And so begins our weekly reviews/recaps of Season Seven of Doctor Who. Granted, it’s not Season Seven of all of Doctor Who, but for the purpose of brevity, and to not confuse those who have yet to experience the show as it was before 2005, I’m going to call it Season Seven.
If “Asylum of the Daleks” is anything to judge by, Moffat wasn’t joking when he said that each episode would be an epic on its own. Let’s break this one down, shall we? Spoilers below!
First, and one of my personal favorite moments of the episode, we see Skaro, the home planet of the Daleks, in its first appearance since the 1996 movie. Skaro has obviously suffered the same destruction as Gallifrey, without the eternal hellishness of being trapped in the Doctor’s Time Lock. The Doctor has been lured there by a cry for help from a mysterious ginger woman. He questions her tale of harrowing escape from a Dalek prison camp, only to have her reveal that she’s a Dalek in disguise. Frak me, the
Cylons Daleks look like us now!
Once the Doctor has been stunned and captured by the Skinjob!Dalek, the nearly-divorced Ponds quickly fall victim to their own conveniently placed kidnappers and find themselves in a Dalek holding cell. On a scale of one to ten, how much trouble are they in? “Eleven,” replies the Doctor, as the writers check “soundbite for the promo” off their to-do list.
It turns out that, while we in the South give our crazy relatives a glass of sweet tea and put them on the front porch, the Daleks chuck theirs into a large hole in an asylum planet. The Parliament of Daleks (see today’s Things to Ponder, below) has summoned The Great Exterminator to deal with said black sheep, who appear to have developed a pesky taste for 19th century opera. Communication with Planet Arkham reveals that Bizet is being played by the shipwrecked, contemporarily-dressed, somewhat-unfortunately-named human woman Oswin, henceforth referred to as Souffle Girl.
The Doctor and requisite companions are flung to the icy planet below with nothing but glowing wristwatches standing between them and the nanogene-fueled planetary defense system. With this, the Empty Child plague, and the ability of the Weeping Angels to infect other species, I’m noticing that Moffat has a love of baddies that can turn our heroes into one of them. How Nietzche.
In the ensuing and inevitable run from both insane Daleks and the requisite ZombieSkinjob!Daleks, Amy loses her wristwatch, surprising approximately 15 people. Rory, upon learning of his former-beloved’s fate, surprises approximately no one by attempting to give her his own watch. If the Dalek plague is subtracting love, he argues, then he’ll buy them the most time, as he’s always been the heavy lifter in their doomed relationship. Now the truth comes out: Amy didn’t dump Rory; she set him free from a marriage that can never give him the children he’s always wanted, so she loves him more than enough, thankyouverymuch.
Meanwhile, the Doctor comes to the end of his mission to rescue Souffle Girl. She’s been guiding our trio throughout their adventure, in one instance even accessing the Dalek hive mind and erasing all knowledge of the Doctor. In the real twist of the episode, our quirky, flirty damsel with the amazing skills of hacking Dalek systems and finding both milk and eggs in a shipwrecked escape pod, has long ago had her biological and technological distinctiveness added to the Dalek’s own. While the Daleks on the ships above may view anyone other than pureblood Daleks as vermin, their insane brethren are evidently not quite so choosy and have turned Oswin into a Dalek herself. In her last act of humanity, she drops the planetary force field, allowing the Doctor and the Ponds to escape and the Daleks to destroy the planet.
On the whole, I enjoyed the hell out of this episode. The sick, mad Daleks were fantastically creepy and menacing. I especially loved the image of the twirling little girl Dalek, if not the concept itself. I did feel that the Ponds’ resolution came too easily. Given Amy’s infamous temper and Rory’s intuition, surely her insecurities over her infertility would have come out earlier. Even if they didn’t, Rory definitely seemed to harbor some lingering resentment over being Amy’s very own tin dog. Having the Doctor and his adventures come in and fix their marriage as a sort of Deus ex TARDIS seemed too easy to me. From some of the promos we’ve seen scattered about the internet, I have high hopes that this will be better addressed sometime in the next four episodes. I’ll give this episode a solid four out of five stars.
Doctor: “I get fired at a planet and expected to fix it?”
Rory: “In fairness, that is slightly your MO…”
Doctor: “Don’t be fair to the Daleks when they’re firing me at a planet!”
Things to ponder:
- I was under the impression that the entire Time War was time-locked. Wouldn’t that include Skaro?
- If the Daleks have “grown stronger in fear of [the Doctor],” will the current incarnation of the Daleks begin to stagnate, or will trying to solve the new mystery of the madman with the blue box give them something to strive for again?
- Does it concern anyone else that one of the most feared races in the universe is now asking The Question? Wonder if we’ll see Daleks at Trenzalore…
- Does an Empire have a Parliament and a Prime Minister? I’m having visions of a House of Lords filled with Daleks in powdered wigs.
Review By: Jennifer Steele