Sunday, August 31, 2014

Into the Dalek

The Doctor's deadliest foes (and my personal fave), the Daleks, make their return this week in Into the Dalek.

Finding himself on a spacecraft floating through the asteroid belt, the Doctor is enlisted to help save another passenger - a malfunctioning Dalek.

After a quick, thankfully under-explained miniaturisation process, the Doctor, Clara and three of the spacecraft's soldiers are go through the eyestalk, into the Dalek. We've seen what is inside a Dalek's shell before but never to this detail. And as it turns out, the inside of a Dalek is just as dangerous as its outside, with robotic antibodies just waiting to dissolve anything that doesn't belong into fuel.

For once, the focus wasn't some complicated Moffat exploit. It stuck to one question: Is the Doctor a good man? Its a question the Doctor needs to ask himself, and ask it often.  With a good Dalek and a morally ambiguous Doctor, the role reversal was a great way to explore this question. It's alway great to see the Doctor realise he is not perfect and it really opened up the episode for Capaldi to show off his acting chops. In the final, and most powerful scene, the Doctor practically begs the Dalek to see the good in him.

It's easy to see where the episode took its inspiration from. Season one's Dalek has Nine facing off against a lone, prisoner Dalek who also makes the Doctor realise that he is just as capable of blind hate. In that episode, the Dalek tells the Doctor "you would make a good Dalek" and the same idea rings through much of this episode.

Clara also finally has a useful role! All throughout New Who, the companion is supposed to act a somewhat of a moral compass to guide the Doctor. Clara hasn't ever fulfilled this position until now. The Doctor-companion (or carer, as Clara calls herself) dynamic finally comes into play again and it was so good to see. She is finally that human balance to the Doctor's sometimes alien ways.  I actually almost like her!

Religious references continued into this episode, from the Doctor commenting on the Dalek's soul to the Dalek itself seeing the divinity in the beauty of the universe. The religious undertone is likely to continue and probably has something to do with Missy but I'd actually like it to lead to a realisation that his previous incarnation all too often played god when it was not his place to do so (maybe?).

Into the Dalek also introduced a new series regular - teacher and ex-solider, Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson). A new love interest for Clara, Danny also has secrets of his own. It is implied that he has killed people and not only other soldiers. He was the perfect mix of mysterious and adorably awkward. And I'd be lying if I didn't say he is fine as hell.  I can't wait to see more of him.

Sadly, however, Missy was back in this episode, welcoming one of the soldiers to 'heaven'.  It's disappointing that Moffat keeps creating these godlike female characters because it didn't work with River and it probably won't work with Missy. Also, are we going to get the same scene every week? With only 12 episodes, we're not like to forget her. It's the crack in the wall business all over again.

That said and despite the fact it was basically a remake of Dalek, this week's episode was surprisingly good. It had a great mix of fun, adventure-y scenes and more serious, character development-y ones. Capaldi got to delve into the character of his Doctor and Clara was finally a useful character. 8/10!

Fave Quotes

- "Am I a good man?"

- "She cares, so I don't have to"

References to old episodes

- The whole episode was one giant Dalek remake.
- Did I see season five's crack in the wall make an appearance? The crack in the Dalek sure did look like it!

Anything else that I missed? I haven't seen Classic Who so I'm sure there's some!

1 comment:

Hayley said...

Great review! I agree with pretty much everything you've said. This episode was actually enjoyable, not complicated, and felt not unlike the RTD era (and an homage to DALEK). Capaldi had a proper chance in this episode to shine, unlike last week. And Clara, I'm just glad that they're letting her stretch her character and SHOW who she is, not just have descriptions thrown at her by other characters. Frustratingly, I do like Clara - but I liked her an awful lot more in her Oswin Oswald and Victorian Era incarnations than just plain old Clara.