Published on September 3rd, 2012 | by SARA0
Doctor Who “Asylum of the Daleks” Season 7 Premiere – Review
If you haven’t already seen the Doctor Who season seven premiere “Asylum of the Daleks” please don’t spoil yourself. The episode features some pretty sneaky surprises that will be discussed in this review starting in the next paragraph. If you haven’t seen it what are you doing here? Go watch it – then come back.
After being away for too long Doctor Who took some unexpected turns and churned out a sweet surprise in the season premiere. For a show where constant change is an integral and central tenant of the structure, this scaled back approach was a fresh, very welcome way to start a season. Season 6 was overloaded with big ideas, big drama, wild antics and Rube Goldberg-esque plot lines while being burdened by a heavy overarching plot. “Asylum of the Daleks” took a step back from that (wonderful) chaos and delivered a standalone story that really reflected the central ideas of Doctor Who; love, loss, loneliness and what it means to be human while playing on what we already know about Amy, Rory and the Doctor.
Let’s talk Ponds. At first I felt like the rift between them felt too severe and without reasonable explanation and yes I had been watching “Pond Life”. However, Amy and Rory were not living a regular life; they had travelled through time and space, fought aliens and been around for thousands of years. Amy had been kidnapped and seriously violated; one such repercussion is that she can no longer have children. I appreciate that the events of last season were not forgotten or swept under the rug but were probably the root of the problems that Amy and Rory had once they returned to “normal life” despite how amazing they are/were as a couple. I am thankful that they did get back together within the episode though I’m sure there will be lingering issues as the season goes on.
It has never been a secret for viewers that for a very long time the balance in relationship between Amy and Rory has been askew. Finally in “Asylum” it is brought out into the open when Rory declares that he will save her life because he simply has more love in him. In “Let’s Kill Hitler” we see Rory fawning over Amy since childhood where she was oblivious until her good friend Mel (our River Song!) pointed out the extremely obvious. Amy was keen to jump right on the Doctor and run away to travel with him on the eve of her wedding. Over the seasons we’ve been with Amy and Rory we’ve seen the couple grow together, between the centurion who stood by her for thousands of years, “The Girl Who Waited”, and many more adventures, we’ve seen Rory develop into an incredibly strong character, one who carries a lot of emotional weight of the show, and we’ve seen Amy &Rory’s relationship grow into a more balanced, adult situation.
So I fell in love with Oswin Oswald. Jenna-Louise Coleman was not scheduled to join The Doctor until the Christmas special after Amy and Rory had departed but here we are day one and Coleman is right there in the Asylum. I love that Oswin is sweet, charming, and quick with wit keeping up with the Doctor’s slick banter and expertly flirting while handing out nicknames and requesting that Rory promptly remove his shirt just because. She’s also a genius, can hack things the Doctor has thought impossible.
Oswin became a layered character that I care about so quickly, Coleman was given a lot of varied material to work with in this one episode. She does the funny and brilliant keeping an excellent repartee with the Doctor (imagine when they’re actually in a room together!) while also playing the homesick girl who just left home and got shipwrecked. When the Doctor broke the news to Oswin that she had been transformed into Dalek my heart broke for her, and I believed her, she is human. What the Doctor does understand of humanity he learns from those those around him; he sees it in Oswin but he knows he can’t save her. The Doctor sensed that there was something fishy since the milk for the souffles, then he wondered why we can’t see her. I don’t know how long The Doctor knew something was very wrong but I wonder if he could have seen that coming. Upon repeated viewing it seemed so much more obvious but it doesn’t make the attempted rescue scene any less heartbreaking. It’s Doctor Who bad things happen.
I would love to see Oswin back in the Tardis. There have been some theories flying around the internet that The Doctor will pick up Oswin in another place in time, or she will reappear as an identical cousin. Both Freema Agyeman and Eve Myles played different roles before taking on major characters in the Whoniverse.
Doctor Who is always playing on the threads of what humanity is (including life, death and growing old), and this episode takes an unusual view of the Daleks and what humanity they might actually have. The Doctor has spent so much time hating the Daleks, fighting them that perhaps there was something he was a missing. Walking through the ICU seeing his Dalek victims seemed to have a strong effect on the Doctor, now that we’ve seen that people are being converted into Daleks, even retaining different levels of their previous lives it opens up a whole new set of questions about the Daleks, and do they, or some of them deserve to be saved. These ideas are brought to light visually as Amy, in a daze, wanders into a group of Daleks and all she sees are people.
- As Oswin is left behind she cries out for The Doctor to remember her, earlier in the episode The Doctor tell Amy to make sure [the Daleks] remember her. Any connection there?
- “Just life, that thing that goes on when you’re not there…” as Amy hints at the trouble living life away from the Tardis, something I’m sure we’ll hear more about in the next four episodes.
- What are the implications for the rest of the series having “skin job” Daleks? Potentially indecipherable from humans if designed well. It was a central issue at the beginning of Battlestar Galactica where the humans discover that their old enemy, the Cylons have developed a new form that they can’t distinguish from themselves.
- EGG-STERMINAAATE. Watching Oswin go from questioning the eggs in her souffle to embracing the Dalek part of her was terrifying. Baking will never be the same again.
What did you think of “Asylum of the Daleks”?