‘Into The Dalek’
It feels like a gift that we get a Dalek episode in only the second week of Doctor Who. Yes, they might lack originality as villains, but they never cease to fascinate and entertain. And even more of a gift is that gone are the ‘candy-bar’, neon Daleks, with the rusting, metallic, war-torn design that preceded it returning. So immediately, the Daleks are that bit scarier again.
The plot of the episode was far less zany that the title would suggest, though we did go ‘Into the Dalek’, which was nothing but beneficial to the strength of the show. A rebel human ship is surrounded by Daleks, but with an ace in the hand – a ‘good’ Dalek, who seemingly had an epiphany resulting in surgery from the inside using miniaturisation technology.
Of course, this Dalek wasn’t actually good, but while that development was obvious, the route towards it was very well written. And, perhaps most importantly, it resulted in Dalek on Dalek action. (I’m sure fan fiction writers would have a field day with that concept.) There was the classic cliché of the protagonist going in guns blazing and miraculously winning despite being hugely outnumbered, but that aside, that particular scene was just pure joy.
We also saw two interesting parallels – between the Doctor and the rogue Dalek, and, in more of a foreshadowing sense, between newcomer Danny Pink and one-timer Journey Blue, played by the always superb Zawe Ashton. In terms of the Doctor-Dalek concept, there was a clear attempt to drive home the ambiguity about the Twelfth in stark contrast to other doctors.
Whereas past Doctors have been driven by morality above all else, going by the US Army ‘leave no soldier behind’ mantra, the Twelfth seems far more logic-based. We saw him leave Clara to her fate (albeit temporarily) in Deep Breath, and here we saw him stand by and watch Ross by exterminated by ‘Dalek Antibodies’ (pretty menacing in their own right). This episode showed Peter Capaldi in fantastic form, already at home in the role, while bringing new qualities to it too.
Aside from the colour surnames, the parallel between Danny and Journey was obvious, and seemed to be there to build tension for Danny’s inevitable trip in the TARDIS, with the Doctor’s antipathy towards the military shown in strength. It felt particularly like Danny was and will be what Journey wanted to be – a former soldier, not a current one, while Danny seemed not to be able to leave his military past behind, staging drills for the pupils, and hiding some clear mental anguish too.
Now to Missy, and her second cameo this week. A prevailing theory after Deep Breath was that Missy is going to be the new incarnation of The Rani (an original series time lady), and that gathered momentum. Gretchen was essentially materialised into Missy’s abode, mirroring how the Doctor saved Journey. And her circular garden seemed very TARDIS-esque last week. More clues and speculation on that as we go forward.
So another great episode, better probably than last week. It feels odd to rate them equally, but there were moments of inexplicable plotting here which prevent it achieving top marks. Next week: we meet Robin Hood in Robots of Sherwood. How has Robin Hood not been done on the show before?