Doctor Who: Into the Dalek

DALEKS! The new Doctor meets an old enemy on Doctor Who.
Doctor Who (Photo: Adrian Rogers / BBC)

This week, Doctor Who goes somewhere it’s (surprisingly) never been before: into darkness a Dalek!

“Am I a good man?”

That line, early in the episode, best describes the approach Doctor Who seems to be taking with Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor.  Matt Smith sort of burst out of the gate1 with his take on 11, but the show seems to be taking a slower, more measured burn this time around, with this week and last week giving us little glimpses of who this new man is.  The Doctor himself is noticeably darker, more blunt with his emotions2, and more willing to admit he’s made mistakes.  It’s really interesting to see this take on things – it’s nice to see the Doctor sorting himself out as he continues to travel around time and space with Clara.  We still may not know if he’s good, but he tries to be a good man, and that’s important in understanding this take on The Doctor.

Clara, too, is getting an interesting makeover this season.  By building more on her experiences back on Earth as a schoolteacher, we’re getting a much needed dimension to who Clara is.  The show isn’t afraid to make her a bit more of a control freak this time around, and that provides an interesting dynamic with The Doctor.  She’s not swooning over him, but she’s not just following him blindly, either.  She’s making him think about what he’s learned from an experience and forcing him to think about his actions.  There’s an energy and a chemistry between Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman as their characters that’s really intriguing this season and bringing an energy that never quite seemed to be there between Clara and Matt Smith.

It’s time for the obligatory Dalek episode3 this season, so you know the drill.  Lots of shooting, lots of emotionless pepper pots that have trouble going up the stairs4, and lots of “EX-TER-MI-NATE”s.  I’m always impressed by the creative ways they keep bringing the Daleks back5, and this time was no exception.  The “Fantastic Voyage” episode6 is a trope that it feels like every sci-fi show eventually goes through, so it’s kind of amazing that in its 50 year history (which actually precedes the original Fantastic Voyage movie), the show has never done anything that feels similar to this episode.  Going inside a Dalek allows a fresh take on things, gives the Doctor some fun people to bounce off of, and although a few of the beats were predictable (Doctor fixes Dalek -> Dalek regains hatred for everything non-Dalek was a given), the twist that the Doctor’s efforts to make the Dalek good again go too far brought things to a more interesting place that the standard “Love Conquers All” ending that the show got a little too fond of a few seasons ago just wouldn’t have satisfied with.

All in all, we’re getting a much clearer picture of what The Doctor (and the show) are going to be this season, and it’s far more interesting than I initially expected.

Stray Thoughts:

  • I’m interested to see where this new love interest for Clara is going7.  That said, I’m holding back on any judgements of character until we actually see him in the TARDIS8
  • That said: the editing of his flirting with Clara/reactions after turning her down were MASTERFUL.  Perfect comedic timing.
  • Similarly interesting this series is the subplot that’s going on with whoever “Missy” is.  She’s collecting those that sacrifice themselves for the Doctor, and I have a hunch this is going to pop up later this series.
  • “3 weeks ago.  In Glasgow.  That’s dead in a ditch.”
  • The cinematography during the initial entrance into the Dalek’s eyestalk area was wonderfully trippy.  I’d have loved to see more of that in the actual episode.
  • The more I see of 12’s new duds and TARDIS, the more I like it.  Tom and Lorenzo accurately called his new look “aging punk rocker” last week, and the little touches like shelves full of books and chalkboards full of notes/equations throughout the TARDIS and perfectly suited to who this new incarnation is.
  1. or more accurately, the TARDIS  
  2. he was downright House-like in his interactions with the soldiers of the Aristotle  
  3. no, seriously, if they want to keep using the Daleks, according to the estate of the original creator, they need to keep showing up at a certain frequency  
  4. I will never stop loving that for the longest time, the best way to stymie the Daleks was to just GO UP ENOUGH STAIRS  
  5. although admittedly, not all of them have been winners – “Daleks of Manhattan” could have been much, much better  
  6. also known as the “Honey, I Shrunk the Doctors” episode  
  7. with the intro they gave him, Mr. Pink’s clearly sticking around  
  8. since that’s totally where this is going, especially with the mention of soldiers this episode  

A Brief Word From Our Sponsors:

About Ben Smith 230 Articles

Ben has been writing about TV, music, and pop culture in some form or another since 2009, including stints at Mental Floss and Temporary Obsession. When not solving puzzles of some sort or consuming pop culture at a frightening pace, he can be found collecting shiny pieces of the internet at GoodAtInter.net. E-mail: ben@whatelseison.tv