“The Almost People” pulls the rug out from the cozy domesticity of the Eleventh Doctor’s TARDIS with a brutality that is stunning and a little scary. And it’s not just about the final seconds. We see Rory duped into accidentally betraying Amy and the Doctor, we see (a version of) the Doctor physically attacking Amy, and we see Amy distanced, baffled and isolated from the two men who are her entire world.
Here are a few things to keep an eye out for, the next time you watch:
This episode’s working title was “Gangers,” and was intended to climax with Amy suffering an intense vision of Madame Kovarian (who was at the time referred to as “Eye Patch Lady”), rather than the revelation that she is, in fact, a Ganger herself.
This is the ninth Doctor Who story in which part of the plot rests on the Doctor having a double:
• The First Doctor had a robot doppelgänger in “The Chase” and was mistaken for the Abbot of Amboise in “The Massacre of St Bartholomew’s Eve.”
• The Second Doctor is mistaken for the dictator Ramón Salamander in “The Enemy of the World.”
• The Fourth Doctor battled a robot version of himself in “The Android Invasion” and was replaced by a cactus-faced lookalike in “Meglos.”
• The Fifth Doctor suffered the indignity of having his appearance borrowed by the Time Lord Omega in “Arc of Infinity,” while his robot duplicate faced down a firing squad in “The Caves of Androzani.”
• And the Tenth Doctor met a metacrisis regeneration of himself in “Journey’s End.”
Raquel Cassidy, who played both Miranda Cleaves and her Ganger, is a familiar voice to Doctor Who fans. She played Mesca in the Big Finish audio story “The Judgement of Isskar,” Inquisa in “Paradoxicide,” Destiny Gray in “Question Marks” and Dr. Alison Foster in “Destination: Nerva,” and she plays Guinevere Godiva in the fifth series of Jago & Litefoot.
She has also acted opposite Matt Smith before, as both actors appeared in the British TV series Party Animals, in which Matt played a starring role.
When faced with two Doctors, Amy says “there can be only one,” a nod to the movie Highlander.
Other sections of the original script that didn’t make the cut include a scene where the Doctor and his Ganger talk about their past, referencing not only former companions Jo Grant, Sarah Jane Smith, Romana, Rose Tyler, Martha Jones, and Donna Noble, but also some of the things that happened during the Third Doctor adventure “The Mind of Evil.”
Similarly, when the Doctor’s Ganger dies, there was a plan to show a montage of his happiest memories, including his granddaughter Susan, his victory over Davros in “Genesis of the Daleks”, his first meeting with Rose Tyler and the fish fingers and custard moment with young Amy Pond in “The Eleventh Hour.”
While the Ganger Doctor is stabilizing he visits a couple of the catchphrases of his previous incarnations, including the Third Doctor’s celebrated phrase, “Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow,” and the Fourth Doctor’s friendly enquiry, “Would you like a jelly baby?”
He also paraphrases a moment from this speech — “I wonder if we’ll get back. Yes, one day”— given by the First Doctor when he says goodbye to his granddaughter Susan at the end of “The Dalek Invasion of Earth”:
A further cut scene had the Doctor getting a new sonic from the TARDIS console, to replace the one he gave to his Ganger.
The monster version of Jennifer was inspired by two unlikely sources. Her elongated neck comes from a drawing in Lewis Carroll’s children’s classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, while her veiny, sinew-stretching arms were inspired by Madonna and her powerful muscles.
And one last thing, while there’s been no stated link between the raw material of the Gangers and cornstarch, it’s tempting to conclude there was some influence from this 2010 feature, from the BBC’s The One Show, in which Matt Smith and Karen Gillan explain the qualities of non-Newtonian fluids by running over a vat of corn flour batter: