Saturday, August 17, 2013

50th Anniversary Countdown: Doctor Who 7.01: "Asylum of the Daleks"

“You have always wanted kids, ever since you were a kid. And I can’t give you any. Whatever they did to me at Demon’s Run, I can’t have them. I didn’t kick you out. I let you go. So don’t you dare talk to me about standing outside a box because that is nothing, nothing compared to giving you up.”
- Amy

Given our love for the Doctor here at MTVP, we decided to recap the latest series of “Doctor Who” in anticipation of the 50th Anniversary special. We will be recapping an episode a week leading right up to when the special airs and will also post a special recap of the actual 50th Anniversary.

Series 7 begins on Scarro of all places (the original birthplace of the Daleks). The Doctor has received a message from a woman asking for help even though he’s gone into hiding since marrying River in the alternate timeline. The woman says that her daughter is in a Dalek prison camp and she needs th4e Doctor to rescue the girl. The Doctor susses out the trap pretty quickly, since no one escapes a Dalek prison camp. The woman starts snapping and a Dalek eye stalk appears in the middle of her forehead and a laser comes out of her hand to render the Doctor unconscious. We pop down to Earth to find Amy during a photo shoot. Rory interrupts her to have her sign divorce papers. Clearly something has happened since last we saw the Ponds. They are each nabbed by weird human-Dalek hybrids and wake up in a white room. The Doctor strolls in and they descend into a giant room filled with every version of Daleks we’ve seen. And instead of destroying the Doctor and his companions, they want him to save them. Definitely not what he was expecting.

In a slightly disjointed jump, we find a young woman in a room. She’s listening to the soundtrack of “Carmen” and recording her day (she’s been wherever she is for a year). She’s made a soufflé (well tried and failed) and she’s been keeping some life forms out. We jump back to the Dalek ship where the Doctor is pacing and Amy is commentating on what he’s thinking, including that she and Rory are clearly having issues. Next, we learn about the Dalek Asylum. All the crazy and battle scarred ones end up there. Which isn’t as weird as it sounds. Until you add in the fact that the Daleks think all the batshit ones are beautiful because they are so hateful. There’s a signal emanating from the core and the Daleks want the Doctor to go down, shut off the force field so they can blow the planet to bits. As the Doctor, Amy and Rory lean over to see the planet, the Doctor has the idea to see if they can communicate with the source of the transmission (aka the soundtrack). We learn the young woman’s name is Oswin Oswald and she was on a star liner that crashed a year ago.

Our trio asks a few questions before they’re literally shot down at the planet in a beam of light. I had to laugh at Rory asking what color the Daleks on the planet were. Seemed a valid question given series 5 was the introduction of the iPod Nano Daleks. Plus, all the good questions were taken. They get shot down at the planet and Amy and the Doctor end up near each other but Rory goes a bit far afield. A man in a white parka finds Amy first and Oswin spots the Doctor but she loses the signal. The Doctor is confused how she can hack Dalek tech since it should be impossible. Parka guy leads the Doctor and Amy down to an escape pod and it becomes clear very quickly that he is dead and has been made a Dalek shell. The rest of his crew is dead, too. And apparently unless one wears the glowey wrist bands, they get turned into a Dalek. Joy. Oswin gets to banter with the Doctor a bit more as they find a hatch leading straight into the asylum. Speaking of, Rory fell straight through to the bottom. He’s got a pen light (because everyone carries those with them on a daily basis right?) and he pushes a few Daleks around but gets no reaction.

It wouldn’t be Doctor Who if the companion wasn’t somehow in danger. After the Doctor and Amy got away from the skeleton crew Daleks, Amy realizes she’s lost her wrist band. So she’s slowly going to turn into one of them. And the Doctor grills her on why she and Rory are having problems. They split up because that’s life apparently. Obviously, the Doctor doesn’t believe that at all. Rory is still muddling about with the Daleks when they begin to wake up. Oswin works her mojo though and gets him somewhere safe. Then we cut to the Doctor and Amy climbing down a rope ladder and she’s demanding to know what will happen to her. Her memories and feelings will disappear and then the physical changes set in. But her memory is already going because they’ve had the same conversation four times.

Oswin tries to give the Doctor some direction to where he can find Rory (and then herself) but Amy is falling prey to the nanogenes (nice of them to come back for a visit. We haven’t seen them since series 1). She walks into a room and sees people but they’re really Daleks. When she focuses, she sees what they really are and they start running. A damaged Dalek corners them and the Doctor engages it, prompting it to self-destruct. He puts the thing in reverse and blows up a bunch of other Daleks along with it. Really, he has no problem blowing up these beings (or Cybermen really). It’s a tad disturbing but I do like that there’s such continuity with the lengthy history between the two races.

And since we have made it to the final act, we are about to cram five different plot points into that span. First, Amy and Rory reconcile as the Doctor goes off to find Oswin. Rory tries to give Amy his wrist band because it will take longer to convert him since he has more love for her than she does for him. She breaks down, going on about how he’s always wanted children and since Demon’s Run, she can’t have any more. And she didn’t kick him out, she let him go. They struggle a bit and Rory ends up getting his wrist band on her arm anyway. Well so it turns out the Doctor put his band on Amy before he left.

Things are getting dicey with Oswin as the Doctor continues to question things. In a matter of minutes Oswin deletes all record of the Doctor from the Dalek database to save him from the ICU Daleks (all from battles with him probably during the Time War). And then he gets into the room and finds out that she is in fact a full on Dalek. She was converted because she was a freaking genius. But she’s still human enough to drop the force field so he and the Ponds can escape. And it looks like she erased the memory of the Doctor from every single Dalek. I wasn’t very fond of this the first time I saw the episode because it just completely gets rid of a history that stretches back to the start of the series. And on re-watch, I’m still pissed. The Daleks are the Doctor’s greatest enemy. You can’t just erase him from their memory. It’s cheap and stupid and one of many things Moffat has done lately that make me wish he was departing the series before the start of series 8. But all seems well for Amy and Rory, reunited and back home together. Something tells me they’ll be seeing the Doctor again soon.

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