(WARNING: Contains spoiler for the film Moon)
Running through corridors, steam-bursting valves, monstered-up guest stars, questionable moralising, if any episode comes close to traditional Who, then The Rebel Flesh is it. But along with that traditional feel also comes predictability, dodgy performances, and bad dialogue. That’s not to say that there weren’t parts of the episode I enjoyed, I liked Rory having a more significant role, the Voldemort looking doppelgangers were creepy, and the final twist, albiet obvious, was pulled off very well. But I found the majority of the episode to be very slow moving, too expositional, and awkwardly acted by the guest stars.
Rather than focusing on all the negatives of the episode though, I instead will discuss my theories based off the events that took place in The Rebel Flesh, which I think will make for much more interesting reading.
My main theory regarding this episode is that the Doctor knows more than he is letting on, not earth-shattering I know, the Doctor is always ahead of the curve, right? From the off it seems that the Doctor at least has an inclination of what is in store. He tries to tempt Amy and Rory away with the promise of Fish & Chips, whilst he goes and deals with “other things”, almost as if he knows what to expect. The question is, if he knows what is happening, what is his reason for being there?
"We came here by accident."
”Accident? Yeah, accident.”
"There are people coming. Well, almost."
The Doctor and the Ponds arrive at a medieval monastery in the 22nd century, and are quickly surrounded by the “almost people”. The protective suits look strikingly similar in design to a spacesuit, and surely that isn’t accidental? My mind instantly jumped back to The Impossible Astronaut, and had me wondering if this episode was directly referencing it. Now, I don’t think any of the Gangers are the astronaut that shot the Doctor, but I think the imagery linking these two episodes together was purposeful, and that there is a connection to be made, and I think it has to do with why the Doctor decided to visit this place.
The workers in this factory are mining an acid called “The Flesh”, which has the ability to replicate anything it touches, even itself. Because the acid is so dangerous the workers have been using it to clone themselves, creating doppelgangers (Gangers), who can then do the work for them, and it doesn’t matter to them if they die, because they can simply replicate another. But when the “Big Bad” of the episode is essentially a bowl of milk, it is hard to be intimidated.
"Everything is identical," Foreman Cleaves explains, including the "mind" and "soul" the Doctor is keen to point out. I think that is very important information, and ties in with my overall theory from the episode, which I will return to in a moment.
With very little hesitation the Doctor sticks his hand into The Flesh. The Doctor knows the consequences, he has just been told, so why do it? Does he want a clone of himself running around? If so, for what reason?
We are then shown a demonstration of how the Gangers are made, as Jennifer, played by Sarah Smart, perhaps the only guest star that nailed her performance, is strapped into a harness while The Flesh does its magic. The question is, is this the original Jennifer in the harness? How many Gangers are they? How many times have these people being cloned? It’s very Moon like.
The Doctor wants to get everyone out of the factory and off of the island because of the incoming solar storm, but Foreman Cleaves refuses, so instead the Doctor has to intervene and turn off the power. “I’ve got to get to that cockerel before all hell breaks loose. I never thought I’d have to say that again.”
After the solar storm hits, the Gangers go “walkabouts”. They’ve been given human life, with all the feelings and memories of the originals. But which are the humans and which are the Gangers? It’s a line that is constantly blurred. Is there any difference, other than the fact that Gangers can go all Flubber…?
The scene with Rory and the Ganger Jennifer is one of the episode’s highlights, and brings up the same morally ambiguous questions as the film Moon in regards to cloning. Ganger Jennifer claims to be just as real as the original Jennifer, she shares the same memories and the same emotions, and her ability to understand this allows her to fully form. Rory is also on top form throughout this episode.
The Doctor returns to the TARDIS only to find it sinking in the acid, does this mean we are going to get a clone TARDIS? Also, the Doctor’s shoes melt, which I think will be significant in the upcoming episode when trying to tell the difference between the original Doctor and the soon to be awoken clone Doctor.
We get another brief appearance from the Eye Patch Lady, although this week it just seems tacked on to say “Hey! Remember this is still happening”, but without any real development of that plot strand.
The Doctor gathers everyone together, humans and Gangers, and tries to play peace-keeper, offering to take them all off of the island. But with Cleaves going trigger happy, instead of holding hands and singing Kumbaya, we have a war of “Us and Them”. But the episode’s big twist, although obvious from the moment we found out the plot involved clones, came at the end.
There is a clone Doctor! It was an effective cliffhanger and leaves things wide open for the second part next week, but it also has much larger repercussions. So, ignore all my previous theories up until this point, because here is my new line of thinking. What if the Doctor we saw shot and killed in The Impossible Astronaut was the clone Doctor? Now, I know that Canton explicitly stated that the Doctor that died was “Most certainly the Doctor”, but that brings me back to the Doctor’s earlier statement when he said that The Flesh can replicate everything, including the “mind” and the “soul”, so how would you be able to tell the difference between an original and a clone?
If it was the clone Doctor that was shot, then I believe the Doctor knew all along, this was part of his masterplan, he needed the clone, hence why he seemed to be hiding information throughout this episode. But who shot him? Well, I no longer believe it was River Song in the spacesuit, or the Little Girl, no, I believe that in the spacesuit, holding that gun, was none other than the Doctor himself, the original Doctor.
The Doctor killed The Doctor.
by Martin Holmes
The Impossible Astronaut Review: http://bit.ly/esSJmD