Words: Saam Das
SYNOPSIS: "Science fiction drama. The Doctor (Matt Smith) must convince terrified factory workers to work with their doppelgangers to overcome a monster of their own making." (bbc.co.uk)
In spite of its suspect title, 'The Almost People' proved a successful follow up to last week's offering, 'The Rebel Flesh'. The episode heightened the action of the last episode while further examining the questions of humanity and identity. More importantly, the episode finally delivered a tangible development in terms of one of the series-wide arcs. FINALLY!
Writer Matthew Graham managed to follow up his opening episode strongly, tying together strands from both his previous episode and the series as a whole. While the final scene of 'The Almost People' overshadowed its preceding forty minutes, it would be remiss to not at least touch upon the rest of the episode - considering it was one of the better offerings of the series thus far.
Pretty much from the outset, 'The Almost People' mixed revenge seeking doppelgangers with their equally combative counterparts, in a rapidly deteriorating setting. The most engaging aspects of the episode actually eschewed this chaotic, life-or-death excitement - instead, the exploration of identity, in particular, steadily took centre stage.
'The Rebel Flesh' had explored identity and its own contextual counterpart, humanity, last week but there was a more direct approach this week. The animal testing/embryonic cloning allegories were made painfully clear - "why should we suffer for the sake of human beings?" - probably too much so. But what the episode lacked in subtlety, it made up for in its terrific revelations.
The twists in the tale were subverted by the wider twist - after several fleeting appearances of the sliding panel woman and other casual reminders of what should be the dominant plot points of the series, we finally got some answers regarding Amy's (Karen Gillan) pregnancy. Except they were provided in such a way that actually ended up raising even more questions.
In other television shows delivering information in such a manner might be infuriating ('Lost' springs to mind) but not here - the finale to 'The Almost People' has reinvigorated this 'Doctor Who' series. And judging from the brilliant preview (see above) to next week's 'A Good Man Goes To War', it looks like we'll be further rewarded for our patience.
Watch 'The Almost People' on BBC iPlayer until 19:29, Saturday 11 June '11.