I’ll be as humane as I can…
In years to come “The Almost People” is likely to be remembered for the 3 minutes of revelations that concluded the episode, and furthered the series 6 story arc, rather than the preceding 42 minutes of narrative that wrapped up the tale began in “The Rebel Flesh”.
As implied in the previous episode, the reason the Doctor came to the refinery was to learn more about the Flesh in its early stages of existence. For an unknown length of time he’s known that the Amy aboard the TARDIS was not the genuine article but a Flesh duplicate and he needed to determine a way to block the signal that was controlling the fake.
It was heartbreaking to watch Rory’s inability to help his beloved wife as she was reduced to pure Flesh. The primary duty of any husband is to protect his wife from harm and there was nothing he could do to help Amy as the Doctor severed the signal and revealed her to be nothing but Flesh, with the real person held captive by the scary eye-patch lady (now revealed as the midwife from hell) and on the verge of giving birth.
The eyes are the last to go
The entire attitude of the humans towards the gangers was akin of that of the Nazis towards the Jews, or Apartheid-era South Africa towards the coloured members of the population – a resource to be exploited and thrown away when no longer useful. One of the most haunting scenes of this, or any other series of “Doctor Who”, cam when Rory and Jennifer discovered the “rubbish tip” of gangers. The genetically wounded of no use to the grand purpose of the refinery and humanity abandoned to pain and torment, their eyes always asking a one word question: “why?”
In the end it came down not to the entire strain of gangers present being to blame for the deaths that occurred but the misguided attempts of an individual to change the status quo with violence. Jennifer was the most human of the humans but the most corrupt of the gangers. She played upon Rory’s humanity to try and wipe out the humans but ultimately she failed thanks to the self-sacrifice of her fellow gangers in the shapes of Cleeves and the Doctor.
Steven Moffat has been accused of making the series too horrific for children. Crap. The “horror” motifs present in “The Almost People” convey the important message that humans are ultimately the most dangerous monster of all. There are real human monsters stalking the world and they are far worse than anything the BBC Wales production team are putting on the screen.
To counterpoint the darker elements of the episode is the humour of the Doctor forming a double act with his ganger. Loved the kisses to the past with previous regenerations leaking through as the duplicate Doctor assimilated 907 years worth of experiences.
“One day we shall get back” originated with the 1st Doctor, “reverse the polarity of the neutron flow”* with the 3rd Doctor, “hello, would you like a jelly baby” from the 4th Doctor, and “hello, I’m the Doctor” from the 10th Doctor. Bonus points for dubbing in Tom Baker and David Tennant respectively for the latter two.
The whole purpose of Matthew Graham’s 2-parter seems to have been to introduce the concept of the Flesh and he had to generate the best story possible to do so. With a mixture of action, horror, comedy, and demonstrations of the best aspects of human nature, he pretty much succeeded. “The Rebel Flesh”/”The Almost People” doesn’t fall into the category of “classic” but it’s a far more watchable tale than the likes of “The Long Game”, “New Earth”, “Partners in Crime”, or “Planet of the Dead” from the eras of the 9th and 10th Doctors.
Next time on Doctor Who: “Demons run when a good man goes to war…”
* “Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow” is often cited as being a catchphrase used throughout the Pertwee era – yet in actuality the 3rd Doctor only said it once during his tenure, and that was in “The Sea Devils” in 1972. Pertwee uttered it once again in the 20th anniversary special “The Five Doctors in 1983 as a homage.