Off the back of the popularity of my last review, I’ve decided to dive right back in to the exciting world of Doctor Who reviews, and focus on the next episode of Series 8 Into the Dalek.
So, as ever…
As mentioned Into the Dalek is the second episode of Series 8, and is a mash-up of the 1980’s Meg Ryan/Dennis Quaid Sci-fi InnerSpace and the Christopher Eccleston era episode, Dalek.
The episode seeks to answer the thorny, long running Whovian questions of how far exactly the Doctor will go to prove himself right, and is there such a thing as a Good Dalek…
If you’re looking for specific plot details, I suggest you support Doctor Who and buy the DVD, because from this point on you are entering a Universe of opinion, conjecture, and well the mind so someone who reads WAY to much into everything.
While, it’s easy to see Into the Dalek as something of a redux of the Dalek episode, I am going to argue the hell out of the fact that’s it’s also a spiritual sequel to Deep Breath in the way it continues to deal with the question of trust between the 12th Doctor and Clara Oswald, and attempts to lay the ground work of who exactly this new Doctor is.
Spoilers- one of these plot strands it dealt with greater success than the other.
The Doctor and Miss Oswald.
After various exciting space based gubbins, and the introduction of two exciting, well used guest characters, Rusty and Journey Blue, we find The Doctor and Clara’s relationship almost entirely where we left it in Deep Breath.
With The Doctor several weeks later, having finally returned from his mission to ‘fetch’ both himself and Clara coffee.
When 12 and Clara are written at their best, their ‘bantering’ and battle for oral superiority have shades of Doctor number 4 and Sarah Jane Smith about them, when they are penned at their most obvious however, with Clara permanently annoyed, and The Doctor infuriatingly superior, they are full on 6th Doctor/Peri Brown, with some notable, highly changed exceptions, Into the Dalek finds the pair in the later mode.
Notable Exception-No 1.
It turns out that The Doctor has put a pin in all the exciting Dalek/space related future shenanigans to hop back and ask Clara Oswald a very important question.
More off putting than the question itself, is the fact that Clara can’t answer it one way or the other.
Well, love, is one way to answer this question, as I surmised in my Deep Breath review, Clara fell in love with the 11th incarnation of The Doctor, and she’s now not prepared to except any substitutes, especially not of the grey haired variety.
Falling in love with the 11th Doctor isn’t Clara’s fault, nor does it show any weakness in her character, she’s just an ordinary young woman who has run away with the most exciting person she has ever met, who puts her almost entirely at the centre of his Universe as a mystery to be solved, what else is she supposed to do…
Given they way that 11 and Clara’s relationship played out during the course of series 7b and the Christmas Special, it’s no great suprise that Clara’s trust in her friend is a little dented, after all since the moment that they met, more than any other Doctor/Companions relationship ,all the power has firmly been on his side, while he’s kept all the cards about Clara being the Impossible Girl firmly against his chest, only ever sharing the odd scrap of garbled information.
If Clara Oswald hadn’t been The Impossible Girl scattered throughout The Doctor’s time line would he ever even have sought her out, or would he stayed up on his cloud above Victorian London mourning the loss of The Girl Who Waited and The Last Centurion for another hundred years, most probably.
The Doctor meets his travelling Companions by accident, twists of fate, quirks of fortune, call it what you will, however after realising that there was some version of Oswin Oswald/Clara Oswin Oswald in the Universe he sets off to find her, not because of who she might be, but because of who she had been.
Clara becomes a Siren’s Call encouraging The Doctor to put aside his feelings of failure and loss, and get up of his knees for one last great adventure.
Getting in a little deep here, I think there’s a post to be written about the nature of 11 as a manipulator, a cult figure with a winning personality and friendly face, who seeks out young girls to become his acolytes, but today is not that day.
Deep Breath and Into the Dalek are the first episodes that begin to address what happens next for The Doctor and Clara’s relationship, after the dust has settled on all the time stream jumping/ Clara confetti.
For the first time Clara is allowed to get good and angry/resentful over her frankly shoddy treatment at the hands of 11, but all of this comes at the cost of her building a relationship with 12 in the early stages of his post regeneration.
A bit more establishing/foreshadowing of this tension in The 50th or Christmas Special episodes, might have helped to decode some of Clara’s hostility towards the 12th Doctor, as it is, it just serves to put this new character on the back foot.
However by the conclusion of Into the Dalek the early foundations of a trusting relationship between 12 and Clara have begun to be built, there’s hope for these characters.
While the thorny subject of trust between The Doctor and Clara reaches a satisfactory conclusion, the question of what sort of character the 12th Doctor is, is left still hanging up in the air.
Never were less true words spoken, because with the benefit of hindsight and three years of development, we know that this incarnation of the Doctor will blossom into a version that has just as much compassion and feeling as the 10th Doctor, and then some.
That more than any other thing, love, will become the emotion that inspires this version of the Doctor the most, and will go to become something that usually saves the day.
However, Into the Dalek is early doors for this Doctor, and the tone often feels with 12 as if I writers have watched The Thick of It on loop, and wished they could have come up with dialogue half as good.
Example A-The Doctor in Into the Dalek.
Example B-Malcolm Tucker in scenes from The Thick of It.
Wait, I’ve got that the wrong way around, or have I…
Anyway, my main point, which I am now getting to, is that while I love The Thick of It, and I really, really, really do, Malcolm Tucker is not a hero, he’s the anti-Christ, the devil who always have the best an funniest things to say, he is the opposite of The Doctor, Malcolm Tucker will not save you.
While it may be funny to inject so many passing similarities between two such different characters, it acts as yet another barrier to discovering who exactly this Doctor is…
I would give this episode an 8 1/2 out of 10.
On the face of it Into the Dalek has a slightly mediocre story, which is enhanced significantly with interesting interplay between The Doctor and Clara, and the excellent use of guest characters.
In the fashion stakes Clara’s outfit in the episode comes in at a 9. While I absolutely love her shirt, and the fact that she’s wearing trousers, the trousers in question are badly fitting.
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