Hey gang, it's time for the new Doctor's obligatory Dalek episode! And we're only two weeks into the season! The Ninth Doctor went a whole six episodes before the Daleks showed up, while the Tenth had to go a full twelve episodes before facing them. The Eleventh Doctor met the Daleks in his third episode.
The Daleks are of course the Doctor's most popular enemy, but they're also the least competent, as he's handily defeated them every time they've ever clashed. It's inevitable, right? If they ever win, i.e. kill the Doctor, then the show's over. It's like the Fantastic 4 vs. Galactus: once a year or so he tries to eat the Earth, but every time the FF send him packing.
Naturally the audience loves the Daleks and wants to see them, but unfortunately every time they appear and are beaten they become a bit less dangerous and impressive. I fully admit I have no idea how they can fix this dilemma.
The Plot: This week the Doctor gets small and wanders around inside a Dalek! No, really, that's the plot! Can you imagine the vast number of online reviews that'll make a Honey, I Shrunk The Doctor joke? Not this one, pal!
In the far future, the Doctor encounters a group of human rebels who've captured an injured Dalek. Its injuries have somehow made it into a "good" Dalek that doesn't want to kill. The rebels shrink the Doctor, Clara and a team of soldiers and they go inside the Dalek, which the Doctor nicknames "Rusty," to see what makes it tick, and to find out if others of its kind can be made "good."
Oh, and Clara gets a boyfriend and Missy gets another "heavenly" recruit.
Thoughts: • This episode bears more than a passing resemblance to the 2005 episode Dalek, in which the Ninth Doctor confronts a lone captured and injured Dalek. Fortunately the writers take this episode into a different direction.
• The dogfight between the rebel ship and the massive Dalek saucer was suitably awesome.
Between last week's giant dinosaur, the Terminator-like Half-Face Man, and this week's vast Dalek interiors, I'm betting the visual effects budget is pretty much blown for this season!
• As he walks past the rebels' shrinking mechanism, the Doctor preemptively makes a Fantastic Voyage reference before the audience can.
• Once everyone's shrunk and inside the Dalek, one of the soldiers inadvertently injures it. A flock of mechanical antibodies arrive on the scene to deal with the source of the injury. This all seemed a little too similar to the antibody attack inside the Teselecta in Let's Kill Hitler.
• The design of Rusty, and all the Daleks in this episode are from the Russell T Davies era. So what happened to the Paradigm Daleks? They debuted back in Victory Of The Daleks, and it was implied they were going to be the new and only versions from that point onward.
Fans were vocal about their hatred of these new designs, calling them "Skittles" Daleks (among other things). Did the fans whine the new designs out of existence? Not that I care, mind you, as I didn't much like the new design either, but I bet the BBC is fuming that they spent thousands of pounds on new Dalek props just for that one episode.
• I'm really enjoying the improved Clara 2.0. This Clara is much more interesting than the "Impossible Girl" version from last year. Of course now that she's become a more compelling character, we're hearing rumors that Jenna Coleman may be leaving the show at the end of the season. Figures.
• Speaking of Clara, what's up with the Doctor making quips about her looking like a man? He does it twice in the episode.
Clara: How do I look? The Doctor: Sort of short and mannish with a good personality, which is the main thing. Clara: I meant my clothes. I just changed them. The Doctor: Oh good for you. Still making an effort.
The Doctor: Are you alright back there? It's a bit narrow, isn't it? Clara: Any remarks about my hips will not be appreciated. The Doctor: Bah, you're hips are fine. You're built like a man.
I don't know about anyone else, but where I come from Clara definitely does not look like a man. Is this some misguided attempt to drive home the point that this Doctor is more alien than the previous version, and completely oblivious to Clara's fleshy charms?
• At one point the Doctor and crew slide through a tube that's basically the Dalek's intestine. Take a close look at the above shot of the Doctor during this wild ride. It looks for all the world like he's got a mouth full of black fillings. But, but... how can that be? He's got a brand new regenerated body, one that's only a couple of weeks old! Surely he hasn't had the time– or the need– to visit the dentist this soon!
• When the Doctor asks Rusty what could have possibly made him become "good," he says he witnessed the beauty of the creation of a star. Um... doesn't it usually take hundreds of thousands, if not millions of years for a star to form? How the hell long was he floating out in space? I assumed not very long– a day or two at most. I guess he meant he saw the creation of a star in progress, and not from start to finish?
• The Doctor discovers that a radiation leak inside Rusty's casing is affecting his brain and causing him to be "good." He seals up the crack with his sonic. At first I thought the crack looked a lot like the "crack in the universe" from the Amy Pond years, but I don't think it was meant to. After all that business I think we're all seeing "significant" cracks where there are none. Sometimes a crack is just a crack.
And by the way, if the Doctor knew the radiation leak was making Rusty good, why in the name of Rassilon's Ear Hair did he seal it up? Did anyone NOT think Rusty would revert to his old ways once the radiation was gone?
• Rusty looks into the Doctor's mind and sees his hatred for all things Dalek. He then tells the Doctor that he'd make a good Dalek. Burn!
• When a fresh batch of antibodies heads for the group, soldier Gretchen Alison Carlyle sacrifices herself to save the others. Before she does so, she tells the Doctor to name something amazing after her. It would have been a nice little coda to the episode to see him doing just that. Instead we have to just imagine that he kept his word.
• After Gretchen's sacrifice, she finds herself in "heaven" having tea with the mysterious Missy.
A couple of things here– last week Missy collected the Half-Face Man, who was most definitely an enemy of the Doctor. At first I thought maybe Missy was collecting an army of the Doctor's enemies, but Gretchen was a friend who died for his cause. Maybe Missy's just collecting an army of people the Doctor's killed, or caused to die.
And why did Gretchen get to go to "heaven," but not Ross, the first soldier to die?
Next week we get our obligatory historical figure episode, as the Doctor and Clara meet Robin Hood.