WARNING!!!: Minor spoilers ahead!
After a so-so premiere, Doctor Who roared back with a very powerful episode that featured one of the shows all-time classic villains: The Daleks. In the runtime of the show, we got a new take on the Dalek’s, a dark look into the Doctor’s soul, the true birth of the Doctor/Clara relationship, and a whole lot of fun along the way.
“Into the Dalek” was a very literal meaning of what the episode is about. After saving a soldier from obliteration, the Doctor is conscripted to help a very unlikely patient, one that would test the Doctor’s beliefs to his core. The patient? A good Dalek.
The Daleks as I’ve mentioned are a staple of Doctor Who, to the point where they’re almost overused, and thus can be hard to give new life to. But here, it’s done masterfully, and it all wrapped up into a moral dilemma many of us have faced, “What is good? What is evil? And can one who is evil ever truly be good?”
The latter question was the core of the Doctor’s struggle, and you’d be hardpressed to not believe him when he said that “all Daleks are evil”, because when have we been given a reason to not believe that? Even in Eccelston’s run when we say a conflicted Dalek, he wasn’t good, he was scared. This Dalek though was pure good…or so we thought.
As the Doctor, Clara, and other members of a resistance party climbed literally into the Dalek (“that’s not a metaphor”), we got to see the enemy we know to fear in a totally different way. And yet, the writers did their best to keep it routed in reality. From anti-bodies, to memory storage, to feeding chambers, it was all believable in a sense.
I noted in the premiere review that Capaldi really didn’t get his chance to shine, but “Into the Dalek” truly showed Capaldi in top form, and showed just how different he is from Smith, Tennant, and Eccelston. He is indeed dark, and cold at times. He’s blunt, and demands answers, even if he fears the answers. He’s a cold equations Doctor, and that came into full effect when the hope to make the Dalek good came crashing down around him.
Clara had some great moments as well, as she had to change up her dynamic to help the Doctor see the light if you will. She also got to have some great action scenes where she got to figure out key events to save the day. I like this new dynamic between the Doctor and Clara. It’s tense but true, funny yet antagonistic.
The ending is something many of us will debate for awhile. As the hope for peace turned into death, and a line so cold yet somehow true was said that I have to say it in the review, even if you haven’t seen it yet.
“No, I am not a good Dalek…YOU are a good Dalek…”
Oh yeah, that happened.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention two pretty interesting things. First was the introduction of Danny Pink, a teacher at the school Clara works at, and inevitable companion. However, though he may seem like something stereotypical, in the few scenes he had he showed he’s much more than that.
And then there’s Missy…nope, still don’t know what to make of her.
In the end, “Into the Dalek” was an entertaining and thought-provoking episode that made you rethink what you knew about both the Daleks and the Doctor himself. Where the season goes from here is anyone’s guess still. But I’m happy to say it seems to be getting back on solid ground.