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Doctor Who

"Into the Dalek" (Aired August 30, 2014)

Samantha Wessel

The second episode of this series continues with the questions we had already been asked in the Series 8 premiere: Who is this version of the Doctor? Can he be trusted? Is he a good man? Like most things Whovian, these questions aren't subtle, but rather, the questions are asked out right. "Into the Dalek," the cheekily named second episode, doesn't really answer these questions, but instead serves to remind the viewers to keep asking them. Let's get into it, shall we?

The episode begins with two pilots in what I like to think of as a jet spaceship that is under attack. The female pilot is radioing for their mother ship, the "Aristotle." It becomes apparent that the male co-pilot is dead, and soon the jet comes under even further attack. Right as it looks like she's going to meet her untimely end, she disappears and ends up in the... you guessed it... TARDIS! 

Once on board the TARDIS, the pilot (we find out her name is Journey Blue), freaks out on the Doctor. We find out the dead co-pilot was her bother, and she demands to be taken back to her ship or she'll kill the Doctor. After the Doctor convinces her to ask politely (he's all about manners, this Doctor), the Doctor takes Journey back to the Aristotle. As she exits the TARDIS, Journey makes the comment "It's smaller on the outside." Ha. Ha. Ha. (Sarcasm). If I recall correctly, that is what Clara said about the TARDIS the first time. It was funny then, but not this time. OVERDONE> 

Anyway, the Doctor and Journey are on the way to see her commander when the Doctor notices the hospital part of the ship is no longer in use. Journey explains that the Daleks don't bodies, so there is no need for a hospital. After almost being arrested, and then saved by Journey, the Doctor is taken to see a patient. On the way, we are introduced to a nano-scanner, a machine that minimizes matter. SPOILER: The explanation means it'll be important later! The Doctor arrives at the "patient's" door BUT to the Doctor's horror it is a DALEK! The Dalek recognizes the new Doctor (the Dalek's tech must be gooooood), and then there's the fancy schmancy new intro.

Meanwhile, in present day England we see a soldier yelling at a bunch of school kids. Ok, we must be at Clara's school. Sure enough, we see Clara and the new teacher solider exchange a "hey hey" look. We find out the new teacher's name is Danny Pink and that everyone thinks he's so cute (cause he totally is). While teaching class, one of the students asks Danny if he's ever killed someone who wasn't a solider. Danny doesn't answer, but instead just assigns homework. Meanwhile a tear is rolling down his cheek and the dumbass, insensitive kid is confused as to why such a question may upset someone. I mean, really. After class, Clara and Danny meet, and after an awkward exchange in which Danny freaks out, Clara convinces him to take her out for a drink. 

PREDICTION TIME: Ok, is it me, or is there something slightly robotic about Danny? I mean, yeah he's a soldier, and that involves a certain type of regimen, and sometimes a stiffness. But there's something about the way he acts where he doesn't feel quite human. I don't know if he's alien or robot or what, but I'm not convinced he's human. I could be totally wrong. I hope I am, cause he's super cute and I'm already rooting for him and Clara. Maybe we'll get another trio for the companion situation!

After Clara snags herself a date with Hotty McTeacher, the Doctor shows up, apparently 3 weeks late. (Hey Clara, at least it's not 12 years or however long Amy Pond had to wait. You don't even know how lucky you are it was only 3 weeks!) Clara joins the Doctor in the TARDIS (what is with all the Beautiful Mind writings on the blackboards in the TARDIS. That's going to have something to do with either the Promised Land or Gallifrey, right?) The Doctor asks the question we all know was coming because of the trailer. He asks Clara if he's a good man. Clara is shocked by this questions and answers truthfully - she doesn't know. I think she wants him to be and she definitely used to think that he was, but she's no sure anymore. The Doctor is about to take Clara to help with the Daleks when she says she has plans. The Doctor simply responds telling her he needs her. It's true, he does need her. Clara is the Doctor's anchor and moral compass right now and Clara knows it. She agrees and off they go. 

We have a brief flashback where we find out the Dalek doesn't actually know the Doctor, he was just promised a Doctor. Journey and her commander inform the Doctor they had been dissecting the Dalek and experimenting on it, but they didn't realize the Dalek was a living thing and that they were causing it pain. At first, the Doctor doesn't seem to care. It's coldest we've seen him. Yes, the Doctor and the Daleks are mortal enemies BUT it seems that the other incarnations still cared about the Daleks on some level. They were living beings and he's carried a guilt around for killing the last of their kind. But Twelve doesn't seem to care. When Patient Dalek says that all Daleks must be destroyed it throws the Doctor for a loop because it is showing some measure of goodness. He tells Clara there can be no such thing as a good Dalek. When Clara accuses the Doctor of being prejudiced he makes a comment about how he should giver her a raise and Clara responds, "You're not my boss, you're one of my hobbies." MY. GOD. I ADORE HER! She doesn't depend on the Doctor the way some of the other companions did (and I say that with great love in my heart for Rose). Clara is a fully functioning adult who sees her time with the Doctor as a part-time gig, and one with a finite end. It's great. It doesn't mean she doesn't love the Doctor or care for him, but she's much more rational about their relationship. It's so great. 

When Clara and the Doctor are on the Aristotle to figure out how to help the Dalek, Journey asks who Clara is. The Doctor responds that Clara is "not my assistant, some other word," and Clara explains she's his carer, meaning she cares so the Doctor doesn't have to. In prior series and with prior incarnations this may have been a joke. With this Doctor, it's the truth. 

Once the Doctor realizes the Dalek's morality is malfunctioning, he decides to help the Dalek, they all need to use the nano-scanner to literally go inside the Dalek. As Clara is getting ready for the mission, Journey tries to tell Clara it is a dangerous mission and that she's dressed like a school teacher. Clara proudly tells her she is a school teacher, and her tone dares her to say more. When Journey tells Clara her last name is Blue, Clara laughs saying she met a man earlier that day named Pink. OK SEE- it is not a coincidence, right? Like that doesn't just happen and they wouldn't have Clara comment on it AND they wouldn't have two last names be a color in one episode if there wasn't going to be some connection. Maybe Clara and Danny get married, and Journey Blue is some distant ancestor?!? Who knows, but this FOR SURE is not a coincidence. 

After shrinking themselves down and entering the Dalek's body, the Doctor makes a comment to Clara that they are in the most dangerous place in the universe. He also tells the group that the Dalek extinguishes morality, and he does so in a tone that shows his anger. The Dalek then says "Doctor" reminding the Doctor and everyone that they are inside the Dalek's body, and should the Dalek so choose, he could eff them up. After informing the group that they need to go further down inside Rusty the Dalek (the name so selected by the Doctor) one of the stupid soldiers uses a weapon. The Dalek's antibodies show up and after the Doctor feeds Ross something, the antibody disintegrates him. This is also different from previous Doctors. Ten and Eleven would have done everything to save everybody. Twelve on the other hand knows that some sacrifices must be made to save everyone else. 

The group outruns the antibodies and ends up in the Dalek's stomach. He explains that the stomach is the least guarded place in the Dalek because it houses the dead and nobody guards the dead. The Doctor is once again off to find where the problem is emanating from. Clara explains to Journey and the other lady solider that the Doctor will get them out of the Dalek, but the hard part is not killing him before he can do so. The group starts crawling through some Dalek tunnels and the Doctor accuses Clara of having man hips (RUDE!). Once through the tunnels, the soldiers' geiger counters start going off like crazy because there's so much radiation. Turns out the radiation leak is causing the Dalek to be moral. But umm, hey, why is no one worried about the radiation poisoning them? Seriously, this doesn't seem to remotely concern anybody. WEIRD. 

As the Doctor is trying to figure out how to save Dalek Rusty, Rusty explains to the Doctor that he saw true beauty- the birth of a star, and it showed him truth. The Doctor and the rest of the group make their way to the heart of the Dalek and find out that's where the leak is coming from. The Doctor uses the sonic screwdriver to fix the leak and VOILA - their mission is accomplished. BUT WAIT - THERE'S MORE- we still have 20 minutes left! It turns out, fixing the radiation leak made the Rusty the Dalek a mega-douche again, and now he's trying to kill the Doctor and the group. He's also sent out a signal for the other Daleks to board the Aristotle and start killing everyone. Yay! (Sarcasm).

The Dalek's return to evil only vindicates the Doctor's previous theory that there's no such thing as a good Dalek, only a broken Dalek. He's angry and bitter. Clara gives the Doctor a look I've never seen a companion give a Doctor, then she SMACKS HIM Y'ALL. She says, "We're about to die in here, and there's a bit of you that's pleased." And she's totally right. This Doctor doesn't have the same FIGURE IT OUT! LIVE! mindset that other Doctors have had. This Doctor is old. He's tired, and his hope that a good Dalek could exist has just been crushed. When Clara asks what difference one good Dalek would make, the Doctor says it would make all the difference. Clara then drives home the point that a good Dalek IS possible. Sure, the radiation caused the morality change, BUT the Dalek still saw the true beauty of the star being born. The Doctor reasons that if he can make the Dalek relive this memory and feel those emotions again, he can make a good Dalek. 

So while the rest of the Daleks are on board the Aristotle and killing everyone, the Doctor, Clara, and the two lady soldiers (Journey and Gretchen) are off to try and recreate Dalek memories. At one point, Gretchen realizes that she's going to have to go fight the Dalek's antibodies that are headed for them again, and she asks Clara if the Doctor is crazy or if the Doctor is right. The Doctor turns away from Clara, he's scared of her answer. He doesn't know himself anymore, and he's afraid Clara can see through to his soul. Clara responds that most days the Doctor is both crazy and right, and Gretchen is off to fight off the antibodies. She's soon killed and ends up in the Promised Land/Heaven with the lady who claims to be the Doctor's girlfriend. 

Clara is able to find the memory and reactivate it, while the Doctor reconnects different pathways. The memories start flooding the Dalek's mind again: he sees the birth o f the universe, the evilness of the Daleks, the birth of the star. It's all going to plan! BUT THEN, The Doctor's hateful memories of the Daleks start entering Rusty's memories, so Rusty believes that hatred of the Daleks is good. The Doctor starts begging Rusty to see more, there has to be more than hatred, but it's all the Dalek can see. This revelation clearly distresses the Doctor a great deal. Rusty then goes on a Dalek killing spree. After killing the Daleks, Rusty announces that the Daleks are, in fact, exterminated. The Doctor responds, "Of course they are, that's what you do, isn't it?" But he's not talking about Rusty, he's talking about himself. Rusty seeing the hatred in the Doctor's heart and memories has brought out the Doctor's worst fears. He fears that he is no longer a good man, that he's hateful, bitter, and angry. And to a great extent he is. We've already seen this Doctor leave Clara behind and sacrifice a man.  He's definitely different, but does that make him bad?

After Clara, the Doctor, and Journey have returned (full sized again) to the Aristotle, Rusty informs the Doctor he has told the other Daleks to retreat. Rusty the Dalek then asks the Doctor why he isn't happy about winning. The Doctor tells Rusty that when Rusty looked inside all he saw was hatred, and to the Doctor' that isn't a victory, a real victory would have been a good Dalek. Rusty then tells the Doctor that he, Rusty, isn't a good Dalek, but the Doctor is a good Dalek. OK WOW - what a double edged sword for the Doctor. In one way, Rusty is telling the Doctor that he is in fact a good man, BUT he's also comparing him to his mortal enemy, one that has questionable (Read SHIT) morality. What's the Doctor supposed to do with that information? What are we as viewers supposed to do with that information?

The Doctor and Clara go to leave, and Journey runs after the Doctor. She says she wants to come along. The Doctor tells Journey she's probably nice and kind, and she's definitely brave, he just wishes she hadn't been a solider. He can't handle another soldier because he is one, and he's just now coming to terms with that really. He needs Clara, a kind, but tough soul to get him through, to remind him of the man he used to be, and the man he can be. 

Back in the TARDIS, Clara changes her clothes. I point this out to make the point that Clara keeps a FUCKING WARDROBE in the TARDIS. Anyway, Clara goes to leave for her drink date with Danny, but before she does, she tells the Doctor she doesn't know if he's a good man, but the Doctor tries, and that's "probably the point." That's all he needs to hear. Knowing that Clara knows he's trying is enough for now. He looks tired and sad, a look I imagine we will continue to see throughout the series.

Clara leaves the cupboard, only a few minutes after she left, and runs in to Danny. He notices she has changed, and asks if she's really going to have a drink with him. When Clara asks Danny why she wouldn't, he mentions that he thought she may have a rule against soldiers. She responds with a "No, not me." It's not subtle, but not only is Clara talking about Danny, but she's also talking about the Doctor. Clara is the type of person who is wiling to give anybody a chance. The Doctor. Danny. Rusty the Dalek. She's willing to see past the obvious and figure out who someone really is, and push people to be their best. That's why the Doctor needs her.