5, so have just started watching it. in the 11th Hour, when the doctor is 'showing' the roving-eye-mettalic-icicle-structure-sentry-thing (Who's name I've already forgotten, can you tell?) there is an image of the Silence.

Also re some of the discussion about whether/what makes Amy special, the very first time she steps into the Tardis asking 'Why me?' he gives a significant glance to the scanner (the one that showed the not/preganancy) which shows two wibbly lines.

Now I'm not suggesting she was flesh then, but it is interesting.

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