Doctor Who episode 818: Into the Dalek (30/8/2014)

‘Am I a good man?’ The first time I saw this, I found parts of it despicable, particularly ‘She cares so I don’t have to.’ Second time around, I can see many more things to admire – not least doing a cross between The Invisible Enemy and Dalek, which is such an unlikely mash-up I’m vaguely in awe.

The Doctor remains the biggest problem – the above line could be played as funny; I can imagine Tom Baker saying it in Season 13 – but the delivery lacks Baker’s low-level Scouse irony. Worse, when Ross is killed, the Doctor’s reaction isn’t just cold (‘He was dead already’) but cruel, as he jokes to his friends that his corpse is the ‘top layer, if you want to say a few words.’ That’s a Master line, and while I get that this season is going for a darker, less flirty take on a character questioning his own morality, it leans too hard into the episode’s conclusion that the Doctor is ‘a good dalek’ because he’s full of hate.

There’s also the Doctor’s attitude to soldiers, which I find vaguely baffling when surely the whole point of the anniversary was showing that even a Warrior can be redeemed. In that context, Clara trying hard to date Danny Pink comes across almost as an act of defiance, proof to herself that she can act independently of a Doctor who now drops into her life and demands her attention whenever he feels like it.

Those are the complaints. I enjoyed parts of this, particularly Gretchen’s confrontation with the Doctor and her arrival in Missy’s heaven, and Clara crawling about in the Dalek’s brain while the Doctor appeals to its soul. The aesthetic continues from Deep Breath, with a chillier, more austere look than the Matt Smith episodes and some similarly striking visual moments, such as the sequence of the Dalek attack squad bursting into the Aristotle like an Eric Saward wet dream. But what a shame, like Saward, they forgot to include Dr Who in the episode.

Next Time: Robot of Sherwood



  1. Pingback: Doctor Who episode 817: Deep Breath (23/8/2014) | Next Time...
  2. rocketpilot

    The problem with trying to improve on the Sixth Doctor’s arc is that it just wasn’t a good idea in the first place. The shoddy execution was just the second problem.

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