Can Matt Smith burn like Tennant? Are Gangers like Cylons? S is kinda puzzled by Doctor Who 6×05 “The Rebel Flesh”

I was sadly disappointed with this week’s installment of Doctor Who with “The Rebel Flesh”, keeping in mind this is only part one of two, I’ll try to keep this recap brief and hold most of my thoughts until after I’ve seen the second hour. Either way this is television and we’re only seeing one hour at a time. This is something that should be kept in mind by the creators. Please, make each hour entertaining on its own, even if the story carries over two weeks.

The Rebel Flesh, Doctor Who Matt Smith The Doctor

Matt Smith as the Doctor in "The Rebel Flesh"

I can’t wait until next week where I’ll take a look at what I’ve written here and hope to see that the show will have proved me wrong. I love the ideas, and where they’re coming from but I’m finding the execution to be lacking. I can’t pinpoint just what it is, either that it was slow, or The Doctor seemed oddly useless not only to the situation but to the story.

The Io9 review of “The Rebel Flesh” written by Charlie Jane Anders says The Doctor himself seemed to actually detract from the first hour of the story and only becoming significant in the final moments. I agree with this assessment. We better get major payoff for this wait next week.

Matt Smith’s Doctor has such a different feel than Ten, he has many qualities that I love, but I miss certain aspects of his predecessors. His presence isn’t as strong and sturdy but more flighty, batty with hints of the depth portrayed in the earlier doctors below the surface. I found myself missing the more strongly authoritative nature of nine and ten in this episode. He seemed to let things just pass him by as an observer, when things were getting bad as he knew they would he didn’t quite panic, or really know what to do, he was just sort of there. I found that to be so jarring. But again, here’s to hoping next week’s installment picks up the pace and makes the story all worth it.

Don’t be fooled doctor, it acts like life but it still needs to be controlled by us

The Gangers felt a lot like Cylons to me. I am aware that the troupe of creating sentience in the image of humans is not exclusive to Battlestar Galactica, or science fiction. It’s a tale as old as the old testament where God creates Humans in his image. So maybe it’s just the way this story is told, or the way the gangers are born in tubs of goo that led me to make this connection in particular.

The flesh, fully programmable and is learning to replicate itself… is this where Cylons come from? Goo baths!

[Warning, the next bit is pretty BSG/Caprica oriented, if you haven’t watched, I seriously recommend you go do that now.]

Cylons as robots (as in not the skin jobs) were initially developed to do the labour that humans no longer wanted to do, created as subservient beings. As we saw in earlier models of robot helpers in Caprica, like Serge, he was built not only to respond, but to think, to calculate and to anticipate. Caprica gave us the building blocks to understand how the Cylons managed to develop sentience beyond the human nudging that made Serge the domestic robot seem so human.

serge caprica

Serge, The Graystone's Domestic Helper, Caprica

The Cylons evolved from a single “soul” and then eventually evolved into more. In the age that Caprica took place in people were creating cyber avatar versions of themselves so sophisticated that they were virtual copies of themselves, sharing the same memories, sense, and in some cases feelings as the human counterpart. These avatars were used to exist in V-world, an advanced gaming ‘verse accessed through cyber bands placed across the eyes. These copies were created for a different purpose, but the idea of copying oneself is the same as the gangers.

When Zoe was killed her father, Daniel Graystone learned that her near exact copy, her avatar was alive in v-world he reached out to her. She became the character, alongside another dead yet living character Tamara, they were sentient copies living and existing within a virtual environment. This was until Zoe’s father pulled her out of v-world and endowed her with a body, she now existed, a living consciousness that was artificially conceived. From her soul, copies were made, they evolved, bringing us to the first Cylon war soon to be described in the upcoming Syfy series “Blood & Chrome” then the genocide of humans by the Cylons in Battlestar Galactica.

The Gangers were meant to be copies, subservient labourers who were given life. Once they had life, they had thought, free will, choice, and don’t want to give it up. This can get very juicy, I hope that Doctor Who manages to make it as exciting as it can be in part two: “The Almost People”

[Battlestar comparison ends here, I promise, but keep a look out for a piece on this topic that might pop up here in a little while.]

Last thing about gangers, I promise. Any similarities between Cassandra’s aide Chip and the gangers? In the sense of not quite human subservient beings.

Chip Cassandra's Aide Doctor Who

Chip in "New Earth"

doctor who rebel flesh ganger Jennifer

Sarah Smart as Jennifer, The Gagner in "The Rebel Flesh"

Things I really did like about this week’s episode:

– The little leftover bit from last week in “The Doctor’s Wife” when the Tardis told the Doctor that she takes him where he needs to go. When Amy says that they landed here by accident the Doctor pauses on that a moment, Yes, accident

Aho, a cockerel, love a cockerel

I have to get to the cockroll before all hell breaks loose, pause, I never thought I’d get to say that again

The Doctor performing tests with a snowglobe

There are people coming..what to we do,
what do we always do – RUN

Loved seeing Marshall Lancaster, also known as Chris from “Life on Mars” and “Ashes to Ashes”

Just as I was really missing the psychic paper, The Doctor breaks it out again

Seasonal Arc Watch:

  • When the episode begins Amy and Rory are playing darts and The Doctor looking on, mulling over the pregnancy scan, still pos/neg
  • What’s cool this week? Solar storms! “what that wave hits, cool”
  • What’s with Rory’s thing with Jennifer? There have been themes of Rory’s jealousy of Amy’s connection with the Doctor, is this going to be a thing?
  • Bionic woman appears in a wall, she shuts the hatch right away

Plus a note from @hjea – we keep getting peaks of our seasonal arch concepts, moments of the Bionic Woman and The Doctor staring at the scan of Amy’s pregnant/nonpreg status. Give us something substantial, even if it’s tiny, or don’t show it at all.

That’s all for now folks, I’m excited to see “The Almost People” and get this whole thing sorted out. Do me proud Doctor Who, you usually do.

– S

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