After an excruciatingly long wait filled with tantalizing hints, boundless speculation, sinister teasing, and steadfast vagary by the show’s current architect, Steven Moffat, the new season of Doctor Who has finally arrived!
Having known the title of the season opener, Asylum of the Daleks, well in advance, my anticipation for the season to begin was unbearable. After all, the Daleks aren’t just synonymous with Doctor Who, but one could make the case that without the Daleks we wouldn’t even have the Doctor to look forward to. That’s just how integral the armor-encased, tentacled slugs are to Doctor Who’s mythology.
So, having soaked up every scrap and speck of spoilery goodness as it surfaced, I prepared for my mind to be blown when the episode finally aired, and I can say that it was well worth the wait!
The episode opens on Skarro, the home planet of the Daleks, a place we haven’t seen or seen referenced in quite a long time. After the reintroduction of Amy and Rory, we’re then transported to the Parliament of the Daleks, the central organizing authority of the entire species. Off to a brilliant start. Oh, and there were zombie Daleks to boot!
The first thing that struck me was the relationship of the Doctor’s companions, Amy and Rory Pond. The previous two seasons have been about little else but their love for each other, and right off the bat, they’re signing divorce papers! This somehow felt quite real, and solidified their relationship up to this point as something I didn’t realize I was emotionally invested in.
Something about this entire episode harkened back to Classic Who. Perhaps it was seeing the Doctor in the Dalek’s environment, with only his wit and hubris to get him through the encounter. This episode was by far the best Dalek episode of NuWho. Steven Moffat has said that one thing he wanted to do was to make the Dalek’s scary again, as they famously once were fifty years ago when children ran behind the couch and peeked up over the backs because as much as they were scared, they couldn’t not watch. Well, I think Mr. Moffat accomplished his goal brilliantly.
The biggest surprise in the episode was the introduction of the next companion, sort of. Having kept up with all the production information for this season, and knowing who will be playing the next companion, seeing the actress in this episode, playing the shipwrecked Oswin, was a serious shock. Her presence so early was masterfully kept secret, and it adds an incredible level of intrigue and mystery as to just who this new companion is. I cannot wait, nor can I begin to comprehend how she will be worked back into the story as the next companion, but I’ve no doubt it will be amazing.
The revelation that Oswin was a human who was converted into a Dalek served to exemplify the point of how horrible the Daleks actually are, as was Mr. Moffatt’s goal, but he has also said the Doctor would find his next companion in the last place he would ever expect, and I think the intertwining of those two aspects was a real strength of the episode.
Beside all the Dalek goodness, the highlight of the episode might just be the interplay between Amy and Rory arguing over their failed marriage, their love for each other, and, the stunning revelation that because of what happened to Amy on Demon’s Run, Amy can’t have children. It was perhaps the most genuine moment between the couple since their introduction, and it was very well done. They made me genuinely care about them as a couple, and when, at the end of the episode they’re back to their old selves, the satisfaction is just that much more fulfilling.
This episode may well be the best episode of the Moffat era, and I think it sets the bar high for the new season. As a fanatical Whovian, I can scarcely contain my excitement for next week’s installment, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship!
Image Source: [DoctorWhoTV]