News Categories
Archives

Into the Dalek Spoiler-Free Review

into the dalek pic batch a (11)

Note: While this review refrains from mentioning many plot specifics, read on at your discretion.

Into the Dalek does what it says on the tin. It’s an intriguing premise that sees the Doctor, Clara and a galactic resistance squad miniaturised and venturing into a ‘defective’ Dalek. Penned by Phil Ford, the co-writer of fan favourite The Waters of Mars, and Steven Moffat, the episode has all the makings of a classic. It doesn’t quite reach those lofty heights, but it nevertheless is a very good attempt.

The Daleks have come in for lot of criticism of late, one of the arguments being that they are no longer scary. The Daleks in this episode do exterminate. Lots. And you get to see it in all its x-ray glory. The problem is, does endless killing actually make them scary? On the evidence here, no. It at least makes them a little bit more threatening than they have been of late, even if nameless grunts are the main ones being offed.

Really though the episode isn’t about the Daleks and their grand schemes to take over the world once again. It’s more an exploration of one specific pepperpot and the Doctor, both physically and mentally. Early on in the episode Capaldi asks Clara “Am I a good man?” It’s the scene we’ve been bombarded with during promotion and this sets the overall theme for the episode. But perhaps the more appropriate question is, what separates the Doctor from a Dalek? The difference might not be as pronounced as you would think.

Peter Capaldi continues to shape his Doctor’s performance here with great effect. If you thought he might suddenly mellow out after fetching the coffee at the conclusion of Deep Breath, then you’d be very wrong. In fact he is arguably more cold-hearted here than in the opener. His brash and unsympathetic ways often causing conflict with Clara and the squad he’s stuck with. It leads to some very witty moments, and even a slap. There is also one particularly dubious action from the Doctor in terms of morals. Capaldi might not be cuddly, but it’s fascinating to see your notions of the Doctor turned on their head.

Clara’s life outside of the TARDIS is further glimpsed and the episode introduces new recurring character Danny Pink played by Samuel Anderson. Like Clara, Danny is a teacher at Coal Hill School. He only gets a couple of scenes bookending the story so it’s hard to know exactly what to make of him yet. His scenes with Clara are largely a bit of flirtatious fun, even if they feel out of place with the rest of the episode. Danny does seem to have something of an interesting past, though it is only hinted at.

The guest cast is made up by a couple of notables. Michael Smiley puts in a reliable, if unremarkable, performance for the small screen time he is afforded as Colonel Blue. Far better served is Zawe Ashton who plays Journey Blue, a character who is given more emotionally challenging material to explore.

Deep Breath’s director Ben Wheatley returns and again delivers some sumptuous shots. This is a more visually charged episode than Deep Breath, with more action, plenty of special effects, CGI, space battles, explosions (lots of explosions). Generally it looks gorgeous but perhaps some of the ship and Dalek interiors could have been better realised.

The biggest criticism you could level at the episode is that it can at times feels a bit familiar. Let’s Kill Hitler more recently comes to mind with the concept of miniaturisation and a similar threat inside, but the biggest influence of all must surely be Rob Shearman’s superb Dalek from 2005. It can feel like trodden ground.

Ultimately though it’s a solid Dalek episode, but perhaps not quite the one many fans will be expecting.

8/10

Step back in time...

COMMENT GUIDELINES

Please be civil and keep article comments relevant and on topic. Flag and report any offensive/trolling behavior, or contact us with details.
Please do not post SPOILERS including anything from leaked episodes! Your account could be banned. For complete details on our comment policy please read.
119 comments
NeutronFlow has a spoon in his pocket
NeutronFlow has a spoon in his pocket

The Daleks 'are no longer scary'?  

And why is that exactly? 

Most likely, because the viewer is no longer under 10 years old. 

It makes me laugh sometimes. 

Who fans who lament the lack of scares like they used to get, whilst seemingly overlooking the fact that they've grown up in the meantime. 

We all still love watching Doctor Who, but please face facts; if you're watching a family show as an adult, it will entertain you, but it absolutely will not scare you! 

Why is it no longer scary? 

Because you're no longer a child!




Christoph1337
Christoph1337

Also, I really don't care about making the Daleks scary; with that voice, it's a lost cause. I'm just glad they're back to killing people. *pause* Wow, that came out wrong. 



Christoph1337
Christoph1337

No matter how the episode turns out, I have to give the episode props for attempting a shrinking story. Not many TV shows can pull that off nowadays; it's held as being too much something associated with the 90s. 

Sam Davern
Sam Davern

If you can say miniaturisation is copied from Let's Kill Hitler, then you could also say that LKH copied it from Planet of Giants. You can't really mark an episode down for using it because it is an idea commonly used in Sci-Fi and Fantasy. 

TheCyberDoctor Wants to Kill the Moon
TheCyberDoctor Wants to Kill the Moon

The last time we saw the x-ray effect was in The Big Bang when the stone Dalek shot the Doctor, and it didn't even kill him. VOTD was the last time they killed anyone properly. Yes they've killed people via nano-cloud and explosions, even though they say Exterminate all the time. They have to follow it through, otherwise its just an empty threat. EXTERMINATE!



NewWho2012
NewWho2012

Look forward to the exterminations again! I enjoyed it back in the early series (New Who) when that infamous ray gun sound was let off and you heard the person scream and see the X-ray effect that reveals their skeleton. Actually makes them scary.

Mikeyboss182
Mikeyboss182

"The problem is, does endless killing actually make them scary?

It dose if they kill off characters that we actually care about, If they are just going to kill a bunch of red shirts then that’s not good enough, they need to create a character that we as an audience genuinely care about and don’t expect to die and then kill them. The best Dalek episode of the new series for me is The Parting of the Ways, I don’t think the Daleks have ever been more ruthless then in that episode.

Mercy Reborn2
Mercy Reborn2

it will be interesting to see inside one see how they tick what was done to make them bad

Miss Bosswald wants you to nuke the Moon.
Miss Bosswald wants you to nuke the Moon.

 "The problem is, does endless killing actually make them scary?" the answer is simple for me : no.

In most polls, the Weeping Angels always win as best monsters and they are the only monsters not to kill. I always find psychological concepts scarier than killing - in particular in a family show. You can't show blood, etc. The only single time Daleks scared me a little was in "Asylum of the Daleks". The conversation between the Doctor and the ginger dalek puppet made me cringe. "You had a daughter remember?" - "I know, I read my file".

And no, the Dalek did not scare me in "Dalek". The Doctor did. Christopher Eccleston is a  fantastic actor - you can feel his pain, his hatred. That was the first time I thought "maybe he's not just some cool guy with a magic box". The Dalek? It killed hundreds of unnamed people I did not know – why should I care?

It might have been scary in the 60s but fifty years later, it's a bit boring. The Nazi concept has been used and overused (The Death Eaters in Harry Potter for example) and every single detective show has its own serial killer. If you want the Daleks to be interesting, you need a lot more than that.




The Moment
The Moment

I think I will enjoy this episode, and thank you Moffat and Ford for bringing back exterminations!!!

LordMalkovich
LordMalkovich

"...but the biggest influence of all must surely be Rob Shearman’s superb Dalek from 2005" - If ever there was a quote to make me excited about an episode of Who, it would be that! "...but perhaps some of the ship and Dalek interiors could have been better realised." - I think I mentioned that in my reaction to the clips already shown; white, spotless interiors aren't as effective for me as gritty, industrial sets (I can completely understand if it's for budget reasons, though).

Neverignoreacoincidence
Neverignoreacoincidence

Am I the only one who is a little worried about the doctor being so cold-hearted and callous?

floppy_who
floppy_who

"not quite the one many fans will be expecting"- does the 8th Doctor make a reappearance..?

;-)

ConnorWhite
ConnorWhite

I love the x-Ray glory! Seeing a Dalek victim's skeleton and hearing that screeching noise is what makes a great murder. Not like all that blood and guts in horror movies.

JamieJones723
JamieJones723

To me, Daleks are too visible to be scary. That's why the Weeping Angels and the Silence get you, because you don't always know where they are, as the lights go out or you forget that they're there. Maybe they were scary in the 1960's, but not now, and watching the original "The Daleks" serial, it's actually quite hard to imagine why Daleks became so known for being scary. The reason I love the Daleks is for their parallel and history with the Doctor.

TheNightmareChild wants a Skovox martini
TheNightmareChild wants a Skovox martini

I'm willing to bet the allusions to 'Dalek' at least are deliberate.  In that episode, the post-War Doctor and his most hated enemy are essentially having a pissing match with each other.  In this episode, a Dalek is asking his most sworn enemy for help, and the Doctor seems to be willing and offering.  The visual parallels obviously help draw the contrasts between the stories into sharp relief.

Oswald98
Oswald98

By the looks of things this series is going to be quite experimental, so I don't mind having a more traditional episode so the show doesn't feel so different. New Doctor, old enemies and all.

twoheartsonemind
twoheartsonemind

I might be one of the few people who don't care if the Daleks are scary, because I never found them to be scary. I think they're far more interesting when used for psychological analysis, as they seem to be used here.

I do wonder if Clara has any memories of being Oswin, as I think that would make this episode even more interesting. Probably not, as I'd assume that this would have been mentioned if it was the case.

Also, am I the only one who liked Let's Kill Hitler? I mean, it was a fun and funny episode, nothing terribly serious, just a light hearted jaunt. It's quite enjoyable.

JamieScriven
JamieScriven

There's only one way the daleks could appear scary and threatening to me, stop making them talk and cease fire every time someone knows their name or even talks to them !! :S seriously its like omg daleks let's keep rambling on so they don't shoot me, the 11th doctor even said trouble with daleks they talk so long I'll probably die before they shoot me. It's time to write a companion and some close characters out of the show and give the daleks back their fear factor, no conversation their killing machines just instantly exterminate those in there path

Mercy Reborn2
Mercy Reborn2

I dont mind if Daleks kill people, I just hope its a good episode and shows us more of the doctors character

EyebrowsAttack
EyebrowsAttack

There is not nearly enough excitement here at the prospect of combining the whole miniaturised journey a la Fantastic Journey with a Doctor Who Dalek adventure.  Along with all the glee at increased exterminations, sometimes I think we are getting far too desensitised and jaded.

DWTV
DWTV moderator

It's not just the miniaturisation.



Christoph1337
Christoph1337

@LordMalkovich I'm hoping most of the season's budget went into the new setting and monster designs and the season finale. 

floppy_who
floppy_who

@ConnorWhite The daleks exterminating was scary way before the x-ray effect was introduced in 1988. Still- gotta love the x-ray!

Christoph1337
Christoph1337

@JamieJones723 I don't care about stealth or weaponry or even body counts; I can never take the Daleks seriously as long as they keep that hilarious voice. 

LordMalkovich
LordMalkovich

@JamieJones723 For me as a kid, the Daleks weren't so much scary as menacing, and their visibility was part of that. It was the ominous feeling that they were coming to exterminate you, and that they were unstoppable and without remorse, that made them so menacing for me.

tealeaves
tealeaves

@JamieJones723 You might be right, if you watch the Daleks' first appearance on the show what is scary is that all you can see is a terrified woman and a Dalek 'sucker' and something about that lack of visibility is very scary. I do wonder if another problem is that we know too much about the Daleks. Something Steven Moffat has emphasised when making his own creatures is that he only gives small amounts of information on them because something is scarier when you don't know where it came from or what it's capable of e.g. we know nothing about the origins of the Weeping Angels, until TotD we knew very little about The Silence (the creatures - not the religious order) 

The Lazy Cat Has a Terrible Decision to Make...
The Lazy Cat Has a Terrible Decision to Make...

@twoheartsonemind Yeah I doubt that Oswin will be referenced in more than a passing line, as cool as it would be. People have rightly pointed out that Clara has very little memory of her echoes, and I'm not sure if it would bare any relevance to the plot unless it was to be pursued further.

Polyphase
Polyphase

@twoheartsonemind There was a lot of reasons I didn't like it, The paradigm Daleks, The Spitfires in space etc. but it was the portrayal of Churchill that annoyed me the most. It's just too hard to imagine the Doctor being  friends with Churchill .

Polyphase
Polyphase

@EyebrowsAttack miniaturised journey a la Fantastic Journey

Or indeed the 4th Doctor adventure, The Invisible Enemy :)

mrpaddy1984
mrpaddy1984

Genesis of the Daleks is still the definitive "extermination" story for me. The way the whole screen fills with burning white light and the gratuitous (if somewhat hammy at times ) screaming of the victims. Aged 8 I terrified our neighbours re-enacting the final scene with Davros and the scientists at the end.

floppy_who
floppy_who

@Polyphase I wonder if the dalek in this story is also host to a prawn, erm, swarm nucleus...

joe4
joe4

@mrpaddy1984  Yeah, I love the Genesis exterminations. They just look so painful. When people are shot by Daleks in Genesis they scream in agony for about 3 seconds as they die. It's great stuff.

Polyphase
Polyphase

@ Notsosmartguy the dalek of Jersey 

He had very little respect for human life especially non-British, His fixation with saving the British Empire above ending the wars quickly etc.

The Doctor historically doesn't get along with people like that

mrpaddy1984
mrpaddy1984

Yeah, and it gives particular emphasis to Nyder's death at the end - a shocked, silent death for the little creep who never saw it coming.

floppy_who
floppy_who

@mayotango131 @Polyphase @ Notsosmartguy the dalek of Jersey The third Doctor did have moments of being more of an "establishment" person than other incarnations (name dropping senior cabinet ministers that he bumped into in in a members only club as a way of influencing obstructive civil servants that seemed to be everywhere during the UNIT years). It's difficult to imagine the 4th Doctor being so friendly with senior establishment figures though...