Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Asylum of the Daleks




Um, yeah, that about sums up the spoiler-free review. I went into watching it with low expectations and was blown away... "The Asylum of the Daleks" will go down in Doctor Who history with the best of Moffat's episodes. It might not be "Blink" but it's excellence that Moffat hasn't given himself time to show since he got so busy actually producing the show.

Anyhow... Spoiler time.

I'm not kidding. If you haven't seen the episode yet, you want to run away screaming with your hands over your eyes now. There's a spoiler so big that it will literally ruin your first watching of the episode if you know it ahead of time. It's also a spoiler that the DW headquarters managed to keep completely secret prior to the showing. I don't know HOW in the world they managed it, considering that even Rose's return in Season 4 was leaked, but WOW.


The first shock of the episode is not the Amy and Rory divorce - most of the fans already knew that, and after Pond Life it's not a spoiler. No, the surprise was the Doctor's request from the Daleks. "Save us."

We knew right then that this was going to be no ordinary Dalek episode. And it wasn't, indeed it wasn't close to anything we've seen before, thanks to the magnificent character of Oswin Oswald, as played by Jenna-Louise Coleman.

More on that in a moment.

Oswin is brilliant, witty, gorgeous, hilarious, and captivating. She's souffle girl. The girl who can. Loveable from the moment she appears on screen, you're rooting for her even though you know that it's not all adding up. Where is she getting the milk from indeed?

She outshines Amy and Rory, although those two are given a good plotline as well. Their divorce is very, very well explained. As my readers know, I was incredibly skeptical of how any reason could pass that did not involve brainwashing or duplicates.

But infertility? Oh yeah. That puts a heck of a lot of a strain on a relationship. And it fits Amy's personality exactly that she would react by pushing Rory away because she thinks it will make him happier to marry someone else and have kids, than to stay with her. Which is remarkable because so many writers have struggled to truly understand Amy - I think in a way that Moffat is the only one who really does.

Did the fairly simple resolution to the marital problems seem anticlimatic after all the build-up? Yeah. But that's understandable once you realize that it was an intended Red Herring to keep fans busy while they went around covering up the early appearance of Jenna-Louise Coleman.

Jenna-Louise is of course the new DW companion, and was due to make her first official appearance as Clara Oswin in the Christmas Special. Her appearance in this episode was a complete surprise, helped no doubt by the fact that she never appears in any scene with any other character and therefore could never be 'caught' with Matt or another DW regular and her early appearance or even casting deduced.

But all is not clear regarding the future of Jenna-Louise's character or characters. Because she did not seem to know the Doctor at all, and at the end of the episode she was revealed to be... A Dalek.

It's rare that I feel such heartbreak in a Doctor Who episode. There are a few finales, of course, and some of Moffet's episodes during RTD's run... but rarely more than one per season, and certainly not the very first episode.

"I am not a Dalek. I am a human!"

Oh Oswin.

But is Oswin actually Clara? It could be, of course. Memory loss and time travel can explain a lot.

But IS it? Some fans are already theorizing that Clara and Oswin are not the same person, but rather related, much as the returns of actresses Eve Myles and Freema Agyeman were used to explain the identical looks of Gwennyth/Gwen and Adeola/Martha.

We'll see. Anyhow, the bar has been set for Season 7, and I can't wait to see what comes next!

And I might need to rewatch this episode a time or two to get me through the next week... I need more Oswin! And her dress. I need her dress.

1 comment:

Aubrey said...

Wow, loved the analysis!

Frankly, I am just hoping they don't pull another River Song on us with Oswin. I don't want it to be another time travel - we actually meet earlier that is later and here is your death. Not much fun. And we have already done it.