Dr Who Season 6

Can you say “game changer”?  That’s very much what this episode was – while the introduction of the second Doctor in the final minutes of the previous episode were somewhat interesting (& raise quite a few questions about who really was killed in the Impossible Astronaut) the final minutes of this episode literally turned the season thus far on its head.  Perhaps however I am getting somewhat ahead of myself, so allow me to start at the beginning!

This article originally appeared on our sister site Zone6.

Doctor throwbacks (a Jelly Baby, anyone?), but things settled in time for Matt Smith to join in the two-character club and you could see Matt Smith was enjoying himself too, convincingly conversing with himself to the constant annoyance of all and sundry!

There were a lot of old Who and horror movie conventions employed here as well, with corridors being run down, doors being held shut, the impending filling of a room with something nasty and a healthy dose of sacrifice. All in, it was a good yarn, with an added subtext or two to it all to give things a little more depth.

Right from the start of The Rebel Flesh, this has felt like a traditional two part adventure, and that, ultimately, is what we got. It had enough in the tank to keep me on my toes for an hour and a half, and, in their early form, at least, some monsters who were rounded, yet suitably intimidating, too. I’m not sure everyone will have enjoyed it, but I certainly did.

If you have a better plan, I’m all ears.  In fact, if you have a better plan, I’ll take you to a planet where everyone is all ears.

Indeed, it’s the interaction of the two versions of the Doctor which made the episode as much fun as it was. Between this and The Doctor’s Wife, it seems like the character is getting to spend quite a bit of time this season with his long-term companions. Despite the fact that we typically see him with a human companion, there’s no denying that the character has probably spent hundreds of years travelling with just himself and the TARDIS (to the point where it doesn’t seem odd to see the character mumble exposition to himself), so it really feels quite good to give him a chance to literally talk with himself.
Matt Smith relishes the opportunity to play the Doctor’s perfect match, and the direction handles the transition between the two versions of the character perfectly. In particular, one imagines that the dialogue timing must have almost been more difficult than the practical special effects. I love that Matt Smith actually has chemistry with himself, and it’s just as wonderfully warmly self-congratulatory as one might imagine.

“I’m starting to get a sense of how impressive it is to hang out with me,” he observes at one point as he starts finishing his own sentences.

The revelations about the flesh were clever and smart. And, despite the episode’s relatively straightforward ethical point, I kinda dug the traditional values it suggested. The show has always been about how special humanity is, at it’s very core – not something especially as a result of our DNA or our species, but because of that ethereal “humanity.” I love the Doctor effectively manipulating one of the gangers into “an act of humanity.” The show’s notion that humans are capable of unspeakably horrible things (the pool of gangers was a really harrowing little illustration of that), but have genuine goodness deep down inside, is something I’ve always liked. It’s a moral philosophy that is refreshingly optimistic in these overly cynical times.

With the flesh avatars rampant throughout the base it is up to The Doctor and crew to save the day – as always – however as we learn in the final minutes of this episode, one of our faithful sidekicks – Amy Pond – has actually been a flesh avatar since the beginning days of this season itself.  This revelation changes the way in which this whole season has been perceived, and while it is obvious that The Doctor has known for a while that this is the case, we are still unsure when the switch actually took place and what the underlying motive for it was.  The logical moment for the switcheroo was when The Silence took Amy back in Day Of The Moon as it was only after this point that her pregnancy seemed to “disappear”.

It figures that the signal to The Flesh was what was screwing around with the pregnancy test readings, but still further questions ensue.

This article originally appeared on our sister site Zone6.

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