Doctor Who “Asylum of the Daleks” Review

DOCTOR WHO Asylum of the Daleks Season 7 Premiere (5)

The seventh season premiere of Doctor Who, “Asylum of the Daleks,” dropped The Doctor, Rory, and Amy into the heart of a Dalek criminal prison where they were forced into a mission after being captured by Daleks.

Despite The Doctor’s best efforts to convince the Universe that he had died on the shores of Lake Silencio, his greatest enemies, the Daleks, proved to be much more faithful to The Doctor’s legend than one might have expected. After all, they have battled him throughout time and space, so if anyone knows The Doctor’s record for surviving the impossible, it would be the Daleks.

All the historical versions of the Daleks were included at Dalek Parliament, including a new incarnation of the Dalek that we hadn’t seen before – the Dalek in human skin. They acted as spies and sleeper agents for the Daleks with the ability to access a memory database allowing them to give the impression of having emotions.

The Daleks had developed airborne nano-genes that would rebuild any creature, dead or alive, into a Dalek. The traditional Daleks were no more frightening than they have been in the past, but those zombie-human-corpse-Daleks were totally terrifying. They only chased The Doctor and Amy for a short while, but it was long enough for me to panic about it.

I found it fitting that these human-skinned Daleks were generally treated as inferior to the Daleks that we’ve seen throughout the years on Doctor Who. When they captured Oswin Oswald after she crash landed on the Dalek Asylum, her superior intelligence was immediately recognized and rather than turning her into the human-skinned hybrid that her fellow crew members all became, she was fast tracked to complete Dalek conversion.

One of the biggest surprises in this season premiere was the unexpected appearance of Jenna Louise Coleman. Earlier this year, it was announced that Coleman would be playing the role of The Doctor’s new companion after the fall of the Ponds. She wasn’t expected to show up on Doctor Who until the Christmas Special where she would take her place alongside The Doctor on the TARDIS. Well, The Doctor may have joked that it was Christmas for the Daleks, but this wasn’t quite the Christmas Special we had in mind.

Coleman’s appearance prompted a lot of questions about the 11th’s next companion. Will Oswin be the same character, picked up at an earlier point in time? Will she be a distant relative? Will she be completely unrelated? Is the whole Oswin-companion suggestion a huge Moffat fabricated lie to prevent us from finding out who the real companion will be? It wouldn’t be the first time an actor or actress has been featured on Doctor Who only to return and play a much bigger role as a completely different character, so I suppose anything is possible.

Coleman’s role in this episode was rather significant, so I’d be curious to see how Steven Moffat manages to spin this one. Personally, I really loved the fast talking, smart mouthed, super genius character we saw tonight, so I’m hoping that Moffat has a timey-wimey way of bringing this same Oswin back to see the stars with The Doctor.

Although hints had been scattered throughout the episode, the twist about Oswin’s Dalek conversion successfully surprised me. The moment we saw the look on The Doctor’s face when he walked into her cell, we knew that things were not going to be OK for Oswin. I had expected to see her converted into one of the Dalek-hybrids by nano-genes, so it was especially devastating to see that she had been completely converted into a full Dalek.

The Doctor has no idea what Oswin looked like before she was a Dalek, so the viewers are the only ones that would recognize her in the future. The Doctor might remember what her human voice sounded like, and after deleting his information from the Dalek hive mind, I’m sure The Doctor won’t ever forget Oswin’s name, but if he happened to see her face in a crowd, he wouldn’t look twice.

Oswin had to become a Dalek to be able to hack into that hive mind – something The Doctor had attempted and failed to do from the outside. Despite her physical Dalek appearance, Oswin died in that asylum blast with her humanity and compassion intact. She would be remembered as a hero and a human, not a Dalek.

Earlier in the episode, when the Dalek-humans were “acquiring” The Doctor and the Ponds, we learned that Amy and Rory’s marriage had been on the rocks. Amy denied having a husband and Rory had divorce papers ready for her to sign. Even without knowing why their marriage was in trouble, hearing Amy dismissively talk about her marriage with The Doctor and Rory was rather frustrating.

I love Amy, but it was hard for me to sympathize with her when she told Rory that the hardest thing she had to do was let him go. Rory stood by that Pandorica for thousands of years, and she thought that filing for divorce was harder? I don’t doubt that she loves him as much as he loves her, and I don’t doubt that she would have waited outside Pandorica for him had the tables been turned, but Amy was being colossally immature here.

Amy thought it would be better for Rory to move on because she couldn’t have his children anymore. Why wasn’t this something Amy discussed with Rory before they ended up in a Dalek asylum? Although her upbringing was unconventional, they do have one biological child running around the universe somewhere. Before divorce papers had been drafted and hearts were broken, Amy could have talked to Rory about all this. Rory could have told Amy that she was more important to him than biological children and then they might have even discussed options for adoption or surrogacy – you know, things that husbands and wives dealing with infertility discuss before filing for divorce.

Rejoicing in the Dalek’s question, “Doctor who!?” the episode ended with The Doctor dancing around the TARDIS. After this episode, I’m ready to do a happy-dance myself. This was a great season opener for Doctor Who that was filled with classic monsters, reinvented monsters, comedy, adventure, and a tiny bit of heartbreak. If this is a taste of what we can expect to see for the remaining episodes this year, I’m absolutely thrilled.