Post Game TV Recap: DOCTOR WHO S6E5 "Rebel Flesh"

Post Game TV Recap: DOCTOR WHO S6E5

Electric surges and precise technology do NOT go together. So when a solar flare turns expendable work-clones into sentient copies of the original workers, tempers are going to fray. Better find a hat and some sunblock, 'cause the spoilers are shining bright today...



by Matthew Graham

Directed by Julian Simpson

An industrial team tasked to refine and pump acid on a remote island use surrogate bodies called Gangers, made from a programmable matter called The Flesh. But a solar flare causes the Gangers to attain sentience, retaining their originals' memories. The Doctor has to help keep the two parties from destroying each other, as well as get them safely off the island. This proves difficult when the TARDIS sinks in a pool of acid, and a Flesh-borne version of The Doctor makes an appearance.

A solid adventure, touching on classic science-fiction concepts, the eternal question of what defines a living sentient being. Rory gets to stretch his legs a bit, causing some mixed feelings from Amy, and The Doctor seems to have a few TOO many of the answers.



Matthew Graham (Writer) co-created Life on Mars as well as its sequel Ashes to Ashes, archaeology drama Bonekickers and the upcoming Eternal Law about two angels sent to Earth to serve as lawyers. In another connection, current Who producer Beth Willis also produced two series of Ashes.

Marshall Lancaster (Buzzer) played Chris Skelton in Graham's Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes.

Mark Bonnar (Jimmy) is currently confounding expectations as Detective Finney in the second series of Psychoville. He played D.S. Ben Holt in the mini-series Paradox, in which police solve crimes with the help of messages from the future.


THE MONSTER FILES The Gangers (short for Doppelganger) are artificial lifeforms given sentience by an accident. There's the obvious comparison to Frankenstein (both born in a big storm) and even the golem (created to protect people) and any number of more recent science-fiction analogues. There's endless similar ideas in sci-fi, including the robots of Westworld, The Terminator, and even Johnny Five from Short Circuit.

As an analogue to slavery, they can be compared to The Ood, a race that were described as sub-sentient by the company selling them, more to keep people's morals from kicking in. The Sisters of Plenitude built their own artificial humans to use as guinea pigs in New Earth. In the story, one of the sisters refers to them as "just Flesh."

BACKGROUND BITS AND BOBS - Trivia and production details

REVVED UP LIKE A DEUCE ANOTHER RUNNER IN THE NIGHT - Solar Flares are becoming an increasing problem for the planet Earth. The Daleks harnessed one in 1930 with the help of the hastily-completed Empire State Building in Evolution of the Daleks. over a century later, flares would block communication between earth and Bowie Base One in The Waters of Mars. The flares will eventually grow so powerful that a number of plans will be created to save the population of the planet. The UK will hitch itself to a space whale which they will come to refer to as The Beast Below, and some time after that, Nerva Beacon will be refitted to serve as The Ark in Space.

THIS IS SOMEONE ELSE'S BODY, AM I GETTING THROUGH TO YOU - We've seen an assortment of duplicates of The Doctor and his companions over the years. The Daleks built a robot duplicate of the Doctor way back in The Chase. Decades later we saw that the Daleks maintained their ability to build realistic human duplicates with the creation of Edwin Bracewell in Victory of the Daleks. We saw both an artificial Doctor, Sarah Jane, Sgt. Benton and Harry Sullivan in The Android Invasion.

And that's just robots. Martha Jones was cloned as part of The Sontaran Stratagem. Both The Doctor and Leela were cloned in The Invisible Enemy. Meglos impersonated The Doctor in his eponymous adventure, and the Time Lord Omega tried it in Arc of Infinity.

The Nestene were quite good at duplicates. They planned to replace important figures in The Spearhead From Space, created a dummy (literally) Mickey Smith in the first episode of the new series, Rose. A couple years later they create a duplicate, albeit accidentally, of Rory Williams who meets a much more happy fate than the others.

They haven't all been done by the bad guys, either. The Doctor was cloned by Donna Noble when she touched his amputated hand, into which he had shifted his residual regenerative energy. And in The King's Demons, short-lived companion Kamelion impersonated The Doctor briefly. In a reversal of the concept, in The Androids of Tara, the real Romana (Mary Tamm) is for an android princess who she resembles (amazing how often that happens in fiction, isn't it?). At one point, she does get replaced by a android copy, but not the one she was originally mistaken for.

I'M CLIMBING UP, UP THE CORPORATE LADDER - The Doctor has had limited success with climbing towers. It didn't go at all well in Logopolis - he fell from a radio antenna, damaging to the point that he had to regenerate. He got caught in a similar electrical storm trying the stop The Wire in The Idiot's Lantern, and hangs on for his life at the top of the Empire State Building in Evolution of the Daleks.

"I've seen worlds turned inside out in an hour" - Aside from the fact that the current run of the series is an hour, The Doctor has indeed has many tumultuous hours. The real-time episode 42 took place in that long, a gentle tip of the hat to the Fox Network's 24. Matt Smith's first episode was called The Eleventh Hour and featured an accelerated countdown to the destruction of the Earth.

"Welcome to my world" - This line is s nice little lampshade-hanging to the recurring theme that has annoyed so many fans; the numerous passings of Rory Williams. The subplot with Rory and Jennifer here is potentially very interesting. Rory has met someone who needs looking after. He got to come to Amy's defense last series, not to mention the two thousand years of protecting the Pandorica. But pretty much, she's the Alpha of the relationship, and an opportunity to come to a woman's aid (not to mention his nurse's training) seems to have kicked his desire to help into high gear. While you could also extrapolate the shared experience of being artificial into the connection, it may not play an active part.

"I'm not a monster...I'm me!" - More than any other of the Gangers, Jennifer's physical form seems connected to her mindset. She flashes to a more human form as she insists on her humanity, and fades to an unfinished blank as she starts to forsake it. The other Gangers seem to have to work harder to maintain their more human forms.  When things go pear-shaped, she's also the one who seems to be urging them down the historically proven path of violence.




THIS is a big one. Comic book writer Sterling Gates (Late of Supergirl, Currently of Kid Flash Lost and future of...well, SOMETHING, I hope) shared something he had brought to his attention by blogger Sebastian Gordils. Go look at The Impossible Astronaut, the scene where The Doctor gets deaded, just about 6 minutes in. In the background, off to the side, there's a storage shed of some type. There's somebody standing behind it. And a few seconds later, when The Doctor falls to the ground, so does the figure. Now, take the next step and ask yourself, why WAS there a rowboat just sitting there?

And while we're still only halfway through this episode, let's just note that we now have a duplicate Doctor. That could be either good...or bad. Indeed, the episode of The Chase in which most of the impersonation takes place carries the misleading title, "The Death of Doctor Who". Hmmm, a duplicate of The Doctor, and references to his death. ....Naaaahhhhh...

"Accident? Yes...accident" - There's a subtle undercurrent going on in the story. First, The Doctor tries to drop Amy and Rory off before he goes off to do "Things involving other things," then a bit too much knowledge about the events that are about to happen, and he seems to know a GREAT deal about The Flesh. Also, he deliberately goes back to re-scan the Flesh reservoir, possibly completing the connection he and it had earlier. So there's a definite chance. There's clearly something more going on here, and hopefully we'll find out what next episode.

NEXT TIME ON DOCTOR WHO - OK, a monastery full of acid and deadly fumes, an extra Doctor, and a new race of beings that want to kill our heroes. Par for the course. The Almost People will be seen in America in TWO weeks, as BBC America has chosen not to show a new episode over Memorial Day weekend. No fair peeking.

Vinnie Bartilucci planned to name his child after Perry Rhodan and Kimball Kinnison, but she was a girl, so she got named after Norville Rogers' little sister. His blog The Forty Year-Old Fanboy serves as a repository for the things he thinks need saying, but can't get anyone to stand still long enough to hear him say..

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