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Who Review: Asylum of the Daleks

September 10, 2012

I’m going to honest here… I was underwhelmed by Asylum of the Daleks. It wasn’t bad, but for a season opener of Doctor Who, I expected more. SPOILERS and full review under the jump!

The introduction of future companion Jenna Louise Coleman as Oswin Oswald was a genuine surprise, and the casting made the twist at the end that much more shocking. Well, that and a flurry of plotholes, but we’ll get to those in a minute. Oswin is a fun character, full of fun quips and funny one-liners, and Coleman’s performance makes me very excited to see her turn as Clara, the next Doctor’s companion.

But until Clara officially joins the crew, we have Amy and Rory Pond. And wow, were they pretty insufferable in this episode. Out of left field, the couple is getting a divorce. It’s sudden and feels shoe-horned in to give this episode more drama. Amy and Rory, a couple who have been in love for ages, who grew up together and who share everything, didn’t talk about the fact that Amy can’t have children. I am sorry, but that makes no sense with what we know of these two. They are completely devoted to one another, and for Amy to up and throw him out without telling him why and for Rory, in turn, to just accept that he’s been tossed out? Ridiculous. Rory would have sat and waited on the front stoop for a proper explanation. So no, I didn’t care for this little relationship tidbit, as much as Karen Gillian and Arthur Darvil tried to convince us with their performances.

Honestly, if you want to break up and reunite the Ponds, it needs to be handled far better and over a much longer period of time. One conversation made it all better? Gag.

Also ridiculous is the fact that the Doctor put Amy’s life at risk on the off chance he could get them to kiss and make up. Amy lost her nanocloud protection and the Doctor, being a Time Lord, isn’t effected by the nanocloud. Rather that immediately remove his own wristband and slap it on Amy, he holds off. Keep in mind they’ve lost Rory, have no clue where he is, and no idea when they’ll find him again. Yet the Doctor lets her mind deteriorate, to the point where she wanders off and hangs out with some Daleks for a little while. Meh. I didn’t care for this whole Amy/Rory subplot, if you can’t tell.

And here’s a quick aside: Why didn’t they call him? In Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, (MINOR SPOILER!) Amy gave Rory a jingle on their cells, and Bryan even commented on the fact that they shouldn’t have reception. Now you’re going to be asking that every time they get separated. You’re welcome.

Moving on.

I did love the new monsters, the Dalek Zombie Slaves. That was a terrific addition to the Who Lore, and everyone we encounter from now on will leave us asking, “Is that a Dalek Zombie Slave??” But that constant threat seems a bit lessened by the final twist of Asylum of the Daleks.

For an episode dedicated to them, the Daleks didn’t play a very active role in this episode. For the most part, they just stood around in the background. The villain could have just as easily been the Cybermen. There was something distinctively Dalek-y missing from this episode. It felt as though the point of this adventure was to make the Daleks forget the Doctor, but in arriving there Moffat forgot who the Daleks really are.

On to plot holes! Get out your calculators, nerds, because there are a lot.

  1. Oswin’s Voice: If Oswin was a Dalek all along, why did everyone hear her human voice?
  2. Carmen: Where was the music coming from? Again, if Carmen and the souffles were all in Oswin’s head, how did she project that music?
  3. Daleks and Fear: The Doctor accuses the Daleks of being too scared to head down to the Asylum, yet a few moments later he tells Amy to hold onto her fear, as being scared isn’t Dalek. Uhm. What?

To sum up, this was a somewhat lame premiere, though terrific performances and amazing cinematography salvaged quite a bit. I’m giving it two and a half Daleks out of five.

out of 5

Next time? Dinosaurs on a Spaceship!!

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. Chris permalink
    September 10, 2012 2:37 pm

    I really, really liked this episode even while I agree with a lot of your points. The divorce plotline was lame, even though the actors sold it with all they had. But I can forgive the Doctor for not putting the bracelet on Amy immediately, because that’s how he is… He plays fast and loose with the lives of others in the service of a master plan. Even the ones he loves.

    But aside from that, I think this might actually be one of my favourite Dalek episodes now. Incredibly creepy, incredibly dark, legitimately scary at many points. A prison made for Daleks who are too injured/shell-shocked/insane to follow orders? It’s like an entire planet of Zombie Daleks.

    I remember I knew something was up with Oswin from the very first scene with her. Why? Well, I mean, c’mon. Are you really going to keep DALEKS out of your ship by NAILING WOODEN BOARDS to a door? Nuh uh. For a moment I thought maybe the Daleks just had no weapons in the asylum, but when that was debunked I was on the edge of my seat for every Oswin scene trying to find the hook… (I may have also been on the edge of my seat admiring the way Oswin filled out that red dress.)

    And I absolutely love the Dalek Spies. Living or dead. I’m surprised more people aren’t talking about them, actually… It’s a TERRIFYING development that they can take people, core them like an apple, and then have a perfect spy with all the personality and memories of the original just waiting to be activated. “I know, I’ve read my file,” was a chilling line. And the “I died outside. The snow preserved my body. I forgot about dying…” was even worse.

    As for your plotholes, I think I have answers for them:

    1.) Everyone heard a human voice, because they weren’t in the room talking to Oswin. They were hearing her voice, the voice SHE wanted people to hear, through hacked intercoms.

    2.) Again, hacked intercoms. Oswin was a huge Carmen fan and just hacked the PA systems to blast it around the planet as her own delusional defiance. (Don’t know if she had an audio file or it was just from Dalek-enhanced memory) That was the whole reason they sent the Doctor to the planet in the first place… They didn’t know who got onto the planet, managed to survive the nanoprobes, and now was taking control of their technology.

    3.) Lazy writing/Throwaway line/The Doctor was just saying stuff off the top of his head to comfort Amy. I’m thinking mostly #3. The Doctor knows better than anyone that as soon as a bigger bully (rarely) comes along, the Daleks can be as scared as anyone else.

    • September 10, 2012 2:51 pm

      Loved Oswin. I honestly think this would have been a stronger episode without the Ponds, just the Doctor and Oswin. Yes, we would have had to miss out on the “EGGS EGGS” scene, but still.

      I dunno… your explanations for the plotholes feels an awful lot like handwaving. Where did Oswek get the audio file? The Daleks had no idea what it was, so I doubt it was from the hivemind. And why/how hijack the intercom with a fake voice? Why do to that trouble if she didn’t know she was a Dalek? Bah. Irksome plotholes, though the “dream state” was explained/foreshadowed in a short little prequel available to iTunes and Amazon subscribers (like me.)

      • Chris permalink
        September 10, 2012 3:16 pm

        EGGS… STIR… Heh. Souffle.

        Oswin was chained up in a room. All the hacking/takeover that she did was through wifi… Essentially, she was broadcasting through the Intercoms from inside her HEAD, not speaking out loud and having the Dalek armor scramble her voice.

        Oh! Which must be how she got the music… She probably hacked into the crashed ships computers and retrieved her music files from there. Remember, Oswin never KNEW what she was doing, really. She was insane, and just subconsciously kept manipulating her environment to preserve her delusion that she was stuck, in a ship, trying to stay busy and looking for help. (I’m not sure what you mean by the ‘dream state’, though.)

      • September 10, 2012 3:21 pm

        Hmm. Maybe. Still feels like handwaving, though.

      • Chris permalink
        September 10, 2012 3:30 pm

        True, but I’d say 50% of almost every Who story is built on handwaving anyway. 😀

  2. Chris permalink
    September 10, 2012 2:42 pm

    Also, hehehe, this was on literally the very next website I went to after writing this:

  3. September 10, 2012 3:11 pm

    The cell phone critique: Amy was on a fashion shoot when she was abducted by the Daleks, therefore she wouldn’t have had a cell phone on her.

    • September 10, 2012 3:20 pm

      Aha! Good catch!

  4. September 10, 2012 5:05 pm

    This. Exactly.

  5. September 10, 2012 8:47 pm

    i’m with you on the underwhelmedness. is that even a word? how about wibbly wobbly ball of not impressed. yah, major plot holes. last five minutes, where we find out what Oswin is/was, was f’ing incredible. . . but i waited a very confused 45 minutes (Amy and Rory aren’t together anymore? Amy is a snobby model? what the hell just happened??) to get there. Instead of watching the new episode i flipped to Nick to watch first 2 eps of Legend of Korra.

  6. A FAN permalink
    September 20, 2012 4:36 pm

    what annoys me most about the episode is that skaro which appears at the start was destroyed in remembrance of the daleks plus they didn’t use the speical weapons dalek which could have put a lot of action in the episode

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