Doctor Who is back! If you have yet to see Asylum of the Daleks, then don't read this. From the very first shot, there are cool things about the episode, and surprises. It seems as though Doctor Who has managed to really hit the ground running with something spectacular every new season since it started up again in 2005. This seventh season counting from then is no exception. SPOILERS AHEAD!
No seriously, I mean it this time. If you have not seen the episode yet, bookmark this and read it after you've seen it. There are some things I'm glad I didn't know, because the surprise is part of the fun and excitement and enjoyment.
OK, so you've seen the episode. Then as you know, the Doctor is keeping a low profile – but apparently there are those who know of him, and his reputation. As it turns out, it is the Daleks who know of his reputation – but by the end of the episode, that has changed, which could make for some fascinating storytelling in episodes to come.
The shot of a giant Dalek-shaped building on the devastated remains of Skaro is brilliant.
This episode is full of firsts. Amy and Rory have been the first married companions of the Doctor, if I am not mistaken. And so they are also the first to be getting a divorce. The episode does a wonderful job of creating genuine tension, making us wonder how the two people we have seen go through so much together could have reached this point. And by the end, we know, and the Doctor, as always, has found a way to work his magic.
Another first, I think, is the introduction of a character that we know will be the Doctor's new companion, only to have her turn out to have been converted into a Dalek, and then presumably blown up along with the planet. We've had lots of opportunities in recent seasons to ask “How are they possibly going to get out of that one?” and this is another wonderful puzzle. I can't wait to see how they do it. The final words from Oswin remind me of Spock's mind-meld with McCoy, but I am not sure that that is a clue. But everyone was taken by surprise, and kudos to the press and everyone else for keeping this surprise – that the character played by Jenna-Louise Coleman – would be appearing earlier than claimed, in this startling fashion!
The Doctor remarks on the newness of another circumstance – the Daleks asking for him to save them. They are concerned that a crashed ship on the planet the Daleks call the “Asylum” – a place where insane and battle-scarred Daleks are dumped, and where regular Daleks fear to go, and from which the Daleks now fear that escape might be possible unless something is done. In his conversation with the Supreme Dalek, the Doctor expresses his revulsion towards them, discovering that they have a concept of “beauty,” but what they consider beautiful is hatred.
His musing that the Dalek respect for hatred might be why they have never killed the Doctor is also thought-provoking. But even without that mention, the raising of the issue of relativism provides useful fodder for discussion. So too does the reference to life as “that thing that does on when you're [i.e. the Doctor is] not there.” Amy says that she missed the adventures with the Doctor. But real life is not excitement and adventure all the time (and hence a Jedi craves not these things). Seeking constant adventure is not a solution to real life problems. But sometimes adventure can be a catalyst to finding solutions.
I loved when the Dalek seemed to be saying “Eggs” and then turned out to be working itself up to saying something much more expected from a Dalek. That was simply brilliant.
Just as the last season ended with the question “Doctor Who?” so too does this episode, with the additional quip from the Doctor, aimed at the Daleks even though they presumably cannot hear him at that point: “You'll never stop asking.”
A big question fans have is whether that applies only to the Daleks, or to us as well.
What did you think of Asylum of the Daleks? And do you have a theory about how Oswin will become the Doctor's new companion? Will the Doctor actually be accompanied by a Dalek, or would that be way too much? Could it be that he will encounter her earlier in her life, before this happens?