REVIEW: Doctor Who- ‘Into the Dalek’

The Doctor and Clara wonder whether or not he's a Good Man.
The Doctor and Clara wonder whether or not he’s a Good Man.

So What Happened?

This week, after saving a rebel soldier from the same deadly fate as her brother at the hands of a Dalek mothership,  the Doctor came face to face with one of his deadliest adversaries, chained up in the rebel hospital ship and asking for his medical expertise after apparently suffering from a bad case of morality. The baffled Doctor seeks out the assistance of his ‘carer’, Clara, before embarking on a metaphysical mission literally inside one of his oldest enemies that ends up exploring it’s propensity for goodness along with his own. The journey that follows through a minefield of deadly antibodies, protein soup and misfiring synapses culminates in one of his greatest fears being realised, being told by his arch nemesis that he’d make a “good Dalek”.

Danny Pink: The New Companion and Clara's love interest.
Danny Pink: The New Companion and Clara’s love interest.

Danny Pink

Danielle: New series regular Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson) turned up in this episode as Clara’s new colleague and possible love interest. Evidently the former soldier is haunted by his past and what that led him to do, as demonstrated by the tear he shed when the pupil in his class asked him if he’d ever killed anybody other than a soldier. It’s pure speculation at this point, but at an educated guess I think it’s safe to say that he has, which seems to feed into Twelve’s reticence towards soldiers in ‘Into the Dalek’ and ultimately his refusal to take Journey Blue along with him and Clara. Why? Perhaps post his incarnation as the ‘War Doctor’, he realises what witnessing such atrocities can do to a person? For better and for worse. Perhaps that scares him just as much as looking at a Dalek and seeing himself? Overall, I’m looking forward to finding out more about Danny Pink and what this means for Clara’s stint as Twelve’s companion.

Marieke: I agree with the easy (maybe easy? It’s still a children’s show… I’ll think about this) set up for conflict between Danny and the Doctor because he is a soldier. However I liked what we saw of Danny so far, and his little internal monologue of what he should have said was probably familiar to many viewers! Let’s see when and how this ‘insecure’ soldier will join our TARDIS party of two. I can’t wait!

“Monster” of the week.

Marieke: Hey, look, familiar enemies! The good ol’ Daleks are back. But a different Dalek this time… Or is it? Even though the Daleks are overused I always quite like listen to them shout ‘EXTERMINATE’. They’ve also lost their Hubba Bubba colours, so there’s a more nostalgic feel to them now (although they managed to conquer the stairs now?) I liked the idea that the Dalek seems to only have one setting, PURE HATE, and it doesn’t really matter who the subject of their hatred is. It’s inherent to being a Dalek. Oh and I was wondering, was the nickname ‘Rusty’ a dig at a former show runner?

Danielle: Dalek episodes are always like welcoming back old friends; old, rather sinister friends, but nevertheless… Anyway glad to see that the ‘Disco Daleks’ continue to be filed under ‘Really bad idea, let’s not do that again.’ I also rather liked the inventive trip into the ‘heart of darkness’ that held a troublesome mirror up to Twelve’s own internal struggle with good and evil.

The 'Smash', Robotic Martians: Surely the mashed potato loving cousins of the Daleks?
The ‘Smash’, Robotic Martians: Surely the mashed potato loving cousins of the Daleks?

Creep factor

Marieke: Parts of the Daleks are still creepy. I never found the plunger that scary, but I also know if they’d exist in real life I’d laugh at them and be quickly zapped straight into the goo. Overall, more funny than creepy in my opinion!

Danielle: Congregate a few Daleks together in an episode, and I’m usually put in mind of the old ‘Smash’ instant mash adverts, so, no, fear isn’t the first emotion I experience when the Doctor’s oldest foe makes an appearence. I often wonder if they’re the future of plumbing.

Mystery

Marieke: Missy and her heavenly tea party. Depends on what your idea of heaven is, no? I’d rather have a Nespresso and George Clooney, but in the Whoniverse there’s limited choice. Anyway, Missy’s back again, but who is she? What are her motives? Dun dun durrrr… ‘Heaven’ will most likely get more crowded during the next few episodes.

Danielle: Who Missy is seems to be the overarching mystery of this series. There’s already a mountain of speculation about this, including theories that she’s a regenerated River Song trapped in the Library hard drive, or indeed that she’s the Rani, (an evil, renegade Time Lord, who was banished from Gallifrey), somehow managing to capture the ‘souls’ of those who the Doctor has had a hand in their death, even tangentially. Perhaps an equally tantalising question is, where are they? Is this slightly fuzzy Paradise simply a memory back up system, or are we seeing some of the rooms in the Rani’s TARDIS? Maybe we’re taking another trip to Apalapucia, the ‘holiday planet’ where a version Amy Pond was forced to live out her life alone, whilst Rory and Eleven fought to get back to her in ‘The Girl who Waited’. It’s got to be said, there is a striking resemblance between the bountiful garden we saw in ‘Deep Breath’ and the one we saw in that episode. For now, the jury is still out.

A Little Problematic?

Marieke: Because we know Moffat can be a  controversial writer and showrunner, we decided to also take that into account in the coming reviews. One thing I noticed is that Clara’s allegedly masculine features have been pointed out twice in as many episodes , firstly by Strax in ‘Deep breath’, and then again by the Doctor here. Is there more going on, or is this lazy writing to show this Doctor really doesn’t fancy Clara? Just saying so would be enough in my eyes.

Danielle: I’m less concerned by this. Strax notoriously doesn’t have a handle on the difference between genders, so it’s a running joke, and I’m a little sad to say that perhaps it was a heavy-handed way of hammering home, yet again, that there’s no physical attraction between Capaldi and Coleman’s characters. At a push, I guess you could argue that it was a nice juxtaposition between the Doctor and newcomer, Danny Pink, who evidently was affected by Clara’s womanly charms.

Michael Smiley as Colonel Blue.
Michael Smiley as Colonel Blue.

Familiar Face of the Week

British shows and especially BBC ones have a tendency to grab a ticket with an actor’s or actress’s name on it and re-use that ticket many, many times. So we decided to put a spotlight on these familiar faces!
This week: Michael Smiley, a series regular in ‘Luther’, who also had a memorable role in ‘Black Mirror’s’ ‘White Bear’, where he also proved a good shot.

The Verdict?

All in all, we were both a little more enamoured of this episode than we were of Capaldi’s debut in ‘Deep Breath’. Yes, the Daleks are always going to seem a little tired each time they’re brought back, but there was definitely more meat to sink your teeth into here as far as getting to know Twelve’s quirks and how the dynamic between him and Clara is progressing.  It was actually a beautiful episode to look at in many ways too, especially in the scene where the Doctor was mind-melding with ‘Rusty’.  We’ll be exceptionally happy if the upward arc in quality continues.

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