Doctor Who S07E01: Asylum of the Daleks

On this week’s show

The Doctor, Amy and Rory are acquired by the Daleks to go on a mission deemed too frightening for the metal-encased mutants. They must visit the asylum of the Daleks, a planet where those too mad to operate within Dalek society are sent. It seems these crazies may have a way out and therefore need to be destroyed, but there’s a forcefield that can only be turned off from inside. Seriously guys, why do you never build a redundancy?

Recap

We open on Skaro which the Doctor helpfully tells new viewers was the original planet of the Daleks (please see The Daleks, Genesis of the Daleks or Remembrance of the Daleks for more details). If we’re in any doubt there are gigantic Dalek statues. The planet is war torn and seems to echo the Time War ravaged scenes of Gallifrey, which is a rather nice touch. The Doctor has been sent a message by a mysterious woman who needs help to free her daughter from a Dalek prison camps. Turns out this woman is actually a Dalek puppet with an eye stalk and everything, still lucky the Daleks never actually kill the Doctor despite all their chances.

As you may remember, Amy and Rory have been left on Earth to live out their lives happily ever after. Turns out they’ve split up in the meantime and Rory visits Amy at her modelling job to sign divorce papers. Soon enough they are acquired by human Daleks too, Amy by her make-up artist, and Rory by a bus driver. How much research did the Daleks actually do into Rory’s bus habits?

They all wake up within the Dalek parliament where there are more Daleks than you’ve ever seen before. We’ve seem Emperor Daleks before and now it turns out they have a parliament and Prime Minister. Do they have elections? If so why haven’t we seen campaign videos yet? Surely they can’t be filled with more hate than the US Presidential counterparts.

So what’s been getting the Daleks’ panties in a twist? Turns out there’s something going on inside the Asylum. Strangely Bizet’s Carmen is playing deep from deep inside. But why? The Daleks haven’t thought to trace the signal and ask so the Doctor decides he will. It’s a young woman named Oswin Oswald, junior entertainments manager from a crashed starship, The Alaska. She’s holed herself up in the asylum and is apparently protected by a forcefield and spends her time making souffles.

If she can get in then clearly the crazy Daleks can get out. But wait a minute, who is this Oswin Oswald? She looks like new companion Jenna-Louise Coleman…, but it can’t be. She’s not supposed to start until Christmas. Wait it is! It really is! Bravo to Steven Moffat and all involved keeping that one a secret.

The Daleks send our trio of heroes down to the planet, giving them blue glowy watches to protect them from getting transformed into Dalek puppets by the nanogenes. While the Doctor and Amy find themselves in the surface, Rory wins the Martha Jones award for solo adventures by ending up deep in the planet amongst some apparently dead Daleks.

Up on the snowy surface, the Doctor and Amy meet another crew member from The Alaska, Harvey. He takes then to the crashed ship to meet the rest of the crew where he is surprised to find they are rotting corpses. Turns out he’s also a Dalek human hybrid, which is a bit of a bummer. The Doctor vanquishes him with a fire extinguisher, then the corpses get their living dead Dalek on. Dalek zombies are an excellent and scary creation.

But oh no, Amy’s lost her blue glowy watch. will she become evil? Eventually with the help of Godwin, who has hacked every Dalek system because she’s one of those useful TV geniuses, they escape through a hatch in the cockpit but they are not the first to take this path.

Meanwhile Rory is really showing his Martha credentials by touching and pushing the dead looking Daleks. Turns out if you do that then they might just wake up. They start saying “Eggs” which Rory thinks might mean, they want their sense spheres. Nope turns out they are waking up and trying to say “Exterminate”. Who’d have thought it? Anyway, using her amazing computer skills, Godwin guides him out, and just like most Daleks shooting at a protagonist, waking Daleks can’t shoot straight. Rory also gets points for a cool action hero slide under a door.

Rory gets stuck in the transmat room. That’s lucky. And so the Doctor and Amy come to find him guided by Oswin. Amy is starting to forget everything though as those pesky nanogenes reprogram her. Just really slowly. Daleks attack, Daleks are stupid, Dalek self destructs and the Doctor reprograms it and it reverses into a room with lots of other Daleks. Daleks go explode and Amy apparently faints so the Doctor can carry her into room full of smoking Daleks for a hero shot. It does look cool.

So what’s the plan? Oswin can take down the forcefield, the Doctor needs to go get her leaving Amy and Rory to talk on the transmat pad. I think we’re getting to the meat of the episode. So Rory and Amy really need to talk. Rory wants to give Amy his glowy-Dalek-watchy-thing because turning someone into a Dalek means removing love and essentially she’s a cold hearted bitch (it probably actually involves genetic reprogramming but we can live with big emotions). She denies cold hearted bitchiness and says the reason she kicked him out was because she can’t have children since the whole Demons Run incident and he deserves them. Chat, hugs, forgiveness move on.

It’s good that the incidents of the previous series still have consequences. Having your magic time baby stolen and programmed to kill your friends is bound to have some emotional impact, but with the divorce and reconciliation all crammed into one episode, it’s hard to say they earned the emotional weight.

So the Doctor goes to pick up Oswin. He has to go through Dalek intensive care to get there obviously. These are all the nutso Daleks. They don’t really seem that mad though. Remember Dalek Caan? He said all the crazy things. That was a little missing.

Obviously they attack the Doctor and push him against a wall echoing an image from the Time Lord’s first encounter with the Kaled mutants, which is nice. Rather than opening the door, Oswin deletes all knowledge of the Doctor from the Daleks telepathic web. She is clever. After that she works out the door controls. They’re probably quite complicated like those ones on trains.

But all is not as it seems, she’s not a girl in a space ship. Turns out she’s a Dalek, the most dangerous Dalek, all sealed up in isolation. She was once a girl, a genius and so they converted her but her mind was too strong and she dreamed she was still a girl. It’s all sad but you know, it’s all about sacrifice once your plans get screwed. She lowers the shields, team TARDIS transport back to the parliament and the planet goes Kaboom. But something is different. The Daleks have forgotten the Doctor. How interesting. They even ask “Doctor Who?” when he tells them his name. They can probably use that on a trailer now.

The Ponds go home and all seems well, and the Doctor dances around the TARDIS saying “Doctor Who” because he’s so excited no one remembers him.

Stray thoughts

There’s a nice slightly altered opening title sequence. It looks a bit higher definition, a little darker and there’s a lovely new font. The logo is going to change for each episode too. This time is was quite Daleky.

The majority of these Daleks are Russell T Davies era. This seems to be quite the back pedal after the playmobile Daleks blew up the inferior ones last season. They’re now the officer class, but one of them is a drone type. Maybe they fly over planets taking satellite pictures.

These Dalek human hybrids are a million times better than anything in season three’s depression era New York episodes.

There was not enough of the special weapons Dalek.

Amy and Rory go home at the end of this episode. I appreciate trying something different with the format but isn’t picking them up at the start of each adventure going to get a little tedious?

Remember. Remembering seems to be important. The Doctor states the only way to survive the Daleks is to make them remember you. When Amy is being transformed, Rory has to make her remember. Finally Oswin tells the Doctor to remember her. I expect more remembering next week.