Asylum of the Daleks

If there is one thing that the Daleks have been for the past 50 years, it’s inconsistent. Sometimes Daleks are intelligent, other times they are simply idiotic. Sometimes they are evil, other times they are comical. And the most important: sometimes they are scary, other times they are lame.

Despite my fondness for them firmly placing them above any other Doctor Who villain, it really depends on who the writer is on how these guys are used. Episodes like 2005’s Dalek are instant classics in the minds of many fans, while others such as Daleks In Manhattan come off as camp as a sequined cape. I was surprised to realize that this was showrunner Steven Moffat’s first real foray into these armored squid guys, and for the most part he really nailed it. If anything, he has found that a way to make a monster scary again is to wound it, or drive it crazy. The headless Cyberman armor in The Pandorica Opens is a fine example of this, and in this episode we have an asylum full of the Dalek equivalents.

First thing first, I had no idea that Jenna Louise Coleman was going to be in this episode. For the first time in a VERY long time we had an actual surprise that wasn’t ruined by a big UK newspaper or a questionable write-up in a magazine. Her appearance is a two edged sword though, as I really enjoyed her character, but this is probably not the same character that later shows up later on. Without outright spoiling my reasons for those that have not seen the episode, let’s just say that if it is her – Moffat will have to unleash the “timey wimey” on the show to achieve this.

This episode had it all for fans of older Dalek episodes. Returning, is a human slave class lead by the Daleks, minus the stupid speech pattern that the robomen had, or those dumb helmets from the Davison era. We had a glimmer of the many factions within the Dalek Empire including a new “parliament of the Daleks”. While this was a bit Star Wars-esque (galactic senate anyone?) it achieved a reasonable way to have thousands of Daleks in a room at once. Those thousands of Daleks were very impressive, but failed on one regard. The promise of “Every Dalek Ever Made” wasn’t an outright lie, but one had to play “Where’s Waldo” to see most of them. There was a special weapons model, and a 1960’s model in there from what I could see, but they weren’t features quite as prominently as I had hoped. I bet somebody with far too much free time has spotted them all, but I’m too lazy for that.

All in all, I really liked this episode; it had everything I like about Moffat scripts: mystery, surprises, horror, and a dash of humor. This season, despite how short it this half is, seems to be more up my alley than the previous Christmas episode, and holds the “blockbuster” status teased in the lead-up.

Reaction – Doctor Who: The Wedding of River Song

Tick tock goes the clock
And what now shall we play?
Tick tock goes the clock
Now summer’s gone away?

Tick tock goes the clock
And what then shall we see?
Tick tock until the day
That thou shalt marry me

Tick tock goes the clock
And all the years they fly
Tick tock and all too soon
You and I must die

Tick tock goes the clock
He cradled her and he rocked her
Tick tock goes the clock
Even for the Doctor..

Tick tock goes the clock
He cradled her and he rocked her
Tick tock goes the clock
Till River kills the Doctor..

Now that’s more like it! After a few episodes that honestly felt like filler episodes in the grand scheme of things, we have a really well done Moffat episode. I know the fanbase will be largely split with Moffat fans rejoicing to the hills and his detractors slamming it, as this was a VERY Moffat episode. Structured in a similar vein to The Impossible Astronaut and even The Pandorica Opens, we see more of the old “timey wimey” going on. We know how the Doctor escapes death, why River is in prison, and whether or not River is married to the Doctor (sort of…lol).

Not every question was answered, but we got through a good chunk of it. I guess we can chalk most of my previous ramblings about who broke into Amy’s house, and the destruction of the Tardis to be the master plan of the Silence to kill the Doctor at any means necessary. This largely points to these first two seasons being merely a stepping stone in a much larger ongoing storyline. This is both good and bad, as I hoped we would finally know everything that has happened at this point, but I’m glad all the answers weren’t rushed in one solitary episode. I was truly worried that we were going to have seen sixty minutes of random flashbacks and such.

The Wedding of River Song was a very important episode, not as much for the actual content, but as a casual reboot of the series. What many may not notice is that with the perceived “death” of the Doctor as seen by many, we have seen the end of the “super Jesus, Earth savior” Doctor, and the birth of a hopefully more reclusive Doctor that spends less time on Earth. What I hope we see is more “monster of the week” episodes where we might see a sense of the Silence “being onto him” or some such, but just in the background. We all know this will lead to the eventual reveal of the final battle between the Doctor and the Silence, most likely for the 50th Anniversary. I still cling to the possibility that we haven’t seen the person in charge of the Silence as of yet, and it would be amazing to find out who it is in a few years. All I know is that once he starts going to a place called “The Fields of Trensalore” we’re in for it.

Another fun tidbit is that the emphasis on the mystery behind the Doctor’s name adds new relevance to the title of the show. Many casual fans, or folks that may skim an episode here and there may wonder why the show is even called Doctor Who, some might even think that it’s his name. It’s a nice capstone for nearly 50 years of continuity and makes us wonder why he’s so secretive of his name. Does his name link him to something terrible?

My ongoing theory is that there is some big bad guy out there that needs to know the Doctor’s name for some reason. I’m wondering if the Doctor didn’t use it as the password for the “time lock” he used to trap the Time Lords and Daleks within Gallifrey, once it is uttered, this lock will be broken and cause havoc. Suddenly you’d have The Master set free, and all sorts of other pissed off Timelords. This would fit in with the alien coalition trying to stop the Doctor at all costs with the Pandorica, and even explain the Silence claiming that they have witnessed a dark future caused by the Doctor. Of course we won’t hear the name as viewers, as finding out that the Doctor’s name is “Barry” would probably ruin the show.

On a side note, I loved the little “fan-wanky” bits in this episode. For starters, when we find that all of time has been compressed to a solitary moment, we see anomalies such as Charles Dickens talking about his upcoming BBC Christmas special. Once he gets rolling you realize that he is talking about A Christmas Carol. Dickens was once again played by the returning Simon Callow, a man that many will remember from An Unquiet Dead way back in season 1. Other nice nods included the reappearance of Winston Churchill, who has apparently started riding a mammoth to work. With a less “in your face” cameo, we find that fan favorite companion “The Brigadier” has finally been laid to rest within the show. This follows the real life death of Nicholas Courtney. I would have liked a similar send-off to the one Elisabeth Sladen received, but the nod was nice to see.

So yeah, good episode, and a good savior for a somewhat mellow second half of a season. I can’t wait to see where this goes.

Fragmentary Thoughts on Questions Still Left to Unanswered In Doctor Who

Since the end of Doctor Who’s fifth season I have been milling around a bag full of questions that were seemingly left unanswered. I assume that some of this will be touched on in the final episode of season six, but if it doesn’t can it all be explained away by saying “the silence did it?” Most of these appeared in the penultimate and final episodes last season, The Pandorica Opens and The Big Bang. Most of these seem to point towards somebody or something “messing with” Amy at various points in time, and all stem from one big question:

Why was the TARDIS taken back to June 26, 2010? –

“Space and time isn’t safe yet. The Tardis exploded for a reason. Something drew the Tardis to this particular date and blew it up. Why, and why now?”

– The Doctor at the end of The Big Bang

It has been speculated upon that this is a dangling plot thread left unanswered. At this point I wonder if we’ll actually see the real reason for this unveiled this season, but one thing does come to mind. Assuming that Amy and Rory “got it on” right after their wedding date, could the significance be that this was River Song’s conception date? This brings two possible options:

Was somebody trying to stop her existence? Going back to the conception date thing, we can assume that River does not fulfill her goals set aside by the silence, so maybe they are trying to kill her before she even is born…Maybe she is the one that actually stops their evil plans. Here are examples of how River was supposed to get over-written Terminator style, only to have the Doctor goof it up:

Somebody tried to kill Amy by somehow turning Rory into an Auton – this failed because of the Doctor.

Somebody broke into Amy’s house before her wedding day, but she wasn’t there…

Since this approach was bungled up, maybe the “big bad” went to plan B.

What if she was actually brought there to actually cause the explosion… With what we know about River in the latter half of this season, she was set up to be a weapon to kill the Doctor by the Silence. What if she has been brainwashed to destroy the TARDIS, most likely by the post-hypnotic suggestion from the silence? What if she actually did her job by destroying the universe only to have the Doctor undo it completely?

This also could explain why The TARDIS materialized in rock, maybe the TARDIS itself was trying to protect everything from River, and put her in a time-loop.

This does sort of paint the Silence and the “villain alliance” in series 5 as heroes of some sort, but what if that is true. What if they know of something The Doctor doesn’t know about – something that is truly evil, and the REAL villain in this whole thing? Something the Doctor unwittingly causes. I honestly think that there is an evil renegade Timelord out there causing this whole mess, Omega, Rassilon, The Rani, The Master etc…

What if “Silence falling” is a bad thing