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Doctor Who #802 - Into the Dalek Review

4

The Doctor and Clara shrink down to fix a broken Dalek

Engaged in a war between humans and Daleks in space. The Doctor saves a woman while her ship is blowing up. He finds himself aboard a ship hidden from the Daleks where the Doctor and Clara shrink down to go inside of a captive Dalek to ask the question "can Daleks be good?"

The second episode was a big step-up from the first episode. We get a better glimpse of what Peter Capaldi's version of the Doctor is going to be like. He's not as jokey as previous incarnations. There is a sense of humor to the character, but he doesn't spend his time trying to charm the pants off of everyone he meets, at least not here. Also, the Doctor's new outfit matches his personality incredibly well. It's straight to the point with very little frills, but it means business. Seeing Capaldi as a new Doctor is the best part of the episode. Personally, I haven't been this excited about how well an actor as so quickly made the role of the Doctor his own since, well... ever.

As far as the story goes, it felt like a weird, updated version of the film Innerspace. The Doctor, Clara, and a few members of the military have to go inside of a Dalek to find out what's wrong with it. Normally, the Doctor would pass on this opportunity, but in this case, the Dalek wants to kill other Daleks.

The group shrinks down and heads inside the Dalek and finds what has made him want to exterminate all the Daleks. The episode poses quite a few questions. The two main ones are "Are Daleks capable of good?" and "Is the Doctor a good man [Gallifreyan}?" While, on its surface, the episode is pretty mediocre, pondering these questions is what makes this episode not only deeper, but a worthwhile watch.

On the down side of things, or complainy side of things, aren't we Daleked out yet? While this is easily one of the better recent Dalek episodes, it feels like the creative team constantly goes back to this well when they're out of ideas. At least this episode added something to the mythos of these creatures instead of delivering something flat.

Clara is still pretty flat, as far as the writing goes, but things get better as we deal with a "meet cute" between her and a new teacher at the school. It's a tired trope, but Doctor Who uses it well and it's nice to give Clara a little more depth than the woman who seemingly can't function without the Doctor being around, which has been insanely frustrating.

"Into the Dalek" builds a bit more on the over-arcing story of a woman collecting people in "heaven." This story is pretty interesting and being paced out well for the beginning of the season. I can't wait to see where this leads.

Sometimes, the writing is rough, but overall, this episode was a bit better than last week's. It poses some interesting ideas about what a Dalek is or can be and gives viewers a good look into what makes them tick. Once again, Peter Capaldi is the real stand-out here and I'm loving what he is doing here. "Into the Dalek" really gave me some hope that this can be a great series.

35 Comments
Posted by averywetfrog

im not liking this season so far. im just not digging the writing the doctor or clara. oh well, ill just keep watching.

Posted by Wardishy

I think I mostly agree with this review.

My main problem was that the successful parts of this episode just seemed recycled from other episodes.

The Doctor's morality has been touched upon in better Dalek episodes, such as 'Dalek' with Christopher Ecclestone and 'Journey's End' with David Tennant. This episode had a solid foundation but didn't do enough to give us something new.

Perhaps I'm expecting too much from the 2nd episode in a new season of a new Doctor though.

Posted by judasnixon

im not liking this season so far. im just not digging the writing the doctor or clara. oh well, ill just keep watching.

Next week's episode is a real turd.... I've seen it already. It's pretty bad.....

Edited by timelord

@judasnixon: The trailer left me under whelmed so it's about as bad as I expect? I want them to go super dark with this Doctor the episode looks like it will try and be goofy and fall flat because of it.

I just Don't find Clara inserting she seems to there just to be scenery. I love Peter Capaldi I don't think I have been sold on a new Doctor so quickly.

Posted by judasnixon

@timelord: It's the same exact plot as the first episode, just more goofy.... Robots needs things to get their spaceship to work + Robin Hood.

Posted by Devbob98

@averywetfrog: couldn't agree more, been watching for 14 years and it's really bad.

Posted by Squalleon

From the two first episodes I can say this season feels awkward for lack of a better word. Like how every dialogue scene between Clara and the Doctor just...didn't felt natural.

I was really excited when Capaldi was announced and I still am but I really want to see more of him! I want to see what makes this Doctor different and unique and the obvious age difference isn't enough,,. I feel that the first episodes after the regeneration should be character building yet I have no idea how to describe this Doctor.

Posted by buttersdaman000

It was an OK episode but it felt lacking. The best parts of the episode came from the Clara and Danny moments IMO.

I'm not looking forward to episode 3 at all though....it just doesn't look fun. I'll probably save it in my DVR then mini marathon it with episode 4.

Edited by RogueShadow

@averywetfrog said:

im not liking this season so far. im just not digging the writing the doctor or clara. oh well, ill just keep watching.

Next week's episode is a real turd.... I've seen it already. It's pretty bad.....

Ah, Christ! They need to sort their sh*t out! I want to like Dr Who again. Steven Moffat needs to leave.

Posted by bloggerboy

I'm enjoying Series 8 so far but it does begin to feel like Moffat gave his best with the Eleveneth Doctor.

Posted by StMichalofWilson

I'm enjoying Series 8 so far but it does begin to feel like Moffat gave his best with the Eleveneth Doctor.

I agree

Posted by War Killer

I liked this episode, though I did find the part where Clara having to basically smack buttons to be a bit...too easy. The part where The Doctor is trying to show "Rusty" the wonders of the universe and turn the Dalek good, but ultimately failed due to his own personal hatred was something I hope they explore more later in the season, as well as the character of Rusty.

Overall, depending on where they take The Doctor in future episodes, I hope they continue to have The Doctor try to answer the personal question of "is he a good man?" This new Doctor is obviously much darker, even sacrificing a man to save everyone else which I thought was pretty intense, but I hope we see him realize this dark part of himself and at some point confront it.

Posted by leokearon

It was an alright episode, but very unoriginal. A lot of the themes and scenes were already done back in "Dalek'

Edited by Omega Ray Jay

I'm finding everything very flat with the show these days, they have a new doctor which is the only thing breathing life into it, Capladi is good so far but needs more to work with, I really think it's time for the creative team to change, right upto the music. It's still got potential but it needs new blood

Also I think the show could benifit from longer episodes, everything is always wrapped up so quickly, doing away with two parters was a mistake.

Posted by War Killer

I'm finding everything very flat with the show these days, they have a new doctor which is the only thing breathing life into it, Capladi is good so far but needs more to work with, I really think it's time for the creative team to change, right upto the music. It's still got potential but it needs new blood

Also I think the show could benifit from longer episodes, everything is always wrapped up so quickly, doing away with two parters was a mistake.

The two-part episodes is something I've wished they'd use more in the series. Like you mentioned, the episodes need to be longer and two part episodes really helped to give these stories the breathing room they need. Doctor Who tends to have stories that are almost like movies, in the sense of how large some of The Doctor's adventures are, so breaking some of the bigger stories up into two-parts would better help give enough time for the stories to play out without feeling rushed.

Posted by NightFang

This episode could have been better, but it was still pretty good.

Posted by IDontLikeBirds

Personally I liked the episode (didn't love it, just liked it) and it felt like the Dalek was mainly used as something to bounce off The Doctor about questioning himself. It was really about The Doctor's dark side and I'm hoping this is something they delve into further into the season/series. I'm not expecting a lot out of the first few episodes (got to find your groove a bit and see what works), but it's not a bad start. I think people overall are expecting a lot in the beginning, which is leaving them disappointed. If it continues at this quality and pace down the season/series, then I'd worry.

Posted by DoctorXander

This episode has made me realize that Steven Moffat doesn't know how to use the Daleks properly. The World War II episode was the only one that felt like a Dalek episode and didn't compare to episodes like "Dalek" and "Doomsday"

Posted by TimeLordScience

@doctorxander: the WWII episode was atrocious in my opinion. I actually find it hard to watch without rolling my eyes.

Posted by Lvenger

A much stronger episode than the last one but the jury's still out for me on the new Doctor Who series. Yes the Doctor is darker and moodier than before and Clara's struggling to adjust and there's this weird heaven sub plot brewing in the background but all the nuanced subtle details are very lackluster and one note to be honest. Doctor Who has become much more of a big picture story rather than the little details build up and Moffat's style of writing makes the little details all the more obvious when watching the show.

Edited by meatwadf

@averywetfrog: That's been my opinion of the past few seasons, overall. I absolutely loved Smith as the Doctor, but it always seemed to be the writing holding him back from being a great Doctor. I'm worried Capaldi will get similarly shafted.

Posted by meatwadf

@timelordscience: I still say that one really could have benefited from being a two-parter. Not saying it would have fixed all the problems with it, but at least some of the larger ones.

Posted by Farkam

Sooo another weak episode then? I hope this Doctor continues to be more crazy and rambling (like that alley scene where he discussed his face) then cool and calm like he was was at the end of the first episode.

Posted by Mucklefluga

Really liked this episode, a big improvement on the first of the season.

Edited by TimeLordScience

@meatwadf: not sure anything could have saved a Winston Churchill who was a terrible caricature, a lame spitfire battle in space, Daleks who looked more like a new line of iPod Nanos and one of (in my opinion) Matt Smith's worst performances as his anger in the episode was never believable. Plus the ending relies on an awful "power of love" trope. Weak.

Posted by meatwadf

@timelordscience: That still bugs me about the spitfires. That should have been a crowning moment of awesomesauce, but it just kind of fell flat. I think with some actual build up to it, and some actual length spent on expanding it, it could have been pretty damn fun. The power of love is just a problem with the series as whole lately, it seems. sogh

Posted by Vrakmul

Just fire freaking Moffat already.

Posted by TheDalek

I heard something about him leaving Doctor who for Sherlock a while back, and the episode was "meh" to me could had been more action longer fight scene. Despite all of this i'm exicted to see this Dalek in future episodes, maybe as a replacement to Clara, hopefully.

Posted by KINCART

It was an alright episode, but very unoriginal. A lot of the themes and scenes were already done back in "Dalek'

Thank You! I was thinking the same thing as I watched the episode.

Posted by CrystalMaster

@kincart: and Dalek itself is a ripoff of Jubilee

Posted by CrystalMaster

This was probably the best Daleks story of the new series since Dalek, i liked that their was nothing special about the Daleks this episode, it was just the troop Daleks and one defective one.

But seriously after Asylim which was just ok, Victory which was both a rip off and stupid, Journey's End which failed in every regard, Evolution the worst Dalek story ever, and Doomsday whose only good point was finally ditching Rose, its nice to have a good Dalek story again

Posted by Nightwing4

Hahaha I should really never read anyone's opinion of Doctor Who episodes.

I disagree with literally everyone for different reasons.

Edited by The_Titan_Lord

Nice