“Asylum of the Daleks” Immediate Reaction Post

Spoilers spoilers and more spoilers for the first episode of the seventh series of Doctor Who, a little guy we call Asylum of the Daleks. The post will still be here after you watch the episode, don’t worry! But if spoiler-free previews are more your cup of tea, check out our spoiler-free review from the screening in New York City last week at this link.

For the rest of you who’ve seen the episode… let us begin.

Perhaps it’s bad to begin on a negative note but Asylum of the Daleks starts with a rubbish voiceover and a giant papier maché Dalek, so after all of the build up in Pond Life I felt a little meh about everything. There’s a giant hooded figure in ridiculous heels doing the talking and trying to make everything seem mythical, coupled with echoey effect that sounds a bit like when you talk into a poster tube. A silhouetted Doctor appears on the side of the strange Skaro cave thing and then cut to…

Amy, who is a model and pouting away effortlessly in line with every model stereotype. Rory turns up and, just as we suspected after Pond Life, are getting a divorce, seemingly out of nowhere. But then, all of a sudden, the make-up lady grows an eyestalk out of her forehead. At this point I couldn’t decide whether the eyestalk was more creepy or silly but either way it reminded me a lot of The Long Game, way back in the first series of New Who and that thing you could get that downloaded information right into your brain.

As setup as it was, I did rather enjoy it when Amy, Rory and The Doctor are measuring the gravity of the situation on a scale of one to ten and fittingly, The Doctor marks it up to ”Eleven.” Nothing like a nod to fanspeak! So in truly British fashion, the Daleks have a Parliament and it’s here that we see them call “Save the Daleks,” just as in the teaser. I was glad that came early on and didn’t spoil a significant part of the episode, but I was not so glad when I saw all the wobbling and weird colors in the new opening titles, although the font is cool.

Having remained spoiler-free, I did not expect to see Jenna-Louise Coleman this early on and I appreciated that she seemed to be recording some sort of voice blog. Maybe she could start vlogging? Other Oswin favorites include the hammock and how she blasts music to drown something uncomfortable, quite familiar to teenagers everywhere.

Smith has all of the intense lines in this episodes and he really delivers when he tells the Prime Minister Dalek, ”I thought you’d run out of ways to make me sick.” Naturally it falls to Rory to break the tension when he asks about the color, adding ”sorry, there weren’t any good questions left.” Oh Rory, I have missed you.

My immediate reaction to Jenna as Oswin is LIKE LIKE LIKE. She’s straightforward and positive – ”Provisions good but…keen to move on” — but I’m a little scared for how she fares in the rest of the series as some companions are excellent in standalone episodes but lack the narrative support and development that enables them to become really great characters.

Back to the plot: everyone is zapped to a cold planet by the Dalek Parliament. The Doctor is zapped on his back but doesn’t make snow angels. He makes contact with Oswin but Amy finds him and everyone runs around the snow to find Rory, who has been zapped into a hole full of rain and Daleks. Sounds like London in summer.

Amy and the Doctor stumble upon some creepy dead spaceship men who are reminiscent of the skeletons in the library episodes what with the white suits and deadness. Fire extinguishers continue to be a Moffat staple weapon but they don’t quite knock out the already dead people who themselves grow eyestalks. Naturally, once the dead guys have been cornered it turns into a Doctor and Amy relationship counselling session, with the Doctor asking in a very motherly fashion, ”well,what happened?” only to garner the response, ”it’s  not one of those things you can fix like your bow tie.”

Rory is by himself in the drippy part of the planet. Apart from the Daleks screaming “EGGS EGGS EGGS EGGS EGGS,” which he’s a bit slow to realise is “Exterminate,” Rory whips out his secret agent roll and has a bit of a flirt with Oswin who is “just flirting to keep [Rory] cheerful.”  The lighting in the Rory scenes is particularly great in contrast to the excessively bright outdoor scenes.

Although the whole episode generally felt a bit empty, it had some real gems in the dialogue, such as the interchange between the Doctor and Amy: ”I’m sorry but it’s started already.” “How do you know?” “Because we’ve had this conversation four times.” and the little quip between the Doctor and Oswin: ”Why can’t I ever see you?” “Limited power, bad hair, take your pick.”

While the Doctor chats with Oswin, Amy walks towards a Tower of Terror vs. Big Fish room of dancing girls and men in suits. I wasn’t a fan of the camera placement in this scene because it kind of makes her look like she’s drunk or on something and starring in an E4 drama (think Skins). Big “epic” shots continued to attempt to disguise the narrative emptiness of the episode, such as when the Doctor walks in carrying Amy or the camera pans over the teleport. I much prefer the moments of humor, with the Doctor asking where the milk for the soufflés come from and Rory realises “this is the kind of escape plan where you survive for about four seconds long.”

Amy, an angry angry woman, has to remember how to feel love to survive or something. This annoyed me, until Rory and Amy started to speak.

“It will buy us time because it will take longer with me [...] we’ve both always known that…Amy the basic fact of our relationship is that I love you more than you love me”

“Whatever they did to me at Demon’s Run, I can’t ever give you children. I didn’t kick you out. I gave you up…don’t ever talk to me about waiting outside a box because that is nothing. Nothing compared to giving you up.”

OH MAN THE PAIN. While we rub salt into our wounded wounds, let’s flick back to the Doctor, who is grandiosely declaring: ”these are the Daleks who survived me” as he walks through the Intensive Care Unit. The Daleks here are breaking free of their chains and suddenly seeming scary again because the Doctor exhibits fear, where before he just seemed a little cocky and not particularly scared considering there are people with Dalek eyestalks popping out of their forehead.

The twist in the episode was a little predictable and the big sweeping statement the Doctor makes — “You dreamed it for yourself because the truth was too terrible” — was quite boring, plus the editing between Oswin and her Dalek form went on far too long, especially the “eggs” thing. We get it. She’s saying exterminate. In true 11-era form, too, Oswin hints at the manic pixie dream girl she was doomed to become with the line “run, you clever boy” — it would be fine had we not seen these constant examples of everyone loving and praising and admiring the Doctor, especially the women and feeling the need to do it in a coquettish sort of way. Maybe I’m overreacting, but the history of the characterisation of women in the last few series is cause for concern.

My cynic rested when Amy and Rory kissed for about five minutes, as we knew they would, but it came out to play again with the very gimmicky “Doctor Who?” bit…was the whole episode leading up to that? Sort of felt like it was. If I sound underwhelmed, it’s because I was, but I expected to be underwhelmed so the blow didn’t hurt quite so much. Still… next week, Arthur Weasley, Filch and Lestrade. Bring it on.

  • Priya

    My thoughts exactly!

  • James

    This sums up my reactions pretty perfectly! I’m starting to worry that ‘Flirty Female Character’ is some kind of stock Moffat character which’ll get wheeled out more and more!

  • http://twitter.com/Nick_BD Nick_BD

    I hate to say this but I kind of expected this reaction. Anyway I didn’t see these problems and thought the ep was fantastic.

  • http://twitter.com/OhDumbledear Ellen W

    I couldn’t stop thinking about how much Jenna’s dialogue sounded like river and a little like amy or even Irene Adler. SHE’S A STRONG SASSY WOMAN, KAY? Ugh. I hope her dialogue gets better. And I really hope she’s something new and not River or Jenny or something. I want something less repetitive.

    • http://twitter.com/JoshWatchinTV Joshuay

      You should read Alex’s post…

      • http://twitter.com/OhDumbledear Ellen W

        I have now! It went up just after i posted this comment :]

  • Lex

    Yep, I thought this episode was so blah. SO blah. An exercise in mediocrity in almost all areas.

  • jenna

    But if she’s the new companion how is she going to be the new companion?
    She’s a DALEK.

    • http://www.youtube.com/missxrojas Rosianna

      MAGICKS.

      • http://twitter.com/MmmButteryToast Mmm Buttery Toast

        TIme Mchine :)

    • Job

      a companion who is not human will be a nice twist for a change, instead of all the pretty girls and some of their boyfriends

  • QED42

    It is really hard to have any good drama or gravitas for a situation when the divorce of Amy and Rory comes out of nowhere (for those of us only watching the show) at the start of the episode and is cleaned in max of 15 minutes worth of screen time. How can you possibly tell a story like that so quickly?

    If you want the audience to feel anything you can’t just jerk us round like that, you need build up, anticipation not characters flip flopping seemingly out of the blue.

    • http://twitter.com/megashton Meg Ashton

      My mum had a similar issue to you and I agree. Although I watched Pond Life, not everyone did. It cannot be assumed that everyone did and so it really, really shocked my mum and my sister, who had missed the last episode assuming it would be silly and fun like the others with nothing of major importance. That was bad writing. I also didn’t like the idea of it being solved so quickly. Definitely not my favourite.

  • http://alexdaymusic.com Alex

    You were FAR more diplomatic than I’m going to be.

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  • http://twitter.com/DanzoClarke Daniel Clarke

    yup truly dissapointed by the new doctor who but in my honest opinion the series has gone really downhill since the departure of Russell T Davies

  • Heather

    I don’t think it was as bad as it’s being made out to be. I quite enjoyed it and thought it was a good balance of funny Doctor Who and serious Doctor Who. There was some great dialogue, I really enjoyed Oswin, the drama between Amy and Rory was the right amount of
    making us care while not being the only thing the episode was about. The plot twist was sad and come on, who didn’t love the ballerina dalek. Sure there have been better episodes like The Doctor’s Wife, but this one was still pretty good. I realise this review is your opinion, but I feel you’re not being totally fair in some of it. Sorry.

  • Eliza

    Why is it that fictional girls tend to be criticised for either being too independent or too dependent?

    • http://www.youtube.com/missxrojas Rosianna

      Idk but I haven’t seen a proper fictional girl on this programme for a good few seasons. All I’ve seen are insulting stereotypes and it makes me very sad. There are a couple of exceptions to that but yeah.

  • Teatime

    Who is an offensive stereotype? I think all the characters are extremes, males and females. Everyone’s a bit simply characterised because Who isn’t really about providing us with in-depth psychological insight of complex human experience. I’m betting there are about as many Amys in this world as there are Rorys. Also, to be fair, the doctor can be just as effusive in his praise of other characters (male and female) as they are of him. Men are usually in confused awe and women are usually more in control of their responses. “Run, you magnificent man” would have been more offensive :) Overall, I thought the episode was in keeping with every other episode: silly fun. More strange to me was how nobody noticed that Oswin had a dalek voice? I mean, why did she have one in person but not over audio?

    • http://twitter.com/megashton Meg Ashton

      The issue isn’t that Amy is an excessive character. I don’t think that;s a problem at all. I think the problem people have is that Amy is like Sally Sparrow was in that single episode. Sally is similar to River. And Oswin is also, like these three. All the females seem to be very similar, that’s all

      • Teatime

        I can see where you’re coming from… They’re all supremely self-confident, in control, sexy and smart but I think rather than this making them all the same it just sort of over-shadows or swallows up the differences between them. I do think those differences still exist. But I get that it’s lazy writing. Like, “strong woman character” is beginning to automatically equate with the ultimate combination of sassiness, sexiness and genius. It’s a little tedious but I don’t find it offensive, just lazy. There have been very few stand-out male characters for me to hold out as comparison.

        • http://twitter.com/megashton Meg Ashton

          I disagree, for me, Mickey was apprehensive about The Doctor. He didn’t quite trust him and he didn’t actually like him at first! Jack however, took advantage and was rather cocky. And yet again, Rory was a bit more shy, a little taken back and yet really excited by the prospects. So for me, the males have a lot more differences for me. I don’t think it’s necessarily sexism but I can see why people may be offended by it.

  • http://twitter.com/MmmButteryToast Mmm Buttery Toast

    Safe to day this a tad more tastefuly than some reviews going around. You summed it up perfectly, I just hope that the only way is up from here for the show :)

  • Lizzie

    In the moment of the episode, I really enjoyed it and wanted to rewatch it. However, as time has passed, I realized the flaws of the episode. While the storyline surrounding Oswin is new, the character itself has been seen before. Amy and Rory’s divorce came out of nowhere, and while Karen and Arthur did a fantastic job, I wish it hadn’t been resolved as quickly. I liked the resolution, just not the timing of it. The Doctor had several cheesy and expected lines, but when he had a conversation with one other character, the dialogue was usually gold. The major thing that got on my nerves was the Daleks forgetting who he is. The whole “silence will fall” plot has never been my favorite, and now they seem to be dragging the Daleks into it. Plus, Moffat has just erased 49 years of Doctor Who history. If this isn’t resolved in the next Dalek episode, I know I’ll lose interest in the Daleks. Let’s be honest, their history is what’s keeping them on this show. While this episode was a nice revival for them in terms of making them scarier then they’ve been in the past, the ending killed it. There were a lot of good things too, but I agree, I was a bit underwhelmed

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