Good morning! Would you like a jelly baby?
Today I’m reviewing the latest Doctor Who episode, “Into the Dalek,” along with one of my favoritest bloggers: Miriam Joy! I really love her analyses of stories and characters and whatnot, so I’m super-excited to co-write with her.
This discussion’s format differs slightly from that of the previous review because… why not? I thought it would be nice to change stuff around. It keeps things interesting.
Without further ado, I present to you: THE REVIEW! Complete with occasional British spelling and a short bio provided by Miriam.
Miriam Joy is about to start studying Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Celtic at uni, but she’s making the most of these last few weeks to sleep, watch Buffy, and waste her life on the Internet. She writes novels about fairies, knights, and assassins – usually not at the same time, but it’s been known to happen. She also writes poetry, reads and reviews books, blogs, vlogs, dances, and plays music. (So you can see now why sleep’s a valued commodity…) She still misses Donna Noble. You can find her blog at Miriam Joy Writes.
Warning: Spoilers ahead, sweetie!
“What do you think about the episode in general?”
Miriam Joy: Actually, it’s one of my favourites recently, and I’m feeling really positive about this series as a result. I know some people criticised it as being too much like “Dalek” from series one, but I didn’t think it felt like a repeat. It referenced it without copying it. Episodes are never perfect, but the good parts definitely outweighed the bad ones here.
Engie: Same here. I liked “Dalek” anyway, so I’m glad that it was referenced here. And I’m probably reading way too much into it, but maybe this referencing-an-old-episode-so-much thing will be a regular occurrence this series? Maybe Moffat is just out of ideas, or maybe this is intentional. I mean, seriously – two episodes in a row that strongly reference past stories? Is he doing that on purpose or what?
Miriam Joy: Well, I hope not, because it’s always nice to have something new. But at the same time, it might be a way to introduce the new Doctor without freaking people out too much, you know? Give them something they’re familiar with to hold onto while they explore this new territory. And I think it’s important to remember that Doctor Who is a show with a lot of past episodes and history, and things from the Doctor’s past are always going to crop up. I know people I used to know are always reappearing and situations repeat themselves in my life, so I can definitely forgive a bit of referencing…
Engie: Exactly. I do like the parallels between these recent episodes and older ones, but I’d also like to see something new. Completely new. Not just re-written.
Miriam Joy: Hopefully that’ll happen later in the series.
“What do you think about Clara in the episode?”
Miriam Joy: I like Clara. I’ve always liked Clara, and I like her more this series. Especially when she keeps the Doctor on track. It reminds me of Donna and her whole “Donna, human, NO” thing, but I also like how her profession as a teacher came through: “That is NOT what we learned today.” Brilliant.
Engie: I liked the teacher-y bits too! And I… used to really, really dislike Clara, but I think I’m slowly warming up to her. I feel like she’s written really differently than she was in series 7b? I feel like she now has more of a purpose and she’s being treated as a person, rather than as a mystery to be solved.
Miriam Joy: Yeah, the mystery thing annoyed me. I think I managed to like her anyway because I disliked so much else about that series that I needed SOMETHING to hold onto, and it turned out to be her. But now she’s being awesome and it’s making me happy.
Engie: I totally understand needing to enjoy SOMETHING about the show. For me, it was Vastra, Jenny, and Strax; and Murray Gold’s lovely music. I tried to like Clara, but I just… couldn’t. (And maybe all it took was a new Doctor. Twelve is very different from Eleven, and there isn’t a weird flirting thing going on between those two now, and their Doctor/companion dynamic is different.)
“What do you think about Danny Pink? (Hey, that rhymes!)”
Miriam Joy: Don’t get me wrong, their interactions were great, but… why? It’s just so unnecessary, and I feel like Steven Moffat’s been like, “We can’t have Clara flirt with the Doctor so let’s throw in another straight dude to get our quota of heteronormativity!”
Engie: I like Danny already, but… I want to like him as his own person. I don’t want more boyfriend drama for Clara.
Miriam Joy: Exactly! Why is it even necessary?
Engie: Have him be one of Clara’s buddies. Have Twelve take him for a spin in the TARDIS. But don’t bring him into the story just so that Clara has someone nice to look at.
Miriam Joy: Precisely my thoughts. Unless the nice person is a girl. Then she can have someone nice to look at, that’s fine by me.
Engie: Pffft. But you’re right. Because REPRESENTATION, and because there are already loads of heterosexual love stories. Et cetera.
Miriam Joy: Yep.
Engie: I mean, she did say she had a girlfriend in her very first episode, “Asylum of the Daleks.” And in “Deep Breath” she said that she’s “never had the slightest interest in pretty young men” (as Vastra was flirting with her, which I found ironic), and I hope that’s not a throw-away line.
Miriam Joy: That line made me laugh. Moffat clearly has an obsession with companions who like the Romans. First Amy, now Clara…
Engie: Maybe he’s trying to tell us something about himself?
“What do you think about the comparisons between the Doctor and a Dalek?”
Miriam Joy: I went into the whole “good Dalek” thing in way too much detail on my blog. (This is where you add a link and I get blog hits for once.)
Engie: Duly noted, Miriam.
Miriam Joy: Anyway, I found that really fascinating, the whole morality aspect. I LOVE morally ambiguous villains so the Daleks have always been kind of boring, but I enjoyed how it was portrayed here. They’re literally forced to be evil by their own construction. How can the Doctor not feel sorry for them when they’ve got no CHOICE because there’s a machine in their head that tells them everything should be destroyed? And the portrayal of the Doctor as an antihero full of hatred was pretty cool, but I loved how he went from, “You can’t have a good Dalek, that’s just how it is,” to “I’m immensely sad because for a moment I thought there was hope.”
Engie: Is the Dalek telling Twelve that he would be a good Dalek in the stereotypically violent sense (because he’s been cruel in the past), or is it telling him that he would be a literally good Dalek, a Dalek that wanted to be kind?
Miriam Joy: I definitely think it’s the latter. It wasn’t like he just looked at the Doctor and was like, “You are a good Dalek” – it contradicted him when he said it could’ve been good and said “No, I’m not, you are.”
“What do you think about Missy? Who might she be?”
Miriam Joy: I’m not feeling it. What’s with the whole “mysterious woman” story arcs? I’ve heard a couple of theories I actually like (that she’s the TARDIS rescuing people the Doctor wasn’t able to save and keeping them safe in ‘heaven’), but other than that… meh. I don’t really care who she is.
Engie: I hadn’t heard that theory before, but I like it. And I feel like her story could’ve been really cool if Moffat hadn’t already written a gazillion other “mysterious woman” story arcs.
Miriam Joy: Yeah, precisely. I want something new. (Again.)
“Is there anything else you’d like to say about the episode?”
Miriam Joy: I thought the CGI in this episode was kind of … lacking. It seemed very cheesy and budget-y. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing; there’s something very Whovian about working on a budget. I’d rather they spent effort on the story than on the special effects and I think it’s been the other way around in recent series! But it did stand out to me.
Engie: Yeah… I think even the intro needs some work. The steampunk-y gears and cogs and everything are cool, but the TARDIS itself appears to have been animated by someone with no idea of what they were doing.
“Are you looking forward to the next episode, ‘Robot of Sherwood’?”
Miriam Joy: I am super excited for the next episode because BBC Robin Hood was one of my first fandoms.
Engie: It does look like a lot of fun. Thanks for reviewing with me, Miriam!
What is YOUR opinion on “Into the Dalek?” And don’t forget to check out Miriam’s analyze-y post!