Channel Surfing: Doctor Who – Into the Dalek

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Another week, another Doctor Who adventure! It’s time to head into the most dangerous place in the universe…

We start in outer space, with a small spaceship being pursued by one of the Dalek saucers.  The Dalek saucer continues firing on the smaller ship as it dodges and weaves.  Inside the ship, a young woman is flying the ship and frantically calling her command ship for help.  Her co-pilot looks to be either unconscious or dead… this doesn’t look good.  The pilot seems to be quite skilled, but the Daleks manage to hit her ship, which explodes quite thoroughly, killing all on board.

…except the young woman wakes up on the floor of the TARDIS.  Guess only the other guy died. I’m going to believe he was already dead.  The Doctor approaches, holding two paper coffee cups, and explains that he materialized the TARDIS around her just before the explosion, saving her life.  She is understandably upset that her co-pilot, apparently her brother, died.  The Doctor is unmoved, and replies that “his sister lived”.

She pulls out her gun and demands that he take her to her command ship, the Aristotle.  The Doctor refuses.  “Not like that.”  It takes a few repetitions, but she finally lowers the gun and asks, “please?”

The Doctor lands the TARDIS inside her command ship, the Aristotle, which looks like it’s seen better days.  A heavily-armed greeting party arrives, and the young woman greets the head of the group as “Uncle”.  Is she related to everyone here?  Uncle seems to be in charge here and thanks the Doctor for rescuing the young woman (Look, her name is Journey, okay?  I don’t remember EXACTLY when she introduced herself, probably later in the episode, but referring to her as “the young woman” is REALLY getting old…), but informs him that, grateful or not, they’re still going to kill him just in case he is a Dalek duplicate.  Well, that’s rude.

Journey suggests that instead of killing him, they let the Doctor help them with a patient.  On the way, they pass a large glass and metal cylinder, which the Doctor starts exclaiming over excitedly.  It is apparently a “molecular nanoscaler”, a device for shrinking surgeons down so they can enter the patient and fix things from the inside.  The Doctor remarks that it “would be a great idea for a movie.  A bad idea for a proctologist.” Thanks, Doctor.  I didn’t need that mental image.  So they’re going to shrink the Doctor down and inject him into the patient?  Intriguing.  But who is the patient?

They lead the Doctor to the patient… a Dalek.  The Doctor, not surprisingly, is horrified.  Why would they want to fix a Dalek?  The Daleks pretty much embody the ideas of “homicidal” and xenophobic!  Well, because this Dalek wants to destroy all the other Daleks.  “Resistance is futile,” it says.  The dying Dalek vows, “ALL DA-LEKS MUST BE DES-TROYED!”  Oh, this will end well.

Aaaand now we’re at an English school, focusing on a teacher drilling student cadets.  Clara (There she is!  I was wondering why we hadn’t seen her yet in the episode) walks by as the rest of the students walk into the school.  We continue following the cadet instructor at the end of class.  After telling the students what they should be studying, he asks if they have any questions.  A boy asks if he’s ever killed anyone.  The teacher replies that he was a soldier, with other soldier, and some of them were on the other side.  The boy asks if he’s ever killed someone who was not a soldier, the bloodthirsty little jerk.  This visibly upsets the teacher, and we see a single tear fall from his eye.  The question remains unanswered.

After class, at a staff meeting, Clara is introduced to the new teacher, Danny Pink.  There seems to be some interest between them, though Danny is initially defensive.  After a couple of funny scenes, Clara manages to get him to agree to go out for coffee.  Clara goes to her office, only to find the Doctor and the TARDIS inside… with the two coffees from the beginning of the episode!  (I was wondering why he didn’t offer any to Journey…)  Apparently Clara sent him to get coffee—three weeks ago.  “I got distracted.”  The Doctor tells her that he needs her help, and also asks her if she thinks he’s a good man.  Clara isn’t sure yet, after all, she only “met” this version of the doctor a short while ago.

The Doctor and Clara arrive back on the Aristotle, and shows Clara the dying Dalek.  He explains what they are going to try, and the group assembles to get miniaturized: the Doctor, Journey, Clara, and two soldiers who are going along “to kill the Doctor in case he turns out to be a Dalek duplicate”.  Uh-oh—this is going to be one of those stories where only the main characters survive, isn’t it?  I’m just going to call those two ‘Expendable #1 and Expendable #2… I don’t want to get too attached.

Wait, if they think the Doctor might still be a spy, why did they let him leave and come back to their highly secure command ship with an assistant?  These people need to rethink their operational security.  Moving on, moving on… they all get in the molecular nanoscaler and get shrunk down and placed against the Dalek’s eye-stalk.  After a trippy sequence where the Doctor and friends float through the lens of the Dalek’s eye-stalk (seriously, how did they make it through the glass?), they head down the inside of the stalk into the most dangerous place in the universe: the inside of a Dalek.  They soon come across the Dalek’s artificial memory drive, which suppresses good memories and reinforces bad ones, strengthening the Dalek’s hatred.  The Dalek, whom the Doctor decides to name Rusty, begins speaking to them.  The Doctor asks him what made him turn on the other Daleks.  Rusty tells him that it saw a star being born and realized that life will always find a way: the Dalek drive to exterminate all other life is doomed to fail.

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Image from warpedfactor.com

The group realizes that they need to go further down into the Dalek to reach the area that needs fixing, and Expendable #1 fires a zip-line into the Dalek so they can head down.  The Doctor is instantly furious and afraid.  The corridors they’ve been walking in may be metal, but to the Dalek, it is his body, which they’ve just injured.  And what happens when your body gets injured?

It sends out antibodies.  Everyone freezes in place as the Dalek antibodies fly around the corner at them.  The doctor throws something at Expendable #1 and tells him to swallow it as the antibodies swarm around him.  Aww, they look like little metal eyeballs.  I was expecting something scari—they just vaporized Expendable #1..  I told you we shouldn’t get too attached!

But wait, wasn’t Expendable #1 supposed to be saved by whatever the Doctor gave him?  “He was already dead, I’m trying to save us!”  Wow, that’s kinda cold, Doctor.  I understand it, but that’s not something I remember from the previous Doctors.  The Doctor reveals that the thing he gave Expendable #1 allowed him to track where the remains are stored, so they can hide from the antibodies there.  Commence the running through corridors!  One quick trip down a fog-covered pit lands them in a pool of slime: the previously-mentioned organic remains, it would seem. (Slimy Green is people! Sorry, that was uncalled for.)  They continue on their way, through a handy decontamination chamber that gets rid of the slime, and find the Dalek’s batteries.  They discover the reason Rusty is dying: the batteries are leaking radiation and it’s slowly killing him.  The doctor manages to seal the batteries back up, and Rusty is fixed!  Hooray!

Unfortunately, without the radiation leak scrambling his brain, Rusty reverts back to its old self and immediately goes on a rampage. “EX-TER-MIN-ATE!”

I told you this wouldn’t end well…

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Image from whatculture.com

The Doctor is darkly happy about this turn of events.  They have proven that there is no such thing as a good Dalek, all Daleks are evil.  Clara rebukes him, going into full-on teacher mode.  They haven’t learned that there are no good Daleks, they’ve learned it is possible for there to be a good Dalek!  The Doctor realizes that if it was possible the first time, he can recreate it.  He tells them to go back to the artificial memory drive and reactivate the memory of the star being born and make Rusty agreeable to new ideas.  The Doctor will go to Rusty himself and change his view of the world.

They need to get back up to the memory drive, and quickly, before Rusty and the Dalek boarding party slaughters everyone in the ship.  What’s the fastest way up?  Expendable #2 sacrifices herself by firing a zip-line so Journey and Clara can use an ascender to travel up to the memory drive.  She puts up a fight, but the antibodies swarm her and vaporize her.  Yep, thought so.

But wait!  She wakes up in a garden at a table with Missy, the woman from the end of the last episode.  Missy welcomes her to Heaven, and asks if she’d like tea.

Okay, I did not see that coming.  What is with this lady?!?

Rusty kills more soldiers and finds a computer console, signaling the Dalek saucer with the location of the Aristotle.  Great, now we have even more homicidal Daleks on the way!

Meanwhile, Clara crawls inside the memory bank and figures out how to reactive the suppressed memories.  The Doctor confronts the true Rusty (Imagine Kraang, but with only one big eye and a lot more brain pulsing) inside the control area.  Both of them watch the reactivated memories flood across Rusty’s mind.  After a few false starts, the memory of the star appears, and Rusty begins to change its mind.  The Doctor grabs what appears to be neural fibers and links minds with Rusty.  “I’m a part of you.  My mind is your mind.”  Hmm…“Resistance is futile”, “My mind is your mind”… is anyone else getting Star Trek vibes from this episode?

Rusty sees all the beauty of the universe that the Doctor has experienced, all the wonder, and all the hatred he has toward the Daleks.  The Doctor tries to get it to look past that, to see other things, but Rusty pronounces the Doctor’s hatred as good—the Daleks are evil, and must be destroyed.  Rusty tears through the Dalek boarding party, blowing them apart like they were made of tinfoil.  It saves Uncle and the defenders and sends a retreat signal to the Daleks, making them think that the humans are going to self-destruct.  Well, it’s still not a ‘good’ Dalek, but at least it’s on our side!

After the Daleks leave, the Doctor, Clara and Journey are returned to their normal size.  Rusty and the Doctor talk briefly before Rusty leaves to go with the rest of the Daleks and continue his quest to destroy them.  Rusty tells the Doctor that it is not a good Dalek, but he is a good Dalek.  Ouch.  That has to sting.  Journey asks the doctor to take her with him, but the Doctor tells her no.  “You seem nice, and brave and kind… I just wish you weren’t a soldier.”  Again, ouch.

Wait… who else have we seen this episode who used to be a soldier?  I’m guessing Danny and the Doctor are going to have some interesting encounters soon enough.

The Doctor returns Clara to her school, 30 seconds after they left.  Time travel can be quite handy!  She tells him that she is not sure if he’s a good man, but he tries to be, and that’s the important thing.  She heads out and bumps into Danny, ready to head out for coffee.  “You’re sure you’re okay with this?” he asks.  “You don’t have a policy against soldiers?”

“No,” Clara responds, “I don’t.”  Yup, definitely going to be seeing Danny and the Doctor clashing at some point…

But that’ll probably have to wait.  Next week, Clara and the Doctor head to the past to meet… Robin Hood?

~ K.L. Davis ~

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