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Recap / Doctor Who S32 E6 "The Almost People"

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The Almost People
Me and Mr. Smith
Written by Matthew Graham
Directed by Julian Simpson
Production code: 2.6
Air date: 28 May 2011
Part 2 of 2

"I have a plan, and it'll destroy them all."
Ganger Jennifer

The One With… Eleven squared.

Continued from the last episode, and all-out war is going on between the human crew and their rogue Gangers, both of which fear the other group too much to stay rational. As the solar storm rages, Jennifer, a Ganger driven mad by the unnatural memories of being "decommissioned" over and over, is seeking revenge. As the crumbling factory fills with toxic fumes and drips lethal acid, the "originals" wait desperately for the shuttle from the Mainland to rescue them.

The Doctors tell Amy to breathe.

The Doctor's own Ganger has some initial glitches, but the Doctor calms him down and, as usual, effortlessly teams up with himself. He tells Amy that they can still be told apart because the original Doctor's shoes dissolved last episode, and he's wearing different ones now.

It turns out that the factory is full of discarded bits and pieces of Flesh... still fully conscious.

Amy is very freaked out by seeing the Doctor's Ganger. She treats him coldly and stops just short of "generated anomaly". The Doctor keeps asking her why, and she explains that the friendship she has with the Doctor can't suddenly be directed towards his Ganger, regardless of whether or not they have the exact same feelings and memories.

Amy sees the eyepatch woman again, and finally decides to tell the Doctor about it. He brushes her off. When the Doctor's Ganger takes her aside, she freaks out and asks him if he can die. Because she may have seen that, and the real Doctor invited her to come see it. The Ganger takes in that information, but is distracted when his innate psychic Time Lord powers pick up the screams of the decaying discarded Flesh. He heads back to confer with the Doctor, and hesitantly agrees to keep his distance from the main crew as a safety precaution.

Rory teams up with Jennifer, and is tricked by her to trap Amy, the Doctor and the remaining crew. Jennifer turns out to have had two Gangers, and the original her is long since dead.

Jennifer's remaining Ganger morphs into a freakish long-limbed monster. The factory is about to be blown up, and the Doctor reveals to Amy that he's not the Doctor at all. He's the Ganger — and has been all along. They switched shoes to see how Amy would respond to them. The Doctor's Ganger sacrifices himself while the Doctor, Amy and Rory escape. The two remaining Gangers are dropped off safely, together with the last living human crew member. They decide to let the world know what happened, together.

Back inside the TARDIS, the Doctor explains his reasoning for the switcheroo. And why he told Amy to "breathe" earlier. She's going into labour, or rather, her very pregnant actual self is. Amy was kidnapped before America, and has unknowingly spent months experiencing all her adventures through a Flesh body. The Doctor knew all along, because the Flesh has never been able to fool him. He just needed to know more about it before taking action: how it feels, how it works and how it can judge.

As the Doctor dissolves the Flesh of Amy's Ganger, telling Rory to be very brave, we cut to where Amy really is: on a bed, giving birth. The eyepatched woman who Amy keeps seeing through doors and walls is staring at her, real this time, happy that the baby is about to be born. Amy screams.


  • Alice Allusion: Jennifer's monster was inspired by a drawing in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland that depicted Alice with a long neck.
  • Arc Words: Arc Person again — the Eyepatch Lady.
  • And I Must Scream: The partially melted down Gangers. Rotting, but fully alive and conscious.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: Cleaves has a blood clot in her brain, giving her headaches. In a case of Reality Is Unrealistic blood clots in the brain, whilst capable of causing a stroke, are not the same thing as one. They still usually cause more than headaches though.
  • Batman Gambit: By the Doctor, as usual, by banking on the Gangers trying to recruit his Ganger, he shames them into acting human.
  • Big Bad: Ganger Jennifer.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The TARDIS, crashing through the ceiling once the acid around her has dissolved the ground she was standing on.
  • Big "NO!": The Ganger!Doctor gives a few as he's trying to adjust to the memories of past regenerations.
  • Body Horror: The rotting Gangers — partially melted but still conscious. Also, eyes in one of the walls, made of more living Flesh.
    • Jennifer elongating her jaw with an inhuman sound before running after a screaming Buzzer, killing him off-screen. Word of God is that she ate him.invoked
  • Buffy Speak:
    • "It's chokey gas!"
    • "All right, show me the scanney-trackey screen!"
  • Captain Obvious: There is a massive cracking sound. Amy: "Something just cracked; I heard it!"
  • Capture and Replicate: At the end of the episode, it's revealed that the Flesh technology has been used to do this with Amy.
  • Chekhov's Gun: When the Ganger!Doctor was born, he was created with a brand new set of shoes... which the Doctor used to replace his own destroyed pair, switching the work shoes with his Ganger duplicate.
  • Cliffhanger: Amy's been piloting a Ganger all along, and is really being held somewhere else by the Eyepatch Lady... and she's giving birth.
  • Clone Angst: Subverted. While the human Gangers question their humanity and their originals don't trust them, the Doctor considers the originals and their Gangers to be literally "the same person twice". In fact he sees his Ganger as himself and deserving of full respect. He's vindicated when it turns out he and his Ganger switched places near the beginning of the episode and not even Amy noticed, proving they are practically the same. The Ganger!Doctor is also free of angst. This makes sense since the Doctor has been around a long time and has a more enlightened perspective than the other people who were cloned.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The Ganger!Doctor quotes his First, Third, Fourth and Tenth incarnations while trying to stabilise himself. At one point he even offers people a jelly baby in Tom Baker's voice.
    • Later, he calls himself John Smith, his most common alias over the series.
    • Both Doctors refer to the TARDIS as "Sexy".
    • The Doctor calls Rory "Roranicus", just like Amy did.
    • Amy waking up in a small coffin-like space, like in "The Hungry Earth".
    • Rory appears to understand why the Doctor is telling him to step away from Amy, which would make sense for someone who was himself a duplicate.
  • Cute and Psycho: It's suggested the original Jennifer was one, and would explain why her Ganger flipped so quickly.
  • Dead All Along: It’s quickly revealed the Ganger Jen killed her original at some point in the last episode.
  • Debate and Switch: Since the season opener, Amy and Rory have been wondering whether to tell the Doctor that he's going to die and risk some sort of paradox. During this episode, Amy accidentally tells him, thinking she was speaking to the Ganger!Doctor.
  • Differently Dressed Duplicates: The Doctor is wearing a pair of borrowed work boots, and his Ganger is wearing his original shoes. Except that they actually switched shoes early on...
  • Distinction Without a Difference:
    Ganger Doctor: The Flesh can grow, correct?
    Cleaves: Its cells can divide.
  • Distressed Dude: After Rory unwittingly helps Ganger!Jennifer with her plans, she drags him away after trapping the other team.
  • The Ending Changes Everything: Amy is a Ganger and has been all through this series; human Amy has been locked in a cell the entire time, meaning somewhere along the way human Amy was swapped for a Ganger who has been travelling with the Doctor the whole time. Since the Ganger functions as a remote body to the real Amy, that means that human Amy experienced all this series' preceding adventures while not in her real body.
  • Face–Heel Turn: The Doctor pretends to do this, making the Gangers think he's on their side until he has an out to "trick them into humanity".
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Cleaves towards Gangers in general. Amy demonstrates repeated prejudice and anger towards the one she thinks is the Ganger!Doctor (who's really the original Doctor).
    • Ganger!Jennifer plans to go to the mainland and kill as many humans as she can because she believes them to be the real monsters.
  • Finishing Each Other's Sentences: The Doctor and his Ganger effortlessly finish each other's thoughts.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Amy, in this episode, is worried she and Rory are growing apart, and doesn't like being separated from him. Turns out they've been apart all along.
    • During the first conversation between the Doctor and his Ganger, one asks about Cybermats. Guess what's returning later in the series?
    • The Doctor and his Ganger both tell Amy to "breathe" several times. This is in preparation for the birth, as the Doctor has guessed what's happened to her.
    • At one point, Amy complains of a pain in her abdomen, but brushes it off as a "muscle cramp."
  • The Doctors duck in and out from behind a computer desk early in the episode, which is implicitly the moment they swapped shoes.
  • Full-Name Ultimatum: Parodied a bit by the Doctor: RORY POND! RORANICUS PONDICUS!
  • Genre Blindness: How many hints did Ganger!Jennifer give Rory that she wasn't exactly on his side? She had to flat out tell him for him to catch on.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Ganger!Jennifer completely loses it thanks to all her memories of being "decommissioned".
  • Headache of Doom: Miranda Cleaves suffers from headaches, revealed to be the result of an inoperable blood clot in her brain. Her Ganger, being a perfect replica, also experiences these symptoms. The Doctor gives her some medicine that can dissolve the clot at the end of the story, giving her a new lease on life and allowing her to testify on behalf of Ganger rights.
  • Heel Realization:
    • The Doctor tricks the Gangers into this to quit their plans and save the humans, having Ganger!Jimmy contact their son (and thus realize he is basically killing his son's father). Only Ganger!Jennifer fails to undergo this, coming to see "humanity" as a weakness, and turning herself into a literal monster for it.
    • The Doctor also pulls one over on Amy, by pulling a Twin Switch with the Ganger!Doctor she is repulsed by.
    • After being the most vocal on Ganger prejudice, Cleaves leaves the episode ready to fight for Ganger rights with Ganger!Dicken.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: All over the place. Final list includes human Jimmy, human Dicken, Ganger!Cleaves and the Ganger!Doctor. Interestingly, all of them die thwarting Ganger!Jennifer's murderous actions, with Dicken being directly killed by her.
  • Hive Mind: The two Doctors manage to act as if they were still occupying the same skull. Which, in a way, they are. Both being essentially exactly the same person, it would make sense that they would know exactly what the other was thinking. The fact that Time Lords are telepathic couldn't have hurt, either.
  • Hollywood Acid: Carrying over from the last episode, the stuff being mined at the factory. Human Jimmy dies when he gets splashed with some that bores its way to his heart.
  • Humans Through Alien Eyes: Subtle example. Rory finds the human and Ganger versions of Jennifer only for them to fight, and is shocked when the human Jennifer hurls her counterpart into a pool of acid. We later learn that both of them were Gangers and it was done to manipulate Rory — in other words, the Ganger!Jennifer views humans as being so callous that she presented her supposedly human version casually disposing of the Ganger version as normal behaviour, but Rory himself is morally superior to her idea of what humans are like.
  • Hypocrite:
    • The Ganger Jennifer rails against the humans for "executing" Gangers, but it turns out she deliberately killed another Jennifer Ganger herself in order to manipulate Rory.
    • The climax basically revolves around the poetic irony that while the other Gangers either die heroically (and thus assist in proving their species's "humanity" to their originals) or actually take over the lives of dead originals as they initially desired (albeit under far more noble terms), Ganger!Jennifer has come to find such actions "weaknesses" and dies a literal inhuman monster willing to kill even her own out of spite.
    • There's a subverted case at the end. After spending two episodes preaching about the rights and freedoms the Gangers deserve, the Doctor quickly melts Amy's Ganger in order to learn the original Amy's location, though he says he is going to be as "humane" about it as possible. Considering the fact that Amy's Ganger is still a remote interface rather than a separate person like the other Gangers, it's not entirely hypocritical.
  • Identical Twin ID Tag: The Doctor and the Ganger can be told apart by the fact that they're wearing different shoes. Except they swapped shoes early in the episode to make a point about how alive the Flesh is.
  • Idiot Ball: Ganger!Jennifer, after being "proven" human, uses Rory's handprint instead of her own to access the human-use-only factory controls, and the computer says loudly, "Human identity verified". Rory doesn't notice anything odd about this until Ganger!Jennifer outs herself as a Ganger.
  • I Know You Know I Know: Invoked. Since Ganger!Cleaves has the same memories and thought-patterns as human Cleaves, she's able to correctly guess what her human counterpart chose as a code phrase.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Both Cleaves and her Ganger suffer from one caused by a blood clot in their brains that is impossible to cure on Earth. The Doctor fixes it with some medicine he keeps in the TARDIS.
  • I Will Find You: The Doctor promises this to Amy, who's standing right in front of him. So she thinks.
  • Jaw Drop: Played for Horror. When Ganger!Jennifer finds Buzzer, who accuses her of killing the real Jennifer, she slowly elongates her jaw with a horrifying sound emanating from it, much to Buzzer's shock. She runs at him and it is confirmed by the Mill (the visual effects company that formerly worked on the show) that she eats him off-screen.
  • Karma Houdini: Cleaves is entirely responsible for the Ganger situation going to hell and a hand-basket, and somehow she gets to have a terminal illness cured and go free to fight for Ganger rights.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: Amy has been living her Ganger's experiences, while all the time she's imprisoned in a birthing tube.
  • Maternity Crisis: The episode ends with Amy going into labor while being held prisoner in an unknown location.
  • Mirroring Factions: The point of the Aesop is that the Gangers are not different at all from their human counterparts. The Doctor and his Ganger prove this with the Twin Switch they pull on Amy.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • The Doctor's Ganger mangling previous incarnations' catchphrases as he struggles to solidify at the beginning. Hearing him say "reverse the jelly baby of the neutron flow!" should be funny, but it comes with him obviously in pain and on the brink of losing his mind.
    • The ending; after the Doctor has dropped the survivors off, having them promise to ensure some good comes out of the whole sorry affair, things are rather upbeat and positive, until Amy starts clutching her stomach in pain for no discernible reason.
      Amy: Doctor, I am frightened. I'm properly, properly scared.
  • Never My Fault: Cleaves tries to get the others to fight the Gangers on a self-defense reason, but ignores that the Gangers are only attacking them in retaliation for her killing of Ganger!Buzzer.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The previews made it look like Ganger!Doctor would be an antagonist. Not only does he help the original throughout the episode, he eventually pulls a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Nightmare Face: Ganger!Jennifer sports two of them this episode. The second one is when she takes a genuinely monstrous form.
  • Noodle Incident: The Doctor apparently once plugged his brain into an entire planet to halt it in its orbit to win a bet.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Not only can the factory pipes spill Hollywood Acid when they rupture and the acid forms Deadly Gas when it melts stone, the entire factory explodes when overheated. No wonder they used to lose a worker a week.
  • The Noseless: The Gangers are noseless whenever they start losing cohesion, which is often.
  • Oh, Crap!: The face the Doctor makes when he hears from Amy that he's due to be murdered. The twist with the Doctor's shoes will reveal why this is so bad. You may not notice it in your first watching of the story due to the way events are framed, but pay close attention and you'll learn why that expression is not to be ignored.
  • One-Winged Angel: Ganger!Jennifer mutates into some kind of large, four-legged beast near the end.
  • The Power of Love: Getting a holo-telephone call from his son is what inspires compassion in Ganger!Jimmy to rescue the humans from the death trap. Unfortunately, he arrives too late to save the human Jimmy, but is given his blessing to take his place in raising his son, which proves the tipping point in solidifying the Gangers and humans making peace.
  • The Plot Reaper: Ganger!Doctor tidies all the surplus elements of the plot (including himself) away once they've outlived their purpose.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: "Geronimo."
  • Pseudo-Crisis: The last episode's cliffhanger was the revelation of the Ganger!Doctor. He and his original get along splendidly.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Cleaves, responsible for the whole mess by murdering Ganger!Buzz, becomes one in the end. At the press conference she is accepted as "boss" by one of the remaining Gangers after saying they would confront the matter "side-by-side".
  • Red Herring: The Gangers immediately led both Amy and the viewers to the hypothesis that the Doctor who died in "The Impossible Astronaut" was a Ganger.
  • Remote Body: It turns out that Amy is a Ganger, being unknowingly piloted by her from an unknown location.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Jimmy and Dicken are killed, but their Gangers resume their lives for them. However, since they possess their memories, from the perspective of the Gangers, they're simply resuming their own lives.
  • The Reveal: We finally get to know a bit more about the Eyepatch Lady Amy has been seeing.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: Ganger!Jennifer promises the other Gangers it will be "us or them".
  • Screaming Birth: Although Amy could just be screaming out of terror, she's also giving birth.
  • Shout-Out: Amy mentions how there can be only one Doctor.
  • Sibling Team: The original Doctor and his Ganger are technically twins and work extremely well together.
  • Spot the Imposter:
    • The Doctor's shoes have been burnt by acid; the Ganger!Doctor's are still intact. Except they swapped shoes so the original Doctor could understand the Ganger's perspective.
    • Jimmy wears his wedding ring on a cord around his neck. Because Ganger!Jimmy takes it after he dies, he himself evidently didn't have one.
  • Take Care of the Kids: Unusual variation. Jimmy dies just as his Ganger self undergoes a Heel Realization, asking Ganger!Jimmy to watch over "their" family in his place.
  • Take That, Audience!: A minor one to the more vocal fans who persist in their desire to see David Tennant return:
    Ganger!Doctor: [Ten's voice] Hello, I'm the Doctor. [normal] noooOOOOOOOO!! Let it go, we... we've MOVED ON!!
  • That's What I Would Do: Ganger!Cleaves can guess the password Cleaves came up with, because it's the one she would have used.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: Amy's visions of the Eyepatch Lady are revealed to be what the real Amy sees when the woman opens the hatch to her cell. The image sometimes bleeds through into wherever her Ganger happens to be at that time.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Of the regular cast, Amy is the one most suspicious of the Gangers. She turns out at the end to be one herself, or rather to be remotely piloting one without realizing it.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Amy can be unfeeling at the best of times, but she dislikes Ganger!Doctor before she has any reason to. She says he's amazing, but not the Doctor. Then it turns out he is the Doctor.
  • Twin Switch: The Doctor and his Ganger switch shoes, and thus places, to test whether they were really the same.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Rory plays into the Gangers' plans for most of the episode.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Ganger!Jennifer talks about how the original Jennifer used to be a "little girl lost on the moors in her red wellies".
  • Voices Are Mental: While the Ganger Doctor is trying to cope in the beginning of the episode, he speaks in the Fourth and Tenth Doctor's voices. Justified in that the Flesh, adaptive as it was, could easily rearrange itself to create a different vocal pattern.
  • The Walls Have Eyes: Eyes are growing on the castle walls, just staring accusingly at people.
  • Wham Episode: It turns out that Amy is a Ganger. Also, we finally find out who the Eyepatch Lady is.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Carrying over from the last episode, the miners and Amy say "nothing" and the Doctor and Rory say "everything". In the end, Cleaves agrees with the Doctor.
  • Which Me?: The Doctor and his Ganger self get mixed up a few times when people speak to them, or they speak to themselves.
  • Worthy Opponent: Cleaves and her Ganger do not like each other at all, but they do respect each other's intelligence. Cleaves suspects that Ganger!Cleaves is eavesdropping on her transmition and types the codeword just in case, thus prompting Ganger!Cleaves to remark "Look how smart I am".
  • You Are What You Hate: Amy, who shows extreme mistrust towards the Gangers, only to be revealed to be one the whole time. The difference is that the Gangers were separate people from their human counterparts whilst Amy's Ganger was only a remote "interface" but she did not know this.