Monday, August 25, 2014

Doctor Who--"The Almost People"

“The Almost People” was a big improvement over its first part for a lot of little reasons, but I still feel it was padded well beyond reason. There was no compelling reason to make this a two part story. But no matter. The last three minutes could have saved just about any lackluster episode. Steven Moffat managed to slide a huge secret under our collective noses, and he is totally awesome for it.

The story is an old staple for Doctor Who--a base under siege. That particular plot dates all the way back to the Second Doctor era. Things get a wee bit confusing as Gangers and humans switch places constantly. There is a lot of claustrophobic running from gangers and a monster and some pretty disturbing Ganger corpses. It all gets wrapped up conveniently--ridiculously in some cases, such as the holophone call from the kid. There was plenty of room for more exciting twists, but we got none. What the script really needed was someone to edit it down to one episode instead of two. It would have been tighter and more fast paced. More compelling tension that way.

I did enjoy the all to brief interaction between the Doctor and his Ganger. They played off each other in the perfectly manic manner you would expect from Matt Smith’s interpretation of the character. They completed each other’s sentences, particularly the jokes, as the two ran along the same train of thought. There was a moment of Tenth Doctor angst as Almost Doctor took a moment to dwell on the memories of his past selves and their extreme actions. Those more enamored with David Tennant’s troubled Emo Doctor might have been more thrilled. While I thought the scene was necessary considering Ganger Jenny’s behavior last episode when her memories came flooding back, it reminded me how tiresome Emo Doctor’s moping became after five years.

But the last few minutes, presumably written by Moffatt, made up for all shortcomings. I am going to spoil the heck out of it, so skip the next paragraph if you do not want to know. I will not mention the revelation again after.

We learn why the Doctor wanted to go to the 22nd century in the first place--Amy is a Ganger! The Doctor destroys her in the final few minutes, then it is revealed a very pregnant Amy has been held captive by an eye patch wearing woman. She is about to give birth, but to what? I had not seen this twist coming even though I have been inadvertently exposed to faux spoilers over the last few weeks. Exactly when was Amy replaced is a good question, too. Moffatt has a way of hiding things in plain sight. Our Amy may have been gone since sometime in the first season. With the next episode ending on a cliffhanger which will not be resolved until at least September, expect much nail biting frustration from me.

The surprise ending made the episode. Otherwise, it was run of the mill fluff stretched out about thirty minutes beyond it material. Nothing was technically bad, but Wholigans have seen all of it before. The interaction between the Doctor and Almost Doctor could have elevated the episode if there had been more of it. But no such luck.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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