Previously on Doctor Who: We meet the new Doctor, who solves a mystery with the help of the Paternoster Gang, and the showrunners make it apparent that they’ve heard the complaints about Clara’s character.
Y’all had lots of interesting things to say in the comments about last week’s episode. Most of you thought it was good—not great—but definitely a sign of (hopefully) good things to come. I hope you agree with me that this weekend’s episode was equally as positively portentous.
Here We Go Again
This week’s episode opens with a damaged spaceship being chased through an asteroid belt by a Dalek ship. The ship’s pilot is calling for assistance, but no one seems to be answering her pleas. The ship explodes … and the pilot wakes up on the floor of the TARDIS.
The Doctor, who found coffee somewhere between Glasgow and the asteroid belt, isn’t pleased by the pilot’s—whose name, we find out, is Journey Blue—attempts to take the TARDIS by force. He makes her ask nicely, and then returns her to her ship, the Aristotle. There, the soldiers are no nicer than Journey, and announce that they’ll be killing the Doctor for breaking their security. Journey, however, saves the Doctor by revealing that he’s a doctor (or so she thinks). Because of this, the soldiers take him to see a patient. That happens to be a damaged Dalek who wants to kill all others of his kind.
Back on Earth, a soldier is working with kids outside Clara’s school. When he walks into the school office, the secretary acts like a total creepster by asking him—Mr. Pink—if he had a good weekend. (That woman has absolutely no game.) Then, in class, a kids asks him if he’s ever killed a man, causing Mr. Pink to shed a tear. (Poor guy can’t catch a break.)
Later, in the teacher’s lounge, Clara and Danny (Mr. Pink) are introduced. They have a SUPER awkward/quasi-flirty conversation during which Clara asks Danny if he’s going to a party and he says no. He totally wanted to go, however, which is made apparent when he goes back to his classroom and—out loud—thinks of better things he could have said to her. Clara, of course, is standing in the doorway for much of his self-berating.
After flirting a bit with Danny, Clara enters some sort of closet, where the Doctor is waiting with coffees. (How are they still warm?) She’s miffed that he took three weeks to return to her, but he’s totally preoccupied with the Dalek. On their way to the Aristotle, the Doctor sasses her and then asks her a serious question: if she thinks that he’s a good man. She replies, honestly, that she doesn’t know.
On the Aristotle, Clara, the Doctor, Journey and two redshirts are nano-scaled so that they can go inside the Dalek and find out what’s amiss. Once they’re inside, the team travels to the cortex vault, which, we learn, is where the fire of a Dalek’s hatred is stoked. But they need to go elsewhere. Stupidly, Ross (one of the red shirts) shoots hooks into the Dalek, which causes its antibodies to react and attack the team. Ross is killed, but the Doctor tracks his remains to a feeding tube, where everyone ends up covered in, well, Ross. The team eventually makes their way to a trionic radiation leak. When the Doctor closes the breach, the Dalek—Rusty—goes right back to being a proper Dalek and rampages through the Aristotle. He pauses for a moment to call the rest of the Dalek fleet to attack.
Inside Rusty, the Doctor’s resigned himself to their fate. Clara slaps him out of anger (see my feeling on this below), and tells him that he shouldn’t be so satisfied with the fact that the a Dalek is being a Dalek. Journey gets busy setting charges to blow them all into smithereens, but the Doctor finally realizes that they could maybe make a difference after all and talks her out of exploding them.
Meanwhile, the Daleks board the Aristotle and EXTERMINATE.
The team inside Rusty need to get back to the cortex vault, but there’s not enough time. Gretchen (the other red shirt) sacrifices herself for the cause. Clara and Journey zipline to the cortex vault while the Doctor goes to have a face-to-face with Rusty. Gretchen dies … but then wakes up in Heaven with Missy, who serves her tea.
At the cortex vault, Clara turns on the memories that made Rusty “good” for a short while. The Doctor connects his mind to Rusty’s to show him more beauty. Rusty, however, sees the Doctor’s hate for the Daleks and so turns against his own kind rather than becoming “good.” Having done what they could, everyone returns to normal size. Rusty rejoins the other Daleks and the Doctor and Clara make to leave the Aristotle. Journey asks to go along with them, but the Doctor turns her down, on account of her being a soldier.
The episode ends with the Doctor dropping Clara back back at school. As she’s leaving the TARDIS, she tells the Doctor that although she doesn’t know if he’s a good man or not, the fact that he tries to be is the point. In the hall, Clara meets up with Danny, and they share a much less awkward moment.
Don’t Blink or We’ll Exterminate
The Daleks are back! And they’re just as hell-bent on exterminating the rest of the universe as they always are. Even Rusty—who turned “good” when damaged—went quickly back to his programming once given the opportunity. Twice. Allowing him to go back to the rest of the Daleks when he was hell-bent on destroying them might not be such a good idea, either. (We all saw what happened with Hugh*.)
Honestly, I know they’re horrible and dangerous, but I think if I ever came face to face with a Dalek, my first instinct would be to start laughing. I mean, they’re rolling garbage cans with whisks and plungers for appendages. Also: One good push and they’d be down for the count. I hope, for their sakes, that they’re more bottom-heavy than they look.
*Yes, that is my second Star Trek reference of the recap. #nerdalert
The New Face
Peter Capaldi’s Doctor is a no-nonsense type, for sure. He’s kind of got a Roger Murtaugh vibe going on, particularly with Journey the first time they met. (I really like that he made her say please.) He also seems like he’s got a long list of Important Business he wants to get done, if that makes any sense? He was super not bothered by the fact that Clara was annoyed with him for being gone for so long. (Which I also like.) He’s much less absent-minded than Eleven was, it seems, and there’s a lot going on in his head which we’re not yet privy to.
My favorite Doctorisms of the episode:
Doctor: “You’d starve to death trying to find the light switch.”
Doctor: “You’re not a young woman anymore.”
Clara: “Yes, I am.”
Doctor: “Well, you don’t look it.”
Clara: “Yes, I do look it.”
Doctor: “Well, that’s right, keep your spirits up.”
Doctor: “Don’t be lasagna.”
Doctor: “Yeah, top layer. If you want to say a few words.”
Companion Annoyance Level: Donna
Companion Annoyance Advisory System
Clara: Severe Risk of Annoying Entitlement
Martha: High Risk of Ridiculous Mooning
Donna: Significant Risk of Overbearing Bossiness
The Ponds: General Risk of Bothersome Smothering
Rose: Low Risk of Irritating Smugness
- OK, so, this is only two episodes into the series, but I am throwing this out now: I don’t totally hate Clara at the moment. I’ve got my fingers crossed that she continues to be not completely terrible in future episodes. I like seeing glimpses of her real life, and I actually laughed a little when she told the Doctor that he was just one of her hobbies. The fact that the Doctor forgot about her for three weeks also strengthens the thoughts I had last week that Moffat and the other showrunners are aware of the complaints fans have had about her. There’s definitely more of a companion relationship being built. That slap, though.
- Speaking of Clara’s real life, we met new recurring character Danny Pink in this episode, and I quite like him! He’s a little goofy, but seems sweet. It’s not been revealed how much we’ll see of him in the future, or if he’ll ever reach companion-level status, but for now I think he’s a nice addition. Plus, he’s pretty easy on the eyes.
I thought this was another good episode. I even laughed a few times at some of the Doctor’s lines. I like the direction his relationship with the Doctor is going, too. But I’m a bit worried that there’s not enough going on with a long-term, overarching storyline. The monster of the week episodes are all well and good, but my favorite Doctor Who series have been those that have another story running throughout. Sure, there’s the whole Missy thing, but her bits haven’t quite caught my curiosity yet. And are we ever going to hear about what’s going on with Gallifrey now that it’s back in the universe?
What did you think of “Into the Dalek”? Do you think we’ll see Rusty again? And what are your thoughts about Danny? Let’s discuss in the comments.
Next on Doctor Who: Robin and Clara meet up with Robin Hood and his merry men … and some evil robot knights.