Welcome back! Apologies for lateness, but I just got back from India after a wedding and a funeral, and attached emotions thereof. But onward and geronimo! As always, don't read if you haven't seen it.
Once you get past the supremely irritating Omg!RelationshipTroubles!, Asylum of the Daleks proves to be the strongest outing of the series since the midseason finale last season (the plastic clones, if you recall).
The writers have finally embraced (or at least recognized) the fact that through repetition, they've neutralized any sense of terror that the Daleks once elicited. Really, once an apron-clad Dalek offers you tea, there's no going back. Now they're the "most terrifying creatures in the universe, except when they're working as housemaids, emoting on Broadway (truly, a Dalek attempting an American accent must be the most terrifying thing a viewer can see), and blathering on about Eggs--Eggs--Eggs."
For the Daleks to continue to be villains that are even interesting, let alone scary, the writers really need to play around with the concept. Whether they're successful or not's a different matter, but at least they're trying.
The very concept of an asylum for the Daleks never really lived up to its potential (or any real definition, for that matter). It provided a suitably creepy framework for the ultimate Human Dalek (Oswyn-lek), but the setting wasn't developed properly (I assume this is a matter of time. This story could easily have been a two-parter). After all this, I have no idea what it actually means to be an insane Dalek. You turn them on, they start shooting. Same old Eggs-terminators.
But who could help but smile at the references to Classic Who adventures with the Daleks? The City of Exxilons is a particular favorite of mine. Basically, it's the Daleks vs. the insanely creepy Exxilons versus a massive puzzle labyrinth. Also, Sarah has a mullet:
Business in the front, party in the back. But I digress.
Asylum of the Daleks also provided us with a surprise appearance by Jenna-Louise Coleman, recently announced to be the new companion. While I emitted a heartfelt MEH at the casting of another teenage white girl character, she totally won me over in this episode. That said, she's dead. Who knows what the real companion will be like?
And speaking of dead, why didn't the Doctor try to save Oswyn-lek? Again and again, she proves that she can exert her will over the Dalekness that attempts to control her, even at the end. These aren't the angst-filled self-recriminations of the lone ranger in Dalek, Oswyn-lek is completely, genuinely human, with all the hopes, dreams, laughter and failure of any other non-Dalek being.
I love these little moments that reveal that even the Doctor, with all his worldliness (universliness?) has moments of prejudice that he simply can't put aside. It's these little nuggets that make him seem more human, and the more complicated hero that Moffat has sort of hinted at throughout his era, but has told us about rather than shown.
Tell me, what did you think about the episode? Play along in the comments!