by Catriona Mills

Live-blogging Doctor Who Season Six: "The Almost People"

Posted 4 June 2011 in by Catriona

Moderately late for the live-blogging after spending the day at a belated 40th birthday party (which was flooded out in January).

So I can’t guarantee the coherence of this live-blogging, but, eh—what’s new?

I’m not going to live-blog the previouslies, because I think we all remember those. Gangers, acid, monasteries, etc.

So now we have a ganger Doctor, but he doesn’t seem to be coping well. Our Doctor says that the flesh is struggling to cope with the past regenerations. That would explain why he just offered us a jelly baby. But he seems a bit violent and hysterical. I don’t trust red-rimmed eyes.


Oh, Amy-Pond voiceover. How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways, when I have a minute.

We come back from the credits where we left off: the ganger Doctor isn’t coping and the rest are barricading the room. But the gangers have stopped banging on the doors, which isn’t a good sign.

Except, of course, that the factory mines acid. Which, as it turns out, is a really good thing if you need to get through a locked door.

But now the ganger Doctor has calmed down a bit, been interrogated by our Doctor, and now the two are BFFs.

But they are wearing different shoes, which will no doubt come in handy at some point and not be at all confusing.

Our Doctor points out that there are conduits running under the floors, so they all manage to escape before the gangers break in. One of the gangers has a splitting headache, which I’m sure is relevant.

Elsewhere, ganger Jennifer is painting circles of flesh on the walls, and being quietly stalked by Rory.

Our Doctor wants to scan for Rory and Jennifer. But the main thing is to get above the choky gas that’s being caused by an interaction between acid and the stone walls. They head for the evac tower.

But the gangers know that they’re heading for the evac tower, because ganger Cleaves points out that they are, after all, the same people.

Jimmy and ganger Jimmy both reminisce about their son, whose birthday it is. But ganger Jennifer bursts in, saying she remembers the suppressed memories of their previous lives, all those creations and deaths. The other gangers don’t remember their previous lives, but ganger Jennifer does, and now she’s talking about revolution.

That was a bit quick, wasn’t it? Leaping from desire to live to full-blooded, bloody revolution in about half an hour?

In the evac tower, the Doctors are working together to fix the computers, and insisting that they’re both the Doctor. But Amy is showing an oddly xenophobic streak, saying that “being almost the Doctor is pretty damn impressive” but that one of them is definitely the real, proper, here-first Doctor.

Power comes up, and Amy wants to scan for Rory. But Cleaves’s first step is to call the mainland. She wants to be evacuated from the mainland, and the gangers to be wiped out. She also attaches a codeword to future messages, but types it, so that the listening gangers can’t hear.

Elsewhere, Jennifer is trying to operate some technology with her hand print, but they won’t recognise her as an authorised user.

The Doctor sets up a delayed phone call, while Amy goes wandering off towards a stone wall—which slides open to show the eyepatch woman, and then slides shut again. This time, she’s willing to talk to the Doctor about it. The Doctor says that it’s a time memory, like a mirage, and nothing to worry about. But the ganger Doctor, in the foreground, definitely looks worried.

And, indeed, he runs out of the room, and Amy follows him. She apologises for calling the ganger Doctor “almost the Doctor”, but says that she’s been through so much with the Doctor. And she tells him that she might have seen the Doctor die. The ganger Doctor asks why, and Amy says that he invited them to see his death.

But the ganger Doctor doesn’t mean why did she see the Doctor die. He means why do the gangers have to die over and over? And he slams Amy up against the wall as he rants about this.

Amy runs, but the ganger Doctor, bursting back into the room, says that he’s connected to the flesh (our Doctor felt it, too, but not as strongly). He can feel what they feel and what they want.

The end result of this is that the ganger Doctor is isolated on a barrel in the corner, even though our Doctor says that he is him and so on.

Rory finds Jennifer, but there are two Jennifers, which makes things a bit tricky.

RORY: So one of you is human, and one of you I’ve sat with and talked with.

He’s a such a sweetheart, Rory.

He says that the Doctor wants the gangers to live, and he’s with the Doctor all the way.

But the Jennifers fight, and one (the one that’s not limping) falls into a pool of acid, and melts into a puddle of flesh.

In the evac tower, they spot Rory and Jennifer heading towards the thermostatic chamber, and send someone out to find them.

DOCTOR: Am I crazy, Doctor?
DOCTOR: Well, you did once plug your brain into the core of a planet to halt its orbit and win a bet.

In the thermostatic chamber, Jennifer gets Rory to turn the machine on.

JENNIFER: It’s this wheel. It’s just too strong for a girl to turn. Are you feeling strong?
RORY: I’ll break out the big guns.

And he makes an adorable bicep-flexing gesture. Say again: such a sweetheart.

She uses Rory’s hand to get a the machine to recognise a human user.


Of course, the machine has actually turned off all the cooling vents, so that the entire island is now sitting on litres and litres of boiling acid.

That can’t be good.

Elsewhere, the gangers have guessed Cleaves’s codeword, and Cleaves has an inoperable blood clot in her brain. The gangers re-route the rescue shuttle.

In a locked (or formerly locked) room, deep underground, Rory and Jennifer find a room full of discarded flesh, left to rot still conscious, because it was faulty.

That is actually pretty cold.

On their rescue mission, the ganger Doctor and Buzzer find Jennifer—human Jennifer—who slips into death just as they find her. She’s been lying out in the cold for hours and hours, waiting for someone to find her.

Poor Jennifer.

And who’s with Rory?

Buzzer knocks the Doctor on the head, and leaves him to lie in the yard.

The others, running for the thermostat room and safety, pass the wall that ganger Jennifer was marking with circles of flesh earlier, to find the wall peppered with eyeballs—accusing eyeballs.

Ganger Jennifer, speaking to the discarded flesh, finds Buzzer and kills him in another slightly unconvincing special effect.

But the main group meet up with Rory, who says that Jennifer has a way out of the monastery, a tunnel that isn’t on the schematics.

The gangers find the injured ganger Doctor, and take him under their wing.

He says that they should call him John Smith.

Rory and Jennifer lock the main group into a secure room. Rory isn’t happy about this, but Jennifer tells him a story that the ganger Jennifer originally told him. She flashes ganger eyes at him, and drags him off, over Amy’s insistence that he should open the door again.

Rory’s completely furious that Jennifer’s dead and that the ganger Jennifer created (and killed) another ganger Jennifer just to gain his confidence.

Jennifer’s preaching revolution again, and Nick wonders how the gangers know that this is the ganger Doctor. Perhaps because they left him in the yard with a bump on his head?

The group locked in the secure room are facing an exploding tank of acid, any minute now.

The Doctor’s delayed phone call (which I can’t remember mentioning before, but I might have) comes through: it’s to Jimmy’s son. And since ganger Jimmy is there, he gets to have a cheery birthday phone call with his son. But he doesn’t—he runs off to rescue actual proper Jimmy. And ganger Cleaves tells ganger Dickens to drain the acid pit in whatever room the others are in.

Jennifer, though, says she’ll take revenge on humanity with or without the others, and storms off in the middle of the Doctor’s heartwarming speech about the other, non-revenge options.

Ganger Jimmy gets there just in time to see Jimmy take a litre of acid to the sternum. Since the acid has “reached his heart”, there’s nothing they can do to save him. But he still has time to make a long, dying speech, and pass his son (and wife, presumably. Ew.) over to his ganger’s keeping.

Is that really how hearts work? Or, for that matter, acid?

The annoying child is still on the phone when the others come back to the main dining room, so ganger Jimmy—who is now the only Jimmy—has time to have a lovely birthday conversation with his new son.

Now they need to move, says the Doctor.

And it’s true that ganger Jennifer—who is now the only Jennifer, of course—is a bit hysterical and, well, monstrous now.

I have a bit of a problem with this monster, and it’s not just because, once again, the special effects aren’t very convincing. But I don’t really have time—in fact, Dickens died while I was typing that I didn’t have any time to discuss it.

Everyone discusses who will stay behind to hold the door shut, while the TARDIS (which has just dropped through the roof) dematerialises. But it looks as though the Doctor’s planning on staying behind. Until the ganger Doctor points out that they swapped shoes, and he’s been the real Doctor all along.

Amy tells the ganger Doctor that he’s twice the man she thought he was. And he tells her to push, “but only when she tells you to.”

The Doctor tells the ganger Doctor that his molecular memory might survive, but his flesh has definitely gone, as he uses the sonic screwdriver to collapse himself and ganger Cleaves.

The TARDIS, says the Doctor, has stabilised the gangers. They’re people now, he says.

And he cures Cleaves’s blood clot.

And drops Jimmy off with his son.

And drops Cleaves and ganger Dickens—now the only Dickens—off to give a big press conference for their company.

They head in, to questions and flashbulbs. And the Doctor tells Amy to breathe—just in time for some apparently crippling stomach cramps.

Oh, sorry: contractions. She’s going into labour.

With that flat stomach? Really?

The Doctor says that he needed to see the flesh in its early days, that’s why he scanned it, and why he tried to drop them off for fish and chips.

He needed enough information to block the signal to the flesh, to Amy.

He tells Rory to stand away, and Rory (who trusts the Doctor with both his life and his wife) does so.

The Doctor says that given what they’ve learnt, he’ll be as humane as he can be, but he has to do this. “I promise,” he says, “we’re coming for you.”

AMY: I’m right here.
DOCTOR: No, you’re not. You haven’t been here for a long, long time.

And he dissolves her into flesh.

And Amy, waking up in a tube, looks down over her own enormous stomach to see the eyepatch woman telling her to push, and screams us into the “To be continued” screen.

Share your thoughts [11]


Drew wrote at Jun 4, 03:57 pm

Leaving aside the Amy pregnacy subplot, the ending of this story just didn’t work for me. All that time into writing a two-parter and it ended so quickly and conveniently. The Tardis dropping through the floor could be likened to the Doctor stumbling on it at the end of The Satan Pit, but there it worked brilliantly, here it didn’t work at all. I don’t know, I liked the story well enough, but the ending was too rushed and poorly thought out and I can’t see why it should have been.


Catriona wrote at Jun 4, 09:53 pm

I do agree that the ending didn’t work, and I originally thought, “Oh, Satan Pit reference! Damn.” But the more I think about it, the more I think that the Doctor’s insouciant attitude when he first saw the TARDIS sinking was the beginning of his awareness that they’re on a tiny rocky island and it sank right next to the castle, so it’s bound to sink into a wine cellar of some sort, and he can work his way round to it at his leisure.

I guess what I’m saying there is that I wasn’t annoyed by the TARDIS dropping through the floor (as I was in the “The Satan Pit”“, but I was annoyed by the TARDIS dropping through the floor conveniently, just as they needed it.

My main problem with this one, though, is the speed with which Jennifer changed her convictions. It worked last week, with Jennifer projecting her secret fantasies of strength into her ganger, and Cleaves’s ganger showing her underlying diffidence. But this week, we flipped from “we are as human as you are and you must acknowledge that” to “KILL ALL HUMANS and then be something no-human and a bit unconvincing”, and it didn’t really work for me.


Drew wrote at Jun 4, 11:28 pm

I will say though, dealing with a seemingly forced pregnacy of this nature is daring for Doctor Who, it’s more of a story you’d expect to find in Torchwood. I’m really interested to see where it goes and more importantly, how far it is willing to go.


Catriona wrote at Jun 4, 11:52 pm

I don’t see any evidence of a forced pregnancy in the episodes that have aired thus far (remember the “based-on-ABC-scheduling spoiler policy!), but if you fancy discussing anything in unaired episodes, come on over to the spoiler thread I just started.


Drew wrote at Jun 5, 12:43 am

well forced in the sense that she didn’t even know she was pregnant and it’s kinda implied that the Doctor is somehow the father though I guess we can assume there was no sex involved.


Catriona wrote at Jun 5, 12:48 am

I think I’ve made this point before, and I still believe it: I don’t think (at the point of this episode) that there’s any real implication that the Doctor is the father. I suppose the whole mystery about it might be read in that way, but I don’t see it myself.

And I think the “don’t know I’m pregnant” bit comes from the fact that this Amy is the flesh Amy, the ganger Amy. And, technically, she’s not pregnant: hence her nice flat stomach, even though she’s at nine months.


richard wrote at Jun 5, 06:10 am

Great twist. Very satisfying, cliff-hangery business. Glad there’s only a week (ahem) before we get to see all that resolved! Etc!

Great start, too: Jelly Babies, polarity and all that. And some terrifically atmospheric acting from the main cast.

But the plotting of the episode: oh, dear! Not only the conveniently arriving TARDIS, and the many moods of Jennifer Lucas, but the lamest self-sacrifice(s) in the history of the show! Go back and watch the Epic Holding Of The Door climax and the Twice The Man I Thought dialogue and convince me they couldn’t have all made it through the already open doors of the TARDIS.

Half the running time was wasted on wandering-around-the-maze padding; the same philosophical questions (for the guest cast) as we basically covered last week; and that irritating and unconvincing holographic child.

The technicalities of which gangers are proper with hearts and independent potential and so forth, and which revert to liquid when disconnected/decommissioned were also a mystery to me.

Meh. I think there was a single ep in this, plus some revelation stuff: wasted on a two-parter. Still, I’ll take my revelations and go.


Catriona wrote at Jun 5, 07:36 am

Those are my big problems with that episode, as well.

1. Is the child meant to be that annoying? Because I actually really love children, and have always got on well with little boys, in particular. (I don’t think I’m girly enough to suit really little girls, if that doesn’t sound as creepy as I think it does.) And that child just left me cold.

2. Dickens’s sacrifice with the first doorway made sense, but why, oh why did they have to all stand and natter at the second doorway instead of just legging it to the TARDIS? Oh, that’s right: because then we’d have a third Doctor floating around somewhere and no convenient parallel universe to shunt him into this time.

3. How did the TARDIS make the Jimmy and Dickens gangers “proper humans” (and presumably not susceptible to going all melty) and didn’t do the same for Amy? When she’s been travelling in it for, what, months? Or did it do the same for Amy, but they were still able to make her all melty, in which case, what does “proper human” mean?

4. Did they really expect ganger Jimmy to just leap back into family life, complete with wife and child whom he’s technically never met before, and that solves the problem of the human Jimmy getting a chestful of acid? And am I xenophobic to think that’s a bit wrong? Or is “xenophobic” just a word they use here to stop us asking some actually pretty huge questions about life and life experience?

5. What was the purpose of the blood clot? If it only ends up serving as a single last-ditch insult from Cleaves to ganger Cleaves and then is conveniently solved with a small vial of liquid that, for some reason, is just hanging around the console room instead of being (as usual) in a chest somewhere, what narrative purpose did it really serve?


Nick wrote at Jun 5, 07:41 am

On point 3 above, I think the crucial distinction is that the other gangers have independent consciousnesses and the Amy ganger is still being remotely piloted, as it were. There’s nothing there to take on an independent existence once the connection to the control signal is broken. The solar wave separated the other gangers, but perhaps the very events of this story is what caused the technology to be improved (which perhaps implies that the remaining characters weren’t entirely successful in their campaign to bring the human rights issues to light?).


Drew wrote at Jun 5, 10:00 pm

The child didn’t bother me at all. I was very bothered by the 2nd Doctor not because he was annoying, I thought the relationship the 2 Doctors had was great, he got on better with himself than he has ever done before, but that once you create Doctor no. 2 then you have to deal with him in some way at the end of the story and frankly the ending was very weak. He’s served his use so lets kill him. Very lazy writing.


Catriona wrote at Jun 5, 10:14 pm

Yes, and the Doctor didn’t seem particularly bothered that he was about to die. He’d spent the whole two episodes insisting that gangers were human and the whole of this episode insisting that the ganger Doctor was him (and vice versa), and telling Amy off for being xenophobic—and then he goes and treats the ganger Doctor like disposable cutlery! It was well weird, I thought.

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