Doctor Who: Asylum of the Daleks
(1 episode, s07e01, 2012)
Eggs… Eggs… Eggs…
The Doctor is enjoying an afternoon tea with scones, cream, and jam when he interrupted by a mysterious hooded figure staring at him. When he looks away, the figure is suddenly sitting at his table.
The hooded figure says that a woman wants to meet him, and when the Doctor tries to brush the figure off, he waves his hand and makes the tea room empty. Everyone is gone.
The Doctor is intrigued, but he can’t get much more from the mysterious figure than a name: Darla von Karlsen. The Doctor says he never heard of her and stands to leave, but he’s instantly in a dark room. The message is a psychic projection. The room is familiar, forcing the Doctor to try waking up. He ends up in a chair on a beach, but the figure tells him that it’s still a dream.
They end up in space. The figure gives him space-time coordinates and explains that Darla wants help saving her daughter. The Doctor is visibly shaken by the coordinates, but refuses to say the name associated with them. The figure pushes until the Doctor wakes up in the console room of the TARDIS. There he whispers the name…
Asylum of the Daleks
On Skaro, the Doctor meets with Darla von Karlsen in the eye of a giant Dalek statue. Darla doesn’t say who told her of the Doctor. She’s also cagey about how she escaped a Dalek prison camp because no one escapes from Dalek prison camps. She’s cold to the touch and the Doctor knows that this is a trap. Sure enough, an eyestalk emerges from Darla’s forehead and a gunstick from her palm. She blasts the Doctor and a Dalek saucer swoops into to take him prisoner.
We then see Amy Pond, supermodel, who refuses a call from her husband because she “no longer has one.” Rory has brought divorce papers to her dressing area and she signs them, only expressing regret when he leaves without a word.
In short order, both Amy and Rory are taken prisoner by the Daleks. They awaken in a cell with a view of Dalek saucers and are soon greeted by the Doctor and his Dalek escorts. Together, they are all taken to a vast circular auditorium filled with Daleks. This is the Parliament of the Daleks.
In view of the captured TARDIS, the Doctor spreads his arms wide, ready to be exterminated. It is Christmas for the Daleks… their greatest wish come true. Except they stun their prisoners with two simple words.
After a new title sequence, we meet Oswin Oswald. It’s Day 363 of her confinement in a mysterious place besieged by Daleks and she’s having trouble with soufflés.
Back in the Parliament, the Doctor assesses the Daleks and the Ponds and Amy narrates his thought process. When they arrive at the destination, a Dalek in a transparent tube asks the Doctor about the Dalek Asylum. It is a place where outcast Daleks – the insane, the battle-scarred, and the uncontrollable – are exiled. They aren’t killed because the destruction of “Divine Hatred” is offensive to the Daleks, so the outcasts are sent to this automated planet surrounded by an impenetrable shield.
But the Daleks have detected a signal of unknown origin on the planet. Of course, they never considered tracing it to the source, but the signal is “L’amour est un oiseau rebelle” – an aria from Carmen in which the Doctor played the triangle – and it is coming from Oswin’s tiny apartment. Which, in reality, is the remnants of the crashed starliner Alaska upon which she served.
The Daleks plan to send their predator, the Doctor, to the surface to deactivate the planetary shield (which, conveniently, can only be done from the surface) so they can destroy the Oswin’s signal at the source. They send him and his companions on a gravity beam where they are promptly separated.
Amy awakens on a snowy mountainside next to a man named Harvey. She runs off in search of the Doctor and Rory. The Doctor comes to next to a Dalek eye stalk which is linked to Oswin (“soufflé girl”) because she found it easy to hack. Amy and Harvey find the Doctor and search for Rory, leading them to a giant hole in the ground. Rory wakes up inside that hole surrounded by dormant Dalek shells.
Harvey leads the Doctor and Amy to one of the Alaska‘s escape pods. Harvey claims that he’s been on planet for days, but that doesn’t mesh with Oswin’s story. In fact, all of Harvey’s crewmates are long dead. Harvey then remembers that he died out in the snow and that the planet’s nano-cloud transformed him into one of the Dalek puppets like the ones that trapped the Doctor and the Ponds.
The only thing stopping the travelers from transforming is the bracelets that the Daleks provided them.
Unfortunately, the cloud also transforms the dead so now we have Dalek zombies. Joy.
The Doctor and Amy take refuge from the Dalek puppets in the escape pod’s cockpit. Oswin engineers an escape path for them while the Doctor starts working on Amy’s marital problems. Before they descend into the mountain, they realize that the zombies have stolen Amy’s wristband so she’s now vulnerable to the nano particles.
Underground, Rory inadvertantly awakens the dormant Daleks who immediately focus on exterminating the intruder. Oswin opens a door for him and, after he escapes, makes introductions by flirting.
As the Doctor and Amy descend, he explains that the nanocloud will slowly reprogram Amy’s mind. In fact, it’s already started since they’ve repeated the same discussion four times. He encourages her to embrace her fear of what’s happening because Daleks don’t feel fear. Oswin coordinates with the Doctor to reunite him with Rory, but that means leaving Amy for a moment. That presents a moment for Amy to interact with what she things are people but are really the Daleks that Rory faced. Thankfully, they’re decayed enough that they cannot give chase for long. Unfortunately, they can still activate self-destruct.
The Doctor is able to override a Dalek’s motivators and send it back into the chamber with the others. The self-destruct eliminates all of them and the travelers are reunited. The Doctor has a brief conversation with Oswin, musing about how she was able to survive a year alone and where she gets milk for her soufflés.
The Doctor lays out four goals: Neutralize all of the Daleks in the Asylum, rescue Oswin, escape from the planet, and fix the Pond marriage. Luckily they are standing on a teleport pad, so they need to lower the planetary shield and beam out very rapidly. Oswin sends a map of her location to the Doctor, so the Doctor tasks Amy and Rory with keeping Amy from becoming a Dalek while he’s gone.
Rory assumes that he can give Amy his wristband because the transformation will be slower for him. Since the nanocloud transforms love into hate, he would last longer because he always loved her more than she loved him. After all, he spent 2000 years protecting her inside the Pandorica as an Auton. They argue, uncovering that the focal point of their conflict is children. The conflict at Demons Run left Amy sterile: Rory thought Amy kicked him out after deciding she didn’t love him, but she knew that he had always wanted children so she “gave him up” to give him a chance with someone else.
They then realize the Doctor put his bracelet on Amy while she was sleeping. Amy muses that he probably doesn’t need it and he used it to trick them into working out their relationship problems.
The Doctor reaches the Intensive Care area, the home for Daleks defeated in particular battles, all of which occurred during the Doctor’s first, second, and third incarnations. Once he realizes this, the Daleks revive and corner him. Oswin hacks into the Dalek Pathweb and erases all data on him, effectively making them forget the Doctor. The deranged Daleks quietly go back to their cells.
Oswin opens the door and invites the Doctor in, but he hesitates when he sees Oswin’s true form. She dreamed up her situation because the reality was too terrible. She was in the cockpit of the escape pod and climbed down the same ladder that the Doctor and Amy used. The Daleks need her genius, so they converted her in full.
Oswin Oswald is now a full Dalek.
The truth is indeed too much to bear. She asks why the Daleks hate the Doctor. He tells her that he beats them everytime. She says that the Daleks grow stronger in spite of him… because of their fear of him. She tells him to run – “Run, you clever boy, and remember.” – and lowers the planetary shield, ready to die as a human at heart.
The Doctor reaches the Ponds and teleports them to the Dalek Parliament ship just as the Daleks destroy the Asylum. Unfortunately for the Daleks, the Doctor has really good aim with a teleporter. Fortunately, for the Doctor, the Daleks have no idea who he is, so he escapes in the TARDIS as the Daleks scream “Doctor WHO!?” over and over again.
The Doctor drops the Ponds at their doorstep, leaving Rory overjoyed that Amy has welcomed him home. The Doctor flies on, reveling in his new anonymity, as he looks forward to the next adventure.
This story presents a good payoff for the previous season’s shenanigans, offering the “what happens next” scenario for the traumas that our main characters faced with the Silence. It also pays off Pond Life to a degree, answering the question of the rift in the Pond household.
Of course, Amy’s relationship problems still center on a lack of communication and unilateral decision making. It’s been a common theme for her: Despite loving Rory, of which I have no doubt, she still treats him poorly and doesn’t communicate with him until she’s forced to.
I did enjoy the visuals on the Asylum, particularly how the construction was much like the city from The Daleks. The Intensive Care Unit also offers a few nods to history, including Spiridon, Kembel, Aridius, Vulcan, and Exxilon. The Daleks have asked for help before, leading us back to The Evil of the Daleks.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the Parliament of the Daleks, which offered a smorgasbord of Dalek history, including:
Really, all we’re missing are the Imperial Daleks from Revelation of the Daleks and/or Resurrection of the Daleks, the disc-backed units in silver-and-black-striped livery from The Dalek Invasion of Earth, the gold-ringed versions from The Chase, the gold units from Day of the Daleks and Frontier in Space, the Supreme Council Dalek from Planet of the Daleks, the “Skittles” units from Victory of the Daleks, the Supreme Red from The Stolen Earth, and (why not?) the variety of unofficial models from both Dr. Who and the Daleks and Daleks’ Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D.
That bit of fun aside, this story also ends on quite the question for the Daleks to ask. It’s a great place to leave everything as the Doctor’s biggest enemy can’t even remember their supreme rival’s name.
Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”
UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship
The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.