The first episode of the new series reintroduces us to the doctors old nemesis the Daleks.
Early in the episode we meet a girl who appears to be living in a crashed spaceship on a hostile planet. She looks a lot like the actress Jenna Louise Coleman who is going to be playing the Doctor’s new companion. But it can’t be her because that character isn’t being introduced until the Christmas episode. Right?
Meanwhile the Doctor, Amy and Rory have been abducted by the Daleks and taken to he Dalek parliament space ship where he meets the Dalek Prime Minister. (What, no Emperor Dalek anymore?)
The Daleks tell the Doctor that they need him to save them by helping them destroy the Dalek asylum. This is where they send all the mad Daleks. Why not simply destroy mad Daleks rather than send them to the asylum? Apparently because Daleks find hate beautiful.
So the Doctor has to go down and shut off the force field which can only be done on the planet itself. That’s a little contrived, I thought, but I’ll go along with it. And if facing countless mad Daleks isn’t enough to deal with the asylum planet also has a nano-cloud that will turn living beings into Dalek zombies . The Doctor, Amy and Rory are given special braclet things that will protect them.
On the planet the Doctor makes contact with the Jenna Louise Coleman character, Oswin, who’s ship crashed on the planet a year ago. She is by all accounts a genius and even thought she is trapped in her compartment her hacking skills helps the Doctor and friends escape from various Dalek encounters.
A word on the inmates of the asylum. The episode had promised we would get to see lots of Daleks from the show’s past. Well, they might well have been there, but as they were liberally covered in cobwebs and filmed in dark rooms it was hard to make them out. A pity.
There was also a sub-plot featuring Amy and Rory’s impending divorce. This really didn’t ring true and all seems to have been resolved by the end of the episode. Still, it allowed for a nice scene where Rory wants to give Amy his nano cloud repelling bracelet after she looses hers.
Eventually the Doctor makes it to Oswin’s compartment and he discovers the truth. It’s fair to say that it had been fairly well signposted that something was not quite right with her story and she is forced to confront the what has happened to her. I was fairly confident that the compartment wasn’t actually real (like Jake Gyllenhaal’s ‘capsule’ in the movie Source Code) but the exact nature of what she had become still surprised me.
As a parting gift she helps the doctor escape and also deletes his identity from the Dalek memory banks. So when the Doctor reappears on the Dalek ship he has to tell them he’s ‘the Doctor’. This provided the episodes most entertaining moment with thousands of Daleks all asking ‘Doctor Who? Doctor Who? Doctor Who?
Well done to the show’s makers for keeping secret the fact that Jenna Louise Coleman was in it – she’s not in the Radio Times cast list for example. Now I’m understandably very curious how they will (re)introduce her in the Christmas episode given her apparent fate in this one.