Sunday, May 22, 2011

My Review of Doctor Who's 6x05: "The Rebel Flesh"

Written by Matthew Graham
Directed by Julian Simpson

Ganger Doctor (to Amy): “Trust me, I’m the Doctor.”

Anyone get a sense of déjà vu with this episode? We did the cloning storyline back in the fourth season and much better with the addition of Sontarans in the mix and as for that ending? I saw it coming a mile off.

After a slew of impressive episodes, we kind of hit a slump with this one, the start of a two part story where the Doctor, Amy and Rory wind up at a mysterious factory/monastery following a solar tsunami that gets them there and to say there isn’t a certain oddness about the place would be a bit of an understatement.

With the Sontarans, we had Martha cloned against her will, doing their bidding and sabotaging the Doctor, Donna and UNIT at every turn. With the workers here – Cleaves, Buzzer, Jennifer, Jimmy and Dickens we have them cloning themselves with programmable matter called the Flesh in order to carry out the more difficult of tasks.

Cleaves herself basically reminds the Doctor and the audience as a result that while the matter has some independence, it still needs controlling by having the original people in safety harnesses as they work but this episode also didn’t waste a lot of time showing the error of Cleaves assertion on the Flesh.

For instance, another solar storm managed to wake the original people from their harnesses and the gangers themselves ran amok with only the original versions of Jennifer and Cleaves not being accounted for. It’s also amazing to a degree how quickly both the originals and the gangers turned on each other as well.

Trying to voice some sympathy for the gangers was having Rory spending a lot of time with the duplicate of Jennifer and to be honest, despite some really good actors in the roles of the guest characters (Marshall Lancaster as Buzzer for example), only Sarah Smart managed to really stand out as Jennifer.

Part of the ganger Jennifer did seem rather clingy and cloying with Rory but it was nice to see Rory actually lead a storyline rather than just react to the Doctor and Amy. I think that while parts of his sympathy for Jennifer the ganger could bite him in the backside next week, it also made sense. Rory’s a nurse, people in pain, even if they’re not real does seem to affect and it was nice to see him independent of Amy for a bit as well.

Rory wanting to help Jennifer was noble and all but it was a pity that the real Cleaves had to go and ruin everything by turning the original people against the gangers nearly less than a minute after the Doctor also trying to get the originals and the gangers actually working together but at least this episode managed to subvert a recurring trope for once.

I was convinced that when Rory fought Cleaves for the cattle prod that she was going to wind up killing him, so it was actually a nice change that no such thing happening. Then again, Rory’s already ‘died’ enough times this season, so it’s high time the poor guy had something of a breather.

However while Rory and the Doctor had done their best to actually try and bring about peace, the impending just had to go and break out. Ethical debates about the right to kill a doppelganger aside; it’s interesting how the Jennifer ganger seemed to usurp Cleaves for leadership with surprisingly little fuss. Maybe Rory was misguided after all in helping her or maybe he’ll be the one to get through to her in the next episode. One can hope, right?

As for the ganger version of the Doctor – I’ve been hearing wild theories that this might tie back to the events of the opening two parter but what I found most surprising was the Doctor’s lack of reaction to seeing his double. Okay, it’s not the first time for him but it was rather jarring for the predictable cliff hanger but having seen this episode at least three times already, the Doctor’s rather off in general. I hope that means something next week.

As for Amy, this was not her week. Seriously, if Karen Gillan had been absent for the episode, I don’t think it would’ve been such a bad thing because she pretty had nothing really to do. Both the Doctor and Rory had their respective roles in this one but apart from some jealousy/worry over Rory with Jennifer and briefly seeing the Eye Patch Lady, this one was not Amy at her most useful.

Also in “The Rebel Flesh”

Matthew Graham previously wrote the second season story, “Fear Her” as well as creating both Life On Mars and Ashes To Ashes, both of which starred Marshall Lancaster.

Buzzer (to Jennifer/Jimmy): “Oh, lighten up. It’s not like anyone was hurt.”

We got another scene of the Doctor scanning to see whether or not Amy is pregnant behind her back. Just reveal it already, show.

Rory: “My mum’s a massive fan of Dusty Springfield.”
The Doctor: “Who isn’t? Right, let’s go and satisfy our rapid curiosity.”

Cleaves (to the Doctor): “If there’s another solar storm, what are you gonna do about it? Hand out sun block?”

Amy seems to have forgotten that because of his 2000 years of memories, Rory effectively is (or should be) a medieval expert.

The Doctor (re the Flesh): “Well, I can see why you keep it in a church, miracle of life.”
Buzzer: “Don’t get poncey, it’s just gunge.”

Ganger Jennifer: “I couldn’t get out of my harness. I thought I was going to die.”
Rory: “Welcome to my world.”

The Doctor really did seem evasive throughout this episode. Why do I get the feeling he’s experienced this before or something else?

Ganger Jennifer (to Rory): “My name is Jennifer Lucas; I’m not a factory part. I had toast for my breakfast. I wrote a letter to my mum and then you arrived. I noticed your eyes right off.”

The Doctor: “Hello, how are we all getting on?”
Ganger Cleaves: “Why don’t you tell us?”

The Doctor did a pretty brutal attempt of a Northern accent. Thanks for reminding me of the 9th Doctor/Christopher Eccleston, show.

The Doctor: “We were all jelly once. Little jelly eggs sitting in goo.”
Amy: “Yeah, thanks, too much information.”

Chronology: I have no idea, apart it being Earth based and on an unknown island. Musically, though – Dusty Springfield’s “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” and Muse’s “Super Massive Black Hole” – excellent choices.

I wanted to like “The Rebel Flesh”, I really did but as good a writer as Matthew Graham is, I just don’t think he really works for this show at all. The episode just felt like it was plodding along and the main story wasn’t as engaging as I’d hoped it would be. Here’s hoping the next part is far better.

Rating: 6 out of 10

No comments: