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Asylum of the Daleks: A Popular Opinion?

Guest contributor Greg House offers a counter to the recent Unpopular Opinion.

In response to the recent Unpopular Opinion article on Asylum of the Daleks, I would like to offer my own thoughts on the arguments raised there to clear up a few misunderstandings there might be and give an opposing viewpoint.

Promises, Promises…

asylum-of-the-daleks-abc (6)So to begin with, we were told right from the off that there would be “every Dalek ever”. In hindsight, yes, this was a mistake because some Classic era fans were quite irked when they didn’t see a Dalek Invasion of Earth Drone or a Planet of the Daleks Supreme. Fair enough, but that’s not exactly Mr Moffat’s fault. Contrary to popular belief he doesn’t fly around on set with a magic wand making everything happen. If he did the Alliance in The Pandorica Opens would be comprised of new monsters, not just whatever was left in the Doctor Who store cupboard, but it’s something you’re welcome to be annoyed about if you so wish. However, be aware it does look a bit foolish blaming someone when it’s not exactly his fault.

Lack of threat?

asylum of the daleks promo pics d (5)So the first major point: a perceived lack of a threat. Personally I’m glad that this wasn’t a “Save the universe or die trying” kind of episode. The threat is simple: our on screen heroes are in danger, locked in a madhouse for Daleks. Simple and powerful if you actually care about the people you see on screen. I’m in my twenties now and I just don’t get scared at Doctor Who. Far too many cheap horror films have spoilt that, but this episode is distinctively creepy. Some lines could be taken as humorous, but things like a spinning Dalek, well, go over and hug it if you want, but it’ll be the last thing you ever do…

Now it can be argued that the Daleks don’t exterminate anymore, but think about it, how much on screen time have they actually had since Victory of the Daleks? A stint in The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang where the stone Dalek would kill people, if there was any actually left around. We then go the whole of Series 6 without seeing them (minus the brief cameo where the Doctor removes the memory core of one). Again though, no people around to kill. Asylum of the Daleks is their first real story, which I was really glad about. I’m not sure about anyone else, but I would rather have a two-year wait and a creepy Dalek story thrown in with Moffat than RTD’s unfortunate habit of throwing them in every series with a really forced story line.

Plotholes?

skaro-tv-movie(I’ve been looking forward to this one). There’s a little known tale that explains why Skaro is gone in 1988′s Remembrance of the Daleks but somehow back at the very beginning of the 1996 TV movie. The 1997 novel War of the Daleks clears that right up. It is revealed that at the climax of events in Remembrance, the Daleks manipulate the Doctor and Davros into destroying a planet called Antalin which they have transformed to resemble Skaro and take its place. This places Destiny of the Daleks on the same disguised planet (The Daleks even going to the trouble of moving a comatose Davros underground to be found). It’s a great novel and well worth a read. So what does this mean? Skaro still exists up to the Time War at least, but what did we see of it in Asylum? Was it a thriving city? No… It was a wasteland. Perhaps the Daleks cannot live there anymore, hence why they refer to it as gone…

Addressing the other points: it’s already been said that the shields couldn’t allow the starliner in. It crashed and most of the crew were killed, only a few managed to survive the descent in the escape pods. Those are the few we saw turn into Dalek units. Clara was a Dalek, a full Dalek. But she didn’t know it, she still had the powers, she erased the Doctors history so they wouldn’t recognize his existence and they left him alone. To them he was no longer there.

Continuity issues?

asylum-of-the-daleks-abc (9)The Dalek Parliament, now there’s a fun idea. Perhaps the Emperor Dalek is out there somewhere, but I doubt he’s got time in his busy schedule for that basic clean-up operation. The thing you must also remember about Daleks is that they are manipulators. All the way from the first appearance when they were defeated they begged the Doctor for help.

“I am your servant” – Power of the Daleks.

Just because the Daleks say something, doesn’t mean they mean it. “Save us” is clearly the best way they thought they could get the Doctor on board without violence, because the Doctor doesn’t respond well to violence. These Asylum Daleks aren’t impure, they’re as pure Dalek as they come, but they’re a danger to themselves and others, hence why they’re locked up. If there was a shred of impurity in them, they would no longer be Daleks and they would be destroyed. Daleks also don’t tolerate failure, it’s not a Dalek trait. Any Dalek that fails, dies…

Everyone is entitled to an opinion on this episode, but if you take some time to examine what seem to be plotholes, you’ll notice they really aren’t as bad as you can be lead to believe.

I hope you enjoyed this article, please leave comments below if you agree, disagree or want a free hat (I don’t have and free hats).

Step back in time...

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99 comments
TheOncomingStorm
TheOncomingStorm

Good article but  none of that explains why would the Daleks put the only way to take down the shields (keeping the Daleks inside the asylum) inside the asylum? That's like putting someone in a cell and giving them the key. Why did they do that?



EdWhovian
EdWhovian

I think the outstanding things in this episode (surprise appearance of Clara/ Oswin, her turning out to be a dalek, great reintroduction of nano genes) far outweigh any negatives. And personally I think that those who harp on about the lack of Daleks read far too many spoilers. free hat please?

lukashcartoon
lukashcartoon

Nice job. But I really don't want this site to become a battle ground between fans.


gunslinger19
gunslinger19

i really think that this was a weak episode, though my criticisms seem to differ from other people's. 

firstly, the oswin dalek thing was fine, except that i guessed she was a dalek as soon as i saw her. i was 100% sure of it once we saw her hack the eye stalk in the snow. and i dont ever really see twists coming. so the whole 'twist' felt weak, especially as i really hated that incarnation of Clara. perhaps having her actually exist as a hologram that can move around the asylum would have been better, though i do understand that it would have messed up the christmas special. 

Amy and Rory's divorce subplot was dire. if they are going to do that, make it last until Angels rather than having some forced ending appear out of no-where. i thought the daleks were just generally used badly in the story. despite the huge potential in mad daleks, nothing new was explored and they were certainly not scary. 

I also dislike the ending where the daleks forget the doctor. while i found the introduction of a pathweb thing to be forced, i didnt mind it at the time as i thought it would be a good doctor/dalek plot arc in the future. unfortunately, the next time we see them they know exactly who the doctor is. so what was the point of that episode exactly?

on the other hand, i thought that the Parliament and most of what was said in it to be amazing. the bit about beauty was genius.



Liana21
Liana21

For me it's one of my favourite Dalek stories beside Dalek, Genesis and my last discovery Death to the Daleks (i like the first episode cliffhanger). It has its things, but like all, just couples hours ago I've watched an episode of Rex with a Japanese mafia geisha singing opera meanwhile a poor guy was being tortured, so Daleks asking for help is not precisely the weirdest thing you could see.

Tobias Cooper
Tobias Cooper

You've made some good points, although I nearly dismissed your arguments out of hand when you praised the fan w*nk in book form that is War of the Daleks! As a side whimsy I like to imagine that the Parliament of the Daleks was established by Theodore Maxtible when he became Emperor, similarly the nanogenes are the Dalek Factor in steam form that was planned at the end of Evil of the Daleks.



tcexect
tcexect

Not to particularly disagree, but...I don't think anyone has ever taken War of the Daleks' retcon seriously. Mainly because it messed up every Dalek episode ever aired, solely in an an elaborate attempt to ruin Remembrance of the Daleks because it annoyed the author.

Explaining Skaro's presence in 'Asylum' is a piffling matter; use your imagination? Since Remembrance we've had an entire Time War to worry about, all kinds of things getting rewritten and unwritten.

MarlonJBonnici
MarlonJBonnici

Can't say my opinion has changed sadly. Awful episode.

Well written article though!

MeglosProductions
MeglosProductions

New who dalek stories from best to worst:

1. Dalek- 9.5/10

2. Parting of the ways- 9.5/10

3. Stolen Earth/Journeys end- 9/10

4. Asylum of the daleks- 7/10

5. Army of ghosts/Doomsday- 6/10

6  Victory of the daleks- 6/10

7. Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the daleks- 3.5/10

TheLostDoctor
TheLostDoctor

On the promises, I wasn't expecting anything like what you said but actually for what classic Daleks there were to actually feature in the episode as in moving and talking and not just sitting there or twirling around in a circle. I did think that they protrayed menace in this story and the art where the Daleks are about to sucker the Doctor to death did give me the chills, the Daleks can be scary in the right circumstances. I loved the part with Oswin Oswald and the discovery of her being a Dalek all along, however what really dampened it down was the Amy/Rory relationship story arc which brought the whole episode down and seemed just to be of 'fan-service' to those fan girls (sorry) out there who can't get enough of the Twighlight feel in Doctor Who. Other than that I find it a Good episode, which grows on you each time you watch it, however 2 points of improvement more classic dalek air time and less amy/rory relationship wishy washy rubbish. :) 



DamianChristie
DamianChristie

Oh, dear, bringing up War of the Daleks - one of the worst Doctor Who books ever written - as a solution to the Skaro dilemma! War of the Daleks was tripe from start to finish - and its explanation for the destruction of Skaro in Remembrance of the Daleks - as well as attempting to retcon every story from Destiny of the Daleks to Remembrance (just because author John Peel's close friend and Dalek creator Terry Nation didn't like those episodes) - was completely nonsensical! If The Twin Dilemma is Doctor Who's nadir to its zenith of The Caves of Androzani, then in book terms, War of the Daleks is the nadir to the zenith of Lawrence Miles' Alien Bodies (the very next book that followed!). Perhaps the reason Skaro still exists in the TV movie and in Asylum of the Daleks is because it wasn't completely destroyed by the Hand of Omega as we all thought. Perhaps instead of completely sending Skaro's solar system nova, the Hand merely wiped out all life on Skaro (much like a neutron bomb, killing all organic life and leaving structures still standing) and extinguished Skaro's sun, leaving a dead planet revolving around a dead sun. Or alternatively, Skaro and its system were destroyed but were somehow restored by the Daleks during the Time War. Whatever the explanation, it would have to be 1000 times better than the tripe Peel put forth in War of the Daleks!!!

Mr 11
Mr 11

Well defended! :D

mgm1229
mgm1229

The most important thing about this episode was the incredibly surprising, and delightful, introduction to Clara. In the long run, which Daleks were in the episode was much less important than the conundrum of what the flip was going on with the brilliant and flirty soufflé girl.

Malohkeh
Malohkeh

Asylum was the first time since Dalek that these metal beasties got a chance to cause some real, behind-the-sofa fear.


It was a wonderful re-invention that came at a perfect time, IMO. Brought the daleks right back up to number one on my favorite monsters list.

Americanwhovian
Americanwhovian

This was the first dalek episode I saw and it was quite unsettleing

Gustaff
Gustaff

Greg House?

Is that your real name or a reference to a certain doctor?


Great article. Agree 100%

Pockydon
Pockydon

Well written article and brilliant response. I can definitely see where you're coming from, as I hope you can with me, so I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree on this episode. At the end of the day, different opinions are what make a site like this so good, and if everyone thought exactly the same thing (that Asylum was really good or really bad) then there wouldn't be any discussion.

Chronos the Fannibal
Chronos the Fannibal

Sort of off topic but I want to hug a Dalek (de-weaponized of course) just to make it uncomfortable, watch it squirm as it rants angrily about hugs in that voice of theirs like "What is this" "Cease 'hugging' human"

sontaran17
sontaran17

A Brilliant Episode, and you have don it great Justice!

Polyphase
Polyphase

Great article and a great episode. The lack of every Dalek was no surprise as we all know Moffat lies and the plot holes don't bother me because the whole timeline has been turned inside out in the last few years.

Sharaz_Jek
Sharaz_Jek

I think this article does fail to address some issues of the original "unpopular opinion" - just because Moffat wasn't responsible for the misuse of the original models and the marketing, doesn't make it any better (The original's article's focus on Moffat in that aspect was wrong, however).


The lack of threat is still present - Daleks don't need to kill to be scary or threatening, but Rory was able to run through a room and slide by a whole group ofthem without any problem. 'Dalek' on the other hand had a single Dalek be a threat dangerous enough to kill every human on earth - A threat doesn't need to be realised, but it's potential danger towards our protagonists must feel real. Daleks falling to Stormtrooper-syndrom doesn't help that. in the Intensive Care scene for example the Daleks actually were menacing with them backing up the Doctor against the wall, him screaming in terror.

War of the Daleks is a controversial source, but even then the destruction of Skaro at some point was confirmed in the RTD era (Caan: "My homeplanet is gone - lost in a great war"). It did return in the Adventure game City of the Daleks, but that included Daleks meddling with time. It isn't a major problem to me, but some sort of explanation would be nice (Has anyone seen 'The Dalek that Time Forgot' by any chance?)

However, the really big logical fallacies in the episode are being ignored here: Why are the controls of the force field on the Asylum planet with the very Daleks it's supposed to keep in? Locking a door and then throwing the key into the room does defeat the purpose. 

And if the technology is able to wipe the memories of Daleks, including the reason for their insanity, why don't they do that in the first place instead of locking otherwise working units away. And a problem I personally have with the episode that wasn't in the original: What about the Asylum Daleks makes them "insane" (by Dalek standards)? Their behavior wasn't any different than the normal Daleks.

The original article was a bit too aggressive for my taste, but I still agree with the basic premise that Asylum of the Daleks was one of Moffat's weaker scripts. I welcome any remarks or arguments someone would be care to provide, since I'd like to understand the enthusiasm for this episode that I see displayed by several people


ahunter8056
ahunter8056

I'm going to be honest, I personally disagree with pretty much every single point in this article (especially the RTD criticism), apart from the Plothole section.

Regenerated Catterson
Regenerated Catterson

I know this is kinda off-topic but did anyone notice that we didn't see an Extermination on screen during Day of the Doctor, aka The Time War apart from that Last Day Prequel 

ilyootha is back in home Universe
ilyootha is back in home Universe

I'm sorry, Greg, but is this your real name? Because one of my favourite TV characters is also called Greg House XD

Nice article, by the way. Although I don't agree with War of the Daleks' take on Skaro's fate, fact that before Asylum it has already appeared in the telemovie, and later in the Adventure Games (where it looked almost exactly the same as in Asylum!), makes the "plothole" non-existent. Seriously, people these days just label anything they don't like or don't understand as plotholes...

KarenBee
KarenBee

Agree about the subplot with the divorce being awful. It stood out as a false plot point, almost as though this needed to be tossed in at some stage to set up some false drama and this was the episode chosen.

Didn't think was worth the wait as far as a triumphant return of the daleks.

Thanks for the article though. Always interesting to read another opinion.

Malohkeh
Malohkeh

@Sharaz_Jek Rewatch Victory (yeah, I know, sounds awful, but it explains it).


At the end of Victory of the Daleks, the Daleks run off to rebuild their empire from the beginning. This included the Dalek Parliment and Skaro.

Gustaff
Gustaff

@Sharaz_Jek well, then Tomb of the Cybermen can be called a rubbish story because the Cybermen do the exact same thing, but in reverse. They lock themselves in stasis and forget to put the unlock button on their side of the door. Moffat even joked it in The Doctors Revisited

Pockydon
Pockydon

That last point about what makes the Daleks so insane to begin with is very interesting, and is actually a rather good question.

Planet of the Deaf
Planet of the Deaf

@Sharaz_Jek  The Daleks that Rory ran past were asleep, they had nobody to destroy down there so naturally wouldn't be fully alert, and he hardly escaped without any problem, it was Oswin who saved him! A Dalek as it turns out :-)

Planet of the Deaf
Planet of the Deaf

@Sharaz_Jek  I disagree that Asylum was a weak script, it was a flawed story, but had many very good elements about it which to those who enjoyed the episode enormously easily make up for the less good bits.

Chris502
Chris502

@Sharaz_Jek  Erasing the Doctor just stopped those daleks targeting him out of pure hatred, but that doesn't wipe their insanity. The things they experienced are still in their memory

Sharaz_Jek
Sharaz_Jek

@Manyetha the Time Lord  Well, they have been doing that since at least Revelation of the Daleks. Conversion is still a special and rare thing with Daleks - usually they just kill you, enslave you or turn you into a Roboman/Dalek Puppet now.

thegidneybean
thegidneybean

@Regenerated Catterson  True, we didn't see "extermination" but we did see a few bodies here and there and also one Gallifreyan getting crushed by a falling peice of building and a couple being blown to kingdom come. That soldier on the big anti Dalek ship canon got totally deaded. :p But sometimes death implied is better than death shown. I think anyway.

Benvenfold
Benvenfold

@Regenerated Catterson We only say about 30 seconds of the Daleks in The Day of the Doctor. And we see their pod ships blowing people up and stuff, I'd presume that some people died in those explosions.

Gustaff
Gustaff

@ilyootha You saw that as well. Seems fishy. You u think this Greg also holds a medical degree?

Sharaz_Jek
Sharaz_Jek

@Malohkeh @Sharaz_Jek I did see Victory, and it doesn't. The Daleks rebuild their empire, yes - but that doesn't explain the return of a planet that was destroyed. And it isn't just another planet made into a new Skaro - there are several of those - but the original, as the Doctor identifies it as such both in the prequel as well as in the episode.


Sharaz_Jek
Sharaz_Jek

@Gustaff @Sharaz_Jek  Yes, there is that problem in Tomb, but that doesn't make it any better in Asylum. I generally don't have that much of a problem with such things because they are usually outweight by the stories positives (e.g. Tomb - you could even argue it was part of the trap, making everything more convincing), but in Asylum so many small and large problems combine that it stopped me from enjoying the episode.


Sharaz_Jek
Sharaz_Jek

@Pockydon  When an Asylum of insane Daleks was announced, I expected something along the lines of Daleks being so full of hate that they attack even other Daleks, but the episode didn't show anything wrong with them (besides damaged casings)



Sharaz_Jek
Sharaz_Jek

@Chris502 @Sharaz_Jek  I don't understand this though - their memory of the Doctor can be wipped, but not their memory of the events they experienced encountering him?


Sharaz_Jek
Sharaz_Jek

@Chris502 @Sharaz_Jek  But this was never mentioned in the episode. All that was said was that they forgot him and had no idea who he is (Doctor Who?!). How could you forget a person, but not your interactions with that person? That is all you know about the other