‘Into The Dalek’ felt very familiar on many levels. The Dalek antibodies recalled memories of the Teselecta antibodies from 2011’s ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’; the imprisoned Dalek who is saved by the Doctor and his companion before escaping and killing was reminiscent of 2005’s ‘Dalek’; and the concept of venturing further into something than ever before – this time ‘into darkness’ – harked back to 2013’s ‘Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS’. That said, ‘Into The Dalek’ brought an ingenious take on the Dalek concept and the Dalek story – something not seen perhaps since 1975’s ‘Genesis of the Dalek’.
It’s no mean feat to bring something entirely new to a Dalek story considering the pepperpot beasts have been around for half a century. But ‘Into The Dalek’ managed this. Like a lot of tales of late, this episode did feel slightly rushed (I can’t help but wish that each series would be reduced to around ten one hour stories, as opposed to twelve or thirteen forty five minute episodes, this would give the stories time to breathe) however, for the most part it managed to pull off everything. It did exactly what was said on the tin, and brought the Doctor, and the viewers, inside of a damaged and ‘good’ Dalek. This entire scene was executed brilliantly; the miniaturised capsule was picked up with pliers, we saw Clara’s view of the bigger world, and then the capsule was pushed inside of the Daleks eyestalk. It was fun and chilling simultaneously. The concept of miniaturisation, is one which has been used countless times in sci-fi (most recently in ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’) so its perhaps surprising that it has taken to long for Doctor Who to venture into a Dalek.
For the most part the Daleks were effectively used. The vast majority of the episode in fact barely features them. Yes, we were inside the very Dalek, but it could have very easily been any other setting, and not much would have needed to be tweaked from the brilliant co-penned script. So, whilst the Doctor and Co were inside of the Dalek, it very much felt as though the Dalek’s weren’t being forced down the viewer’s throats. They were present, but not overused. It wasn’t until the final act that the full Dalek force began their attack. This sequence saw a brilliant stroke of action, even if a lot of the shots were similar to other Dalek action shots from similar episodes. In perhaps the biggest thrill of the episode, the Dalek’s actually, and finally, killed people. They’ve been overused so much of late that the Dalek’s are no longer scary, but by making them killers once again this is a step in the right direction. The Dalek’s do need retiring however.
Whereas last weeks ‘Deep Breath’ saw the new Doctor all over the place, ‘Into The Dalek’ saw Capaldi firmly cemented in his mysterious role. Once again we see the new Doctor exhibit his much-touted darker traits. Last week we were left questioning whether the half-faced man stepped to his death, or whether the Doctor had pushed him, not to mention this week we also saw the Doctor lie to Ross. He knew that Ross was doomed and he gave him false hope before the Dalek’s antibodies incinerated him.
Similarly the Doctor’s darkness is ignited in the final, stunning act. Like Smith’s much-praised speeches seen in 2010’s ‘The Pandorica Opens’ and 2013’s ‘The Rings of Akhaten’, Capaldi is given his time to shine. His speech to the Dalek, in which he implores it to see reason and good in everything, is beautifully acted by Capaldi and the gravitas of his performance shows just how good an actor he truly is. He performs against a green screen and yet the anger and desperation in his voice is very believable. Capaldi simply excels in this role. Doctor Who is a lifetime favourite of Capaldi’s, so it’s clear that he is loving his new role. Capaldi is incredible. As the Doctor patches into the Dalek’s brain, the Dalek can likewise see into the Doctor’s. And in it – he see’s hatred. A montage of the Doctor’s past defeats of the Dalek’s show that, whilst the new Doctor is very much mysterious, dark, and a not-so good man, the Doctor may have always been one. It’s only taken Capaldi to make all of this evident.
So what else did this episode bring? Like the past few episodes we see Clara take centre stage as she helps defeat the Dalek’s. Her character is feeling much more fleshed out this series now that she is no longer a plot device, and as such, she’s a character I am loving. She’s much better than Amy Pond. Jenna was brilliant with both Peter and Samuel Anderson, who debuted as Danny Pink. He’s instantly likable – easy on the eye, charismatic and sensitive. His chemistry with Jenna simmers. But, like most characters in Doctor Who, he has a history. He is an ex-soldier (and the Doctor apparently no longer likes soldiers) who may, or may not, have killed someone who wasn’t a soldier. I expect his secret to tie in with the Promised Land – perhaps whomever he killed ended up there first. Maybe Missy herself? Missy cameoed in this episode, but brought nothing except intrigue.
‘Into The Dalek’ was the perfect Dalek episode. Whilst feeling familiar, it was likewise fresh, and I suspect it’ll go down as a classic in Capaldi’s run. With Clara seemingly on her way out at Christmas, could Zawe Ashton’s Journey Blue return as the Doctor’s new companion? She would be brilliant, but only if the Doctor gets over his prejudice of soldiers. Otherwise, Danny is in trouble…