Doctor Who Recap & Review: The Rebel Flesh

The Doctor, Rory and Amy

Written By: Matthew Graham
Directed By: Julian Simpson


This week sees the beginning of another two-parter, which marks the second for the season and which will be followed by the mid-season cliffhanger. I’m pretty sure this means we’ll all be in a state of agitation until about September when the series resumes. Unfortunately for legal viewers in the US, the BBCA is delaying The Almost People by a week due to projected low numbers on Memorial Day. We’re not going to let that deter us, however, and will have next week’s episode recapped and reviewed as per usual.

Now let’s begin!

We start this week’s episode in a factory on a remote island on Earth. The factory seems to be pumping some kind of corrosive material, which the skeleton crew has been tasked to keep an eye on. The crew, lead by foreman Miranda Cleaves, start off by fixing some of the machinery. One of the crew members falls into a vat of the corrosive material, melting instantly. Cleaves and the others aren’t too bothered by this. It’s revealed as they leave the area that they are but copies of the original crew anyway.

Meanwhile, the Doctor and crew get a surprise when the TARDIS is caught in a “solar tsunami.” They do all they can to right the ship, but to no avail. The TARDIS materializes on the remote island and the gang decides to investigate. The Doctor notices a pipe carrying the corrosive material and is troubled by the implications.

They make their way into the factory and are apprehended by the original skeleton crew, who want to know the Doctor’s business. He lies, giving them his psychic paper. He warns them all that the “solar tsunami” was just the first wave and that a much bigger storm is coming. They ignore his pleas and continue their work. Jennifer, one of the more timid workers, takes her place in the machine that allows the crew to control their “gangers.” She activates her ganger just as the storm hits.

We might be in over our heads here..

The Doctor makes a break for the solar collector to shut the factory down, but he doesn’t get to it in time. He’s electrocuted and knocked unconscious. When he comes to, he realizes that he’s been out for much longer. He rejoins Amy, Rory and the skeleton crew to figure out what happened. The Doctor postulates that the gangers have gained sentience and that they’re out and about wandering the factory. Cleaves argues that that can’t be the case, until the Doctor tricks her into holding a scalding hot plate. Since the gangers don’t feel pain, she doesn’t drop it.

Jennifer is also revealed to be a ganger, which leaves the real version out on the island somewhere all alone. Ganger Jennifer attacks Rory initially, but he befriends her and brings her to the original crew. The Doctor also finds and brings in the other gangers to try and make peace. He fails and Cleaves kills one of the ganger crew members.

Ganger Jennifer gets in a rage and escapes with the other gangers. The Doctor accuses Cleaves of killing a living being, but Cleaves is certain she’s done the right thing. She convinces the rest of the crew to join her in the fight against the gangers, which distresses the Doctor greatly. He asks where the safest place in the factory is and Cleaves informs him that it’s the chapel. He directs everyone there.

The gangers arm themselves in preparation for a fight against the original copies and march against the chapel. Since they stole the acid suits earlier, they’ve got a leg up on their superiors. The Doctor attempts to get everyone into the chapel, but Rory leaves to go find the real Jennifer. Once locked in, the Doctor and crew find themselves face to face with a ganger Doctor.

These guys could really use a day at the beach or something.

Here’s what we at Technicolor Commentary thought about The Rebel Flesh:


Another multi-part episode, this one penned by the guy who wrote “Fear Her”. I don’t think I need to bother making a joke here to get my point across.

Eye patch lady still creeps me out. It just isn’t anything introduced in this episode, so I can’t make that a plus. Seems like eye patch lady functions like a Silent, since Amy still hasn’t mentioned her and her nightmare fueling glory.

I agree with Charlie at io9 that The Doctor was pretty useless in this one. Would have been great if he had dropped Amy and Rory off and the first part was the “Doctor-lite” episode. It also would help if this didn’t feel ridiculously similar to The Hungry Earth. The sad thing is that I liked the first part of that one better.

I guess I should be less annoyed since the episodes overall haven’t been terrible when they are bad, but just blah. Then again at least when they were terrible, they had comedic value.

Part two needs to better dammit.


PROS: Rory didn’t die and instead did some heroic things. The whole “are clones real people” dilemma introduced in the episode. The creepy factor. Removing the TARDIS from the equation in a way that made sense. The Doctor trying diplomacy for once this season.

CONS: It’s the first part of a two-parter. The cliffhanger wasn’t much of a surprise. The Doctor was kind of a non-entity. Not much happens. Like the episodes before, it seems like this one is in a hurry to go somewhere and as a result kind of goes nowhere. What happened to the stakes? Did we lose them at Pandorica Opens?