Doctor Who Series 8 Episode 2 Review: Into The Dalek

Into The Dalek

So we’ve had a week to mull over the brand new Doctor in a brand new series, but what better way to really analyse Peter Capaldi’s Doctor than his first confrontation with the Daleks?

Yes, this week we come across the Daleks in the episode Into The Dalek, written by Phil Ford and Steven Moffat, and directed once again by Ben Wheatley. And this is definitely more of what we should hopefully be getting from Doctor Who with Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor.

It’s a really good episode with a rather curious premise. While in conflict with the Dalek fleet, a rebel ship helmed by Colonel Morgan Blue (Michael Smiley) has come across a Dalek, whom they capture. A damaged Dalek.

A “good” Dalek.

And once the Doctor is thrown into the mix having met the Colonel’s niece, Journey (Zawe Ashton), it was only a matter of time until Doctor and Dalek met face to face yet again. But this time on very different circumstances. A genuine riff on The Impossible Journey (and a nice self aware nod from the Doctor himself), The Doctor, Clara, Journey, and expendables all find themselves being shrunk down and put inside the damaged Dalek to try and fix him.

But of course, it’s not always as simple as that.

Into The Dalek also gives us our first taste of the new Companion coming – Danny Pink, played by Samuel Anderson. A fellow teacher at Coal Hill with Clara (Jenna Coleman), Danny Pink is established as an ex-soldier with a past that certainly gives some new dynamic to the formula, one that will be interesting to see once he comes face to face with The Doctor.

As a whole, the episode is very well balanced and well at home as an episode for Capaldi’s Doctor. The uncertainty of last week should certainly be dispelled, because Capaldi has hit his stride. He’s got a dark sense of humour to him, a cold and scientific approach to his interactions, yet he is still very much in the name of the Doctor. He honestly tries to help the Dalek, under the belief that a good Dalek is a good thing, and whatever he could do might change the course of history for the better.

There’s less to complain about with this entry. Into The Dalek achieves everything you expect and it’s one of the more competent Dalek episodes of recent memory. The terror of the Daleks are present. The rapid fire extermination from the other Daleks is brutal, and the stakes are constantly raised throughout the episode. You’re left on the edge of your seat because you’re so interested in the concept of a “good” Dalek and what that means, and you can see how much of a threat they still are.

It’s certainly a nice idea for a Dalek story, and one with an angle good enough to show that the Daleks remain The Doctor’s greatest foe.

A curious note – like with the previous episode where it had some parallels with the Tenth Doctor, there were shades of the Ninth Doctor episode “Dalek”, which also involved pretty much a sole Dalek and the back and forth between the foe and the Doctor. Intentional or not, the parallels certainly make for some good fan theory or just pure appreciation. It reminds us of that wonderful episode, but it doesn’t pull away from the fact that Into The Dalek is a good episode in its own right.

Kudos to the script, and even more so to Ben Wheatley, who really brings about some wonderful moments, such as the first steps inside the Dalek interior, and the flashing lights of the approaching Dalek horde.

Basically, Into The Dalek is a much bigger leap over the bar set by Deep Breath last week. It was dark, it dealt with morality, it showcased a very comfortable Twelfth Doctor in Peter Capaldi, it kept the Daleks terrifying and brilliant as antagonists, it played about with the formula, and it tried to stand out visually, which it succeeded at.

Please can there be more of the same next week? The next episode is written by Mark Gatiss and involves Robin Hood.

So that’s gonna be a hoot.

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