Aired 28 May 2011
‘The Almost People’ picks up events immediately where ‘The Rebel Flesh’ ended, and in continuing its story completes easily the most traditional of Doctor Who tales in a very long time. This is no strike against the episode, though, as it remains thoroughly entertaining up to and through its shocking epilogue. The sense of confusion due to the doubles that pervaded the atmosphere last time returns and, if anything, is actually increased, helping to steer events to their logical conclusion and demanding the characters’ and the audience’s attention.
Matt Smith quickly becomes even more of a presence than he normally is thanks to the addition of his Ganger. The time it takes for the duplicate to become adjusted and stable allows for some fun callbacks to previous Doctors, but it’s apparent throughout that Smith is thoroughly enjoying himself as events progress, convincingly playing off of himself and even holding conversations with himself. Again, this is no easy task, but each of the duplicated humans manages to portray their two versions exceptionally well, Sarah Smart again doing yeoman’s work as Jennifer becomes more integral. Mark Bonnar and Raquel Cassidy offer very strong and convincing performances as well, adding emotional depth to both sides but a much needed emotional layer to the humans’ in particular.
As the two Jennifers confide in Rory, Smart proves what an adept and capable actress she is. Unfortunately, her performance is undermined at least partially by CGI work that is well below average for the standards Doctor Who has created for itself. The grand conclusion as the Ganger turns into a much larger and more terrifying creature really lets the episode down and ends up being the least effective portion of the story. Compared to the lower-key physical makeup effects and the otherwise superb CGI effects, this is a tremendous letdown.
That’s all the more unfortunate because, until that point, ‘The Almost People’ does a fantastic job in exploring all of the characters on both sides of the dilemma as well as their motivations and potential ramifications of their choices. Emotions are sufficiently heightened, and the effect on Rory when he discovers the discarded flesh is compelling and saddening. The menace of the Gangers and the resultant sacrifices, paired with the tension of running through corridors to safety, makes for an thoroughly enjoyable tale from the start, and the resolution to the Ganger problem is both satisfying and logical.
Yet again, though, this is a story that is overshadowed by its epilogue as events tie into the underlying story arc and raise so many more questions. As it turns out, the Amy in these events is not the real one but rather a Ganger herself. It seems logical to assume that this has been the case for several episodes now, going by the quick appearances of the lady with the eyepatch dating back to ‘Day of the Moon,’ coinciding to when the Silence took her. Realistically, though, the switch could have occurred at any time. Surprisingly, the Doctor seems unfazed by this turn of events, stating that Amy hasn’t been with them for quite some time and that Amy is having a contraction seconds before she does. It makes sense that the Ganger flesh would interfere with the Doctor’s pregnancy scan of her, especially is she is not on board, but the questions regarding just how long the Doctor has known, what he’s going to do about it, and just where the real Amy are still persist.
It’s clear, regardless of the outcome, that the midseries finale ‘A Good Man Goes to War’ has a lot of work to do as speculation runs rampant.