Doctor Who Review 7.1 – ‘The Asylum of the Daleks’
It’s been a while since the 11th Doctor took flight through the time vortex with the new season being delayed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the show. This past week we’ve been warmed up with the five webisodes ‘Pond Life’, catching up with what Amy and Rory Pond have been up to over the months and concluding quite surprisingly with them splitting up. After Rory protected the stasis locked Amy for 2000 years and their adventures with the Doctor resulting in one jumbled family tree this issue would have to be addressed quickly – what on Earth, space and time could force them apart now?
On that front this season opener doesn’t disappoint on that or any other front. We open with the Doctor meeting a distressed woman on the decimated homeworld of the Daleks, only to be caught off guard by the Dalek’s latest invention (which is pretty gosh darn creepy). We then jump to Earth where Amy and Rory are finalizing divorce proceedings between her model shoots when the Dalek’s nab them as well. The three come together on the Dalek Parliament ship where the Doctor assumes that his arch enemy has finally trapped him – except that the Dalek’s didn’t bring them there to kill them, but ask for their help.
They’re in orbit of a planet that serves as a global asylum for Dalek’s who have been driven insane. The automated installation has been breached by a crashing human ship meaning that millions of deranged (more deranged) Daleks could escape from the planet – as much a threat to them as to everyone else. They have captured the Doctor to send him down to the planet to deactivate the forcefield preventing them from destroying the facility. On their mission the Doctor maintains contact with the sole survivor of the crash who has been surviving for a year by hacking into the Dalek systems.
As a season premier this is certainly a big story. The Doctor and Co being forced onto a planet of batshit crazy Daleks is enough of a sell on it’s own, especially when the Doctor is confronted by the Daleks who survived battles with him. Their new ally is plenty interesting and has a quick rapport with the Doctor and Rory, and she steals a large number of the best moments from the stars. Rory and Amy bring an extra sense of mystery with their marital troubles and the new technique of the Dalek’s adds a dash of Doctor Who‘s particular brand of horror.
As with any Stephen Moffat written episode there are plenty of twists and turns. Moffat certainly baits the viewer by pointing out the very thing that is inconsistent multiple times, but even if you solve the puzzle it’s still a well plotted episode that pushes all the right buttons. The episode has the right mix of intrigue, action, horror and the Doctor’s usual japes.
In other words – a damn fine episode of Doctor Who.