by Sherry Lipp
WARNING – SPOILERS BELOW
The season premiere of Doctor Who features Daleks, Daleks, and more Daleks. None of that should be a surprise considering the episode is titled “Asylum of the Daleks.” No matter what The Doctor does, his old foe simply won’t leave him alone. The twist this time is the Daleks need his help. As The Doctor (Matt Smith, in his third season) himself states at one point, “This is new.” “Asylum of the Daleks” offers quite a few surprises and twists to what we know about the Daleks. It was a fun episode, but I felt a little like something was missing. That something was the TARDIS, which was pretty much out of commission for the entire episode. So despite missing the TARDIS, I liked the episode. Lots of surprises and an unexpected new character (more on that later) combined with a new dynamic between Rory (Arthur Darvill) and Amy (Karen Gillan).
During Amy’s photo shoot, we see that Amy and Rory are signing divorce papers. It was hard not to feel disappointed, considering everything they had been through. I also liked that The Doctor’s companion was in love with someone besides The Doctor. Knowing that something strange might be going on, I figured their split might not be permanent. Just as we are processing all this, a Dalek antenna pops out of the forehead of Amy’s assistant. Amy, The Doctor, and Rory are whisked to a Dalek parliament where they’re told they must help disable a force field so they can destroy a Dalek asylum, which occupies an entire planet. They don’t want to do it, but they basically have no choice. Without further ado they are transported to the asylum planet.
The Daleks have been busy perfecting their Dalek/human hybrid work, developing technology that can automatically turn a human into a Dalek via a “nano-cloud.” The Doctor, Amy, and Rory are protected by a glowing wrist-band. The nano-cloud affects any living matter, so we get to see some freaky zombie-Daleks that were converted from people who were killed when their spaceship crashed on the planet. It seems there was one survivor on that spaceship, Oswin Oswald (Jenna-Louise Coleman). Oswin is holed up underground where she has been fighting off the Daleks for a year, while listening to opera and making souffles. Coleman is set to play The Doctor’s companion later this season, so it will be interesting to see how she is introduced and if The Doctor does anything to change her fate.
Oswin is a genius who is able to stay one step ahead of Daleks, easily hacking into their computer systems. She guides The Doctor, Rory, and Amy through the asylum via intercom. The Doctor is intrigued by her survival, wondering how she could’ve acquired the ingredients for her souffles. While I suspected there was something not quite right about Oswin, I wasn’t expecting her ultimate predicament. A fully functional human mind imprisoned in a Dalek body – a botched conversion. Oswin still believed herself to human, so much so that she had invented a new reality for herself. It was a tragic ending even The Doctor himself could do nothing about.
What I liked best about “Asylum of the Daleks” was all the interaction between The Doctor and Oswin. It’s good foreshadowing of their future relationship. I’m really curious to see how their relationship will form later. The appearance of Coleman was cleverly kept under wraps by the show, making for a nice surprise. I thought Amy and Rory wrapped up their problems a little too quickly. Even with Amy’s explanation about “letting him go,” I thought Rory would have been a little miffed that she couldn’t have been honest with him instead of booting him out of the house. That aside, I would rather see them together. I like the teamwork between them and The Doctor. Overall, this was a good start to the season. Next week look out for “dinosaurs on a spaceship” and what looks like a lot of other crazy happenings.