Doctor Who Series 6, Episode 5: The Rebel Flesh

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A solar tsunami causes the Doctor to land at a factory where the few workers deal with acid leaks using doppelgangers. Will contain spoilers, sweetie.

Once again, I’m struggling to write anything about this episode, because it’s just so forgettable. I think the main problem is that this is the first part of a two parter of Doctor Who and the entire episode is wasted on just building up to that second episode.

Basically, the doppelgangers aren’t meant to be active when the real person is active, but the effects of the solar storm cause a blackout which causes the new batch of half finished doppelgangers to awaken at the same time. They’re inbetween being imperfect and perfect replicas and we get all these cliches about them having the same memories as their original versions and believing they’re real.

So essentially, you have an episode of Doctor Who where there’s actually no villains at all. The only reason that the doppelgangers go on the offensive is because the leader of the original team kills one, which causes a “war” to begin. It’s an inherent problem in Doctor Who where we have cookie cutter villains who aren’t actually villains, they’re just misunderstood by humanity and the Doctor has to reluctantly stop them. The problem is that it’s boring after it becomes something to be expected in the show. Doctor Who works best when it’s good vs evil and there’s no grey areas. Sure, the likes of the Daleks and Cybermen have become overused lately (and thankfully have been rested pretty much so far), but at least they’re actually villains because they’re villains. You only need to look at this series alone to see that the two worst episodes so far have been this one and the one with the Siren.

Back on topic, it’s once again a massive filler episode and they pull the same two tricks to make it seem as though it isn’t. Once again Amy sees the weird woman with the eyepatch for about a second but never mentions it again, and we once again see The Doctor looking at the pregnant/not pregnant screen, but with no development on what that actually means. Usually this wouldn’t be such a problem, but this series is being split into two parts, which means that there’s only two episodes left before a three month break. Unless they plan on carrying on this particular plot point, the writers need to start cutting the bullshit and actually get on with the main storyline. This sidestory could easily be left to one of the new adventure games.

The saving grace of this episode is Rory, who is slowly becoming my favourite character. I think it’s probably because he’s pretty much become the straight man of the series. Everyone around him has now probably lost a few screws in their head by this point and he’s the only person who still seems to react to all of the craziness that surrounds him like a normal human being would. Besides, he gives one of the best lines in this episode when he reacts to someone’s brush with death with “Welcome to my world.” Given the amount of fake deaths he’s had in his time on Doctor Who, it makes perfect sense for him to say that.

My final problem was with the end of episode reveal. It was just painfully obvious from the moment you saw the lips in the acid pool that it was going to be Doppelganger Doctor. They didn’t even put any effort into it, since because of the acid’s limitations, he’s a replica of 11. It might have been worth the reveal if the acid had caused a mix of regenerations in one form, or a doppelganger changing through all of the regenerations, or even just 10, so we could see David Tennant as the Doctor one last time. Although two Doctors will no doubt be fun, it could have been better. Hopefully the second part of this two parter will make up for a lacklustre episode.

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