Sat, 21 May 2011
The Rebel Flesh" is the fifth episode of the sixth series of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, and is the first episode of a two-part story which will conclude with "The Almost People".
As the Doctor (Matt Smith) continues the unresolved TARDIS scan on the possible pregnancy of his companion Amy (Karen Gillan), the TARDIS is caught in the first waves of a "solar tsunami" and materialises on Earth in the 22nd Century. The Doctor, Amy, and Amy's husband Rory (Arthur Darvill) find themselves on a remote island in the future, where a factory housed in a former castle monastery pumps a valuable, highly corrosive acid to the mainland. The skeleton crew of the factory uses a self-replicating fluid called the Flesh from which they create exact doppelgängers of themselves, colloquially called gangers. The crew controls the gangers from special control beds, operating the hazardous environment of the factory via the disposable bodies. The Doctor, initially posing as an inspector, fears the worst part of the solar tsunami will strike the solar-powered factory soon, threatening those still remaining, and offers to take the crew in his TARDIS. The foreman, Miranda Cleaves (Raquel Cassidy), refuses to shut down the factory until she receives orders from the mainland. As the solar storm begins, the Doctor races to disconnect the solar collector, but an electrical strike hits the castle, throwing the Doctor off the tower and knocking everyone else inside unconscious.
When the crew awakens they find themselves out of the control beds with no sign of the gangers. However, their own personal belongings have been gone through and the TARDIS has sunk into acid-corroded ground. The Doctor explains that they have likely been unconscious for more than an hour and the gangers have gained sentience. They soon discover that two of the gangers are amongst them, posing as Cleaves and Jennifer (Sarah Smart), when the two give themselves away by losing their facial similarities and turn pale-white. Jennifer also exhibits the ability to contort and stretch her body well beyond human limits. The Jennifer ganger struggles with her new identity and befriends Rory who has begun to demonstrate an emotional attachment to her. The Cleaves ganger works in secret with the other gangers to try to kill the real humans, as the human Cleaves works towards killing the gangers. The Doctor attempts to reunite the two sides but fails when the human Cleaves kills one of the gangers with a high-powered electrical charge. As the gangers plan an attack, the Doctor accuses Cleaves of killing a living being, but Cleaves refuses to acknowledge this. The ganger version of Jennifer goes in search for her human counterpart in order to kill her. The Doctor determines that, as they're in a monastery, the safest place to be is the chapel, and directs everyone there. As the gangers in acid-protection suits bear down on the chapel, Rory, responding to the sound of Jennifer screaming, deliberately separates from the group against Amy's wishes. In the chapel, a figure emerges from the shadows: it is a ganger of the Doctor.
The Doctor is seen, for the third time this series, covertly consulting the TARDIS computers to find out if Amy is pregnant; as in previous episodes, the readout alternates repeatedly between positive and negative. Also, the "Eye Patch Lady" (Frances Barber) makes a brief non-speaking appearance through a sliding hatch, shocking Amy as she explores the castle looking for Rory.
 Cast notes
Raquel Cassidy previously appeared in the Fifth Doctor audio drama The Judgement of Isskar where she played Mesca. Cassidy also previously starred in the BBC TV series Party Animals alongside Matt Smith.
 Broadcast and reception
The episode achieved an overnight rating of 5.7 million with an audience share of 29.3%.