Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Doctor Who Review: Asylum of the Daleks

Sept. 1st marked the long-awaited return of Doctor Who and kicked off the 7th season of the rebooted series. Last weekend I promised a week's worth of Doctor Who articles, recaps, and reviews. Instead, I did none of those things, so I figured I could at least start up my review/opinions of the new episodes. READ MORE to see how the season opener sat with me.

SPOILERS!Yes, as River would incessantly remind us (until I want to headbutt my computer into non-existence) there be spoilers for the episode ahead. Also, if you happen to have missed Season 6 then why are you here? I will be spoiling that as well. Good Luck.

After using the Teselecta as a decoy to fake his own death, in order to avoid persecution from enemies like The Silence and keep his friends safe, The Doctor is back on his wonderful adventures. Despite promising himself to tone it down at the end of last season the prequel mini-series Pond Life shows us that he seems to have trouble keeping to that promise. It also shows us the beginnings of marital trouble between Amy and Rory that would come-to-a-head in this episode, but more on that in a little bit.

The Doctor answers a distress call (classic set-up) that he is quite weary of for two reasons. One: everyone should believe him to be dead, and two: it brought him to Skaro, the home-world of The Daleks. Good choice too, because it's a trap set up by The Dalek's to capture The Doctor with some sort of human/dalek hybrid puppet. Not only that, but Amy and Rory, who are in stages of finalizing a divorce, get captured by these strange puppets as well. Once the three realize they are on a Dalek ship they suspect nothing more than an execution but instead the Dalek Parliament pleads for The Doctor to save them.
We, the Dalek race, have adopted a new form of hate-based democracy.

It is here we are treated to the opening credits in a new font. I loved it. Little things like that, new and different but ultimately nothing more than a new coat of paint, always get me.

One of the more exciting things in this episode, sadly.

Anyway, back to the episode.

The Daleks bring the trio to a prison planet known as the Asylum of The Daleks (ahhhh, so that's where the title comes from) where the craziest and most extreme Daleks are detained. The Doctor's oldest enemies need him to disable an atmospheric barrier shield so they may destroy the planet and rid themselves of their forsaken brethren.

Wait, so why are Amy and Rory here, then?

Well, according to The Dalek Parliament, (still love the idea of the ultimate Nazi-metaphor being a democracy) it's because their files on The Doctor dictate that he needs companions. Well, that seems like a pretty weak reason, and I feel like the line is Moffat himself trying to explain why he wrote them in. Granted with only an hour in an episode and the type of show Doctor Who is they can't spend too much time building an elaborate reason as to why everything ever happens, ever. I mean in a show full of aliens and time-travel, logic is not the foremost thing to concern yourself with.

While on the subject of Amy and Rory, I hate to say that their separation, divorce, and reconciliation in this episode felt quite forced and tacked on. In truth, to bring them back at all felt that way. The two of them had an excellent departure at the end of "The God Complex" last season and their return for "The Wedding of River Song" at least made sense because it tied the first and last episodes together. However, while I can not speak for the rest of the season yet, their presence in this episode felt quite unnecessary and useless. Plus, to build a marital problem that is apparently big enough for this "I will love you forever" couple to get a divorce, and then make it something stupid like "well we never talked it over," and then magically everything is okay again is quite weak, especially for Moffat.

However something they did keep from last season is the darker set lighting, as a majority of the episode is spent running around in dark underground tunnels...sometimes in slow motion and sliding under doors...for no good reason other than "because we can." Rory's action-packed escape from newly-woken Dalek's is in actuality not action-packed at all because running away from stationary figures in slow motion while 2 lasers are shot at you does not look cool. It looks pointless and cheesy.

So...there's a whole Dalek in there or...what?
Next up, Dalek zombies. I'm not sure when The Dalek's suddenly invented the technology to build nanites that just float around in Dalek occupied areas and infect humans, thus turning them into creepy Dalek puppets, but this feels like another thing that will probably never come back in the series. Truly, another "that would be a cool idea" moment that got into the show, but once on screen comes off as really stupid.

Obviously, Moffat wanted a Dalek episode for the surprise factor of the "You Will Help Us" moment, but didn't know how to continue with the idea of Daleks being the monster of the week while still making it somewhat scary. The problem is it needed an explanation, which I feel didn't work so well except as a plot device to make Amy and Rory fall in love again.

Amy happens to lose her magic bracelet that keeps her safe from the techno-dalek-virus and begins to become infected. She even has herself a good old-fashioned David Lynchian hallucination. So, after meeting up with Rory and discovering a transporter room (well that was convenient, huh guys?) The Doctor warns Amy that The Dalek virus is meant to turn her into a Dalek thus it will "take away love and replace it with hate" and The Doctor assigns Rory the task of making sure that doesn't happen while The Doctor runs off to find and save Oswin (explained soon).

So, Rory tries to force his magic bracelet on Amy to save her from the virus claiming it would take longer to effect him because it was obvious that he always loved Amy more than she loved him. Thus, there was more love for it to replace with hate. I would "aww" if it wasn't so stupid. Amy apparently kicked Rory out, only that's not true, it's just that she has apparently been infertile since giving birth to Melody Pond/River Song back in the middle of Season 6 at Demon's Run and we are only now finding this out. So Amy didn't kick Rory out, but instead "let him go" because she could never bare the children she knew he wanted (except for the one that grew up to be a psychopath that marries The Doctor.) They realize they both acted like stupid teenagers who decide to break up instead of actually have a conversation with each other. Also, the truth is that The Doctor already slipped his magic bracelet on to Amy and everyone has to just hope this virus won't effect him. This is legitimately where this plot line ends. No mention is made of this virus or the effects it may have had on Amy or The Doctor again after this scene.

Now, on to the final point I wanted to talk about, that will definitely be something that comes back during the season, Oswin. Oswin Oswald is the character Jenna-Louise Coleman (who has been floating around the internet for months now confirmed as the next companion for The Doctor) and she is encountered for the first time in this episode. I LOVED OSWIN! While this is the second episode written by Moffat I remember being rather unhappy with on my first viewing ("Let's Kill Hitler" being the first) Oswin was quite a delight to watch, and not just because she's easy on the eyes.

Hellooooooooo Nurse

Oswin has everything we have come to expect of a companion since the show began in the 1960's. Looks, spunk, ingenuity, snappy wit, and a love of baking and opera thrown in for seasoning. She apparently crash-landed on this planet a year ago and has been held up in room she locked herself in, listening to opera and baking souffles (where does she get milk for them?)

She proves herself quite helpful through out the episode by being able to hack into several Dalek systems and assist our trio in their mission. She also proves to be quite sassy, even more so than Amy at points, or at least maybe on par with Season 5 Amy, but more so than Season 6/7 Amy. She also has a little bit of a wild side to her with her constant flirting with both The Doctor, who she refers to as Chin-Boy rather affectionately, and Rory via radio link and revealing parts of her sexual history to lighten the mood.

It seems Oswin is also our second openly-bisexual companion in Doctor Who, the first of course being Captain Jack Harkness...but truth-be-told not even alien race seemed to stop Jack. Oswin dazzles The Doctor with her ability to hack and configure Dalek technology and even her ability to hack the Dalek's "Path-web" hive memory and erase all memories of The Doctor from a gang of  Daleks about to attack them, thus stopping them in their tracks. This is something not even The Doctor could do, and with good reason...

...Oswin is a Dalek.

Pictured: A Classic Moffat Mind-Fuck

 Yes, with all the problems this episode had, Steven Moffat does it again with the huge WTF twist in the third act. Of course Oswin can hack all the Dalek systems and even access their path-web, because she is one of them, and The Doctor can't rescue her because the room she has sealed herself in was a room in her own mind to protect herself from the truth of being converted to a Dalek.

So, Oswin decides to live in her fantasy world of still being human instead of accepting her fate as a Dalek and shuts down the force-field around the planet for The Doctor so that he, Amy, and Rory can escape on a transporter they found. The Doctor and his companions, newly reconciled and making out, beam themselves back to The Dalek ship, and not even that, but right back into The TARDIS just in time to avoid being blown up. Hold on a tick, though, because The Daleks seem to have no idea who The Doctor is. Looks like Oswin's trick didn't just effect the ones attacking The Doctor earlier, but ALL Daleks, causing them to continuously chant "Doctor Who" in their confusion. Wonder how this will play out.

The Doctor drops Amy and Rory back off at home, and then sets off for another adventure alone, beaming with delight as he repeats "Doctor Who" to himself, sing-songy, while piloting the TARDIS and basking in his freedom from persecution by the Daleks after centuries of death and destruction.


So what does this leave us with? Well, a few questions that I hope will be addressed soon. Every season since Doctor Who was rebooted in 2005 has had an over arching plot line that connects the episodic adventures of the season together. From the subtle Bad Wolf plot of Season 1, to last Season's Pregnant Amy and Death of The Doctor stories, it has been a staple of "New Who." So the first question is: what will the overarching story of Season 7 be? Will it play into this Dalek-puppet-virus that seems to be forgotten and the fact that if has infected both Amy and The Doctor in some form already? Next, what about Oswin Oswald?
I'll be baaaaack

Since it has been confirmed that she will be the new companion how do they plan on including her if she has already been converted to a Dalek and left to be destroyed on The Asylum of The Daleks? Granted, I said before, this is a show that involved time-travel which will be the only means of this happening, but you must still wonder in what manner it will occur. Plus, Moffat promised the final departure of Amy and Rory will be heart-breaking, so could whatever The Doctor does to save Oswin and take her with him result in whatever sad events occur with the departure of The Ponds? Could it be the destruction of their marriage is never fixed or something else? Or, will The Doctor do something no one ever would have imagined, and travel with a Dalek? We will have to see. Even with the flaws of this episode, I have to admit, it still has me wanting to watch more.

I give the episode 2 stars out of 5. It's nice to see The Doctor back and to see what I hope will build into plot points later in the season, but sadly having parts of your episode feel rushed, pointless, or confusing because they will only make sense four episodes later is detrimental to your episode as a solitary entity.


I shit you not
 Next time, we are treated to both Mark Williams (Mr. Weasley) and David Bradley (Argus Filch) in one episode and DINOSAURS ON A SPACE SHIP!

The same face a six-year-old would make when meeting a dinosaur...perfect

No comments:

Post a Comment