Into the Dalek sees the Doctor going to the most dangerous place in the universe, or at least the twenty something most dangerous place in the universe.  Yes, the Doctor seems to be finding himself frequenting these sorts of places more often these days, but I suppose they want to drive home how much darker series 8 is, fine, so be it, what’s important is how the episode is, and everyone can have a sigh of relief, because it’s a Dalek episode actually worth not only watching but watching again and then possibly once more.

Every series we have gotten a Dalek episode, some good, some average, and some downright awful (human Daleks and pig people, just think about that for a minute) and honestly, this may be the best one that isn’t part of a finale.  Back in series 1 we had Dalek, which reintroduced the Daleks to thousands of Classic Who fans and introduced Daleks to waves of new fans.  The episode was very good, last of the Daleks, last of the Time Lords, that is until the finale of series 1 in which a massive Dalek fleet appeared out of nowhere and then they never stopped coming, which leads us to Into the Dalek.

YEAH, THERE ARE SOME BIG SPOILERS UP AHEAD

Brief Summary:

Essentially, the episode is about the Doctor still coming to terms with his regeneration and trying to figure out what sort of person he is and asking Clara if he’s a good man.  As the story progresses there are parallels between himself and the damaged Dalek.  Yes, the Dalek in question this weeks is damaged and as a result has been

Can this show just be the two of them talking, I'd be quite alright with that

Can this show just be the two of them talking, I’d be quite alright with that

captured and to an extent has turned “good” or at least different.  The Doctor starts off the episode by rescuing a soldier trying to flee from a Dalek ship and when the soldier’s ship blows up, the Doctor materializes around it, allowing the soldier to survive.  She starts to freak out a bit about the situation but after some stern words from the Doctor, she realizes who is in charge.  The Doctor shows how he really hasn’t the time for excess.  He still understands emotion (the soldier’s brother just died, and he gets that, but he also lets her know she’s a soldier and has to get back on duty when they arrive back on her base ship), so it’s not like he’s this cold figure looming over people.  Once on her ship, the Doctor finds out they have a damaged Dalek they want to repair by shrinking down a team to go inside the Dalek and presumably repair it (because who isn’t proficient in Dalek repairs?).  Before that can be done, the Doctor has to go fetch Clara, who is back on Earth teaching and it’s three weeks past their last meeting in last week’s episode.

Back they pop to repair the Dalek.

See, Daleks really aren’t all that interesting, and I have a feeling they knew this when writing.  The story barely features a Dalek and by shrinking everyone to go inside the Dalek it could have been anything with a mechanical outer shell, but that’s alright.  When they go inside the Dalek there is a Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS (and The Invisible Enemy) feel as they’re rummaging through hallways and various rooms.  Eventually they do get to finding the issue: a part of the Dalek leaking radiation, in turn altering the part of it which limits emotion and allows it to be “good” or rather, realize the Daleks are bad and in turn want to kill the Daleks, so good-ish.  Once repaired the Dalek goes back to normal and the Doctor tries to come to terns with the fact that some things will never change: Daleks will always be evil.  He kept saying this to Clara leading up to this point, not because he was being stubborn, but instead because he was tired of it, tired of the lack of change, which also reflected his state of mind.

Opinion:

Without simply restating the entire episode, I will say by the end of it the Doctor, with the help of Clara, realized things are not always as they seem.  A damaged Dalek could still be “good” even if consistently a soldier.  While the Dalek notes how the Doctor is a good Dalek (another tired line in Dalek episodes), Clara lets the Doctor know what really matters is he tries to do good.  Even when things don’t go right it still ends with good intentions.

Right, is this really a good idea?

Right, is this really a good idea?

Now, I do enjoy the chemistry between the Doctor and Clara.  For once she isn’t written simply as a plot device to lead into the 50th anniversary and her personality is a lot more defined, probably a result of more consistent writing.  While still finding himself, the Doctor has a distinct personality.  He has no time for trivial matters or things that cannot be avoided.  In one scene a member of the group inside the Dalek is going to die, the Doctor knows there’s no way to stop it from happening, so he puts a sort of tracking device in him so they can see where dead bodies go in the Dalek.  Yes, at first it seems harsh, but as the Doctor notes, there was no way to save him so his death can at least help them survive.  This Doctor gets mad at soldiers waving guns around and barking out orders.  He doesn’t have the time to put up with that, just talk like a civil person, that’s all, don’t eliminate your soul for the sake of being a good soldier.  In a way, this Doctor needs Clara to balance him out, though, I’d like to see a solo episode or two with him, that would be interesting (I’m thinking along the lines of The Deadly Assassin).

Extras:

Danny Pink, Clara’s new boyfriend made his first appearance.  All we learn is he was a soldier and all signs indicate to some sort of incident in which he ended up killing a civilian (heavy stuff compared to the last couple series of the show).  So far he seems like a good guy, he had a funny scene when Clara was trying to ask him out/get him to ask her out.  I’m looking forward to more of him, for once we may be getting a male companion (other than Jack) who is a strong character on his own.

Missy makes another appearance.  A female crew member who went in the Dalek was also killed but somehow ended up in what Missy calls heaven.  What is going on there I’d like to know, but I’ve given up with making theories for Moffat stories, far too many of his haven’t gone anywhere and it just turned into a headache, so this time around I’m taking a different approach and simply am trying to enjoy the ride and hoping the writing is more solid this time around.

Conclusion:

I don’t like Dalek episodes.  I dread them the week leading up to them.  They’re rarely good.  This week’s proved to be very good as it allowed the Doctor to analyze himself and ultimately show he is a good man through the simple act of trying his hardest to do good, even if his approach isn’t as happy-go-lucky as the 11th Doctor.  I really enjoy the more serious tone of this series and I hope others do as well.

Next week is set in the past again, and the trailer seems pretty solid for Robot of Sherwood with Robin Hood (it seems very Classic Who):

 

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