Doctor Who: The Almost People review

Amy – a Flesh doppelganger? Did you see this shock twist coming?

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Doctor Who
Patrick Mulkern
Patrick Mulkern
Doctor Who: The Almost People review

“Check out next week…” See what I did there in last week’s blog? That was my coded nod to you, dear reader, as to episode six’s big reveal. Yes, doppelganger Amy and the check shirt she’s worn in every episode have finally been exposed. She’s out. Dissolved on the floor of the Tardis. Check out!

How many of you saw that one coming? Well, I’ve had my suspicions for some time. In fact, ever since Amy’s fluctuating positive/negative pregnancy scans, our first glimpse of “eye-patch lady” Frances Barber and whatever the Silence were doing with Amy back in Day of the Moon.

Those suspicions were confirmed last week, about 25 minutes into The Rebel Flesh, when Amy and Jimmy pressed the Doctor about his foreknowledge of the Flesh. If you missed it, go back and study the sustained, pained look the Time Lord gave his companion. And, then of course c18mins into The Almost People he scans Amy’s backside oh-so-surreptitiously with his sonic screwdriver.

Poor Amy, though. And poor Rory – couldn’t the guy tell? They’ve presumably been bunking up in more ways than one in the Tardis sleeping quarters, yet even he hadn’t clocked she wasn’t the full Pond. That’s some artificial technology. Buyers at Ann Summers will surely be clamouring for tips from the company behind the “living flesh”…

You may be questioning points of logic in this episode. The Doctor takes the survivors into the police box and announces, “The energy from the Tardis will stabilise the Gangers for good. They’re people now.” Great, but why doesn’t this benefaction extend to the more advanced duplicate of Amy?

Perhaps you’re aghast that, having shown such sympathy with the plight of the Gangers, the Doctor can so callously dissolve the duplicate Amy. She’s displayed no animosity and has been at his side for months. Matt Smith’s gabbled line (I had to replay it five times) is: “Given what we’ve learnt, I’ll be as humane as I can, but I need to do this.”

Crucially, he can speak to the real Amy through her double: “You haven’t been here for a long, long time.” Rest assured, this duplicate has a quite different connection to her real self than the Gangers do to theirs. It will be addressed next week.

But these are minor points to wrestle with in a largely polished production. Filming the double Doctors must have been a logistical chore, but it’s seamless. And the message “Who are the real monsters?” comes through loud and clear. The Gangers, too rightly, are rebelling against virtual slavery and eventual purgatory.

The amorphous mass of whimpering flesh, discarded in a corner of the monastery, has to be one of the most disturbing images ever on teatime telly. As Ganger Jen explains, they’ve been “left to rot, fully conscious. Imagine what kind of hell they’re in.”

Similarly nightmarish is our final image of the real Amy – awake at last, locked in a tank, far from friends and told by the midwife from hell (Frances Barber) to “Puuuuuush!” out her baby. No wonder Karen Gillan let out such a heartrending scream. Classic cliffhanger.

So how excited are we about A Good Man Goes to War? It’s going to be an exhilarating ride, as mad dad Rory comes to the rescue with more than a touch of the Magnificent Seven…

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