Can I just say something: Thank you Lord for Jenna-Louise Coleman. Doctor Who just got amazing. I mean, more amazing than it was before. Which was pretty amazing, so it just got even more so. More on her later.
If you haven’t seen Pond Life yet, the minute-long prequels that were put out in the five months before the debut, watch them here.
This episode lived up to the hype. It has been so long since a new Who episode I almost forgot what it was like watching something I hadn’t seen before. September 1st couldn’t come early enough for me. I wasn’t super keen on the Daleks coming back but knew Steven Moffat would come through as always.
The opening, with the Doctor being kidnapped by the Dalek, was great; something which was a great take on a stagnant alien enemy. The Dalek could easily have continued to be the easily defeated screaming tin can that has become a cuddly British cultural icon. I still think Moffat should leave them alone for a season or three, but they worked in this context.
If anything, the Daleks were better explained than in most other episodes. No longer are they simply “the oldest, emotionless, most dreaded enemy the Doctor has ever fought,” but now they are the machine that worships the beauty of hatred, subtracting love from their enemies and adding anger. That quote alone, when Oswin explains how the nanogenes will be killing Amy, is one of the first times I remember the show actually explaining how the Daleks do what they do or even that they can convert people (something I thought only the Cybermen could do).
The Doctor actually looks scared of them in the intensive care unit, not just yelling at them for something they did. They have grown stronger in fear of the Doctor, and they can’t kill him because they view him as a symbol of beautiful anger. The Daleks, as Moffat wanted, are back to being scary.
This Dalek sentimentality, with Oswin, the Dalek Prime Minister, and with Amy and Rory’s split-up, shows how far the show has come since its beginning or even the re-boot. This was implied in the prequels, but I think the show finally did a good job of showing those emotions in a raw, real way. Even the episode poster gives away how the Daleks have emotions inside.
The show returned in a darker mood, but the classic “Whumour” (and Matt Smith’s brilliant silliness) was still there. No longer is there just timey-wimey, wibbly-wobbly stuff, now there’s also explodey-wodey! One of my favourite lines was when the Doctor described the injured Dalek as nothing but “a tricycle with a roof.” Oswin’s flirtation was great and it’s always funny when the nose and chin are brought up. “Pop your shirt off, quick as you like;” classic. Even Rory’s excitement about getting back together with Amy was classic funny Who. The first views of the Asylum, with the dead people/Daleks, reminded me of “Silence in the Library” but the eye in the snow was a bit too R2-D2 for me.
Now, the most important part: what happens next?
The way I see it, The Doctor switched the wrist watch nanogene protector when he was carrying Amy from the destroyed Daleks. That means that he had a long time without the protection. Is he immune because he’s a Time Lord like Amy wondered? That seems a bit convenient to me, but I don’t want him to turn into a Dalek (although that would be interesting). Amy’s transformation had already progressed a long way, so will her Dalek bits come into play (we know her leaving happens in an episode with the Weeping Angels)? Are the Daleks done now that they don’t know who the Doctor is???
Jenna-Louise Coleman. What an amazing actress and a great job she did in this episode. If anything, her entrance as a Dalek five episodes before her scheduled introduction will turn the Whoniverse upside down figuring out how she will be re-introduced. Will she be remembered like Rory and the Doctor were in the previous series? It is a brilliant move by the writers and producers, now everyone will be guessing and looking hard for any clues in the next four episodes. Plus, what will her name be? Clara was suggested previously, so will she be a different person or will the BBC pull out some hardcore time travel explanations? So many questions…
On another note, Coleman’s now my new favourite companion. “Come along, Pond” is now “Move along, Pond” in my mind. My good friend Liam might be the best source for what viewership thinks of her. He wrote on my Facebook wall (almost giving it away by the way…):
JUST SAW THE END OF ASYLUM OF THE DALEKS WHAT HOW WHEN WHERE BUT OSWIN AND WHAT AND THE DOCTOR AND HOW AND WHY AND ALASKA AND EYE STALK FOREHEADS AND DOCTOR WHO DOCTOR WHO DOCTOR WHO
More precisely, “I saw her and Amy Pond was nothing to me [and he loves redheads by the way]…the dress, and the shoes…New goal in life – marry Jenna-Louise Coleman…before it was ‘Be best friends with Karen Gillan and have ginger Scottish adventures.'” Yes, Liam is right, she is something special. I think she’ll be the most popular companion, alongside Sarah Jane Smith of course. Liam, I’ll also say she is too old for you. I will be her first choice, I’m only five years younger than her.
Coleman’s character in “Asylum” reminded me of the computer guy in Serenity, Mr. Universe. Her computer savvy and flirtatious genius was a perfect fit with Smith’s mad suave and hilarity. Hopefully, this personality will carry on when she comes in as the new companion, in whatever character that may be. Who knows, maybe she’ll even outlast Smith…
Looking forward to episode two: well the dinosaurs of course, and Mr. Weasley as Rory’s dad, that will be awesome. I think the second episode will be a lot looser, a lot more fun than the first which tried to open with a dramatic bang. Smith should be able to break free and do what he does best: make the Doctor silly. Should be good!