Recap: ‘Doctor Who’ returns with more Daleks, more Ponds and more tears
‘Doctor Who’ returned last night with the premiere of its seventh season – or series as they call it across the Pond (see what I did there?) – and believe me when I tell you that show hasn’t made me ugly cry like that since Rose and the Doctor were trapped in alternate universes at the end of “Doomsday” in season two.
The episode, titled “Asylum of the Daleks,” began with several terrifying images.
First, it was revealed that the Daleks have found a way to turn humans into Daleks while allowing them to remain in human form (which, to me, just seems like they’ve found a way to make Cybermen without encasing them in metal). This is horrifying in that Stephen Moffat actually found a way to make Daleks scarier. Now, we’re not talking Weeping Angels-level creepy (I literally can’t see an angel statue anymore without a shiver running down my spine), but it means that anyone at anytime could possibly be a Dalek in disguise.
Second, we find out that Rory (Arthur Darvill) and Amy (Karen Gillan) are getting divorced. This is horribly upsetting to basically everyone with a heart, whether its one or two. And the Doctor (Matt Smith) makes it his mission throughout the episode to reunite everyone’s favorite couple. At one point, Amy tells him he can’t fix her marriage the way he fixes his bow tie. But no one actually believe this to be the case.
Third, the Doctor, Amy and Rory are all transported to Skaro, the planet of the Daleks, and we see the Parliament of the Daleks (yes, we’re always surprised to find out these soulless creatures have some sort of government system). We’ve never seen this many Daleks in the same room before (and I swear to God, how are there even that many Daleks still around?) and I was teetering between sheer childish excitement and paralyzing fear for our beloved trio. How were they going to escape a giant room full of a bajillion Daleks? Easy. They’re going to be fired at a planet. WHAT?
Before I get into the whole, they’d have blown apart on impact because of gravity thing, let’s back up a second. The Daleks kidnapped the Doctor and the Ponds because they wanted them to save the Daleks. They wanted them to go down to the asylum of the Daleks, a prison planet of sorts for the most insane of the species (how do you tell who’s more evil and insane?) and turn off the planet’s force field so they (the rest of the Daleks) could blow it up.
Aided by Oswin Oswald (Jenna-Louise Coleman – the new companion whose appearance wasn’t expected until December), a stranded human who has been living on the planet for a year in her crashed spaceship, the trio eventually find each other (of course, instead of landing in the soft white snow of the planet like Amy and the Doctor, Rory falls in a giant gaping hole that leads straight down to the asylum itself) and manage to thwart and destroy some Daleks in the process.
While escaping from skeleton Daleks (the planet turns all humans, living or dead, into Daleks by overwriting their biological makeup and by subtracting love and adding hate), Amy loses her wristband that prevents the overwriting process and starts to lose her memories. This leads to one of the most heartbreaking moments this show has ever had.
Desperate to save them both, Rory tells Amy that he’s going to take off his wristband and put it on her, claiming that the Dalek Zombie Process would take longer for him because he obviously loves Amy more than Amy loves him.
Amy, visibly upset that Rory would make such a claim, demands to know how he could say such a thing. Rory cites the example of how he waited 2,000 years for her and, of course, how Amy threw him out and divorced him. To Rory, this means he clearly loves her more than she ever loved him (and though we’ve seen several moments to the contrary, there have also been moments in which Amy couldn’t admit who it was she loved more, Rory or the Doctor, so his wayward thinking isn’t completely insane here).
It is at this point that Amy breaks down (and I’m forced to pause the episode to grab a box of tissues) and tells Rory that she didn’t throw him out, she let him go – which, to her, was infinitely harder than waiting around for 2,000 years (I don’t know, Amy, that’s an awfully long time to sit around guarding a big box. I can’t even sit still for 20 minutes, let alone 2,000 years).
Apparently, whatever happened to her at Demon’s Run means she can’t have any more children, something she knows Rory wants. Believing that letting him go meant giving Rory a chance to have children, Amy made the hardest decision of her life and broke her own heart in the process. But this confession does nothing to stop Rory from still attempting to give her his Super Zombie-Thwarting Wristband. But it’s soon discovered that Amy already has a wristband: the Doctor’s. Of course he wouldn’t need it; he’s a Time Lord, not a human. The Dalek Zombie Process wouldn’t happen to him. At this revelation we see through a surveillance camera that the Doctor is fixing his bow tie. See, Amy? It really was that easy.
While the Ponds are fighting and making up, the Doctor is off to rescue Oswin from her crashed spaceship. But to get to her he must go through Intensive Care, also known as the room where the Daleks who had the most reason to hate the Doctor have been hibernating. Once he enters the room they all slowly wake up and come after him. Oswin is able to hack into the Daleks database and erase the Doctor from their memory, thus saving his life. When he reaches Oswin though, he discovers that she’s too good to be true. She’s not a human genius trapped in a crashed spaceship, that’s a lie she’s been telling herself because the reality is far worse. She’s been turned into a Dalek herself. Which explains why she was able to hack into their systems and manipulate everything so easily.
Oswin fights off her programmed response to exterminate the Doctor and lets him leave. She also shuts down the force field so Rory, Amy and the Doctor can teleport themselves back to the Dalek spaceship and into the TARDIS. The Daleks are confused by the Doctor’s presence on their spaceship though. As it turns out, when Oswin deleted him from the memory of the Daleks in Intensive Care, she erased him from the memory of every single Dalek in existence. As the Doctor ducks back inside the TARDIS to take off, the Daleks are repeating, “Doctor who? Doctor who?”
When the Doctor drops Amy and Rory back off at their townhouse, Amy turns around and walks inside and Rory is ecstatic to realize that he can follow her in. The episode ends with the Doctor twirling about the TARDIS singing, “Doctor who? Doctor who?”
This is an interesting plot point that Moffat has written and I think it will be interesting to see how this story plays out. If the Daleks have no recollection of the Doctor, then he’s the only one carrying the knowledge of what happened between the two races. He alone carries the hatred. It’s definitely going to be hard to write his way out of this storyline, but Moffat is nothing if not a master manipulator and storyteller. I eagerly look forward to the next installment of the Dalek story.
And as we all know by now, this is the last season of the Ponds – two of the greatest companions this show has ever seen. And while I’m still not ready to say my goodbyes to them yet, I have to say that I very much enjoyed Jenna-Louise Coleman in this episode. It was a bit of a shock to realize she’d been turned into a Dalek, despite the multitude of clues that pointed to that all along. Such as how she never answered where she found the milk and eggs to make her soufflés, or how she could hack into the Dalek’s systems and programs so easily. But she was downright delightful in this episode.
At first I thought this might be another River Song type story, where we meet her at the end of her story, rather than the beginning – but that’s so several seasons ago. As someone reminded me, Jenna’s companion is supposed to be named Clara Oswin, not Oswin Oswald, so I’m assuming we’ve probably met a distant future relative of Clara’s. And because the Doctor never saw what Oswin actually looked like, he’ll never know that she looks like Clara. I imagine he’ll probably recognize her voice, and I have no doubt there will be some more wibbly-wobbley, timey-wimey stuff with her story, but for now I’m just happy to have the Doctor back on my television. It’s been positively dreadful without him.
Note: Photo courtesy of the BBC.