Doctor Who 7.01 – Asylum of the Daleks

Y’all gonna make me lose my mind, up in here! Up in here!

On the scorched home planet of the Daleks, Skaro, the Doctor meets Darla, who urges him to rescue her daughter from the same Dalek prison camp she herself escaped.  Impossible, the Doctor realizes: no one escapes the Daleks.  She’s so converted, and she don’t even know it!  Uh, that is, she’s a sleeper agent for the Daleks, cripes!  Her human form springs Dalek parts, and “The Doctor is acquired!” she intones in creepy shrill Dalek-speak, and boo-yah, we’re off on a whole new series of Doctor Who!

Back on Earth, Amy Pond vamps like a video vixen.  Uh, her husband’s here.  Lucky Rory’s only her husband until she signs the divorce papers!  “Just like magic,” he says gruffly.  Ah, crap, Amy’s sassy make-up artist turns out to be another Dalek sleeper agent, as is the driver of Rory’s bus.  Okay, with Amy and the Doctor, the agents were personal: a mother pleading for help; a helper and confidant.  Rory, you get a bus driver.  Apparently riding buses is a highly personal thing for you?  Acquired!

Rory wakes in a Dalek brig; he and Amy see Dalek saucers outside.  Just how much trouble are they in?  Out of ten, “Eleven!” Eleven says with grim relish.  *pauses for applause* They’re ushered into a crazy gathering of about a gazillion Daleks (not just CGI, folks! Apparently the BBC rustled up every known Dalek still existing; Russell T. Davies lent out his personal one): The Parliament of the Daleks.  “Be brave,” the Doctor says.  “Make them remember you.”

Soon he’s spreading his arms and waiting for the inevitable Extermination.  It’s like Christmas for Daleks up in here; cue open season on the Doctor!  But instead all the Daleks echo, “Save us!  Save the Daleks!”  “Well, this is new,” the Doctor muses.  Indeed!  I was relatively unspoiled, and you should have seen my face here: it feel in shock like Oswin’s Fail Soufflés!

Who’s Oswin, you ask?  Why, just about the sassiest, brassiest, most brilliant soufflé maker you ever did meet.  She’s been stuck on Skaro for just about a year, cranking up opera to cover the Dalek’s shrieking to be let inside, removing blackened soufflés from her oven, and generally staying pretty damn awesome despite being under constant siege.

What’s the Doctor doing, Rory asks Amy as they wait nervously.  Oh, he’s taken measure of the room, the exits, the Daleks, and noted the awkward distance at which the Ponds stand.  “And look at him frowning now,” Amy continues.  “‘Something’s wrong with Amy and Rory and who’s gonna fix it?’ And he straightens his bow tie.” The Doctor, The Oncoming Storm, and Marriage Counselor Extraordinaire!

“The Prime Minister will speak with you now,” Darla!Dalek tells the Doctor. OMG, THE DALEKS HAVE A PRIME MINISTER!  Doesn’t she remember who she was before they puppet-ified her?  “I’ve read my file,” Darla!Dalek says briskly.  Okay, so what does the Doctor know of the Asylum of the Daleks (I always love when we get title early).  It’s where they send the craziest Daleks you ever did see, too nutso even for Dalek duty.  Insane Daleks, okay? BRILLIANT!  How do the Daleks, defined by rage and obsessiveness, judge other Daleks too insane?

The Doctor never put stock in the idea, though; he assumes the Daleks would just destroy wacko Daleks that scare the bejeezus out of them.  Nope, it’s offensive to them to destroy “such divine hatred.”  Un.believable.  The Dalek Aesthetic: HATE!  Perhaps it’s why they’ve never been able to kill the Doctor, the Prime Minister Dalek says slyly.  Well, he does seem awfully angry in this ep.

Darla points them to the Asylum, which occupies an entire planet to its core with armed nut-job Daleks.  The strains of Carmen get louder; they’re coming from inside the planet!  From its center, actually, broadcast by Oswin Oswald, Junior Entertainment Manager of the Alaska.  “Making soufflés?  Against the Daleks?” the Doctor asks when he hears what she’s been up to the past year.  “Where’d you get the milk?” he asks incredulously.

The Doctor points out if Oswin got in, then “a tsunami of insane Daleks” can escape. Cue a (proverbial) Dalek shoe-scuff when the Minister admits they can’t destroy the Asylum.  Its force field can only be lowered from inside.  Ain’t no Parliament Dalek crazy enough to take that trip!  So “the Predator of the Daleks must be deployed.”  “Me?  Me?!” the Doctor yells. Oh, “The Oncoming Storm” was okay, but “Predator” is a bit much?

They strap on a Nano Cloud protector on his wrist (hey, “Empty Child” Nanogenes?), and get ready to shoot him at the Asylum.  “In fairness that is slightly your M.O.,” Rory murmurs while the Doctor objects, “Don’t be fair to the Daleks when they’re firing me at a planet!” Rory and Amy get their own wrist accessories, because everyone knows the Doctor needs companions. He promises them they’ll get through this, so don’t be scared.  “Scared?  Who’s scared?  Geronimo,” Amy says, because she’s a (*falsetto*) BADASS!

After a screaming panicked Alice-down-the-rabbit-hole type plummet, the Doctor awakens alone.  He’s soon scoped out by Oswin’s Dalek-periscope.  “It’s very easy to hack,” she says of Dalek technology.  “No, it isn’t!” the Doctor retorts.  Meanwhile, Amy, who’s found Harvey, another member of Starship Alaska, hustles him over to meet the Doctor, though he says he’s been there only two days.  Souffle Girl’s been camping out a year.  Huuhhh.

That Rory is a real hero. Why, he fell down a well!

They head down to meet Harvey’s crewmates, whose snazzy parka hoods turn out to hide desiccated skeletons, making me shriek and hurl pillows in the air.  No way did they get like this in two days, Amy points out.  “I forgot about dying,” Harvey, whose body was preserved by cold, says numbly.  He shifts into a converted Dalek.  AHA CRAP!  The Nano clouds turn anything, living or dead, into a Dalek.  Thank goodness for those wrist protectors!  Amy’s one step ahead of the Doctor here as she draws attention to the Skeleton Crew (oh my god, my side!) turning Dalek even in their bony dead state.

“Is it bad I really missed this?” Amy asks, as Oswin pokes fun at the Doctor’s chin.  Hey, lay off the chin, and how’d she hack everything Dalek, anyway?  “Is there a word for total screaming genius that sounds modest and a tiny bit sexy?” Oswin asks coyly.  “Doctor.  You can call me Doctor,” Eleven says.  “See what you did there!” Oswin says, impressed.  Man, they’re both a manic swirls of snarky brilliance, aren’t they?

While scouting the location, the Doctor pries into what’s wrong with the Ponds.  “What can you do?” Amy shrugs, and “What can I do?” the Doctor asks.  Eee, I adore how invested he is in Amy-and-Rory!  “Don’t give me those big wet eyes,” she scolds him.  It’s life, “that’s thing that goes on when you’re not there.”  Wow, the magic in Amy and Rory’s marriage is…the Doctor?  No time for that, though, because the Skeleton Crew nabbed Amy’s Nano Cloud Protector.  Oh.  Crap.  How close is she to being Dalek-ed?

Rory wakes, surrounded by hibernating Daleks. He stumbles, alerting one that stutters, “Eggs, eggs, eggs!” Poor Rory tries to guess if the metal balls will make the Dalek happy, asking, “These things?”  “Eggs-ter-min-ate,” the Dalek says, warming to full speed.  Cripes, I almost thought it was cute, wanting eggs!  Run, Rory, run!  Oswin directs him out via intercom, flirting with him (and casually mentioning bisexual leanings, calling him “Nina” after her first crush) to cheer him up from approaching Daleks.

What exactly is going to happen to her, Amy demands (threatening to fall on the Doctor as they climb down a ladder if he doesn’t tell, haha). “You’re being rewritten” by the Nanogenes (just as they rewrote the people the Empty Child touched).  It’s already started attacking her feelings and memories: they’ve had this conversation four times already.  She’s scared, but “Hang on to scared,” the Doctor tells her.  “Scared isn’t Dalek.”

The Doctor and Rory could fence, “the chin and the nose,” Oswin says, advising Rory to “pop off your shirt.”  “Does there have to be a reason?” Saucy! Hey Doctor, Oswin’s got a visual on you.  Why can’t he have one on her?  “Limited power, bad hair; take your pick,” she answers.  The Doctor and Amy run into a Dalek who can’t shoot, but do not taunt Happy Fun Dalek!  It initiates a self-destruct sequence to kill them.  Luckily the Doctor cah-jiggers it to reverse direction; it instead destroys other menacing Daleks.

“Who killed all the Daleks?” Rory asks, rushing in.  “Who do you think?” the Doctor says to Captain Obvious.  Is Amy, who appears to be sleeping, still with them?  She slaps Rory.  Yup, still there!  “Same old Amy,” the Doctor says fondly as Oswin reminds them you make a Dalek by subtracting love and adding anger. And obviously Amy’s a bit too angry already!  “Someone’s never been to Scotland,” Amy huffs, sitting up.

Why hasn’t the Nano Cloud converted Oswin? Hello, genius!  Plus, she’s shielded in her spaceship wreck.  And in a year, she’s turned the fully-automated Asylum of the Daleks into a complete wreck.  Never mind a Junior Entertainment Manager hacking the security systems of a super-advanced warrior race, the Doctor says impatiently: where’s the milk for those soufflés coming from?  And I keep thinking, what about the eggs, you need eggs to make a soufflé.  *whistles*

Switching tacks, Oswin asks how the Doctor got the name Predator from the Daleks.  Pffft, Predator!  He’s just a man with a plan. “In no particular order, we need to neutralize all the Daleks in this Asylum, rescue Oswin from the wreckage, escape from this planet, and fix Amy and Rory’s marriage.” They’ll dismantle the force field, beaming to the Dalek ship.  Great, four more seconds before total extermination, Rory grumbles.  “You can do loads in four seconds!” the Doctor objects.  Now, if Oswin could drop the force field and come to them…  Nope, Oswin’s making them get her first.  “This place is crawling with Daleks,” Rory blurts.  “Kind of why I’m anxious to leave,” Oswin replies.

The Doctor squares his shoulders to go fetch Oswin, telling Rory if it “gets too explode-y wode-y in here,” to leave without him.  Rory insists on giving Amy his Nano Cloud Protector; he can survive longer, he claims, if love delays the Dalek-ing process.  They launch into a fight about who loves the other more.  Rory waited two thousand years outside a box for her!  Amy calls bullshit, because she broke up with him because she couldn’t give him kids!

Karen Gillan’s incredible here in her insistence that nothing could be as painful as giving Rory up (though the reasoning is nutso — then again, they are on Planet Crazy).  Hey, what’s that on Amy’s wrist?  The Doctor already slipped his Wrist Protector on Amy while she slept!  Booyah, Ponds, you got handed a cure for your ailing marriage from the Doctor!  Shift to the Doctor straightening his bow tie, aww yeah!

Oswin directs the Doctor to Intensive Care, where Daleks who escaped him in previous wars hibernate in chains.  He’s in Very Grave Danger, but then she futzes with their telepathic web and deletes all information connected to the Doctor.  “But you made them forget me,” the Doctor says, stunned.  It’s worlds away from his injunction to Amy, “Make them remember you.”  Maybe the Doctor’s been playing it wrong with the Daleks all along?  Mind.  Seriously. Blown.

Even the Doctor couldn’t hack the Dalek Pathweb, he objects.  “Come meet the girl who can,” Oswin says.  Cheeky!  “Does this look real to you?” he asks, and oh hell, he’s in what looks like a similar brig to the one Rory and Amy woke in earlier.  She dreamed it, because the truth is too terrible, “Because you are a Dalek.”  “I’m human!” Oswin insists, even as her human face shifts to a scene with Oswin!Dalek in chains.   *throws all the pillows into the air* OH! MY! GOD!  Steven Moffat, this is some BADASS OLD SCHOOL DOCTOR WHO, I TELL YOU!

“I am so sorry,” the Doctor tells Oswin.  Unlike the partially-converted Sleeper Daleks, she got full conversion because of her super smarts.  Her entire life in the past year’s a fantasy she told herself to keep from going crazy…and… HOLY CRAP, Oswin is the CRAZIEST of all the Crazy Daleks!  A Dalek who thinks she’s still human!  I don’t think my mind can get blown any more!

Crazy Oswin!Dalek with her Imaginary Fail Souffles is my favoritest Dalek ever!

How could she have gotten the milk and eggs for those soufflés, the Doctor argues in a last attempt to make her see reality.  “Eggs…eggs-ter-min-ate,” Oswin intones, busting out her chains and nearly giving in to Dalek programming.  But “why do they hate you so much?” Oswin!Dalek asks, pausing, and wow.  Wow.  Well, he’s fought them many times. “We have grown stronger in fear of you,” she says (again, wrong approach to the Daleks, Doctor)?  Then run, she says, taking down the force field.  “I am Oswin Oswald. I fought the Daleks and I am human. Remember me.”  Ah-may-zing!  I never thought a Dalek would make my vision go all blurry.  D:

The Dalek Parliament exults when the Asylum is destroyed!  But wait, what’s this incoming attack?  The Doctor boasts his teleporting accuracy while they demand he “Identify!” himself.  “You know me,” he says, flummoxed.  “The Doctor. The Oncoming Storm. The Predator.”  Dear god.  AWESOME PARTING GIFT, OSWIN!  “Oh, you did it to them all,” the Doctor says in a final moment of admiration.  “You beauty.”  And this is lovely, because he’s essentially re-writing Dalek Aesthetics.  Anger isn’t beautiful; clinging to love with all you’ve got and safeguarding your humanity at the cost of sanity, now that’s beautiful!

“Doctor Who?!” the Daleks bellow.  “Fellas, you’re never going to stop asking,” the Doctor says, sauntering/TARDIS-ing out.  Back at Amy and Rory’s, she invites him back into their house, so the marriage is on again!  Rory fist-pumps, stopping when Amy calls, “I can see you!”  Ah, Rory’s allowed his fist-pump!

Ah-wooo-eee-whooo-ahphooo!  Gang, I am so excited to recap new Doctor Who eps for you all!  I really hope you dig this recap, and will like the following ones.  Talk to me in comments, and let me know what you think!

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  • Katy

    The Ponds! *hugs them tightly* They are my favorite companions next to Donna. I have no idea how I’m going to handle their leaving.

    But Eleven is still awesome and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.

    • I’m definitely looking forward to all storyline featuring the Ponds we can get! Yay, I’m so excited about this new season too! :D

  • Jay

    I don’t know if it’s an elephant in the room, but we’re all already-viewed here, though I don’t mean to come off as know-it-all: That’s who’s playing the new companion “debuting” at Christmas. The scuttlebutt for, I think a couple of months, is that she’s named Clara and then someone said “Clara Oswin”, and then Jenna-Louise Coleman turns up (to, actually, every damn body’s surprise, and they’re really happy they kept it secret) calling herself Oswin Oswald.

    So what the fuck does that mean about the new companion? Well, did you see the last episode of “Sherlock”? Yeah, the answer is “GUESS, YOU FUCKERS! HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!” SPECULATION! Is it River Song again? Is it just Freema Agyeman or Eve Myles or Karen Gillan, or, hell, Colin Baker again? “HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!” says Moff. You just know that when he told Gatiss about it they giggled themselves senseless.

    It’s such a meta-reveal, ya know? It’s not crucial to the plot who this actor is, but it’s crucial to the actual Doctor Who fans following the news. They don’t keep these things secret, when the cast is gonna change, you know who’s coming and when. And they totally used that for a big ol’ mindfuck. Brilliant.

    Whatever chicanery is going to be used to bring her back (and I just wondered if she’ll do a sort-of Madame Kovarian through the next four episodes, just to further play with us, however unlikely that is) I just hope that this IS the character we’re going to see at Christmas because, yeah, I loved her. She comes off like Moffat’s described her, so again……how will the pieces fit? And just like that “HUZZAH! BACK AFTER EIGHT GODDAMN MONTHS!” turns into “SHIT! FOUR MONTHS TO GET THIS ANSWERED!” Bastards.

    Also, let me give high praise to the sound design. That was some really creepy mixing, hearing the babbling rabble off in the distance as The Doctor crept through the halls of the ship (remined me of the “Orc kegger” in “The Return Of The King”). Also, Doctor Who doesn’t normally scare me (which is fine), I’m more scared of ghosts than monsters, if you will, but the closed circuit image of the corpse puppets starting their charge in the monitor…that creeped me the hell out. Not since the eyes came out of the mouths in Upper Leadworth have I shuddered at Who like that (I really, really do not like those mouth-eyes).

    In a word: FUN!

    • It’s such great fun, and a terrific topic to bring up: what the hell was Jenna-Louise Coleman doing there already?

      I definitely agree with you that it’s a brilliant way to mess with the fans and get us all worked up about her status as the season continues. It’s fascinating to consider whether she’ll be the same character in her guise as companion/Clara Oswin, somehow related to that character as was implied with Martha and Adeola/Addy (and I think perhaps confirmed as cousins in book canon?), both of course played by Freema Agyeman.

      I do hope, along with you, that she’ll come back either as Oswin somehow rescued/resurrected (though I also love her sacrificing herself so nobly as Oswin Oswald) or as a character with a number of similarities. Oswin’s such a high-speed, fast-thinking, witty character; I’d adore seeing her travel with the Doctor long-term.

      I’m already planning to watch this ep again soon, so I’ll definitely pay attention to the sound nuances you mentioned. Thanks for weighing in!

  • Allyndra

    I loved Oswin, and I spent a lot of the recent weeks rolling my eyes at the idea of yet another young, pretty human girl companion. But she was so clever and fun and resourceful that she completely won me over despite my prejudices.

    I love Amy and Rory, and I am so glad that they’re giving it another try, but I hope there’s more fallout to the attempted divorce. Because in order to get all the way to signing divorce papers, they had to have gone through some major pain over a considerable period of time, and I want that to be respected.

    I am so glad to have new episodes of Doctor Who back on my screen! Thanks for sharing your squee!

    (apologies for any typos. I’m phone-typing)

    • I totally hear you! At first I wasn’t sure how I would feel about Oswin — she’s almost too utterly perfect, but I loved as she matched wits with the Doctor and Rory (I really would have liked to see her interact more with Amy; I wonder if we’ll get that at some point?). I’m so glad she won you over. I ended up finding her so charming, and of course the final reveal about her added incredible depth to her character for me.

      It’s a great point you raise, and I am looking forward to their future eps exploring some of the issues between them. I’m glad the show will have that opportunity to deal with their past problems and what their future will look like. We’ll see how it gets handled!

      Yay, thanks for squeeing along with me! And maybe I’m just an auto-typo-corrector as I’m eyeballing your reply, but I see nothing wrong with it a’tall! Excellent phone-typing, ma’am! :D

  • Carol

    Hate Amy (always)!
    Love Rory (always)!
    Love Oswin (now)!
    Eggs-ter-min-ate Amy (next)?
    Find out Oswin!Dalek saved herself and have her find The Doctor (next)?
    Have Oswin sort The Doctor and Rory (soon)?
    Let the Doctor take Oswin to visit all his past companions (including River) and totally freak them out the hell out and have them worry about his sanity and other things because he now has a converted Dalek Companion who’s certifiably insane but coping with it very well indeed!!! Absolutely Super!

    I hadn’t heard anything about the upcoming season spoilers, only that the Ponds were leaving, and was sort of glad to get rid of Amy, who annoys me no end (although I will be sorry to see Rory go), and loved Oswin so much I was hoping she’d be the new Who Companion right up until the Reveal that Oswin was Dalek. Your recap and the comments filled in some of the spoiler blanks and made me happy again. What? I can’t hope for an episode where we find out what the TARDIS thinks of a lunatic Dalek running around her decks and making failed souffles in her galley?

    Thanks for the recap, it brought back how happy I was with the episode as a whole, and the spoilers in the recap and the comments were a big bonus. Thank you so much!

    • Ah, so sorry to hear Amy annoys you; I like her (but then I like all the companions with their different personalities and flaws and strengths). Great you adored Oswin, though; I agree completely she’s a fantastic character!

      Thanks bunches for telling me you enjoyed the recap. I’m so glad it added to your DW happiness! :D

  • Jay

    What if the Daleks don’t remember him but Davros does? You know he never *really* dies forever. That would be some slapstick right there.

    • Right on, bring some more Davros up in here! Also, I figure the Daleks will show up in some scenario remembering the Doctor hard. After all, how many times have they somehow escaped total annihilation? :D

  • Kaye Barnes

    I think there is something about the ‘remember’ bit in this episode. When they first arrived on the ship the Doctor told Amy “”Make them remember you.” (Why, what, wait?!? Remember her why? She had two ‘insignificant’ dealings with the Daleks (as in why would THEY remember HER? It’s not like Amy had any significant dealings with the Daleks like Rose did when she saw “…every atom…” and divided them). THEN at the end Oswin looked RIGHT INTO THE CAMERA and said “remember”. HMMMMMMM. I think there is something to that. Anyone else pondering her name? Oswin Oswald?

    • Oh, definitely there’s something with the echo of “remember.” It’s a tricky one — I think in some ways the Doctor wanted a different sort of triumphant, military “memory” at the start, all of them making their mark by defeating the Daleks. But at the end, the memory of what Amy truly cared for, and the way Oswin had insisted on keeping her humanity, were the memories really worth fighting for.

      Someone above had comments about the spoilers for the name of the new companion; I’m curious to see if “Clara Oswin” is a version of Oswin, a relative, or something else!

  • Ellie

    EXTERMINATE. EGGS-TERMINATE :D

    I kinda hope that the new companion just comes back as girl-as-a-Dalek and all that would entail :P

    It’ll be interesting, as her character (before being Dalek-ed) wasn’t a ‘normal’ 21st century Earth-human like Rose, Martha, Donna and Amy. So I’m interested to see whether that’s the kind of companion she’ll be, however she comes back!

    Anyway, I did like this episode, but it’s been a while since I’ve seen any Eleven episodes so spent quite a bit of it adjusting to him being the Doctor xD

    • That would be damn fascinating, particularly to me after just watching that Daleks in Manhattan/The Evolution of the Daleks arc. It’s going to be fun seeing how they play it, no matter who Oswin and/or Clara turns out to be.

      Ha, yes! I’m getting very used to switching, but it can be jarring. Where’s *my* Doctor? :D