Doctor Who has just returned with the first episode in Series 7 titled “Asylum of the Daleks,” and my first reaction is confusion . . . and I am not yet sure if that is good or bad.
The episode begins with the Daleks abducting the Doctor, Amy, and Rory. For some reason the latter two are in the middle of a divorce. I assume that this was addressed in the mini-episode series “Pond Life;” however, I have a firm belief that extra content is always welcome, but it should not be necessary for understanding the source material. Due to this awkwardness, it felt like an odd start to a series that made me feel like I missed the episode before. This could just be clunky writing or it could be something along the lines of their past being manipulated, like Dawn’s sudden appearance on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
I was very happy to see the return of the more traditional Daleks. I do not like the rainbow colored, Power Ranger-looking Daleks and find the classic look much more terrifying. I enjoyed that we got to see Skarro (home world of the Daleks) again, but all of this time I thought that it was destroyed in the Time War. It is quite possible that it was destroyed but has been brought back by whoever has been manipulating everything all along.
A lot of people thought that the trailer and promotional images for this season were too spoilery. I had a feeling that it was a red herring, and it appears that I was correct. The poster and trailer for this season showed the Doctor carrying an unconscious Amy. Many people thought that this was Amy’s exit from the show. That moment has come and gone, and she does, in fact, live through it. In the nearly 50-year run, the only major companion to die has been Adric in “Earthshock,” and I do not think that is about to change. We will just have to wait until the mid-season break to see how the Ponds leave the show.
Even though they have not yet left the show, we have already seen their replacement . . . or have we? Well before this season began, it was announced that Jenna-Louise Coleman would join the cast this season as the new companion. She showed up in this episode where she was smart, funny, and I enjoyed her banter with the Doctor, which is why I found it strange to introduce the new companion by turning her into a Dalek and then seemingly kill her when Skarro was destroyed. There is a long-standing tradition to take actors and actresses who appeared in one episode and recast them in lead roles (Lalla Ward, Colin Baker, Eve Myles, Freema Agyeman, Karen Gillan), but they are not usually put in small roles after they have been cast for a major one. Was the casting announcement just a trick to surprise the audience, and if not, how will she return?
Speaking of humans being turned into Daleks, I found it clunky and weird. I do not like when they try to turn humans into Daleks. It contradicts everything the Daleks stand for and always comes off as silly. It also raises the question: how did they reverse the conversion that already began in Amy? On the other hand, erasing all memories of the Doctor from the Daleks was an nice twist which should unfold interestingly.