The Almost People

Once again I think I’ll be alone in preferring the action-packed second half of the “morality play” two-parter (i.e., this episode and “Cold Blood”) to the clumsy, uneventful, implausible setup of the first half (i.e., “The Rebel Flesh” and “The Hungry Earth”). I think it’s easier to make the case for this one, though: even if you get nothing out of the more genuinely moving moments, chiefly the bit where that one fellow’s ganger has to take over for him in the fathering department, you can still probably enjoy the terrific banter between the two Doctors and the competition between the two Cleves.

I hated Jen in the first half, so I had no regrets about seeing her turn monstrous in this half. I didn’t quite understand Amy’s lack of concern about Rory’s apparent affection (nursely concern, yeah right) for Jen, though the ultimate revelation about what was going on with Amy provided a half-explanation, I suppose. This was quite a long way to go to set up an impostor, though, so I assume the Flesh will continue to play a role beyond this in the arc story.

What else is there to say, really? Lots of urgent imminent explosions and deadly gases, some thoughtful cover-your-ass stuff with the wounded Jen (so yes, Amy can cut herself in that pirate episode), and most importantly a resolution that more or less makes sense given that these are not just evil duplicates of people but the people themselves, incarnated in false bodies. I guess if I’d thought more of the setup I might have been more disappointed by the outcome, but as it is I was just happy we got out with some measure of grace.

I try not to read other reviews or discussion of the episodes before I post mine, but I’ve broken that rule today and seen comments to the effect that Rory and Amy are really very stupid and unpleasant (to say the least) this time around. I’d agree. I really am not very fond of the two of them at all these days and it’s getting worse. I wouldn’t be shocked if this turned out to be their last season with the Doctor. I’ve also seen comments about how the Doctor’s action at the very end of this seems to undermine the morality tale, though I’ve also seen comments about how Amy’s ganger wasn’t the same as the others. Still, it raised a thought for me about this era. Was this bit, as the speculation goes, Moffat’s arc segment tacked onto the end of the regular episode? If so, what’s up with his conception of the Doctor as a guy who points guns (or gets excited when others do) and makes grandiose threats? See “The Eleventh Hour,” “Time of the Angels,” “The Pandorica Opens,” and “Day of the Moon,” and now this. I don’t like this trend.


  1. Jeffrey Lampert · May 29, 2011

    Acually, Moffat’s said that The Doctor’s grandstanding is

    a) A continuation of what Tennant (and Eccleston – see his speech to the Dalek Emperor) have been doing, but
    b) Is now a setup for making sure that he can’t do this ever again

    The implication is that he’s gotten too powerful, and Moffat has plans to take care of that (part two of the Alliance that oh-so-conveniently appeared and disappeared at the end of last season?)

    As for you preferring part 2, near as I can tell, so did everyone else (and not just for the last 5 minutes).

    BTW, I think there’s an interesting parallel Moffat setup earlier. During “Day of the Moon”, when the Doctor mentions what they;re doing is overthrowing Rome, he and Rory talk about the latter’s time as the Lone Centurion. He asks Rory if he remembers those 2000 years as plastic (hm…Gangers are kind of Auton-like), and Rory says sometimes – it’s like a door opens and closes in his head…

  2. encyclops · May 29, 2011

    Oh, well, that’s good then. I thought “The Waters of Mars” / “The End of Time” was supposed to have done that too, but it didn’t, really. I’m also not sure why it takes two seasons to get there, but as long as we do, that’s fine. I think having other Time Lords around helps to control the megalomania; I’m a huge fan of the Doctor being more of the talented slacker renegade than the Last and Greatest of the Time Gods, which is just one more reason I loved Romana.

    And yeah, most of the reviews I’ve been reading are more positive about part 2 than I’d expected. Doesn’t sound like Neil Perryman’s will be, but he’s just one guy.

    It makes me uneasy to think that all of this follows on from “The Big Bang.” The “we rewrote the entire history of the universe” business is just really slippery in my head and once you can do pretty much anything, nothing is all that interesting anymore.

  3. Jeffrey Lampert · May 29, 2011

    Actually, since the Pandorica stuff seems to be only one part of the Slients’ plan (assuming that’s who’s behind it all – the TARDIS explosion, the two Perfect Prisons in a row, judging by Day of the Moon. Then again, I’m still rooting for Dream Lord == Valeyard), etc, I have to wonder if there’s a better explanation for the whole “reboot the universe” thing. Of course, if it all turns out to be still inside Amy’s head, I’ll be annoyed.

    I prefer slacker traveller to God as well, though I think that on occasion it’s a nice twist to have everything he’s done and meddled in go to his head and become what he always hated. And I like it as a setup for the Valeyard (yes, he was handled stupidly, but I like what he represented). Hence, I’m expecting a GIGANTIC smackdown to occur. If this Alliance thing does turn out to be ongoing, think of this: there’s a group of his most powerful enemies actively searching for him and hunting him at all times. In fact, they may be doing a better job of guarding the timeline in their own way. “I’ve been running further than ever before”, the Dr says in The Impossible Astronaut. I like the idea of the Dr on the run again. (Though of course we all suspect now that this is the/a Ganger Doctor).

    BTW, there’s been plenty of speculation as to when Amy was swapped. The first time she saw Eyepatch Lady was *before* the Slients kidnapped her (she was looking for the room where she found the pix of her and the girl), so it suggests it’s been longer than we might think. (When Amy encounters them in the bathroom? Inside the Pandorica, maybe? When exactly did she get pregnant, and is it in fact Rory’s? Maybe it’s Idris’ kid! Ha!)

    BTW, as with Amy, River got nauseous after meeting the Silents, but none of the boys ever did. Also, in her past/Dr’s future, judging by the previews, there’s a Dr with a naked River Song. Just wondering if she’s really in the same predicament. (Moffat claimed that everyone who meets the SIlents gets a tummyache, but I think he’s lying – which he’s hinted he may do from time to time)

    I think you’re right, though, that “The Waters of Mars” should have humbled the Doctor, though it was a bit clumsy and quick. “Oh, she shot herself here, she sure showed me. Oh, is this an Ood-shaped dagger I see before me?” OTOH, while the End of TIme gave him the closure he needed, and yes the ultimate FU in terms of failing to avoid his fate, once he’s the new Dr., the latter probably doesn’t mean as much.

    I do hope he sets some groundrules on the “Time Can Be Rewritten” angle, since they seem to be disregarding the concept of a fix point in time, which is what gave the Dr some of those well-needed limitations. Maybe he simply wants to explore why you need such things. Still, Moffat says he approaches Dr Who not as SF but as Fantasy, so that has me a bit worried. But even good fantasy needs a coherent set of groundrules. (I always loved Eddings’ explanation for how sorcery worked in the Belgariad – he clearly spent a great deal of time thinking about limitations and constraints)

  4. encyclops · May 29, 2011

    I’m not that jazzed about the Valeyard or the Alliance, nor do I really buy that the stuff the Doctor’s been up to is really all that bad from a universal perspective. If he’s sinning, it’s not Pride but Wrath, a failing of ethics rather than ego. To me, the idea that the Doctor is a danger to the timeline of the universe just reinforces him as Zaphod Beeblebrox, and I like him better as Ford Prefect. I miss the sense that there are larger things happening in the universe that the Doctor is stumbling across and exploring, that the Sontarans and the Cybermen and even the Silurians have plans and ambitions that don’t revolve around giving the Doctor grief.

    That said, I’ve seen the trailer for “A Good Man Goes to War” and it looks fantastic. Not to contradict myself, but if you can’t make the stories large enough to overshadow your protagonist, you might as well lean hard on the ones that focus on him. There’s plenty of room for me to be wrong, but I feel as though I know exactly what’s going on with River now, and who Amy’s baby will turn out to be (and yes, it’s just what you’ve been saying all along).

    Maybe the Silents get women pregnant just by staring at them (!!).

    I think there’s plenty of precedent for treating Doctor Who as science fantasy, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

  5. encyclops · May 29, 2011

    Oo, two Valeyard / Dream Lord thoughts:

    1. I like the idea that instead of overcoming his dark side (Valeyard, Dream Lord, same diff) the Doctor has to make a deal with it — temporarily give in to it in order to win. Of course, it’s the opposite direction I want to see his character go, but it’s more interesting than the alternative.

    2. Maybe the Dream Lord followed through on his innuendoes and got Amy preggers! Yuck.