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2nd Opinion: Into the Dalek

David Selby and John Hussey both give their own verdict on the 2nd episode.

David’s Verdict

into the dalek pic batch a (8)Into the Dalek does what it says on the tin, both literally and figuratively. It’s reminiscent of 2013’s ‘blockbuster’ ideas but actually manages to, for the most part, deliver. Many critics have highlighted resemblances between the episode and 2005’s Dalek, and whilst they are undoubtedly similar, they’re obviously trying to achieve a different outcome. The line “You would make a good Dalek” is saying that the Doctor’s growing fury and animosity is comparable to the Dalek psyche, whilst the line “You are a good Dalek” is, conversely, comparing the ‘good’ Dalek’s calm and philosophical kind of hatred to the Doctor’s attitude towards the Daleks. Fundamentally, Dalek is about a twofold-change; the Dalek develops human qualities and consequently loathes itself, whilst the Doctor realises the error of his ways and experiences a liberating catharsis. In Into the Dalek, the Dalek starts off good but the Doctor’s ‘biased’ hatred leads to him ‘corrupting’ its ideas of the Daleks.

Into the Dalek is a poor reflection on the Doctor as a man whose negative mentality has a detrimental effect on other beings and a positive depiction of the Daleks as creatures who are by nature bad and denied the ability to grow through nurture by the cruel system of the cortex vault. The Daleks are a statement of repression in a culture where cold uniformity and unquestioning allegiance is the norm (drawing on the original Dalek analogy of Nazi Germany), rather than the beings of pure evil which they were portrayed as before.

It’s somewhat effective as a sequel to 2012’s Asylum of the Daleks – the aforementioned narrative chose to look at the Dalek perception of the Doctor, whilst Into the Dalek reverses the themes and takes on how the Doctor sees the Daleks. Unfortunately, beyond leitmotifs, Into the Daleks comes across as a bit ill-timed in a number of ways. Asylum sets up for the future: we’re familiarised with the concept of a Dalek Parliament, suggesting that the Daleks have taken on a more systematic approach to universal destruction; we’re introduced to the Dalek puppets who will later return in the 2013 Christmas Special The Time of the Doctor and in a game-changing moment, all memory of the Doctor is erased from the Dalek Pathweb. Crudely, for the sake of a plot device, The Time of the Doctor chooses to restore the memories of the Doctor into the Dalek mind (and you ask – what was the point in Asylum’s cliff-hanger if it was only to be retconned?). Now we’re left wondering – what do the Daleks know of the Doctor? Do they still fear him? It would seem in places that the Daleks don’t remember the Doctor, but that appears to go at least slightly against what was established in the Christmas Special.

With Asylum as the most recent Dalek-centric story, there are noticeable parallels with the ‘good’ Daleks with Oswin as a human who was converted into a Dalek but fought the inner evil of the Daleks. Does Clara have any recollections of her time as a Dalek? How does she feel about the Doctor and the Daleks, as she’s responsible for wiping their minds of him in the first place? Surely she’d have a stronger opinion on the matter that Daleks have the potential to be good? Clara’s early arcs are beginning to feel pointless. Of course I prefer the new Clara, but it’s yet another affirmation of the fact that most of the events of Series Seven weren’t really necessary for anything.

Continuing to look at series-wide structure, there’s obvious dubiousness and disinclination in the planning of Into the Dalek. It’s my understanding that it came upon Capaldi’s request to fight the Daleks as one of his first adventures, and that seems to be the only reason it’s there. The Daleks do come across as threatening in some terrifically-directed massacre scenes but that seems to be the point: look – the Daleks are killing people! There’s something worryingly self-indulgent about aspects of Into the Dalek, which differs with some actually self-ashamed parts, too. Putting the Dalek episode second was, in my eyes, an instant mistake: it gives the impression that the show-runner wants to get it out of the way. The series seems to be saying “Look – here are the Daleks, here they are killing people, now let’s start the series properly”. Dalek was so successful, basically, because the series needed it. Into the Dalek feels like a reluctant addition to please fans and casual viewers, not something which was truly thought about from day one of planning.

The ‘Dalek run-around’ episode has always been a difficult slot to fill, and Phil Ford copes with the premise marvellously. Unfortunately, a less desirable result is that the episode does seem sadly rather awkward in a wider context.

John’s Verdict

into the dalek pic batch a (5)After just one story in the role, Peter Capaldi has already been pitted against the Daleks. But the question is, was it a good idea or just for the sake of it?

Steven Moffat welcomed back Phil Ford onto the writing panel for his second episode/collaboration and once again delivered the goods. Phil Ford has certainly got a reputation for writing great stories, spanning from his work on The Sarah Jane Adventures, Tennant’s animated adventure ‘Dreamland’ and most recently his work on The Adventure Games series. ‘Into the Dalek’ was based on a held-back idea on Moffat’s part and was utilised within this fantastic story. It might not be the most original idea, i.e. having our heroes shrunk down and placed within someone else’s body (cough-cough ‘The Invisible Enemy’), but within the context of a Dalek story we certainly entered all new grounds.

What I’ve liked about the Dalek stories within Moffat’s era is that they’ve all take on a new approach in order to expand the Daleks mythology. We’ve had them win, we’ve had them join an alliance, we’ve had them dump their insane within an asylum and now we have a Dalek turning good and killing its own kind. Not to take any unnecessary jabs at Russell T Davies but this was where he fell flat in storytelling. I found that just using the Daleks over and over again for the sake of it just didn’t cut it and made them bland and predictable. Also it didn’t help that each of their respective stories under his reign was the same rehashed story over and over.

Whovians can finally rejoice over the fact that the Daleks actually got to kill someone in this episode. And not just one or two, but pretty much nearly an entire ship’s worth of crew. They really came across as the brutal and merciless creatures that I grew to love as a kid. This has been another of Moffat’s goals over the course of his era: make the Daleks deadly again. Now that they are a fully fledged empire once more they roam the universe to conquer and destroy. Since ‘Asylum of the Daleks’ we’ve had some nice subtle references to their expanded empire and the cruelty they’ve caused. The whole idea of Colonel Blue taking no chances with unauthorised personal just shows how paranoid the Daleks have made the Resistance along with the idea that the creatures don’t leave anyone alive after their battles.

In terms of the Twelfth Doctor’s relationship with them, it was somewhat different to his last few predecessors. He was quite calm around them. The anger had been lowered and was replaced with a simple idea that he just sees them as nothing more than killing machines. Over and over again throughout the plot the Twelfth Doctor stated his internal opinion that there is no such thing as a good Dalek to the point where that thought blinded his judgement. Though it was an interesting moment to see the Doctor actually nearly convince himself wrong. But unfortunately the Daleks’ new take on life was a mere fault caused by a radiation leakage.

The whole ‘am I a good man’ theme was played out well and constantly challenged the Twelfth Doctor’s characteristics and made you wonder whether he was or not. Twice in the story he allowed someone to die and wasn’t fazed at all. Ross’s death in particular was just cold and calculative. The Twelfth Doctor caused his death to allow everyone else’s escape. This is a Doctor who doesn’t take prisoners nor risks himself to save other’s that are clearly beyond help. His humanity has been phased out by his alien nature and has become a non-caring person, driven by blind curiosity. He’s a hero who isn’t necessarily the hero, nor is he a hero who wants your approval. That’s what makes Peter Capaldi’s darker approach all the more exciting and intriguing because it makes you think about whether you truly like and trust his character. As to whether he’s a good man or not, that has yet to be fully determined. But as Clara stated at the end, at least he’s trying to prove himself.

I really loved the Daleks action scenes as they were really portrayed in an epic way. The explosions, the shot types and the fact there was so much action and carnage going on. It delivered the raw power of the Daleks and showcased their superiority. As well as getting a multiple Dalek attack, fans were also treated to the whole ‘Dalek’ vibe of a one-man Dalek onslaught. So you got both kinds of approaches merging in together to really demonstrate that within the right writing hands and right directing hands the Daleks can be shown to still be a force to be reckoned with.

The resolution was truly inventive. We had the Twelfth Doctor so close to showing a Dalek the beauty of the universe only to be taken back to hatred. This new kind of hatred from the Doctor’s mind made the Dalek turn on its own kind and destroy them without mercy. It showcased that the Doctor is sometimes no better than the Daleks in terms of having such raw emotions such as hatred. What makes him better than them however is the fact that he can channel hatred into something good. The whole idea that the Doctor’s name gained its meaning after his first trip to Skaro allows his long connection with the Daleks all the more meaningful which made for an interesting addition to the show’s mythology.

‘Into the Dalek’ was a great story that utilised the Daleks in an inventive way that gave them meaning to be within the story. They definitely weren’t used for the sake of it and their characteristics were expanded. Above all they helped greatly with developing the Twelfth Doctor’s character, pushing him forward in his journey of discovery.

Step back in time...

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56 comments
SEDAKRO XIV
SEDAKRO XIV

I've watched this episode several times now, and have enjoyed it more and more each time. The only real criticism I could give to the episode is that it could have done with being about 15 minutes or so longer as I found some parts of it could have done with that little bit extra time...

EyebrowsAttack
EyebrowsAttack

I'm with John's take on this all the way.  Great episode.

Americanwhovian
Americanwhovian

We can all agree that deep down everyone loves some good action in a Who episode. This one gave us quite a lot! These were some exciting and satisfying scenes. And lets take a second to congratulate season 8s amazing CG and beautiful HD 


Captain Grumpy
Captain Grumpy

I did love this episode as it was something that has never been attempted before, going inside a Dalek! A place that is so dangerous as it is inside of the most dangerous enemy in the universe! but my favourite Dalek episode has to be "Dalek" it was just so good and full of suspense and when it self destructed itself it was definately a surprise to me! but still love "Into The Dalek".

MeglosProductions
MeglosProductions

I'm still yet to see what was so great about this episode that others see in it. I've watched it three times now, and each time my thoughts were "it was alright"

LordOfTime
LordOfTime

I agree totally with Johns verdict!!!

gunslinger19
gunslinger19

i loved this episode, but i would have kept Clara out of the dalek. that way the dalek attack could have mattered more and we could care more about external affairs. she could still have had that wonderful dialogue with the doctor through a phone or something and she wouldnt have done all that stupid off the wall dalek memory thing where she suddenly knows how to rewire a dalek. but thats my main issue still loved the episode overall

They're all my favorite Doctor. Blahblah...Listen?
They're all my favorite Doctor. Blahblah...Listen?

I loved the callback to The Daleks. To me, that is the ideal way to do a callback: if you hadn't scene the classic series, it simply came across as exposition of the Doctor's past and made perfect sense, but for those of us that have watched it, it was very emotionally poignant.  

Ivegotkidneys is listening
Ivegotkidneys is listening

For the negatives of the episode personally was the ending not because of the writing but because of the directing didn't make it feel like it was the end of the story. I felt Ben Wheatly Should've made Rusty defeating the Daleks scene longer another downside of this episode is that the opening sequence didn't lead in smoothly with the titles 'No you can't put me in there' reminded me of 'Cyberman get down!' from nightmare and I also still (but not as much as first viewing) dislike Capaldi attitude towards Journey just because she's a soldier and finally I did think Danny Pink crying when he got asked has he killed a person who wasn't a soldier a bit unrealistic and hammy. The good things about IMO is that the Daleks actually kill people I've only been scared of them once when I was a kid in Daleks in Manhatten so I'm not really that fussed about the Dalek killing loads of people doesn't make them look scary. I like the fact that they kill lots of people because it reminds us that they do hate everyone who is the slightest bit different. Danny Pink was introduced well into the series and Journey is a brilliant character also the special effects was great and I love the antibodies and the other concepts of the  inner Dalek.

Green TARDIS
Green TARDIS

I think the episode did very well working inside it's 45 minute timeframe. Although I feel that even with just another five minutes some of the themes could have been explored further. Maybe supporting characters could be fleshed out a bit and we could get a little more backstory

CuriousGloom
CuriousGloom

Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you! Finally someone else noticed the difference between "You would make a good Dalek" and "You are a good Dalek"! Dalek and Into the Dalek have visually similar moments, but in terms of storytelling, they are quite different.

Planet of the Deaf
Planet of the Deaf

David, the end of Asylum fitted in with the end of S6 and the Doctor lying low, but ultimately was the means by which the Doctor and co escaped, it stopped the dormant Daleks in the Asylum killing him (they only woke up because they sensed the Doctor) and then enabled them to exit the Parliament. I don't think it was ever meant as a long term arc, as the Daleks didn't appear in the rest of S7

IanOTimelord
IanOTimelord

No way was this in any shape of form a sequel to that awful rubbish Asylum of the Daleks. The Daleks didn't even kill anyone and were weak in that story and we had to put up with Rory and Amy's marriage problems. Into the Dalek is the best Dalek story we had in many years.

CapricornCross
CapricornCross

The only thing I would disagree on in the second review is the Doctor killing Ross. That is incorrect because Ross fired off those shots of his accord with no suggestion or provocation from the Doctor. All the Doctor did not do was attempt to save him because he honestly believed Ross could not be saved and thus focused on saving the rest of the team.

Mercy Reborn2
Mercy Reborn2

The reviews were great and I wish the doctor had let Journey on board as she was interesting

Mercy Reborn2
Mercy Reborn2

I think it was a good episode, it might not have been perfect, it was odd that Journey suddenly wanted to travel with the doctor when she had only known him for such a short time.

RobertMadsen
RobertMadsen

One thing that occurs to me is that the episode title is a word play again: The situation turns the Doctor "Into The Dalek". Or as Rusty said: "You are a good Dalek".

Well, let's see if the Doctor can overcome his Dalek attitude. Therefore I think that it was good the Dalek episode was shown so early. Now he can follow a path to become a "good man" - maybe Missy's collection of people who sacrificed themselves can help on this path....

sontaran17
sontaran17

Brilliant Reviews from the pair of you - One thing I will take issue with is John saying the Doctor caused Ross' death - He Didnt, Ross was already dead in the fact that once the Anti-bodies had locked onto him there was nothing the Doctor could to to save him, in knowing that there was no chance he used Ross' death to his advantage - not caused it. It's also not the first time that he's held the "Mourn Him Later Approach" - See 'Fathers Day'

supermoff is alone. Listen...
supermoff is alone. Listen...

And the Daleks killing people. Indeed, many people in the fandom have been asking for it, but I think this episode shows that mindless extermination and a high Dalek kill count doesn't always succeed in making the Daleks seem threatening. It was mostly because everyone of importance survived, and only nameless grunts were the ones seen dying, but, to be honest, I've never found the Daleks threatening from mindless extermination full stop. 

I felt Rusty, with his philosophical disposition and disconcerting dialogue, to be far more threatening. That's how you make them interesting and a threat, by using original, disturbing approaches, and Into the Dalek succeeded on that front with Rusty, just like Asylum succeeded with the nanocloud conversion system, and Evolution of the Daleks succeeded with the Dalek Sec hybrid.

Ottoman14
Ottoman14

I thought this would be an obvious episode, and a Dalek story for the sake of it. Then it was revealed that Mr. Ford was writing it, and my hopes went up. As it turned out, it was my favourite Dalek story since Parting of the ways. I loved how dark the Doctor was- he reminded me of Pertwee and Tom Baker, in that he was so un-human and coldly alien. I have missed the cold alien aspect of him since it last appeared in the 9th Doctor

DawnTime
DawnTime

Thank you for reviews.  After seeing 3 times now it had definitely grown on me.  I quite liked the Anti-bodies. they were quite cute.  Even though they were not supposed to be Hee Hee

TheNightmareChild is LISTENing!
TheNightmareChild is LISTENing!

Now that you bring it up and upon further reflection, yeah, I can't deny that this episode would've probably felt more comfortable somewhere in the middle of the series as opposed to so early.  Especially considering that we now essentially have had two previously used villains in a row.  Ah well.  I suppose now that Capaldi has sharpened his eyebrows on the clockwork droids and the Daleks, we have mostly original stuff for him to tackle from this point forward.

JamesSkippins
JamesSkippins

Question: One thing that didn't make sense in the episode. I mean how did the dalek have memories of the dalek from the episode "Dalek"? It was alone. Please someone answer me that.

supermoff is alone. Listen...
supermoff is alone. Listen...

Great reviews. The episode turned out to be much higher than my expectations, and is now the best Dalek story of the revival imo (only just though). Though I have to agree with David that the positioning of the episode felt a bit awkward. I suppose it makes sense in a way, as a Dalek episode should promote a greater audience, so it would help in diminishing the decline in the audience after Episode 1 and so allow more people to give Capaldi a chance, but I continuously got the impression that this still should have been a mid-series episode. Nevermind, I suppose, it was still a great episode at the end of the day. 

 Notsosmartguy
Notsosmartguy

Excellent reviews guys:-) I really enjoyed this episode more than I thought I was gonna.


alwaysrunning
alwaysrunning

I don't get people saying that the Doctor caused Ross's death - the antibodies were coming for whoever fired the shots and that was Ross. There wasn't much else that could be done about it in the few seconds they had. I'm pretty sure what the Doctor threw to Ross to swallow was only something he could use to track him after he disintegrated, not something that made the antibodies focus on him alone. Or maybe I'm getting too hung up on the word "caused" ...

Malakyor
Malakyor

@Ivegotkidneys is in Sherwood forest 


*possible spoilers*


From comments about the original version vs this broadcasted vesion :

The end scene was cut, it was intended to see Rusty go onboard the Dalek Ship and self-destruct once there... but it was cut, so you might have gotten what you hoped for! if they hadn't cut it!

sontaran17
sontaran17

@IanOTimelord .... Not sure how your opinion of the quality of Asylum dictates the mirrored themes of both episodes regarding to the Doctor's relationship with the Daleks... 

Malakyor
Malakyor

@CapricornCross 

He did not <<kill>> Ross,

he realized he was doomed and simply used a tactic to try and save the situation for the rest of the team... cold decisions like those Colin Baker made.



Many points make him act like the 6th Doctor in those 2 episodes:


> The Doctor holds his breath to escape a Deadly situation
  (6th did it in 'Vengeance on Varos')




> Lets others meet their doom if he has no practical way to save them (as 6th could not save the soldiers falling by themselves in the acid pool in 'Veng. on Varos')




> Explains coldly the reality of facts, without thinking or caring for the emotions of 'disdain' / 'terror' they can cause in the mind of those who hear them, when he described the 'human remains the Dalek consume' (sorry for the graphic description)

(as the 6th Doctor described the Androgan's cannibalism coldly in 'The 2 Doctors')



> Leaves Clara alone to then go and make up a plan to save both himself and Clara, looking like he cares not about her at first to the viewers

(as the 6th did once more in 'Vengeance on Varos')






> He his a little poised (some would say full of himself) and can sometimes appear to be careless



Yet all those traits made Colin Baker

one of the most interesting Doctors character Wise,

and Mr. Capaldi sure has been Fantastic in 2 épisodes yet!!


Listen, laviniasmith!
Listen, laviniasmith!

She wanted to travel with him after their short time together because that's what the Doctor does, he inspires the 'right' people - be something better he said, so I think we may see Journey again - I certainly hope so! Who might she be? Hmmm, another lovely mystery!

TheNightmareChild is LISTENing!
TheNightmareChild is LISTENing!

@supermoff of Sherwood I found Rusty more interesting than threatening in terms of the questions he raises-whether it's really possible to fundamentally change a creature that is, to an extent, born to hate-and how those questions and his interactions with Rusty will haunt the Doctor's psyche from this point forward.

Sharaz_Jek
Sharaz_Jek

@JamesSkippins Yeah, those were simply filming material to represent the Daleks memories. They simply pulled clips from the archives rather than film entirely new scenes to simply display them on a screen in the background. They also used material from stories like Stolen Earth, which the Dalek also couldn't have had

Malakyor
Malakyor

@supermoff of Sherwood 

Some people could have doubted Capaldi...

we have to remember some audience members do not look at the actual portrayal techniques employed, thus they might overlook the fantastic approach of Capaldi, as still today tons of people do not understand the grandiose work of Colin Baker as the 6th Doctor :P


Better to have a Dalek story early to end naysayers, Capaldi is here to stay.


1) Throughton/Eccleston

2) Capaldi/Smith

3) Tennant/Colin Baker


personnal top 6, though Capaldi could make it a triple tie if he keeps up this way!

 Notsosmartguy
Notsosmartguy

@alwaysrunning I agree, it's more like took advantage of his death for the good of his curiosity, like any good mad genius as Ross was a dead man the second he fired.

Amy says Peter Davison is the Thirteenth Doctor!
Amy says Peter Davison is the Thirteenth Doctor!

Indeed; Asylum of the Daleks elaborated that the Daleks share information across a telepathic web, which is comparable to a hive mind, of sorts. Rusty would have the memories of "Metaltron" and of the Daleks who invaded Earth in 2009 because all of their memories would have been stored in the Pathweb, despite Rusty being involved in neither of those episodes.


Sharaz_Jek
Sharaz_Jek

@alwaysrunning @JamesSkippins Later in that scene, yes. But the first images we get are supposed to be the Daleks' own memories, but they used clips from stories that Dalek couldn't have been part off


Sharaz_Jek
Sharaz_Jek

@kyr95 @supermoff of Sherwood I feel kind of the opposite, as we, the audience, doesn't know the new Doctor yet, so asking us the question whether or not the Doctor is a good man seems to early. I think it should have been later in the series, so that we have more of a background and reason to ask that question

ilyootha
ilyootha

@The Finn @alwaysrunning It should have been easy to work out given that there was a rope connecting the injury and the attacker (that's why he fired in the first place, they needed an easy way to get down).

alwaysrunning
alwaysrunning

@supermoff of Sherwood Yeah exactly - it's still rather dark for the Doctor but this is a Doctor who is looking at the big picture and not quite able to connect with individuals at the moment. 900 years of war does that to a person. Though to be fair while other Doctors would have angst about it more many of them would have done similar in the same situation.