The latest episode of Doctor Who, “The Rebel Flesh,” the first of a two-parter, explores some classic sci-fi terrain, as well as perhaps giving an important clue to the resolution of the rather dramatic puzzle that started this season. SPOLERS AHEAD!
In this episode, the Doctor is still trying to figure out why Amy is simultaneously pregnant and not pregnant, and Amy is still seeing a mysterious hatch with a mysterious woman behind it turning up in odd places. Neither of those mysteries has a been clarified in any way that I noticed. The central plot component for this particular episode is the use of “flesh” – an organic substance that can be programmer to create Doppelgängers of humans who can control them remotely. The “Gangers” are supposed to cease to exist as soon as the neural connection is severed, but a freak solar storm causes them to take on an independent existence.
We thus get the Doctor talking about them as saved life, and other characters pondering whether they have a soul. The episode thus provides a good jumping off point for a discussion of artificial life and whether such creations, should they ever become technologically possible, deserve rights – in essence, whether they are people.
The Doctor – as so often – arrives in the situation seemingly aware of at least some of what is going on and the historic important of events that we are seeing for the first time. But I wonder whether the viewer actually catches a glimpse of something that the Doctor himself may not yet be aware of. MAJOR SPOILER from the episode ahead!
There were hints that the “flesh” – even when it was not serving as someone’s Ganger but was just there in a vat – already had some sort of sentience. And by the end of the episode, the “flesh” has produced a duplicate Doctor. What I’m wondering is whether it will turn out to have been that Doctor, rather than the original one, who died in the first episode.
If you’ve seen the episode, what did you think of it? If you have been watching the whole season, where do you think the major plot arcs are headed? And since tomorrow is the anniversary of the LOST series finale, how do you think Doctor Who has been doing in terms of planning out a season-long puzzle and solving it, compared to LOST, which of course didn’t only do that but spun some mysteries out across several or even all six seasons?