Doctor Who: Into The Dalek
August 31, 2014 3:06 PM - Season 8, Episode 2 - Subscribe

In the midst of a warzone, the soldiers occupying Aristotle, a secret human outpost, have captured a lone Dalek. This Dalek is so damaged that it has come to view its own kind as evil, and claims it wants to help the humans exterminate the Dalek legions. When the Doctor and Clara arrive on Aristotle, they are miniaturised and sent into the body of the Dalek itself, in the hope of understanding what has happened to it. As the Doctor confronts the question of whether there can ever be such a thing as a good Dalek, he must also confront the hatred in his own heart.

Stuff
  • The conclusion of this story is similar to the conclusion of the Big Finish Doctor Who audio stories Jubilee, where a lone Dalek notices the error of its comrades and stops an invasion.
  • Footage of the extermination of security guard Bywater in Dalek and the Dalek attack on the Valiant in The Stolen Earth is seen in 'Rusty's' Dalek memories, and the destruction of the Daleks and the Crucible in Journey's End is seen when Rusty looks into the Doctor's mind.
  • The Doctor states that morgues are easy to break out of. The Eighth Doctor previously broke out of a morgue shortly after his regeneration. (Doctor Who The movie)
posted by Just this guy, y'know (87 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
There's some parallels here with the Ninth Doctor episode "Dalek," (FanFare rewatch thread), which also has a Dalek which manages to feel something other than hatred. In that episode, Nine's hatred of the Daleks, presumably fresh off of the Time War, is very raw and very outwardly evident.

Here, Twelve is trying to help the Dalek. In the centuries that have passed (from the Doctor's perspective) his hatred has softened. It's still there, deep down, as we see when Rusty sees into his mind, but it's not nakedly evident as it was with Nine. As Clara says, he's trying to be a good man.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:46 PM on August 31, 2014


Phil Sandifer's Into the Dalek review.

I'm still trying to figure out what to think about this episode (I'm also not sure the episode itself knows what to think about itself), but:

- After this week's Missy scene and Gretchen being saved I'm a convert to DirtyOldTown's Miss Evangelista theory.
- I continue to love many parts of the Twelve-Clara dynamic, but the negging really needs to stop or get toned waaay the heck down. As a regeneration symptom it worked well, but at this point it's uncomfortable to watch and Clara's tolerance of it doesn't make much sense.
- I'm tentatively intrigued by Danny Pink, but it's Journey Blue I'm shipping with Clara, srry.
posted by bettafish at 3:46 PM on August 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


I am loving Capaldi, and I'm even starting to come around to Clara. But her line to Pink, "So you shoot people and then cry about it afterwards,” was just so damn ignorant. Even if I didn't work with veterans, I could not imagine saying this to a returning solider, even if I was completely anti-war. It was a stupid, stupid, ignorant line that should not have come out of any likable character's mouth. Maybe Moffat should learn that PTSD can affect other people besides John Hurt.

I won't go into the other aspects of the show, as I've already gone on record as saying that Moffat has forgotten how to write a coherent plot, even a coherent Doctor Who plot, which sort of redefines "coherence" in the traditional sense.
posted by bibliowench at 3:51 PM on August 31, 2014 [8 favorites]


Is it just me, or is Capaldi channeling Tom Baker quite a bit? His gestures and intonations seem very Fourth Doctor at times. I approve.

I've given up on plots.

Best line: 'Don't be lasagne'.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 3:59 PM on August 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


Ugh - "soldier"

Also, I had a good laugh from the A.V. Club review:

"The very essence of Doctor Who can be found in the amazing plan that the Doctor comes up with to defeat Rusty, as it hinges on Clara doing something brilliant but completely unspecified to unlock the memory, and then the Doctor will show Rusty something so beautiful that it will turn him good forever, but he has absolutely no idea what that thing might be. Yeah, the Doctor hasn’t changed that much."
posted by bibliowench at 4:01 PM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


I liked this episode a lot! I've been down on Doctor Who lately, but if we get more episodes like this then I'll be back on board.

I especially liked Clara crawling over the transparent accordion-fold tubes in the Dalek's memory banks. It looked so cheesy; it was clearly cobbled together with some spare parts they had lying around. It reminded me of old Who episodes.
posted by painquale at 4:22 PM on August 31, 2014 [6 favorites]


I thought it was interesting that the Dalek was referred to as "becoming good", when in fact its genocidal urges were essentially untouched, just redirected in a way that was more convenient to the humans. The Doctor did notice this (his speech, after all, was an attempt to convince the Dalek to do something other than kill all the whatever it might be killing that day), although I can't imagine what else it would do. It only has two appendages, one of which is a weapon and the other is also a weapon if it feels like using it that way. And it could unblock sinks, but that's hardly a consciousness-expanding vocation in itself.

I suspect Rusty will turn up again, just when things are looking bad for our heroes. Perhaps it will form a cult of self-hating Daleks. Also, I'd say Journey Blue will be back, perhaps on an ongoing basis. Which would be a good thing.

I don't really understand why there's such a problem with the plot (although, for comparison, I watched The End of Time again the other day, which is one of the most random things I've ever seen): The Doctor is called in to treat a patient with mysterious symptoms; He affects a cure based on his initial diagnosis, but things start to get much, much worse; then by a combination of skill and lucky improvisation he manages a last minute treatment that leads to a satisfying conclusion. It's basically an episode of House.
posted by Grangousier at 4:34 PM on August 31, 2014 [8 favorites]


We've had a de-monstrified Silurian, and a Sontaran and even a Cyberman (if you count Handles), I don't see why not a de-monstrified Dalek. Though I'm a sentimental old fool, who finds characters more engaging when they're not trying to KILL ALL THE THINGS.
posted by Grangousier at 4:37 PM on August 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


Definite upswing from last week, and not just because it reprised pieces of "The Invisible Enemy" and "Dalek". Clara--her tone-deaf note with Danny Pink notwithstanding--continues to be much improved, possibly because they're actually writing for her as a character and not a plot piece. Capaldi is growing on me, possibly because even with the negging (though he also says he can't believe he's not paying her), Twelve and Clara are developing a nice variant on the companion relationship that involves her contributing in ways other than as a plot hook or a receptive audience for his infodumps.

I was really bummed that Journey Blue didn't join the TARDIS crew, but the Doctor doesn't just take people on randomly any more. Personally, I think she would have made an interesting addition to the cast (for precisely the reason the Doctor turned her down), but the nu Who formula seems to involve leaving the companions at home occasionally, and I can see how that wouldn't work for a soldier in the middle of a Dalek war.

... which leads around to "bring back the competent companions in the Liz or Martha mode, please".
posted by immlass at 4:42 PM on August 31, 2014 [6 favorites]


I thought the line about her being a soldier made sense - he's trying not to be a soldier, and he needs to not be with other soldiers. He recognized she was more than that, but he (and Mr Pink) are trying to build lives post war, not during a war. Journey Blues name is too metaphorical and the actress too good to be a one-off.

I can't wait to show this episode to my youngest. My teenage boys are a bit off on this incarnation, preferring to rewatch episodes at dinner than the new one, because the older Doctor is too grim for them, and they're not keen on Clara as a companion. But the nearly three year old ran in public yesterday shouting exterminate, to her dad's embarrassment and thinks that the Daleks are the best thing ever.
posted by viggorlijah at 6:01 PM on August 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


I like that they're finally embracing him being dark and curmudgeonly, especially after last week's all-about-being-too-old silliness. Really, his new personality should've been what freaked Clara out from the start, not his age.

Of course, even this episode had to throw in a stupid throwaway sexist line, something about Clara's hips? (I just don't understand whose benefit that's for!)

(But I like that he's sort of mean now. I'm reading it more as dark wit than actual malice.)
posted by nobody at 7:02 PM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Hang on - Journey Blue is basically a symbolic name for the Tardis. And the doctor doesn't go around rescuing soldiers but the Tardis is known to act independently on her own.

Plus the first line about crying soldiers - that's how civilians, who the Doctor firmly aligns himself with, communicate with soldiers. His identity so far is largely Not A Soldier.
posted by viggorlijah at 7:05 PM on August 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


On rewatch: I hesitate because it's already been done, but then I remembered that this is Moffat, so I'm going to tentatively guess that Journey Blue is somehow Clara's daughter with Pink, given that Clara has been part of the Time Vortex or whatever the story is with her, and that both of the actresses in that last scene looked surprisingly similar.
posted by viggorlijah at 8:30 PM on August 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


Capaldi is great, and Clara is turning into an actual character instead of the "Impossible Girl". Even this overall arc with Missy looks like it might be more about examining what kind of person the Doctor is and less of a universe exploding disaster.

If they can manage to get Clara in a relationship with Mr. Pink without turning it into a love triangle with the Doctor, this could turn out to be a fantastic season.
posted by Gary at 9:14 PM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Really happy that Journey Blue didn't have to sacrifice herself for anyone. That's new and different. ‎

The Doctor has done a lot (some of it highly suspect) for the sake of saving the earth. I'd like to see a Who writer tackle the question of whether the Earth deserves to be saved or whether the Doctor goes too far in his efforts. ‎

There's a lot of focus on Clara's looks which is weird and off-putting. Who thinks negging is an appropriate trait for the Doctor? ‎That comes close to the absolute wrongness that was Clara hitting the Doctor. Assaulting someone over a difference of opinion? That numerous people vetted this and thought that was okay is really appalling. 
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 11:00 PM on August 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


I did like this episode, although as the Guardian recap points out, the Doctor does look pretty dumb when fixing the radiation leak makes the Dalek bad again. Everyone in the entire universe could see that one coming dude! I guess the point is that he is willing to throw his life away just to make this point, but I feel like that kind of idea was dealt with more effectively in "Dalek".

The actual story beats were pretty fun, I love that Clara actually has a personality, and I liked that the daleks felt pretty threatening again.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 11:42 PM on August 31, 2014


I'm really enjoying this season, but yeah the negging is so off-putting. Not just the hostility of it, but because (as bettafish pointed out) it just makes no sense. It feels like Strax lines that Moffat didn't want to lose.

It's especially annoying since to me the best part of Capaldi's performance isn't the Tuckeresque brusqueness--though I like that as well!--but rather his hard-earned gentleness. "Clara, be my pal," he implores with a genuine vulnerability we're not used to...and then five minutes later he's making a joke about her hips!?

I'm sure the case could be made that this is all good-natured ribbing and how this Doctor shows affection for Clara but 1) it's one-sided, 2) ew, and 3) it just feels really off with the rest of his characterization.
posted by Ian A.T. at 12:16 AM on September 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Favorite part of the episode: after Rusty dropped his SICK BURN on the Doctor, I loved how his body turned but his head didn't as he rolled away. If he'd had an arm attachment he totally would have snapped his finger in the Doctor's face.

Also, as someone on the AV Club pointed out, it's hilarious that Rusty's existential dilemma is the opposite of a human's. We ask "What's the point of living if we're all just going to die?"; the Dalek asks "What's the point of destroying everything if life always prevails?"
posted by Ian A.T. at 12:18 AM on September 1, 2014 [16 favorites]


The remark about Clara's hips was not needed but Moffat has always used gratuitous body part insults, regardless of gender. Eleven's chin, Rory's nose, Amy's legs, The War Doctor's ears, Ten being skinny, Twelve's eyebrows, etc. It's like a little bit of him has not grown out of third grade or something.
posted by plastic_animals at 4:56 AM on September 1, 2014 [5 favorites]


So, now we have two Missy appearances. This time she "saves" Gretchen as she is sacrificing herself for the Doctor. Does that imply that Half-Face Man jumped to sacrifice himself for the Doctor? The last time the Master appeared he also sacrificed himself to save the Doctor.

How would someone (something?) be able to track the Doctor so closely across time and space as to capture people at the precise moment of their dying?

Also, what is up with Clara that she can go through a harrowing experience in which she gets so angry at her best friend that she slaps him, witnesses two people being vaporized, and walks through the aftermath of a Dalek invasion but then is all flirty with Danny Pink immediately afterwards?
posted by plastic_animals at 5:13 AM on September 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


The remark about Clara's hips was not needed but Moffat has always used gratuitous body part insults, regardless of gender. Eleven's chin, Rory's nose, Amy's legs, The War Doctor's ears, Ten being skinny, Twelve's eyebrows, etc. It's like a little bit of him has not grown out of third grade or something.

I don't want to get into a big derail about it, but note that there's a difference between hips and legs, on the one hand, and nose, ears, and eyebrows on the other.
posted by nobody at 5:22 AM on September 1, 2014 [13 favorites]


This reminded me an awful lot of the Dalek stories during Eccleston's run. You know, the ones in which the Daleks were actually scary, as opposed to more recent stories in which they, er, weren't.
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 5:43 AM on September 1, 2014


nobody, I agree completely.
posted by plastic_animals at 5:46 AM on September 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think all the stories are just reasons for random people (or robots) to wind up in Missy's "Heaven." It matters not what got them there, because Moffat is fond of the season arc Big Bad, and that's the only real thing he cares about. Well, that and having people dissect ham-handed clues he drops where things kind of all reference past episodes because MYSTERY!

I really hope someone takes over from him someday.
posted by xingcat at 7:45 AM on September 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


I don't want to minimize people's reactions to the negging and slapping, as I think they are archaic holdovers from an earlier time. But I think we can see them in the context of a show that's been going since 1963, and whose makers are big fans who grew up watching that early era. Slapping someone to "straighten out their thinking" has been dramatic shorthand for so long writers fail to think about it realistically. Like, oh God, that would be such a horrible move in real life. The little insults are the same. Some close friends still rib each other that way, but I think more and more in modern life we're taught not to hurt each other's self esteem. Plus, the Doctor's inability to consider people's feelings has often been a way to communicate his non-human identity. I think the hips comment (which was prompted by Clara asking him not to comment about her hips) was meant to be reassuring but totally off the mark in the same vein as Tom Baker's famous line, "You're a beautiful woman, probably."

Apparently Moffat has plans through season 9, but I do hope there's a succession plan. I think he's done okay, overall, but no one should produce this show for too long (as proven by Jon Nathan Turner). I'd love to see a seamless handoff for season 10, but I'd rather it take a couple of years off for retooling than see Moffat burn through years of goodwill and popularity and run the show into the ground by staying too long.
posted by rikschell at 8:09 AM on September 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


I read the insults towards Clara as jealousy, specifically of her youth. He remarks shortly before that, when observing her smiling for no reason, that he might think she was in love. He then starts with the insults. The insults return when she has changed her clothes for her date. I don't think he's jealous of her romantic relationship potential (that type of tension doesn't seem to exist between 12 and Clara). However, he's added 2,000 years to his life and now his external appearance apparently matches his internal weariness, while Clara is still young.

The episode, including the Doctor's behavior, is very much like House. And while I loved House, I'd rather Dr. Who not turn into that.
posted by miss-lapin at 9:26 AM on September 1, 2014


I really hope someone takes over from him soonday.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 10:33 AM on September 1, 2014 [10 favorites]


I'd love to see more Doctor Who episodes written by women. Somehow I think there will be less negging and slapping.

(I liked this episode overall, but I agree with the others that the body-related insults are really wearing.)
posted by ocherdraco at 10:37 AM on September 1, 2014 [6 favorites]


"‎That comes close to the absolute wrongness that was Clara hitting the Doctor. Assaulting someone over a difference of opinion? That numerous people vetted this and thought that was okay is really appalling.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 11:00 PM on August 31 [1 favorite −] Favorite added! [!]"


Yeah, that was very tone-deaf in terms of reading your audience and also the budding dynamic between Clara and The Doctor.

Is it also part of the stupid narrative also seen in Thor: The Dark World where Natalie Portman slaps Chris Hemsford and it's like a running gag - ha ha, she slapped him, but it can't really hurt, cause he's a man and she's a woman? I know you're not supposed to take it seriously but I don't think that kind of violence should be given a pass.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 10:37 AM on September 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also, what is up with Clara that she can go through a harrowing experience in which she gets so angry at her best friend that she slaps him, witnesses two people being vaporized, and walks through the aftermath of a Dalek invasion but then is all flirty with Danny Pink immediately afterwards?

It helps if you realize that she's not a character with any inner life but a crude character of Moffat's idea of "female."

Which is especially infuriating given that he wrote Sally Sparrow, Madame de Pompadour, and the earlier incarnations of River Song. I know I hate on Moffat (I don't even talk about Sherlock any more), but I was so excited when he became the showrunner because he penned some of my favorite episodes from the earlier seasons.
posted by bibliowench at 10:38 AM on September 1, 2014 [7 favorites]


It's also frustrating because in these past two episodes, I'm *finally* able to root for and identify with Clara because of some of the stellar stuff she's been given to do and say, and also the actress's performance. So the negging and off-color stuff is even more grating... gah!

It's good to vent.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 10:41 AM on September 1, 2014


wait, no one has made an Innerspace reference yet?
posted by cendawanita at 10:45 AM on September 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


Innerspace? Fantastic Voyage is surely the canonical "terrible plot for a film" the Doctor is referring to.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:57 AM on September 1, 2014 [6 favorites]


I especially liked Clara crawling over the transparent accordion-fold tubes in the Dalek's memory banks. It looked so cheesy; it was clearly cobbled together with some spare parts they had lying around. It reminded me of old Who episodes.

In a similar low-budget vein, I also liked what looked to be coaxial cable splitters on the sensors attached by the med staff to the Dalek's exterior.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:28 AM on September 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


As others have noted, there is something a little more than coincidental with the Pink/Blue names/solider connections.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:31 AM on September 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


There were two moments of coldness from the Doctor in this episode that would have been inconceivable from ten or eleven, and maybe even unlikely from nine. The first was the "He was dead anyway" bit and the second, which literally made our jaws drop in my house was "He's the top layer, if you want to say a few words."

Very icy, very harsh. But striking, interesting. Even one of the jokes from this episode echoes this shift in tone, "Yeah, she's my carer; she cares so I don't have to."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:37 AM on September 1, 2014 [7 favorites]


I laughed in kind of a horrified way at the top layer comment; this is a Doctor who is a bit cruel and has a dark sense of humor. I cannot imagine the two previous doctors ever saying something like that.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 11:40 AM on September 1, 2014


I had a lot of trouble because the shrinking trope is almost always badly done and this was no exception. It just makes me crazy.

Otherwise, I agree that Clara is becoming more interesting as her character fills out. I can't manage to hope that Moffat won't just ruin her later, though, because he will.

And, personally, I am totally done with the Daleks. And Weeping Angels. I don't even know how the coolness inherent in those two villains could be rescued at this point, they are tired now. So tired.

I like Capaldi. I only have limited experience with the first two Doctors -- I did watch the show sometimes during the Baker years when I was a kid. And five through seven are kind of meh for me. Even so, during New Who I've found that I've pretty instantly liked each of these doctors because they've all managed, despite my prior doubts, to unambiguously embody Doctor-ness.

Journey Blue's desire to leave with the Doctor and Clara seemed off to me. Partly in his refusal, but also in her desire and intention. I can totally see her wanting to do this, having just lost her brother and all, if she had more information about who the Doctor was and what it would mean to leave with him. But unlike most (or all) of the people who've expressed such interest in the past, she knew almost nothing about him. There was no indication, like there usually is, that he's a gadfly knight errant superman. His ship was clearly higher tech than she was used to, and he displayed that manic charisma (sort of); but for all Journey knew, he was going to return to his home planet and hang out. Unless I missed it, no one ever told her that this is the sort of thing he does. And that he can go pretty much anywhere he wants. That's why people usually want to leave with him, he's clearly an adventurer. But in this episode, that wasn't really made apparent to Journey.

I feel like this is an example of the show and Moffat's idiosyncratic version of the unrealism of the hand slap trope discussed above. That is, we all know that people want to accompany the Doctor, so the show doesn't even bother to include that character machinery in Journey, it's just assumed. And the problem with this, even though in small doses it's really of a piece with genre, which is all about structural stuff that's taken for granted, is that writers can forget that they're doing this and they do it more and more and slowly but surely their characters and their stories become schematic outlines, hitting certain notes because reasons. And eventually there's just nothing really there but tradition. Moffat seems to me to be adept at pasting fascinating big ideas onto a tradition that he just takes for granted to already be there and to work. But it doesn't always work because he hasn't bothered to make it work and, over time, it stops cohering.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:44 AM on September 1, 2014 [6 favorites]


Innerspace? Fantastic Voyage is surely the canonical "terrible plot for a film" the Doctor is referring to.

Surely the reference in the full line is also to the S15 episode The Invisible Enemy, in which the Doctor and Leela are cloned, shrunk, and injected into the Doctor to get rid of a hostile infection.
posted by immlass at 11:51 AM on September 1, 2014 [4 favorites]


Our discussion in the last thread about how the set for Missy's "Heaven" and Appalapuchia in "The Girl Who Waited" may have us going down the wrong track. Apparently, that mansion/garden is a favorite location of NuWho's production team and was also used for both "The Girl in the Fireplace" and "Forest of the Dead." Its reappearance may not mean any connection to previous stories.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:02 PM on September 1, 2014


Also, something that wasn't even in my mind when I proposed the Missy/Miss Evangelista connection:

Missy - Miss E(vangelista)
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:05 PM on September 1, 2014 [5 favorites]


rikschell: "Plus, the Doctor's inability to consider people's feelings has often been a way to communicate his non-human identity. I think the hips comment (which was prompted by Clara asking him not to comment about her hips) was meant to be reassuring but totally off the mark in the same vein as Tom Baker's famous line, "You're a beautiful woman, probably."

Oh, I agree, Twelve's lines are definitedly meant to hit the same notes as Tom Baker at his most City of Death-ish. But they're off-key because they're so relentlessly, laser-guidedly gendered. "You're a beautiful woman, probably" has a bit of a "thwarted femme fatale" aspect, but it's the combination of ego-puncturing and absent-mindedness that sells it, not so much the exact words. "You have hips like a man" is funny because... women don't want to be told their butts are big, but also don't want to be told they're too small? Har har har? The joke doesn't work at all unless you buy into Moffat's sitcom schtick. Which I think is the real source of the problem, not Classic Who nostalgia.

On the plus side series 8 seems to be pretty reference-heavy so far, so maybe we'll get a callback to that time Barbara totally ripped the First Doctor a new one (in 1964, the story after The Daleks).

Ivan Fyodorovich: "There was no indication, like there usually is, that he's a gadfly knight errant superman. His ship was clearly higher tech than she was used to, and he displayed that manic charisma (sort of); but for all Journey knew, he was going to return to his home planet and hang out. Unless I missed it, no one ever told her that this is the sort of thing he does. And that he can go pretty much anywhere he wants."

I don't think it was about her wanting the adventure so much as wanting to get the hell out and stop being a soldier, and she thought going with him would accomplish both those things. It could've been set up much better, though.
posted by bettafish at 12:07 PM on September 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Clara slapping the Doctor played perfectly to me. He needed to get slapped! Really, he probably needed a swift kick in the ass. His whole blithe disregard for human life routine was fun to watch, but I'm pretty sure dealing with a person like that would inspire me to violence, too. That this version of the character plays as darkly humorous and not just as a straight up dickhead says a lot about Capaldi's charm.

That said, I liked this episode a great deal, even if there are things in it that give me pause. I am okay with just dropping the Missy subplot from the next ten episodes, for one thing; I can see how this will be a routine, and would rather that they just got to the fireworks factory. That there even is a character named "Journey Blue" gives me the chills. I don't know where that's going, but I know it's going to be somewhere I don't like. I am not at all a fan of the excruciating plot convolutions that Moffat is all over, though, especially as they usually come at the expense of character development (e.g., Amy, Rory, River Song).
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:07 PM on September 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


AND CAN I ALSO SAY those titles. Holy mother of pearl, the new titles. I think they're just kind of blandly inoffensive until the little Tardis zips across the screen. Ye gods.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:17 PM on September 1, 2014


That overly CGI Tardis is pretty horrid, but overall, I kinda like the titles. Though I may be swayed by the fact that they were created by a fan.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:21 PM on September 1, 2014


I like what the series 8 opening wants to be, if not the execution. The series 7b opening and theme were my favorite ever, though, and we only got a half season and three specials out of it.
posted by bettafish at 12:25 PM on September 1, 2014


Hello Tailor has a new post up which is relevant to the negging discussion: the Doctor's new outfit, and some thoughts on female companions and costume design.
posted by bettafish at 12:37 PM on September 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Is Missy saving these people because they're the ones the Doctor seems to particularly wish hadn't had to die? Is she doing this at his direction? Or to gain his favor?

If she's Miss Evangelists, how did she end up like she is now, older and maybe unhinged? Why does she think he's her boyfriend? How would he end up with a girlfriend in what amounts to his wife's final resting place?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:55 PM on September 1, 2014


Surely the reference in the full line is also to the S15 episode The Invisible Enemy, in which the Doctor and Leela are cloned, shrunk, and injected into the Doctor to get rid of a hostile infection.

Heh, that's such a great, nonsensical episode. I once showed the scene where the Doctor is walking around in his own brain in a Philosophy of Mind class that I taught.

LEELA 2: Where are we?
DOCTOR 2: This is the gap between one side of our mind and the other.
LEELA 2: But it's dark on the other side.
DOCTOR 2: Well of course it's dark. It's the gap between logic and imagination. You can't see one side from the other side.
LEELA 2: But it is there?
DOCTOR 2: What?
LEELA 2: There is something on the other side?
DOCTOR 2: This is the mind-brain interface, Leela. At least I think it is. That's the mind and that's the brain. Two things entirely different but part of the same thing.
LEELA 2: Oh, like the land and the sea?
DOCTOR 2: That's right, that's right.
LEELA 2: It's very deep.
DOCTOR 2: Yes. Sometimes I don't quite understand it myself.
posted by painquale at 1:41 PM on September 1, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'm still stuck on Grangousier's idea in the last thread, that Missy was a female Master. I like this idea, although I worry about the execution, because it seems that Moffat himself is setting the precedent that Time Lords can change gender. Also, I like Master storylines when they don't devolve into "Clap your hands if you believe in the House Elf Doctor." I look forward to seeing this actress interact with Capaldi. Snarky older adults are my people.

Or we could have original plots that don't jump down the navel of the show's mythology. That could happen. I miss stories that were more about weird crap happening than about what it means to be/how hard it is to be the Doctor. It's like if Jonathan Franzen started writing science fiction.

I think one of the reasons I'm enjoying Clara finally is that she has a role besides the enigma that the Doctor has to solve. The show has been doing that for years now, but I feel they didn't establish Clara as a character first before making her something the Doctor needs to figure out.
posted by bibliowench at 1:53 PM on September 1, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'm not crazy about the new titles (they feel a little "off brand" to me) but they don't bug me as much as they bug other people. I just wish they'd revisit the treatment they gave the main melody of the theme song...it sounds like something off a Halloween sounds effect record.
posted by Ian A.T. at 4:04 PM on September 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


I just wish they'd revisit the treatment they gave the main melody of the theme song...it sounds like something off a Halloween sounds effect record.

I say this pretty regularly in Who-related threads, but when I'm made Queen of Wholandia, I'm hiring the Hartnolls to do all the music.
posted by immlass at 4:21 PM on September 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


All else aside, this episode was clearly for those of us who've spent the past 20 years secretly convinced Mrs. Frizzle was a Time Lord.
posted by rhiannonstone at 4:47 PM on September 1, 2014 [6 favorites]


Clara got changed before returning to the cupboard thirty seconds post-time, and it's perfectly reasonable for her to have spent a couple of hours in the Tardis bathroom (which I imagine as a giant new-Victorian spa with robots) crying, yelling at the.Doctor and then having a nap before getting changed and going home.

And one presumes catching up on all her marking and paperwork. That sadly is what I would use a Tardis for.

The student who taunted her in the first episode was also teasing Mr. Pink in the school office - I wonder if she'll keep turning up?
posted by viggorlijah at 5:28 PM on September 1, 2014 [6 favorites]


DirtyOldTown: "If she's Miss Evangelists, how did she end up like she is now, older and maybe unhinged? Why does she think he's her boyfriend? How would he end up with a girlfriend in what amounts to his wife's final resting place?"

Maybe CAL is on the fritz?
posted by Dr. Zira at 6:29 PM on September 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's weird how 12's worries about age and appearance, and whether or not he is a good person, and Moffat's misogynistic missteps and the meta concerns about the show of "what happens after the height of popularity post-Tennant and -Smith" is cross-pollinating in my brain with BoJack Horseman of all things right now.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:18 PM on September 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Clara got changed before returning to the cupboard thirty seconds post-time, and it's perfectly reasonable for her to have spent a couple of hours ...

Yes, this is the answer to Clara's calm demeanour. Anytime someone is in the Tardis off screen, you can assume that they went off to have at least three audiobooks worth of adventure. It's the only way they can try and spin all the other Doctor Who stories as being in-continuity. Sort of like how Ten met Five in what was a camera cut (or not even?) in another episode.
posted by Gary at 9:36 PM on September 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well, those Comic Relief splices may not be considered when they make the actual episode they spin them out from, but it is a bit of clever for all that.

"Time Crash" being one of my absolute favorite moments in NuWho (as I'm also a fan of Five), I'm having real trouble squaring the fact that Moffat was responsible (as well for "Blink", etc.). He wrote beat-perfect dialog for two count'em two Doctors and even managed sublime throwaway lines for a master of the throwaway line, e.g. "No, no, not a beard ... well, a wife--"

And so far none of that for Twelve. I'm hoping it shows up, because that can overcome many a rubbish plot.

If anyone can tell, this is the first time since the reboot that I've crossed the line from "Well, this one certainly had problems, but I'm still able to enjoy myself a lot". I know many others have had this experience before me. I mean, heck, I had real trepidation about Ten and Eleven and they both won me over almost instantly. Capaldi, on the other hand, is an actor I already knew and had high expectations for, and I actually feel like there's a big disconnect between the writing and the character and the actor and he's having a hard time making it work. Like I said, new territory for me.
posted by dhartung at 11:37 PM on September 1, 2014


I love that line!

Fifth Doctor: "Does he still have that rubbish beard?"
Tenth Doctor: "No, no beard this time. Well, a wife,"

Although Tennant really did say Well a lot.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 3:05 AM on September 2, 2014


I had a lot of trouble because the shrinking trope is almost always badly done and this was no exception. It just makes me crazy.

I thought that it was especially badly done in this episode. I know that we don't watch Dr. Who for the special effects but these were embarrassing.
posted by octothorpe at 4:47 AM on September 2, 2014


I watch Doctor Who for the embarrassing special effects.
posted by painquale at 5:12 AM on September 2, 2014 [9 favorites]


I was surprisingly okay with this episode. Oh, it was very derivative, and I already hate the people showing up in paradise thing, and the stupid misogyny is as obnoxious as always, but somehow it came together for me.

As the season goes on, I will see if it actually is meant to be setting the scene for the season (okay, especially if we get to some of the hypocrisy around I don't like soldiers) or if it was an end to this discussion.

"Is the Doctor a good man?" is a question that's been asked and answered a lot, especially in the RTD era, but then Moffat likes to pretend the RTD era didn't exist except for the episodes he wrote.
posted by jeather at 5:35 AM on September 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


I could deal with most of the shrinking silliness but it irked me that the inside of the Dalek is apparently constructed out of a series of hallways with level floors. Justnin case tiny visitors drop by.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:55 AM on September 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


"I thought that it was especially badly done in this episode. I know that we don't watch Dr. Who for the special effects but these were embarrassing."

It wasn't the special effects (though they were disappointing), it was the science. And, yeah, I know, worrying about the science of Who is pretty dumb. But I don't expect Aristotelian science from the show, there's a nod toward Newton and Dalton -- which is to say, fundamental stuff we're taught as schoolchildren and which we take for granted.

In that context, shrinking a person to microscopic size presents all sorts of fundamental problems, which this trope just ignores.

Which, okay, I can go along with if it just ignores it altogether. A sufficiently advanced technology could account for all those problems invisibly, like magic. The TARDIS is basically magic, and that's fine. Wave at the TARDIS to explain something and I'm probably going to be okay with it.

But with this shrinking trope, what actually usually happens is that the writer idiosyncratically includes some particular aspect of what this would mean, either because they expect it to be interesting or to establish credibility, and just doing so almost always ends up undermining the suspension of disbelief rather than supporting it.

In this particular case, it was the "breathe or you'll pop" thing. And what it did was force me to think about one of the biggest problems with this shrinking trope, how people breathe. And the implication of the scene is that the issue isn't solved; it's just ignored. But they just drew a big line under it by including a bit of dialogue about breathing.

"I could deal with most of the shrinking silliness but it irked me that the inside of the Dalek is apparently constructed out of a series of hallways with level floors. Justnin case tiny visitors drop by."

We each have different thresholds for what we'll tolerate about this sort of coherency and suspension of disbelief. Some of us are more intolerant than others. And people's tolerances vary according to their specific life experiences.

But while there's very much diminishing returns (and then escalating losses) in trying to avoid all such criticisms, there's very much a price that's paid in the other direction, too. If you become accustomed to getting away with this sort of thing, you'll do it more and more and the funny thing is that there's no clear moment when you've made a mistake but, rather, you'll just find that your work just sort of fails, one way or another, for a sufficiently large enough portion of the audience that it's a serious problem.

In this case, there were probably very few people who had the specific problem you had. However, I think it's much more likely that a very large portion of the audience had the vague experience (which they probably aren't aware of) that although this was an episode all about people being shrunk and placed inside a Dalek, it really didn't feel so much like these were people who were shrunk and placed inside a Dalek. Which really is a failure, I think, because while this particular trope wasn't necessary for exploring the theme of the episode, it does necessarily constrain and direct how that theme is explored and, more importantly, a different trope might have been much more successful for this purpose. So if you're going to choose a trope but then fail to wield it in a way that's organic to its virtue, it's not only a waste, but also a good way to fail at your theme.

Being shrunk means exploring a strange world, normally unavailable to our experience. The inner world of a Dalek is an especially strange world, a view of the Daleks we've not really had. It's metaphorical; but its value as metaphor is going to be bound up in how well its utilized literally, like all metaphor. So we really needed to experience the interior of a Dalek as strange and threatening -- the usual running down halls totally fails at this. And that there were apparent floors and halls is symptomatic.

So, budgetary constraints. Which is fine, but what you do (as George R. R. Martin has talked about from his early years working in television) is to realize that sticking with what you envisioned but having the realization be weak is a huge mistake. Instead, you find a different way to explore the theme you need to explore, or have that plot or character moment. If you've envisioned a character's epiphany as occurring during some huge, chaotic battle and this contradiction (the silent, isolated moment of mental clarity and insight versus the clamor and insanity of hundreds of people in battle) is essential in what you're trying to say about that moment and that character, and it turns out that there's no budget for truly realizing such a scene, you don't go ahead and script and film it, anyway, because it will fail. It will fail because what you were trying to say was dependent upon how you said it, and how you said it was deeply flawed as presented on-screen. Instead, you find a different way to accomplish the same purpose. That character can have the same epiphany in the context of great strife, just not a battle.

And we can learn this important something about the Daleks and the Doctor via what is effectively a kind of mind-meld in a way that doesn't depend upon the on-screen realization of a microscopic environment, which costs too much to realize adequately.

I keep criticizing Moffat, but it's because I'm sort of fascinated by him. His failures aren't mundane. He's clearly talented. But it's almost as if he's too wedded to his neato ideas. Don't get me wrong, they're part of his genius. His genius is, I think, that he intuitively and in a very organic way conceives of something like this episode's examination of the Doctor's character via miniaturization into a Dalek as all of a piece, these tropes and these gimmicks are how the deeper stuff comes to him. Not the other way around. And that's pretty interesting -- it reveals, I think, some powerfully deep intuitive understanding of how narrative tropes work in genre. He's got a great natural facility with them.

But because of this, he has trouble letting go of neato ideas when he ought to, either because they've outlasted their utility or because they can't be realized in this production or for other practical reasons. I'm suddenly reminded of M. Night Shyamalan -- the gimmick, the idea of The Sixth Sense was utterly essential to its theme and what made the film successful. And it was successful not because of the gimmick, but what the gimmick enabled. Okay, but I think Shyamalan's inclined to think in this way, like Moffat, and I think he learned the worst possible lesson from the success of that film. To him, the idea or the gimmick is the thing, not a means to an end. He knows that a gimmick isn't just a gimmick, it can very powerfully make a narrative work in a deep sense. But he's too caught up in being mesmerized by that shiny bauble of the neato idea and his own cleverness of having conceived of it. This is my criticism of Moffat.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:59 AM on September 2, 2014 [5 favorites]


I really disliked this episode. It had far, far, far too absurd of a premise (the shrink and inject plot? again? really?) for the level of seriousness. Also, to paraphrase an old joke: outside of a Dalek, the Doctor's worst enemy is himself. Inside of a Dalek, it is apparently very well lit.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 9:00 AM on September 2, 2014 [7 favorites]


Hey, some of us find the charm of Doctor Who lies in its premises being too absurd for the level of seriousness!

This episode in particular pushed the limit in terms of ridiculous situations that, given half a thought, made no sense (dot-sized reset buttons located inside the duct work of the memory banks, lethal amounts of radiation leaking out a half-inch long hairline crack that was somehow not detectable outside of Rusty even though Daleks have plenty of vents, Uncle Morgan's double 180 on trusting the Doctor, etc.) but I still found it entertaining.
posted by plastic_animals at 10:34 AM on September 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


I have a plan to recut the first two episodes just to SNIP the sexist throw away lines. They aren't necessary to the plot, and I doubt they'd be missed. In the re-watch of these, I'd prefer not to have to cringe. I know the Doctor changes from one re-gen to the next, but there are essential things about him that just do not change. This needless sexism and negging just feels so terribly out of character for him.
posted by stoneweaver at 10:44 AM on September 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


Carnival of Monsters is another classic Who serial where the Doctor gets shrunk. Peter Capaldi greenscreened in front of a Dalek's huge eye was a great (cheesy) visual that reminded me a lot of Carnival of Monsters.

Doctor Who has always reveled in conceptual inconsistencies. There is no reason whatsoever to think about how time travel works in the show: if you give it a moment's thought, everything dissolves into nonsense. But that's the show's main strength. Most other time travel shows and movies try to laboriously articulate the rules of time travel, and hardly any get it right. Doctor Who says: "forget it, it's not worth thinking about, let's travel through tiiiiiime. I'll tell you more about it only if it's exciting." I find that refreshing. And there is even an internal narrative conceit that justifies the audience's blindness: the Doctor understands how it works, and he's smarter than you, so just trust the Doctor, OK?

It's the same with shrinking. I'd be disappointed if they included some side comment explaining away the square-cube law or explaining how they breathe or something like that. That's Star Trek, not Doctor Who.
posted by painquale at 10:50 AM on September 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


There's a thin line between teasing (okay between friends if both friends like it) and negging (ick) and I suspect the plan here was to hit teasing but failed for what are completely expected reasons.
posted by jeather at 10:51 AM on September 2, 2014


My understanding was that the term "negging" only referred to trying to pick up a woman by insulting her. So far I'm seeing his insults more as being an out of touch genius with little empathy. Someone mentioned they were Strax lines Moffatt didn't want to throw away, but I'm seeing it more as Moffatt writing extra Sherlock lines. Though yes, this would be better served if the insults were less focused on her looks.

Again, this why so much of this season for me depends on the new Doctor not being romantically linked to Clara at all. I'm all on board for a cranky old man Doctor, but not for one who is a member of the "seduction community".
posted by Gary at 11:13 AM on September 2, 2014


I thought that one of the reasons for the insults directed at Clara's appearance was precisely to reinforce the no-romantic-frisson ground rules laid out in the first episode of the season.
posted by MUD at 12:50 PM on September 2, 2014


I have male friends with whom I have no romantic interest. We have never insulted each other's appearance. That would be incredibly weird.
posted by jeather at 12:59 PM on September 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


%n: "I could deal with most of the shrinking silliness but it irked me that the inside of the Dalek is apparently constructed out of a series of hallways with level floors. Justnin case tiny visitors drop by."

That's probably what bothered me the most, it just seemed so lazy. I'll probably keep watching for a few more episodes to see if they get any better but these two were so bad that I'm not sure how long I'll last.
posted by octothorpe at 1:59 PM on September 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


I said that the insults sound like unused Strax lines because what the Doctor is saying about Clara's anatomy is just wrong in the way that Strax is often wrong.

I mean, Clara objectively just does not look old and tired. As for her hips...well, she wears a lot of bouncy skirts so I haven't actually made note of them, but I'm guessing they're not "like a man's."

I mean, if he said something about her looking like a baby hobbit, or a cartoon chipmunk, or an illustration from a 50s soft drink ad, that would be one thing. Still unnecessary and weird, but not bizarrely incorrect. I just really don't understand what the writers are trying to accomplish there.

"You're a beautiful woman, probably" on the other hand is a classic Doctor Who line not just because it's hilarious but also because it fit his character, coming at a time when the Doctor was presented as out-of-touch with human society and a bit asexual. It's not him just putting the Countess down for no reason.
posted by Ian A.T. at 2:05 PM on September 2, 2014 [6 favorites]


I should have probably said in my earlier comment that I see the primary reason for the insults as showing that this Doctor is somewhat high-handed/curmudgeonly. So while he and Clara are teasing each other, he is consistently harsher and, in fact, over the line.

But I think there's also an element of the show looking, at the start of this season, to realign the audience's expectation of what the relationship between the Doctor and his female companion is. And part of that is emphasising that there is no physical attraction between them.
posted by MUD at 2:13 PM on September 2, 2014


> "You're a beautiful woman, probably" on the other hand is a classic Doctor Who line not just because it's hilarious but also because it fit his character, coming at a time when the Doctor was presented as out-of-touch with human society and a bit asexual.

I can't tell you how much I long for that time.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 3:42 PM on September 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


Isn't that what the lines people are objecting to are about, though?

They're not insults (although they're insulting, but I don't think it's intentionally so on the Doctor's part), in fact they often sound like platitudes that are just wildly inappropriate. He'll probably be apologetic when he finds out he has been hurtful. They're all of a piece with what Clara said to Danny and Journey: she didn't intend to attack them, but did anyway. Given that it happens so often, it might be a theme. Or it might not, I don't know, that remains to be seen. But the scripts aren't assembled at random from quips he has written on scraps of paper that he thinks he might use anyway because what the hell.
posted by Grangousier at 3:52 PM on September 2, 2014


But the scripts aren't assembled at random from quips he has written on scraps of paper that he thinks he might use anyway because what the hell.

Could have fooled me.
posted by stoneweaver at 3:57 PM on September 2, 2014 [6 favorites]


I think this Doctor will be as close to "out of touch with human society and a bit asexual" as you are ever likely to get again. I also think we could let the writers have a few episodes to get the hang of it. After all, the first two hours of Tom Baker's career were spent still driving around in Bessie. And frankly, the Doctor has been much more insulting than this. Six was a brat, a prat, and a coward. I don't feel like we're in that territory yet.

As far as the effects, I'm truly happy to see a bit more cheese. One of the things I loved about the RTD years was that it looked like an updated version of Doctor Who: the effects were modern, but cheesy enough to feel like the same old show. Moffat's show feels like it wants to be Star Wars. He could do with setting a few more episodes in quarries, to my mind. I'm aware that I'm not in the majority in this opinion, though.
posted by rikschell at 5:14 PM on September 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


He could do with setting a few more episodes in quarries, to my mind. I'm aware that I'm not in the majority in this opinion, though.

You are not alone in it.

a time when the Doctor was presented as out-of-touch with human society and a bit asexual.

Arguing that Four was a bit asexual is not entirely on the money, considering his chemistry with Romana II (played by Lalla Ward, whom he married). On the other hand, Romana was a Time Lord (or Lady, if you will) in her own right. My objection to the companion romances in the new series has never been to the Doctor getting some action or having romantic impulses. It's that I strongly prefer that The Doctor restrict acting on those impulses to people who are more his equal, like Jack Harkness the Time Agent or the earliest versions of River Song, the awesome time-travelling archaeologist, and not to humans who are a small fraction of his age, traveling with him in the TARDIS, and dependent on him to get back to their home.

I don't like the Doctor being gross about gender and sex, but I am not at all sorry Moffat is resetting the romance button. I just wish the show would do it with more showing how valuable Clara is as a friend and "carer" and less commentary about physicality.
posted by immlass at 5:37 PM on September 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


Everyone is being too easy on this episode when it can't be arsed to mention that Clara's literal introduction in the series was as a "good Dalek."
posted by gerryblog at 6:56 PM on September 3, 2014 [13 favorites]


I just showed the BF the opening ten minutes of the first Tom Baker episode, and it's no contest. Neither of us can watch any more Moffat. He can take a long walk off a short wanker.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:49 PM on September 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


"Everyone is being too easy on this episode when it can't be arsed to mention that Clara's literal introduction in the series was as a "good Dalek."

I was annoyed about the lack of mention of Asylum too, but Oswin wasn't good despite being a Dalek; she was good because she wasn't a Dalek.
posted by bettafish at 5:24 AM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


About midway through this episode, I became convinced that Journey Blue was played by the same actress as Sally Donovan in Sherlock.
One look up later, I was wrong, of course, she'd only played that part in the unaired Sherlock trailer. 0_o.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 6:57 AM on September 6, 2014


He could do with setting a few more episodes in quarries, to my mind. I'm aware that I'm not in the majority in this opinion, though.

I'd like this too. Also, something along the lines of defeating the enemies with a lighthouse and some diamonds.

I'm really not enthusiastic about this Heaven business, and if this ties back to The Silence in the Library I absolutely would not put it past Moffat to bring back River Song (between The Almost People and The Bells of St. Johns the pieces are there). I'm in no hurry to see River Song again, especially since I thought Moffat made her less interesting with every episode.

Speaking of ... was anyone else bothered by Eleven flirting with Clara after he married River? Was that not supposed to matter for some reason (some reason explained in the series, not the actual reason of Moffat being a sexist)?
posted by johnofjack at 5:41 PM on September 13, 2014


was anyone else bothered by Eleven flirting with Clara after he married River?

I was bothered, yes.

I also hated where they took River's story and I think a big part of those writing decisions had their root in the casting choice of the guy before Capaldi. They felt they couldn't just leave River till the next doctor so the character was butchered to make the various flirtations less questionable. I'm also deeply bothered by Eleven, though, so I may not be entirely unbiased.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 9:09 PM on September 13, 2014


the guy before Capaldi

You mean Matt Smith? Not sure why you don't know his name.
posted by plastic_animals at 9:27 PM on September 13, 2014


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