So a lot of folk are saying that Into the Dalek, episode 2 of the new series of Doctor Who, was awesome enough to rival the episode their return to the screen in 2005 against Christopher Eccleston in the now classic episode Dalek. It wasn’t, although that didn’t make it any less enjoyable.
You have to be careful with Daleks. Much as they might be a stalwart favorite of Doctor Who, they can lose their appeal if viewers are saturated with them too often. This happened in the classic series. They became so familiar it was hard to feel anything but affection for them. That’s not the way you should feel about a cruel cosmic menace of pure evil and naked malevolence.
What was powerful about 2005’s Dalek was that there was just one of them… and that one is enough to cause untold havoc. Into the Dalek tries to recapture some of that, pitting Peter Capaldi in his second outing as the Doctor against just one Dalek – or rather putting him inside a Dalek. Literally.
In a homage to the 1966 movie Fantastic Voyage (where a group of scientists are shrunk and injected into the bloodstream of a diplomat in order to save his life), in Into the Dalek, the Doctor and Clara – accompanied by three soldiers – are themselves shrunk down in order to be injected into a broken Dalek that has apparently become good because of whatever might be damaging it. Why anyone would want to fix a Dalek that now wished destruction on other Daleks instead of EVERYTHING ELSE in the universe is never satisfactorily explained. In fact, as plots go, it’s pretty loose. Not that it mattered too much because… THE DOCTOR’S INSIDE A DALEK!
Face to (giant) face with his oldest enemy, the Doctor tries to get the Dalek – now fixed and back to being a xenophobic psychopath – back on the spiritual path, no small thanks to Clara rerouting suppressed memories back to the forefront of the Dalek’s brain. The Doctor sort of mind-melds with the Dalek to show him how to appreciate beauty. Of course, the Dalek, being a Dalek, fixates on the Doctor’s infinite hatred for the Daleks instead – which bums the Doctor out on so many levels – not the least of which, I suspect, for a man insecure in his own morality, boils down to his worry that he might not be ‘a good man.’ Still, it’s a damn good speech the Doctor gives… and a great opportunity for Capaldi to flex his inner Time Lord.
Other things worthy of note include Clara slapping the Doctor – in what many agree to be, at least, an odd sort of overreaction, if not a madly incongruous sort of thing to do. I’ll put it down to Clara’s inability to fully cope with what’s happened to the Doctor yet. It’s the sort of thing she’ll be embarrassed about at a later date. Probably because of a new love interest, Danny Pink, an ex-soldier and new teacher at the same school where Clara works (I hope she doesn’t slap the kids the same way she slapped the Doc). It’s nice that we’re finally getting to see Clara in a proper human setting and the relationship with Pink should make an interesting TARDIS dynamic, especially as the Doctor states categorically in this episode that he doesn’t like traveling with soldiers, turning one down who asks to go with him.
And we get another glimpse of Missy in ‘Heaven’. Who is she? WHO IS SHE? Maybe she’s the TARDIS gone mad in the future and Heaven is her interior. I can’t wait to find out.
Next episode, the Doctor comes face to face with Robin Hood!