Sunday, May 22, 2011

Doctor Who: The Rebel Flesh

Weird as this episode was... on reflection I realize that I rather like it.

Amy, Rory and the Doctor land on a monastery island in the 22nd century and warn the inhabitants that they must evacuate before a dangerous solar storm hits. However they discover that the inhabitants are using a cloning system (reminiscent of Avatar) to process dangerous acid and pipe it to the mainland. The inhabitants refuse to leave and when the storm hits, the electricity somehow separates the clones from the humans, making them come fully and completely alive and no longer in need of a human 'driver.' The problem is that the clones have the exact same memories and emotions as their human counterparts... which makes figuring how who is real and who is not a major question.

But the bigger question is -- how are we to say the clones are not real?

And this is what I love about the episode. Doctor Who's brilliance comes from many things, but one of the biggest is that it is not afraid to tackle big ethical questions. The Doctor has always been the biggest champion ever of the right to life and will defend anything if there is even a chance it is sentient.

Ethical questions along these lines were a big part of David Tennant's run, so that may be why they've chosen to follow other plot-drivers in Matt Smith's run. To date we've only really had "The Beast Below" and "The Hungry Earth" two parter to really deal with ethical issues. In fact, one of the biggest problems many fans had with the Silence in 6.1 and 6.2 was that the Doctor basically engineered their genocide -- a move that many of us felt was a strong contradiction to the Doctor's character.

So anyhow, I'm glad we are getting an ethical question again here in episode 6.5. And cloning is a deeply relevant question to our times as our own technology moves closer and closer to the possibility of real human cloning. I'm very interested to see how everything plays out, especially after the twist in the last scene!

Other favorite bits?

The fact that there was this vastly advanced technology in the middle of medieval ruins.

Rory's big brotherly protection of Jennifer. :) This is especially appropriate when you realize that Rory spent 2000 years as a plastic duplicate. This situation is VERY close to home for him.

The human and his clone (I forget their name) reminiscing about when their son was born. The moment when the human realized that his clone really did have all the same memories and emotions... one of the most poignent moments the season has given us so far.

What didn't work?

Too many characters. I haven't had this much trouble following a cast since the Waters of Mars (which this episode had more than a little in common with).

The darkness. Would it really had been impossible to light the scenes better? I get that they're playing with the dark for plot reasons, but there's a point when you just get tired of too much darkness and not enough stuff to... well... watch!

Favorite Quotes

The Doctor: I have things to do. Things involving other things.
Amy: Well, we'll stay with you. We'll do the other things.
The Doctor: Nope.
Amy: Whatever you're up to, I personally like to be a part of it.

The Doctor: Behold! A cockerel. Love a cockerel. And underneath a monastery. Ah, thirteenth century.
Amy: Oh. We've gone all mediaeval.
Rory: I'm not sure about that.
Amy: Really? Mediaeval expert, are you?
Rory: No, it's just that, I can hear Dusty Springfield.

Overhead: Halt and remain calm!
The Doctor: Well we've halted. How are we all doing on the calm front?

The Doctor: How long would you say we were unconscious for, please?
Cleaves: Not long, a minute, two minutes.
The Doctor: I'd hazard we've been out a teensy bit longer.
Cleaves: For how long?
The Doctor: An hour. I've seen whole worlds turn inside-out in an hour. A lot could go wrong in an hour.
(Note from Elena -- in case you didn't get this very meta joke, an hour is the typical airing length of a Doctor Who episode. ;) )

Jennifer: I couldn't get out of my harness. I thought I was going to die.
Rory: Welcome to my world.

The Doctor: Hello. How are we all getting on?
Ganger Cleaves: Why don't you tell us.
The Doctor: Well we have two choices. The first is to tear each other apart—not my favorite. The second is to knuckle down and work together. I'm here to work out how best we can help you.

The Doctor: Before we do anything, I have one very important question. Has anybody got a pair of shoes I can borrow? Size ten. But I should warn you, I have very wide feet.

Cleaves: This circus has gone on long enough!
Ganger Cleaves: Oh great. You see that is just so typically me.

1 comment:

Mary said...

THis was the first Dr. Who I have ever watched, and it was enough to make me wanna watch more. :)