Asylum of the Daleks (review)
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Asylum of the Daleks is the first episode of the seventh series of the revival of Doctor Who, starring Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor, Karen Gillam as Amy Pond and Arthur Darvill as Rory Williams. It features Jenna-Louise Coleman, who has been announced as having a companion role on Doctor Who, although she may not be playing the same character later as she is here.
This is actually the first Doctor Who episode that I have seen at the time it was first broadcast, which created both excitement and expectations for me. Luckily, I was not disappointed. There hasn't been a Doctor Who episode yet that I don't like, but some produce middling entertainment while others are mind-bending cosmic voyages. "Aslyum of the Daleks" was the second.
This is the first Dalek-centered episode written by Steven Moffat, and only the second adventure of The Eleventh Doctor's and the Daleks. I am not a big fan of the Daleks, finding them for the most part generic villains. Deadly, yes. But compared to the psychological tone of Moffat's creations such as The Weeping Angels and The Silence, the Daleks seem antiquated. Until this episode.
The episodes set-up is that The Daleks kidnap The Doctor, as well as a maritally-troubled Rory and Amy. But instead of wanting to hurt them, they need The Doctor's help: there is a planet where they put the Daleks who are too insane and violent to be kept in the company of the normal Daleks. They will send the Doctor down to the planet so that he can turn off the forcefield protecting the planet, so they can destroy it. While on the planet, the Doctor finds himself helped by a young woman (played by Jenna-Louise Coleman) who is a genius hacker who has managed to penetrate the Dalek's defense systems. After a lot of running, explosions, and a reconciliation between Amy and Rory, the TARDIS-crew escapes.
After fifty years, any episode of Doctor Who is going to be fairly predictable. Any confrontation between the Doctor and The Daleks is going to be fairly predictable in its conclusion. But the details of how this episode got to that conclusion, and the twists and tension on the way, were certainly fascinating. The strength of this episode (as well as some of the hints and mysteries it reveals) makes me greatly anticipate the rest of Series 7.