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29 September 2012 @ 05:48 pm
Asylum of the Daleks  
I enjoyed this episode, it wasn't flawless by a long shot, but it did a lot of nice interesting things, with a good promise of hanging plot threads that can get resolved in unexpected ways later.

The Ponds' marital troubles were the weakest part of the episode. Not because they were necessarily particularly unrealistic but because it was so cursory for such a tangled subject. We were literally given a marriage break-up and reconciliation in less than an hour, an hour which included fighting Daleks. It made the situation look like a stunt rather than some serious attempt to develop their characters. I did like Rory explicitly stating his, and I think most viewers', assumptions about who loved who more within the marriage though I'm not really convinced by Amy's response, but that was really the only bit of the sub-plot I liked. There was interesting stuff there but it was all over too quickly and the Doctor's magic "quick fix" was ultimately unsatisfying.

Oswin's story was more interesting. The "twist" was pretty clearly telegraphed from early on in the episode, but I don't think it suffered from being something the viewers were encouraged to guess in advance of the reveal. If anything the suspense was about Oswin discovering her own nature and what she would do then. Of course there was a secondary "twist" which depended entirely upon the viewer being au fait with the series publicity, which is an interesting take on story-telling suspense. I simply don't believe the show can manage a Dalek as a companion, it would be too difficult in terms of suspension of disbelief. Although the Doctor and companions frequently wander around all sorts of unlikely places without comment, I think people will less readily buy into a Dalek wandering unhindered around, say, medieval England than they do 20th century humans wandering around alien planets. It would also run into all the problems they had with K9 both in terms of prop reliability, and preventing the companion becoming an instant get-out-of-trouble-free card. They might just go for a hologram of some sort with a hand-wave that Oswin somehow uploaded herself into the Tardis memory banks, but my money is on the new companions being either a relative of Oswin's, or a human Oswin either before or after Asylum of the Daleks (with some sort of magic escape if it's afterwards). I do rather hope it isn't before since I think a doomed companion could get old really fast and a clever escape from her doom would need to be really carefully handled to be satisfying. I did like Oswin as a character. She was terribly perky, but it is nice to see a companion who will potentially challenge the Doctor on a technical level.

The asylum concept was a nice addition to Dalek lore (and I actually liked the parliament too, with all the different styles of Dalek in it!). It's realisation was a little patchy. I loved the moment when Amy saw all the Daleks as people. But, in the end, having built the Daleks up as the ultimate scary it is a bit hard to differentiate mad scary Daleks from regular scary Daleks. I was a little bit put out by the Daleks converting people into Daleks (after all that is what Cybermen do!) but then I realised this can be blamed fairly and squarely on Revelation of the Daleks and clarifies one of the reasons I've always felt that story was a bit off, in some way. The moment where the converted woman reveals she knows she has a daughter, because she's read her own file, was genuinely chilling. I liked that. I've seen it suggested elsewhere, that the Daleks were primarily interested in getting the Doctor to eliminate Oswin since she was busy hacking their systems and pretty much everything they told him about the situation was a half-truth at best. If Oswin created the forcefield around the planet then it explains why it could only be deactivated from inside the forcefield. Similarly the Daleks are surprisingly happy to destroy the asylum, given all the guff they feed the Doctor about how inconceivable it is for them to kill its inhabitants, however if that is all a cover for something else... Anyway, I hope we see more of the set up later in the season and we learn that the Daleks were actually being really sneaky here.

So in summary I liked the Daleks. I liked Oswin. I was less keen on the Pond soap opera.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/77878.html.
reggietatereggietate on September 29th, 2012 05:12 pm (UTC)
Seems to me the Daleks wouldn't hesitate to like their eyestalks off to the Doctor to get him to do what they wanted :-)

In the modern day it's pretty difficult to make the Daleks really scary, but I do like them to be powerful. The Asylum itself was fun, but it struck me as pretty unlikely as a concept, as they've never had much of a problem blasting non-conforming Daleks in the past.

A agree Dalek!Oswin would be difficult to pull off, but I hope they don't just go for the easy out and make the new companion a relation or something. That would take all the interest out of the character and her relationship with the Doctor as built up in Asylum.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on September 29th, 2012 05:35 pm (UTC)
I agree "relative" would be a horrible cop-out. I'm hoping for magically-revived-post-Asylum Oswin but I have a horrible feeling we're going to get doomed-pre-Asylum Oswin.

And I really hope the Daleks were lying about the whole set-up. That would be really interesting and having the Daleks out-sneak and out-think the Doctor (even if Oswin's intervention means they don't remember the fact) would do a lot to making them scary.
reggietatereggietate on September 29th, 2012 08:34 pm (UTC)
Have you seen tonight's ep yet? I won't spoiler, but I enjoyed it muchly. However, the very brief preview for the Xmas special seems to suggest no Dalek!Oswin.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on September 30th, 2012 07:14 am (UTC)
Yup! I managed to watch it almost live for once. She certainly didn't look very daleky!! but then I didn't believe a dalek companion was possible.
daniel_saunders: Eleventh Doctordaniel_saunders on September 29th, 2012 09:29 pm (UTC)
Doomed Oswin would be difficult to manage, as we (and the Doctor) would know that she would escape any given situation. Unless she's not 'fixed' in which case she isn't strictly doomed. I'm hoping for a clever escape. The Daleks lying about the whole situation would be interesting, but I think it would be more complicated than Doctor Who normally is for an ongoing storyline, even for Moffat (see how last year's supposedly complicated plot turned out to be fairly simple in the end).
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on September 30th, 2012 07:13 am (UTC)
You're right Doomed Oswin would have an automatic get-out-of-jail free card right up until the end. Although the Doctor has never seen her and only heard her voice over speaker systems so the option is always there for him not to recognise her - doesn't help with the audience though.

I like the idea that she might have somehow uploaded herself into the Tardis and then gets downloaded somehow into a body but I think that might beg too many questions.
telperion_15: Lone Centuriontelperion_15 on September 29th, 2012 10:38 pm (UTC)
The problem with the Pond soap opera was that even if you'd watched the Pond Life webisodes beforehand (in which there was a little bit of foreshadowing), it was basically launched at you with no warning, and was therefore completely unbelievable, even with the later explanation that Amy was deliberately pushing Rory away because of the kid thing. In no world or universe would I ever believe tht Amy and Rory would get divorced, or that they would let their relationship get anywhere near that point after all they've been through together. Therefore, it was unbelievable from the start, and the resolution was just hasty and badly handled. Although I do agree about the who loves who more bit - that was a great Rory moment.

Edited at 2012-09-29 10:39 pm (UTC)
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on September 30th, 2012 07:18 am (UTC)
I stumbled across a post from someone who has themselves been though discovering they are infertile and said that people behave in all sorts of strange ways in that situation and she didn't have a problem with Amy's reaction, so I didn't have a problem with it happening per se. But it was horribly fast, even the Pond Life webisodes just tacked it on at the end with no foreshadowing. I felt, I think, that if they'd wanted to do this then it should have spread over more episodes - or possibly come a little later in the season when we are used to the idea that the Doctor just turns up intermittently in the Ponds lives.