Doctor Who Asylum of The Daleks episode review – Jenna Louise Coleman shows up early as Oswin Oswald *SPOILERS*
With the return of The X-Factor and the impending new series of Strictly Come Dancing it’s fair to say that Saturday night TV is almost up to full speed once again. For some though it’s not complete without the return of Doctor Who, with the big news of this run of five episodes being that it’s the last time we’ll see Karren Gillan’s Amy Pond and Arthur Darvill’s Rory Williams, who’ve both been integral to Matt Smith’s time in the role of The Doctor. At the start of this episode though we find them odds with Amy now inexplicably working as a model, obviously that time playing Jean Shrimpton has rubbed off on on the red haired beauty, while it seems that her marriage with Rory is on the rocks as she signs the divorce papers to officially end the union. It is inevitable however that things will change, especially after they are both caught by humans with massive eye-stalks popping out of their foreheads.
That’s because these people have been turned into Daleks and have transported Amy and Rory to be with The Doctor on the Dalek planet of Skaro, where the most notorious villains in Doctor Who history want the timelord’s help to save them by stopping the invasion by the most dangerous of their kind, who were locked up in The Asylum of the Daleks – which coincidentally is also the name of the episode. The difference between this and every other Daleks episode is that humans are readily turning into Daleks, with their unveiling coming after the eye-stalks appear and so our heroic trio find it hard to trust any of the people they meet on their voyage.
The Doctor and Amy team up on one side of the snowy planet where they run into a man whose ship – The Alaska – has crashed, while on the other side Rory is guided round the twisted corridors of the asylum by the ship’s entertainment officer Oswin, but more on her later. As is always the case with Amelia Pond it’s not long before she’s the next human who starts to turn into a dalek, however The Doctor has to make sure she keeps her emotions in order to stay in her human form. The only problem is that the daleks replace love with anger and as we saw in the opening scenes there’s not a lot of love in Amy’s life right now which is related to what happened to her in the last series.
With Amy leaving we have a new companion joining The Doctor, who is to be played by Jenna-Louise Coleman and in Asylum of The Daleks she makes her first appearance as Oswin Oswald. To me Coleman makes a positive first appearance in the Whoinverse playing a kooky, incredibly clever girl who is able to outwit The Daleks. Though she supposedly has been on the planet for a year, she has spent her time making soufflés and listening to the soundtrack of Carmen while waiting for someone to rescue her. It also seems that Coleman is at home with the Doctor Who banter, making references to The Doctor’s oddly shaped chin and referring to Roy as Nina after regaling him with a tale of her first love.
I have to admit I was shocked when it turned out that Jenna had been transformed into a Dalek and her acting skills came into full play when The Doctor informed her that she had been dreaming for over a year, because ‘the truth was too awful’ to accept. Her performance was much more impressive than I would ever have expected from a former soap star. It was a great debut by the brunette beauty.
Asylum of The Daleks started this new series of Doctor Who on a high note with plenty of memorable sequences and some great performances. The first scene in which The Doctor is placed in front of the parliaments of The Daleks is fantastically shot and shows his oldest foes in a slightly different light. The construction of the Dalek asylum is the usual surrealist structure of tight corridors and small rooms, in which one can easily be finished off by one of the robots, while in addition the out-of-work Daleks are almost as terrifying as the real thing, as you know that it’ll only be a matter of time before they want to exterminate something or other.
The sequence that got to me the most was an extremely odd set piece where Amy sees a group of people, who eventually turn out to be Daleks, who are dancing to strange ghostly music while a small girl in a ballerina outfit pirouettes in front of her. It was all quite captivating.
Once again the performances from the three main cast members are as good as ever with Matt Smith’s Doctor wanting to save the world once again. He gets to demonstrate both parts of the character by being his cheery, quippy self but later on gets a bit more sombre as he tries to reunite the Ponds.
- Click here to talk about Oswin’s appearance in Asylum Of The Daleks
Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill once again shared that winning chemistry and even when they’re at odds with each other you know the Ponds will get back together and settle their differences, usually while fighting off the alien of the week at the same time. With Gillan’s Amy playing the kick-ass heroine that she’s known for, it perfectly contrasts Darvill’s everyman persona, as Rory is seen finding his own way out of the asylum.
Overall Asylum of the Daleks has everything that the recent Doctor Who series have been known for, namely striking visual set pieces, a script that effortlessly switches between humour and drama and three great performances. There were times where I felt the episode dragged, and I think there were some problems with the pacing, however enough of the scenes stuck with me after it had finished to make me believe that this was a successful opener. It’s just a shame that the Ponds are leaving the show as I still feel that they were the heart and soul of the Matt Smith era, however it will be interesting to see how the show copes without them.
What did you think to Asylum of The Daleks? Do you think it was a good opener for this new series of Doctor Who? Leave Your Comments Below.
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