DR. WHO: 'Asylum of the Daleks' — Review
DOCTOR WHO is back on BBC America for the seventh season of that revived series in Asylum of the Daleks.
As we return to the show, we find that the Doctor is on the planet Skarro, radioactive homeworld of his greatest foes, the Daleks. He’s there to answer the call of a woman (Anamaria Marinca) that claims to need his help to resue her daughter from a Dalek prison planet. The doctor is skeptical, as she claims to have escaped, but he knows that no one escapes such places. And he’s right, of course; it’s a trap.
Back on Earth we, discover that Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill), the Doctor’s married companions have broken up. Rory interrupts model Amy’s photo shoot with the final divorce papers. No sooner is that drama played out than they are abducted and brought to the “Parliment of the Daleks”.
It seems the murderous xenophobic race want the Doctor to ‘save’ them, as a broadcast of the opera Carmen is flooding their transmissions, originating from their Asylum planet, wherein they keep the damaged and insane members of their race. It’s a surprise that the evil pepperpots are so concerned about their wounded, it seems they can not bear to see such perfect hatred destroyed.
They can’t investigate the situation themselves, or even destroy their brethren as the planet has a forcefield that can only be turned off from inside the underground Asylum, though they can punch a brief hole in it to transport the Doctor and his companions to the surface. An added complication: the planet is intentionally infested with a nano-machine plague that turns all organic matter, living or dead into Dalek puppets.
So naturally, one of the companions wil lose the bracelet they are given to ward off this fate—in this case, Amy.
It turns out the music and disruptions are being caused by Oswin Oswald ( Jenna-Louise Coleman) a young ‘super-genius’ that appears to be the lone survivor of the crashed Earth ship Alaska. However, what’s really going on is darker and more tragic than initially expected.
It’s a pretty good season opener, though some things seem out of tune. Amy and Rory’s spilt seems out of the blue, and the underlying reason that even Rory isn’t aware of is revealed in a of line of dialog that didn’t seem to have any build-up or foreshadowing.
The nano-virus and conversion of people into Daleks appears off-kilter. Wouldn’t this storyline be much better applied to the Doctor’s other man-into-machine adversaries, the Cybermen?
One nice tie-in to Season Six, and this is a big SPOILER, is that Oswin manages to tap into the Dalek’s cyber-telepathic “Path-Net” and erase all knowlege of the Doctor. This leads to a nice scene at the end of the amassed Daleks asking “Doctor WHO?” Though it did seem odd that erasure of the Doctor’s data would lead to individual amnesia for all the Daleks, who are mutated life forms encased in a mobile shell, and NOT robots.
Speaking of spoilers,—although is is actually more of a puzzle— is that Oswin was played by Jenna-Louise Coleman, who is slated to become the Doctor’s new compaion Clara in this years’ Christmas special, after Amy & Rory leave the show.
Will Coleman’s Clara be Oswin, or perhaps some relative? Hard to tell in a time-traveling show. For those of us who only travel trough the years day by day, we’ll have to wait until then.
DOCTOR WHO: Asylum of the Daleks.
Starring Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill. Guests: Jenna-Louise Coleman, Anamaria Marinca (Darla von Karlsen), David Gyasi (Harvey), Naomi Ryan (Cassandra).
Directed by Nick Hurran, Written by Steven Moffat, Produced by Marcus Wilson, Executive Producers Steven Moffat and Caroline Skinner.
BBC One/Wales. Aprx. 50 minutes in original form.