TV Review: "Doctor Who" 8x02: Into The Dalek

Written by: The Lord Gremlin

As always, spoilers for previous episodes and seasons.

Woohoo! I was impressed with the direction this season seemed to be taking with “Deep Breath”. Now with its second episode, Season 8 is shaping up to be a stand-out indeed. Capaldi cements his Doctor as a man wholly different than his predecessor and especially his predecessor’s predecessor. Gone is the nerdy-hawt ultra-pacifist of David Tenant’s 10th Doctor (why is he so popular? He’s damned irritating. Maybe I’ll write a piece on why I think the 10th Doctor is an overrated jerk and Matt Smith’s hyper-active mad man with a box. We now have a jaded, even cynical, Doctor who tells a person he just saved they aren’t thanking him in the right way. Twelve's reactions and attitude toward death in this episode is surprising and a breath of fresh air for the character and I can’t’ wait to see what they do with it later.

I usually don’t do a plot synopsis, but the nature of this review calls for it so I’ll just get it out of the way:
The Doctor and Clara join up with a military troop to go all “Fantastic Voyage” inside a captured Dalek who the soldiers claim is miraculously “good”, and is dying. The Doctor isn’t buying it, but agrees to help out anyway only for things to go wrong predictably ass up. Can the Doctor save the Dalek? Will his good intentions save the day or have unexpected consequences?

*In exaggerated announcer voice* Tune in and find out!

Let’s get my negatives out of the way first: I did take mild umbrage with the familiarity of some of the story beats here. I have no problem with stories feeling similar or paying homage to other past stories, but this isn’t the first or even second time Doctor Who has used the “Fantastic Voyage” or “Innerspace” plot, so at times it does feel like it’s treading on overly trodden ground. Luckily, the tone of the episode is self-assured and does its own thing confidently enough to not feel like a lazy retread.

“Into the Dalek” is, in my not humble at all opinion, the best story featuring those pesky little bastards of the new series since the 9th Doctor episode “Dalek” all the way back in Season 1. In many ways that Season 1 episode was the one to define the 9th Doctor and “Into the Dalek” follows that tradition with the 12th. I’m the kind of Doctor Who fan that enjoys his smaller scale Dalek stories because they just work better on that scale. The more somber tone of “Deep Breath” is carried over and put to more efficient use. This episode is largely laugh free with only a handful of witty quips and exchanges during the bookend scenes in the beginning and end.

With just two episodes so far Season 8 is the more like the classic era of the show the revamp has ever felt like up to this point. So far we’ve had a perfect marriage of the older shows more deliberate pacing, serious storytelling and more enigmatic Doctor with the new sense of humor and slicker production values. Overall, with two episodes down I feel the writing has improved majorly from the majority of Season 7 and I have a good feeling we may end up with one of New Who’s strongest seasons yet, if the buzz I’ve reading about the next few episodes is to be believed.

Oh, and one last thing…or two: be on the lookout for a potential love interest and new Companion with the character of Pink and a brief but tantalizing glimpse of this seasons arc with the mysterious “Missy” and the “Heaven” she occupies. 

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About The Damn Beast

Pre-op trans-minotaur, sci-fi/fantasy/horror author, metal singer, videogame journalist, pop culture blogger. I also lift heavy things and put them down again repeatedly to occupy more space.
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