September 1st, 2012

Dalek Doll

Where Do You Get the Milk and Eggs?

Well, okay, I'm ready for a companion changeover. One thing I can say for sure about "Asylum of the Daleks", the premiere episode of the new season of Doctor Who which aired to-day, is that Oswin's, the new companion's, subplot was much better than Amy and Rory's. And rather nicely laid the groundwork for her arc which I assume begins when she becomes a proper companion in the Christmas episode. Overall, it was a good episode.

I will avoid spoilers here--I won't mention any plot points that aren't discovered within the first half of the episode.

"Asylum of the Daleks"' two big Dalek hooks are, of course, crazy Daleks and then also humans converted into Dalek "puppets". The latter aspect follows up on the effective horror of Dalek to human conversion from Revelation of the Daleks better than the new series human to Cybermen conversions have.

Thematically, the episode goes back to the subject of an internal conflict between love and hate beginning with an unexpected reference to Night of the Hunter that made me smile and later represented by the Daleks' eradication of all emotions except hate and Rory and Amy's hastily assembled marital troubles. Perhaps it's because so much else is happening in the episode, or because Amy is wearing too much eye makeup, or because Steven Moffat is just tired of writing them, Amy and Rory just don't get an emotional foothold in the episode. Watching the web miniseries "Pond Life" didn't help, either.

The Doctor's trouble of giving into a downright bloodlust when it comes to Daleks is lightly touched on, though it's something I really wish the show would move away from. We have quite enough of that in modern superhero fiction--not just kicking your enemy but thumbing your nose at them too. When the Doctor grins as he watches a bunch of Daleks being destroying, I thought of the grim acknowledgement of the necessity of such death we might have seen in the fifth Doctor's reaction, for example, to the same event. I would ask the writers to remember why the Doctor doesn't carry a gun because it's starting to not make sense based on his behaviour.

But whatever faults the episode may have, the last fifteen minutes or so worked perfectly well for me. No, there's nothing terribly original going on--and I could've done without the Doctor's last line in the episode--but I was pleasantly surprised to find how very effective Jenna-Louise Coleman as Oswin is and the episode ending was able to lean on her. She sort of reminds me of Zoe, except I'm also looking forward to the Doctor with lone female companion flirtatious dynamic coming back. I loved this exchange, when he asks how she managed to do something exceptionally brilliant;

OSWIN: "There a word for total screaming genius that sounds modest and a tiny bit sexy?"

DOCTOR: "Doctor. You call me the Doctor."