Doctor Who 8×2 Review: Into the Dalek

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Is the Doctor a good man? It is one of the key questions at the heart of this show. Is the Doctor a good man? Only two episodes in and this series hasn’t exactly been subtle in its quest to delve into the dark side of the Doctor. After a lackluster opener this was Peter Capaldi’s first real adventure as the Doctor, so it was fitting that he was pitted against the Daleks. Nothing exposes the Doctor’s personality better than an encounter with his oldest enemy.

“Into the Dalek” was better than last week’s offering but there is something about this series that is still falling flat. Capaldi’s Doctor is refreshingly harsh, although his tendency to say inappropriate things is hit and miss, especially the way he continually insults Clara’s appearance. Sure Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) remains one of the most underdeveloped companions in recent history – does anyone know what she wants? – but making sexist jokes at her expense still makes me uncomfortable.

Doctor Who appears to be making a conscious effort to up the diversity and increase the number of women on the screen. So far this series has gone 2 for 2 in passing the Bechdel Test (although it was touch and go for a bit) with the addition of Journey Blue (Zawe Ashton), this week’s guest companion, and Gretchen Allison Carlisle, yet another poor unfortunate soul that sacrificed herself for the Doctor’s greater good.

Screen Shot 2014-08-30 at 10.55.40 pmAs a stand-alone Dalek adventure this episode was pretty entertaining. The MacGuffin holding it all together was particularly ridiculous, but this is Doctor Who and the ‘don’t focus on it so’ logic behind shrinking the Doctor and putting him inside a Dalek is easily forgotten. Besides, this episode isn’t about science, it’s about morality. Writers Phil Ford and Steven Moffat do a decent job of making the Daleks somewhat menacing, which is a hard task these days, as much as I love them, and the idea that a ‘good Dalek’ is still a Dalek and therefore still an angry killer is an interesting one.

The problem is that any episode that delves into the inner psyche of the Doctor’s mortal enemy is going to be compared to 2005’s “Dalek” (1×6) which is still one of my all time favourite episodes of Doctor Who. This episode was enjoyable and the gimmick of literally going inside a Dalek was fun but it was nowhere near as good as “Dalek” because everything outside the Dalek was rather superficial.

We were introduced to Journey Blue.  We know she’s a soldier in a war and that her brother was just killed. That’s all we know. We don’t know what the war is or why she is fighting. But I guess that makes it easier for the Doctor to dismiss her as nothing more than a soldier, which seems to be a theme.  So maybe the lack of depth to her character and her cause was intentional. Maybe it’s all part of the Doctor’s quest to discover what kind of man he is.

Beyond that there were aspects of this episode that a genuinely enjoyed. The easy banter between Capaldi and Coleman was wonderful to watch and the Doctor referring to the Dalek as ‘Rusty’ was adorable. Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson) is already a welcome addition, if only because he promises to finally give us a little more insight into Clara’s life without the Doctor. Plus he’s super cute.

Well, there you have it. What did you think of the episode? Is the Doctor a good man? Are you totally smitten by Peter Capaldi’s eyebrows? Who the hell is Missy (Michelle Gomez) and is she really in ‘heaven’? Let us know in the comments.

Author: Undie Girl

Undie Girl (aka Von) has a BA (Hons) Major in Cultural Studies. The title of her honours thesis was “It’s just gay and porn”: Power, Identity and the Fangirl’s Gaze. She’s currently pursuing a Masters of Media Practice at University of Sydney. Von’s a former contributor The Backlot’s column The Shipping News and a current co-host of The Geekiary’s monthly webcast FEELINGS… with The Geekiary.


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About the author

Undie Girl (aka Von) has a BA (Hons) Major in Cultural Studies. The title of her honours thesis was “It’s just gay and porn”: Power, Identity and the Fangirl’s Gaze. She’s currently pursuing a Masters of Media Practice at University of Sydney. Von’s a former contributor The Backlot’s column The Shipping News and a current co-host of The Geekiary’s monthly webcast FEELINGS… with The Geekiary.

Comments

  1. I like Calpaldi as the Doctor and I like how they have Twelve using companions to question himself. This is much preferable to where they were taking Ten and where they took Eleven with the childish antics: snapping his fingers to open the TARDIS and the “Bowties are cool” “Fezzes are cool” Timey Whimey” nonsense that often spilled out of his mouth. The War Doctor nailed it when he mocked those two.

    Anyway, I love what little we’ve seen of Danny Pink though I wish he hadn’t been introduced as a romantic interest for Clara. I’m hoping the drinks thing fizzles and they decide to be friends. Moffat please, please stop with the pairing up of people. It’s okay to have male/female relationships that aren’t romantic. Really.

    The episode was good but the minute I saw the lone Dalek, I thought of 1.06 and I kept measuring it up against the episode. It can’t compare.

  2. At least I didn’t actively hate this episode (I am very close to quitting watching for fear it’s becoming rage watching). But at this point it’s frustrating how quickly you can tick out the references. This week was Dalek crossed with the Teselecta! If Moffat is just going to recycle plots, can we get a new show runner? Please?

    There were more moments this episode I genuinely liked, and “You are a good dalek” was effectively done.

    NB: I do love Capaldi, and will continue to love him despite my frustration with the current regime.

    I do feel they’re mistaking “Doctor insults Clara’s body” moments for “Doctor proves he’s really not into her.” If he’s not into her, he simply wouldn’t care.

    And not a single reference that I saw to one of the Claras having been a dalek? One that was “good” in as much as it saved The Doctor and Amy and Rory? OK, I accept that Clara doesn’t remember that she was born to save The Doctor, because I want to forget The Name of the Doctor as well. But are we going to continue down the path of The Doctor doesn’t remember, either? Once again, a recycled plot device I am personally so very tired of.

    NB: I do love Capaldi, I am enjoying him immensely, I just want him to have new plots where he can live and breathe as The Doctor.

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