Reviewed By: Mercury
Review Date: 3/14/19 1:16 pm
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An interesting and strong Dalek episode. Somewhat along the lines of the 2005 episode 'Dalek' but with enough of a difference to stand on its own and let's face it, how can you make a truly original Dalek story with no similarities to any that went before.
The story is about a faulty and apparently 'good' Dalek being held by a group of human resistance fighters in a Dalek dominated time in our future. The Doctor and Clara, along with a few soldiers are miniaturised and sent inside the Dalek attempting to fix the fault so that it can be used to infiltrate the Daleks. But will this 'fix' the Dalek back to evil? The Doctor shows his hatred, fear and mistrust towards the Dalek. (We will ignore the fact that despite suggestions to the contrary, The Doctor has seen 'good' Daleks before in classic episodes during the Troughton era.) There is a nice psychological aspect to this story as with 2005's 'Dalek'. The symbolic search inside the Dalek mirrors the Doctor searching within himself to answer his question to Clara, "Am I a good man?". That depth along with Capaldi's performance lift this to a very high standard. It is not necessarily perfect in every single way but what is? It is worthy of a 9.5/10 score from me as it is very high standard for a TV episode. It is an absorbing and thoroughly enjoyable slice of TV science fiction.
The Doctor is starting to reveal more of his new character. He is shown to instinctively dislike soldiers. This is, for me, a more extreme reaction than earlier incarnations because while always suspicious of soldiers and disdainful of warmongering the Doctor was able to be best of friends with the Brigadier despite their different approaches. I think Moffatt's sensationalist nature makes him exaggerate this feeling and portray the Doctor as uncharacteristically judgemental. However, i guess the Doctor has a feeling about people he meets and judges on his instincts whereas he had time to change his mind about the Brigadier. The Doctor is also shown to be rude and socially inept, have a dry wit and have a lot of self doubt and inner conflict.
Some of this is pretty dark as he appears rather uncaring about the fate of people he is with. Many have commented this seems out of keeping with all we know of The Doctor. However, right back to the first Doctor he has always had a darker, harder side. He has been accused by companions as far back as original companion Ian, as well as Steven (also 1st Doctor), Jamie (2nd Doctor) and others on a few occasions down through the years (including Donna with the 10th Doctor), of being callous or inconsiderate of risk to human lives. So in reality this portrayal is not nearly as wide of the mark as some viewers seem to believe. I think this is Moffatt's take on that darkness and all those times when people die or are in danger and The Doctor just carries on. Personally I think Moffatt interpreted this in an over negative way. I think that the Doctor was always more pragmatic, realistic and strong rather than uncaring. He would see the bigger picture and perhaps be able to see one life was not as important as the overall good outcome. The Doctor coping with the death of a human and using it to escape is not entirely out of character but he does perhaps seem a little bit more reckless and uncaring about human life than he was before Steven Moffatt took over. I think this aspect could have been toned down a touch by showing that he IS a good guy in his intentions whilst retaining that darkness and danger that has been present since the series started in 1963.
Acting, filming style and production values are all strong. Jenna Coleman's acting is good but Clara has never been a particular favourite of mine and is slightly confused as a character in my view. I wonder where she is coming from at times whilst at other points I really enjoy her character and sharp tongued banter with The Doctor. New character Danny Pink has an OK debut but I worried straight away the story with him and Clara might go too far into soap opera in coming episodes.
This episode is well written with very funny lines and very interesting psychological drama. There is action and excitement but best of all there is Peter Capaldi! He is fabulous as The Doctor and watching this I just hoped the writing would keep up the quality to match his characterisation and acting talent.