Doctor Who: The Rebel Flesh

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?

  • Angie VanDeMerwe

    Sounds very interesting, we just don’t watch TV much. And if I started to get involved, I’m afraid I’d forget to watch the next episode….but it is food for thought, unlike some “sitcoms”!

  • Angie VanDeMerwe

    Sounds very interesting, we just don’t watch TV much. And if I started to get involved, I’m afraid I’d forget to watch the next episode….but it is food for thought, unlike some “sitcoms”!

  • Angie VanDeMerwe

    I guess you did read; Bolivia Set to Pass Historic ‘Law of Mother Earth’ Which Will Grant Nature Equal Rights to Humans
    http://www.pvpulse.com

  • Angie VanDeMerwe

    I guess you did read; Bolivia Set to Pass Historic ‘Law of Mother Earth’ Which Will Grant Nature Equal Rights to Humans
    http://www.pvpulse.com

  • http://intheopen.blogspot.com pilgrimscrybe

    i’ve loved the last two episodes (“The Doctor’s Wife” and “The Rebel Flesh”). i’m intrigued with the Doctor’s fascination with and awe of life; it reminds me of C.S. Lewis’ whole idea that there are no ordinary people, only immortal beings and we should keep that in mind as we encounter each other. these last two eps really play at that. and i, like you, immediately latched onto the thought that this is how they get away with the Doctor’s death in the first ep–though i’m still out as to which Doctor that is…

  • http://intheopen.blogspot.com pilgrimscrybe

    i’ve loved the last two episodes (“The Doctor’s Wife” and “The Rebel Flesh”). i’m intrigued with the Doctor’s fascination with and awe of life; it reminds me of C.S. Lewis’ whole idea that there are no ordinary people, only immortal beings and we should keep that in mind as we encounter each other. these last two eps really play at that. and i, like you, immediately latched onto the thought that this is how they get away with the Doctor’s death in the first ep–though i’m still out as to which Doctor that is…

  • Anonymous

    Doctor Who has been doing it better than Lost because it actually resolves the plot arcs.

    I’m not entirely sure that Doctor Flesh is killed in the premier because that Doctor was about to regenerate. I’m not sure the flesh can do that. I think regeneration is more of a time energy thing than a biological function of the Doctor’s DNA. Then again, this is a show where a character is saved by blood loss with CPR (but that was when Davies was getting kind of crappy) so I don’t know that’s not going to be the case.

  • http://digestofworms.blogspot.com/ admiralmattbar

    Doctor Who has been doing it better than Lost because it actually resolves the plot arcs.

    I’m not entirely sure that Doctor Flesh is killed in the premier because that Doctor was about to regenerate. I’m not sure the flesh can do that. I think regeneration is more of a time energy thing than a biological function of the Doctor’s DNA. Then again, this is a show where a character is saved by blood loss with CPR (but that was when Davies was getting kind of crappy) so I don’t know that’s not going to be the case.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Angie, I couldn’t get the link to work, but it sounds like an interesting article.

    admiralmattbar, thanks for your comment. The girl who was in the spacesuit seemed to be about to regenerate at one point, too – and to make things even more interesting, I just found some people speculating online that River Song could be Amy and Rory’s daughter!

    I don’t know what I think of that idea, but I will make the observation that there are people discussing Doctor Who puzzles online in exactly the way that was typical of LOST puzzles!

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Angie, I couldn’t get the link to work, but it sounds like an interesting article.

    admiralmattbar, thanks for your comment. The girl who was in the spacesuit seemed to be about to regenerate at one point, too – and to make things even more interesting, I just found some people speculating online that River Song could be Amy and Rory’s daughter!

    I don’t know what I think of that idea, but I will make the observation that there are people discussing Doctor Who puzzles online in exactly the way that was typical of LOST puzzles!

  • tspringer

    Thanks James for your review and interesting connection between the flesh doctor and the doctor killed in Utah. Also, did Rory’s sympathize with the “flesh” people out of some hidden memory as an Autons?
    I remember allusions to this season’s plotlines even from the previous season such as Amy’s pregnancy.

  • tspringer

    Thanks James for your review and interesting connection between the flesh doctor and the doctor killed in Utah. Also, did Rory’s sympathize with the “flesh” people out of some hidden memory as an Autons?
    I remember allusions to this season’s plotlines even from the previous season such as Amy’s pregnancy.

  • Anonymous

    I think it’s possible the little girl is a young River Song and killing The Doctor is what she is in jail for. I don’t know what reasons she would have had for killing him though. She then spends her adult life escaping form prison and meeting him at points in his timeline between the library episode and the murder.

  • http://digestofworms.blogspot.com/ admiralmattbar

    I think it’s possible the little girl is a young River Song and killing The Doctor is what she is in jail for. I don’t know what reasons she would have had for killing him though. She then spends her adult life escaping form prison and meeting him at points in his timeline between the library episode and the murder.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    TSpringer, I did wonder what connection if any there might be to the Autons!

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    TSpringer, I did wonder what connection if any there might be to the Autons!


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