Sunday, 29 May 2011

'The Almost People' Review

Series 6 - Episode 6: 'The Almost People'
Written by Matthew Graham - Directed by Julian Simpson

Last week's episode did what I believed it would do - set up the second part. Although 'The Rebel Flesh' was a very impressive episode and deserved congratulations on it's own merit, it's concluding episode, 'The Almost People' has snatched the spotlight with a whirlwind of moralistic ideas, fantastic special effects and THAT ending...

Plot Outline:
As the Solar Storm continues to rage, Jennifer's 'Ganger' prepares the rest of the 'Flesh' race for war. Rory is cut off from the rest of the group, whilst Amy is having to deal with two Doctors. To add further insult to injury, the TARDIS trio are heading for a crisis point that nobody could foresee. 

 In last Saturday's episode, viewers got time to learn about the 'Gangers' and understand why they are being created. However, what Graham's intelligent script doesn't cover is why are they being later mistreated. We learnt that they are in place in order to complete tasks seemed to dangerous for 'humans' but we never understand the prejudice regarding them once they are concious of themselves - the moment they realise they have a history, memories and feelings, they are punished by their 'creators'. In 'The Almost People', we receive that all important moral resolution, but we get heaps of prejudice, injustice and foul play beforehand. 

 For this, I further my argument of 'Doctor Who' as family viewing - it's certainly good to enforce ideas of acceptance and equality to all ages, in fact, it's far more important to educate the young about these issues as they have their whole lives ahead of them, but at points in this episode, even I quivered a little at the sinister undertones of this fantastic screen text. I don't want readers to think I'm complaining because I'm not - I love the fact the show is getting 'darker' and taking more risks with daring story lines and sub-plots; it's a great move that excites me dramatically, but I can't help but think some viewers may feel a little concerned after this two-parter, then again maybe not. Hopefully it's the latter.

 The plot-point with Amy and the 'Double Trouble' Doctors was genius and helped to enforce further characteristics of Gillan's companion. Her affection towards one of the Doctors was a marvellous way to cause friction between the group and set the scene for one of the episode's big reveals. This along with the narrative regarding the 'Gangers' vs. 'Humans' war set a politically motivated atmosphere which was beautifully portrayed on screen.

 But to say the episode was all doom and gloom would be a lie; like all 'Who' episodes, comic relief is always around the corner, and for me the funniest moment was the constantly changing voices of Matt's 'Ganger' as he grew into his current body; multiple voices babbling about Jelly Babies made my day. It was a very sweet (excuse the pun) homage to the show's wonderful and ever-growing history. And as well as comedy, we had our hearts warmed by Jimmy's (Mark Bonnar) 'Ganger' fathering his 'creator's' child. It was a touching and believable moment.

 Visually, the episode was fantastic - Simpson's direction was pin-point with accuracy and captured all the elements with style. This alongside the brilliant CGI helped make 'The Almost People' a dazzling audio-visual experience. The piles of used up 'Ganger Flesh' left to rot on the floor was a horrific image and Jennifer's mutated 'Ganger' looked astonishingly demented - another plug to David Cronenberg too. Also, is it just me or did it remind anyone slightly of a female, less-bony version of Lazarus from 'The Lazarus Experiment' (2007)? 

 I think I've delayed it for long enough now - let's discuss THAT ending...
It seems as though Moffat and the production team are hell bent on torturing us fans this year; next week sees the mid-series finale and that impossibly irritating hiatus, and so far, we have been given so many little scraps of information that I'm certain will not get any type of conclusion until the show returns.

POSSIBLE SPOILER AHEAD! - The big reveal in 'The Almost People' actually had little to do with the episode at all. Viewers were left speechless after seeing an abducted and imprisoned Amy in labour with the mysterious 'Eye Patch' woman telling her to "Push!" in the most disturbing manner. Now I'm certain other 'Who' blogs will talk this point to death and come up with multiple theories as to what's going on - well I'm not going to do that; I think it kills the drama a little and can make the actual outcome seem like an anti-climax. I have ideas as to what's going on with Amy, and I'm sure you do too, but I'm so excited to find out the truth that I'm going to button my lip, suffer in silence and ride it out. Dedicated describes us Whovians best.

 The performances were very good, however I was a little disappointed by the lack of Rory - after having a large amount of screen time and dialogue in 'The Rebel Flesh', he seemed like a 'spare part' again for the majority of this episode. This was a shame because Darvill was excellent last week; still he was entertaining in his brief moments here too. Double Matt was great too; the pair finishing each other sentences was rather endearing and the scene when one of the Doctors pins Amy to the wall and screams at her was brilliantly executed. Smith is a tremendous actor and I think those who are still moaning about him need to get off the David Tennant high-horse. However, Gillan gets my vote again; she's turning into the star for me - her story lines are so fresh and engaging and she's taking every opportunity she's given with skill and precision. I haven't chosen her just because of the final two minutes however, more because of what I previously mentioned - her prejudice against the supposed 'Ganger' Doctor was fabulous and allowed audiences to dive inside her damaged and misguided psyche - you couldn't help but be angered by her actions yet feel sorry for her at the same time.

 'The Almost People' was an outstanding conclusion to it's brilliant predecessor; it's narrative was bold and ambitious, it's visuals were stunning, and it's performances were solid as a rock. It was disturbingly original, culturally relevant and above all else, fantastically entertaining. If all the hype is correct, next week's episode should be monumental - so much is riding on 'A Good Man Goes to War' but I'm certain it will be utterly incredible.

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