Posted September 4, 2012 by Jon Burrows in Movies & Video
 
 

Review: Dr. Who Season 7 Premiere, "The Asylum of the Daleks"

 Review of Dr. Who Season 7 premiere: “The Aslyum of the Daleks.”

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The season 7 premiere of Dr. Who brought viewers another emotionally striking episode. Just when you didn’t think things could get any better, Steven Moffat and his team always manage to top themselves. What’s most interesting about this episode is the way Amy and Rory manage to steal the spotlight. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Doctor, but the season 7 premiere of Dr. Who proffers a storyline with his two companions that is just as exciting as the Doctor’s storyline in this episode. How did these two manage to usurp the Doctor? Let’s delve into the episode and find out.

This week’s Dr. Who premiere begins with the Doctor being lured into a trap by the Daleks. Trouble must be coming, because the Daleks never mess around. This time, they transformed a former human into one of their own in order to kidnap the Doctor, but for what we don’t yet know. In the next, jaw-dropping scene, Amy proclaims that she doesn’t have a husband and is meeting up with Rory to finalize their divorce. Call me sentimental but learning that these two, who have fought across centuries to be together, were being torn apart, tugged at my heart. The Girl Who Waited and the Last Centurion who waited for her were to be no more? I couldn’t fathom it. Just as my brain was trying to process the news, another Dalek spy comes to kidnap Amy; in the next scene, it’s Rory who is kidnapped. What could the Dalek’s possibly want with the presumably dead Dr. Who, let alone his companions?

Amy and Rory find themselves in a white room, aboard some kind of spaceship. On the surface, they don’t seem too happy to be stuck together. The two express disdain towards each other, which is even more frustrating for the viewer. Yet again, my Dr. Who Universe has been turned upside down and to be honest, I’m more interested in Amy and Rory’s story than I am the Doctor’s. Soon after the companions awaken, the Doctor comes causally strolling in, accompanied by two Daleks. How anyone can stay calm around these Exterminators beats me, but this is the Doctor after all. Rory implores,

So, how much trouble are we in?” to which the Doctor replies, “How much trouble Mr. Pond? Out of ten? Eleven.”

Viewers will soon find out how dire their situation is.

Dr. Who, Amy and Rory gather in the center of the room and the platform on which they stand is soon activated. They are lifted up into a room, a room that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy: The Dalek Parliament. Just seeing that many Daleks in one room gave me chills, so I can’t imagine what Dr. Who and his companions were feeling. Despite being trapped in a room filled to the brim with Daleks – hundreds of thousands, all waiting to EXTERMINATE – Dr. Who still has the time to examine Amy and Rory and deduce that all is not right between these two time-traveling crossed lovers.

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Concerning their situation, the Doctor can’t help but deduce the worst; after all, these are the Daleks, who refer to Dr. Who as “Predator,” because of the destruction he has brought to their species in the past. Dr. Who is taken aback by this name, since it furthers his belief that he has gotten too big, too well-known for destruction, which is the reason why the Doctor staged his death in the first place. Dr. Who knew how the universe thought of him and his “death” was the only way to fade back into the shadows, to be forgotten. However, the Daleks shake Dr Who to his core by naming him “Predator,” but he doesn’t yet know of anyway to change this view. You can see on his face that the name disturbs him, but he knows he must accept it because it is a result of his own past actions. However, the end of the episode offers Dr. Who some relief from their persecution; just watch.

In a surprising twist, instead of threatening to kill their Predator (Dr. Who) and his companions, the Daleks cry out for mercy. “Save us,” they plea. It’s a chilling scene, seeing the Daleks express so much fear and emotion, despite being highly evolved, mechanical creatures. In their minds, who better to save them than the very Time Lord who has successfully fought against them for so many years? Of course, it’s the season 7 premiere of Dr. Who, so nothing is going to be as easy as it seems. During the Doctor’s conversation with the Dalek Minister, we learn that the Dalek Asylum, a dumping ground for all the Daleks who have gone wrong, has in some way been infiltrated. And if something can get inside this planetary prison, then there’s the possibility that something might be able to get out. The Daleks want to infiltrate and destroy the Asylum, yet are too scared, which is an emotion rarely seen from the Daleks, and they reach out for Dr. Who.

The Dalek Parliament decides that the Doctor and his companions are the only ones who can do it. Why bring along Amy and Rory? Well, even the Dalek’s know that Dr. Who works better when accompanied by his beloved companions. Despite the hostility they feel toward one another, Amy and Rory resume their traditional roles as Dr. Who’s sidekick’s, and for a moment things seem like they might be okay between them. Before being sent to the Dalek Asylum, which only seems inevitable at this point, the Doctor manages to back-trace the signal being sent from within the heart of the Dalek Asylum, only to find a young women named Owsin on the other end. She was on-board a ship that crashed into the Dalek Asylum and has spent the better part of a year there. When asked what she’s been doing against the Daleks she replies, “Baking soufflés,” which puzzles Dr. Who because, honestly, where does she get the milk?

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It was Oswin’s signal that sparked the Dalek’s plan to destroy the Asylum, which, as we’ve already learned, is why Dr. Who, Amy and Rory were kidnapped. The Daleks inform the trio that they must infiltrate the Asylum and turn off the planet’s force field. What’s in it for the Doctor and his crew? Well, they can’t escape unless the force field has been lowered, and escape they must since the planet will soon be annihilated by the Dalek Parliament. After having wristbands slapped on their arms in order to protect them from the Nanoclowd, the Doctor, Amy and Rory are then shoved into a teleporter that will fire them at the planet known as the Dalek Asylum.

Upon awakening on the planet’s surface, Dr. Who and Amy encounter a crew member from the same crashed ship as Oswin, or Soufflé-girl as they like to call her. However, something doesn’t seem quite right about this man. Upon finding the spot where Rory landed, they discover that the beam shot him straight down into the Dalek prison, and they begin to plot their rescue mission. They follow the deserted crew member into one of the buried escape pods, in a search for help, yet what they find is the exact opposite of that. In the escape pod, they find four dead bodies, which is odd considering that their fifth crew member is alive and well. The Daleks equipped the trio with wristbands for a reason, yet it takes the Doctor longer than usual to figure out just what isn’t quite right about this situation. Perhaps his thoughts are consumed with fixing Amy and Rory’s relationship?

The Doctor and Amy soon discover how exactly the Asylum’s security system works, as they watch the crew member turn into a Dalek killing machine. Once the crew member has been detained, Dr. Who informs Amy that the Asylum of the Daleks employs a Nanoclowd that changes any intruder, living or dead. “Living or dead,” Amy repeats? Yes, living or dead, as the four deceased crew members soon morph into Dalek killing machines, forcing Amy and the Doctor to seek refuge behind a locked door. Unfortunately, during the struggle, Amy’s wristband comes off, leaving her susceptible to the planet’s security system. It won’t be long until she begins to transform into one of the monsters that just tried to kill them.

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While it appears as though they have no way out, Soufflé-girl’s voice soon pops in over the intercom. The Doctor is baffled at her ability to hack the Dalek’s computer system, a feat he has never been able to do himself. Not only is she in contact with the Doctor and Amy but has also been in contact with Rory, and she has led him to somewhere safe. She helps the two find an escape route that leads them down into the heart of the Asylum. Their plan: find Rory, find a way to lower the planet’s force field and then escape; but, do their plans ever work as easily as that?

Soufflé-girl tells them how to get to Rory, hacking her way into multiple Dalek cameras and computer systems. Along the way to Rory, it’s apparent that the Asylum’s security system is taking hold of Amy, muddling her thoughts and perceptions. They must find a way off of this planet, and quick, or else Amy may soon turn into a Dalek killing machine. Amy and Dr. Who finally meet up with Rory, in a room with a teleport, no less. It seems as though their luck may be turning around. Now, all that is left for them is to turn off the planet’s force field, something which Soufflé-girl claims to be able to do… but only if they come to rescue her first. She sends a map of her whereabouts to the Doctor. He leaves Amy in Rory’s care so that he may go on a mission through Dalek country to find their Soufflé-savior and bring her back with them, so that they may all escape together.

The episode forks off into two separate storylines at this point. First, there is Dr. Who, on his search to rescue Oswin, and then there are Amy and Rory and her battle against the clock. It’s at this part in the episode where the Amy and Rory storyline begins to steal the show. These two are stuck waiting for the Doctor to return, while Amy is gradually turning into part of the Dalek’s defense system.

Soufflé-girl made the comment that, to get a Dalek, “you subtract love and add hate.”

Will Amy and Rory’s love for one another come through to save her from most certain doom? While their story unfolds, the Doctor is racing the clock to find and free Oswin, yet something isn’t sitting well with our Dr. Who. Something isn’t quite right about her, and the Doctor will soon find out what that is. I don’t want to spoil these final scenes for you, since they are some of the most touching to date. Once you watch the episode, you will understand what I mean.

Here are a few of my thoughts about the episode and some memorable scenes:

- How terrifying must it have been to be trapped in a room with that many Daleks? I was on edge just seeing them on the screen!

- I’m not sure if the shows creator, Steven Moffat, hired a new director of cinematography, but I did notice an improvement. It made the episode even more enjoyable.

- Speaking of new, this season sports a new intro. Most people might just shrug at this observation, but as a Whovian, I was quite excited.

- After being introduced to Soufflé-girl, I was secretly rooting for her to become one of the Doctor’s new companions. It seems he had finally met his match when it comes to genius and wit.

- I’ve been pondering this question ever since I watched the scene where the dead crew members arose and transformed into Dalek security guards. Does that make them zombie-Daleks or Dalek-zombies? I’m leaning towards the former, zombie-Daleks, but what do you think?

Rory: “What’s he doing?”

Amy: ” He’s chosen the most defendable area in the room, counted all the Daleks, counted all the exits, and now he’s calculating the exact distance we’re standing apart and starting to worry. Oh, and look at him frowning now. Something’s wrong with Amy and Rory and who’s going to fix it? … And he straightens his bow-tie.”

The Doctor: “What have you been doing on your own against the Dalek for a year?”

Oswin: “Baking soufflés?”

The Doctor: “(chuckles) Soufflés? Against the Daleks? Where’d you get the milk?”

The Doctor: “You’re going to fire me at a planet? That’s your plan? I get fired at a planet and expected to fix it?”

Rory: “It’s fair to say, it’s slightly your m.o.”

The Doctor: “Don’t be fair to the Daleks when they’re firing me at a planet.”

Amy: “Scared? Who’s scared? Geronimo.”

Oswin: “Is there a word for total screaming genius that sounds modest and a tiny bit sexy?”

The Doctor: “Doctor. You call me the Doctor.”
My score for the Season 7 premier of Dr. Who? “Out of ten? Eleven.”

 

- By Julie Tutwiler


Jon Burrows

 
An exclusive writer for Geek Smash, Jon hails from Mississippi and has a passion for music, comic-books, and writing. He collects antique cars and enjoys shooting handguns. Jon sings in his church choir, volunteers his time helping the Salvation Army at local events and doubles as Santa during Christmas season.