By Entertainment EditorÂ Emily Erwin
Doctor Who, a popular British science fiction program centered on a human-looking alien, known as a Timelord, as he ventures through space and time in a blue police box called the Tardis. Doctor Who has been on air for over sixty years and thus far there have been eleven incarnations of the alien who calls himself only “the Doctor”. The titular character “regenerates” into a new form each time he is close to death. The latest Doctor (Matt Smith), had his new season premiere September 1 on BBC America.
The episode, titled “Asylum of the Daleks,” has caused discussions among Who fans and this shall be a review and in depth article about that episode in particular. As such, this will be a bit of a review and there will be spoilers galore. If you care at all about what’s going to happen, you should probably just drop this paper and make your way to your nearest computer so that you can just watch it already. It’s been out for about two weeks now.
But before I launch into my review of “The Asylum of the Daleks”, I suppose I can provide a bit of background information for this new series. It has been rumored that this is the last series featuring Matt Smith as the eleventh incarnation of the Doctor. I personally hope this is rubbish, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed until those rumors are confirmed. One thing that we do know is certain is that this is the last season with Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill as Amy and Rory. Their last episode will be the fifth episode, which sounds pretty interesting. All we really know is that it’s called “The Angels Take Manhattan” and will feature the fascinating yet creepy Weeping Angels from “Blink” in series three and “The Time of Angels” and “Flesh and Stone” from series five. As the title states, this episode will take place in Manhattan, marking the second time by my count that the series has featured a location in the United States. The Doctor’s new companion, portrayed by Jenna-Louise Coleman, will appear during the Christmas special.
If you’ve been watching “Pond Life”, a sort of prequel in the form of a mini-series, you already know that Rory and Amy’s marriage is in danger. The last episode showed Rory storming out of their house looking quite upset with his wife. Eventually, though, they end up meeting the Doctor on Skaro, the home planet of the Daleks. After some banter with the strange robot-like creatures, Rory, Amy, and the Doctor are dropped down to a nearby planet called the Asylum, where the Daleks send fellow Daleks who have gone insane. They are meant to be finding a survivor from a crashed ship called the Alaska who has been stranded for a year. The only problem is that without special bracelets, the nano-gene cloud surrounding the planet will slowly turn them into a Dalek.
As the three make their way through the Asylum, Amy is slowly getting worse and worse when a cheerful voice comes over the intercom, introducing herself as Oswin. She’s led them to a telepad that will allow them to return to Skaro. She has one requirement: they must come find her before they leave. The Doctor runs off to find Oswin, leaving Rory and Amy alone. We find out now exactly why Rory and Amy’s relationship is going wrong: Amy claims that she gave up Rory because she is unable to have children, something she says he has always wanted even when he was a child.
The Doctor reaches Oswin, but not first without meeting a few Daleks along the way. When the Doctor sees Oswin for the first time, he immediately knows something is wrong. He asks Oswin if everything seems real to her, which she responds with a yes. As the Doctor is coming to an understanding, the camera pans around and confirms what I’ve been suspecting since we first saw Oswin: she’s a Dalek. The Doctor tells her that Oswin’s mind attempted to protect itself while the body was being turned from human into Dalek and in doing so, created the illusion that she was still human. In the end, Oswin stays behind, but not without first activating the teleport system, allowing the Doctor and Rory and Amy to escape.
The one thing that I didn’t like about this episode was how predictable it was. There’s a scene where Amy and the Doctor meet a man who appears to be a survivor from the crashed ship. Of course, he isn’t, but that’s beside the point. When they return to the escape pod, the camera shows bodies of what appear to be the crew members. As an avid watcher of “CSI”, I have sort of been trained to recognize when what appears to be a living human may in fact be a dead human. It was pretty obvious to me that the people were dead and was not surprised by the fact that the bodies were rather decayed, either. As mentioned earlier, I knew immediately that Oswin was a Dalek from the time I first saw her. I guess what was most obvious to me was that the screen from which she observed the Doctor looked identical to that of the Daleks.
While this isn’t exactly predictable, I find it extremely tacky that the Daleks at the end were screeching “Doctor who?” as the Doctor leaves with the TARDIS. It’s obviously meant to be a reference to “the question that must never be answered” and a pun on the title of the show, but I feel like that was a bit unnecessary.
In addition to the predictability of this episode, the Doctor seemed a bit off to me. It seemed like they tried to make the eleventh Doctor too much like the Tenth, as played by David Tennant. Not only that, but the Doctor seems a lot darker in personality now, especially when he was with the Daleks.
As great as Darvill and Gillian’s acting was during Rory and Amy’s tense emotional scene, I’m not entirely sure I believe that they would split up over Amy’s inability to have a child, even if Rory didn’t know why his wife was acting so strangely. Even so, Rory and Amy seem to make up a little too quickly to be entirely believable. I mean, they were about to get divorced. All they had to do was have Amy sign the papers. If their relationship was that far gone, it would take a lot more time and effort to mend it.
This isn’t to say that the episode was bad and not at all funny. There were plenty of funny parts, especially with the Doctor. The special effects were excellent, especially when Rory is roaming around the Asylum with the creepy dead-looking Daleks.
This was a good episode, but there were a few parts of the episode that made me wonder what the rest of the series is going to have in store. According to Wikipedia, one of the episodes in the series is going to be set in the Victorian period and I’m pretty excited about it. I’m thinking it will be like the episode with Charles Dickens in series one. Regardless, I’m looking forward to seeing what adventures the Doctor will embark on in series seven.