Tue, 4 September 2012
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"Asylum of the Daleks" is the first episode of the seventh series of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. This episode marks the return of the Daleks. It was broadcast on BBC One, BBC America and Space on 1 September 2012, and will be on ABC1 in Australia on 8 September 2012.
The episode features the alien time traveller the Doctor (Matt Smith) being captured by the Daleks, along with his companions Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill), who are about to divorce. They are sent by the Daleks to the Asylum, a planet where insane Daleks are exiled, to enable the Asylum to be destroyed before the insane Daleks can escape. The Doctor is helped along the way by Oswin (Jenna-Louise Coleman), a woman who lives on a spaceship that crashed on the planet a year ago and has been trapped there since then. Coleman makes her first appearance in Doctor Who in this episode, before returning as the Doctor's new companion in series 7's Christmas episode; her appearance was successfully kept a secret from the general public prior to the episode's broadcast.
A prequel was released to iTunes, Zune, and Amazon Instant Video on 2 September, 2012 for US subscribers for the series. As the Doctor has tea, a hooded messenger informs him that a woman, Darla von Karlsen, requests his help in freeing her daughter. The messenger provides space-time coordinates to the planet Skaro.
The Doctor is lured to the ruins of Skaro, original homeworld of the Daleks, by a humanoid Dalek "puppet", Darla, who teleports him to the Parliament of the Daleks. There he is reunited with Amy and Rory, who have been similarly kidnapped from present-day Earth, just after Rory has delivered Amy their divorce papers. Within the Parliament, the Prime Minister of the Daleks explains to them that the Daleks have a planet known as the Asylum, where they keep Daleks which have gone insane; the Daleks are unwilling to engage with the inmates themselves, as destroying such pure hatred face-to-face would contravene their sense of "beauty", much to the Doctor's revulsion. The Parliament has received a transmission of the "Habanera" from Carmen from a woman, Oswin Oswald. She is on board the Alaska, a ship which has crashed into the Asylum, and claims to have been fending off Dalek attacks for a year. The crash of the Alaska has ruptured the planet's force-field, thus risking the escape of the planet's inmates. The Parliament now wishes to destroy the planet remotely to prevent this, but the force-field is not ruptured sufficiently to allow that. The force-field can only be deactivated from the planet itself but, afraid to face such a mission themselves, the Daleks of the Parliament task the Doctor, Amy and Rory with doing so.
The three are given bracelets to protect them from the planet's nanogene cloud, which would convert them into Dalek puppets to serve the facility's security systems, before being dropped through the force-field breach via a gravity tunnel onto the surface of the planet. The Doctor and Amy land close to each other and are discovered by Harvey, another survivor from the Alaska. Rory, however, is dropped to the bottom of a long shaft into the Asylum—there he accidentally awakens some of its inhabitants, but is saved and guided to a safe room by Oswin, who has accessed the computers. Meanwhile Harvey is revealed to be a Dalek puppet, converted by the nanogene cloud. A similar fate has befallen the corpses of other Alaska survivors, who re-animate and attack the Doctor and Amy, stealing her nano-field bracelet just before the pair are saved by Oswin and guided to Rory. Now unprotected from the nanogenes, Amy begins to be converted into a Dalek puppet and begins experiencing memory loss and hallucinations.
The Doctor guesses that the Daleks will destroy the planet as soon as he deactivates the force-field, before he and his companions can escape. However, he realises that Rory's hideout is a telepad via which they can teleport onto the Dalek Parliament ship. Oswin agrees to deactivate the force-field in return for the Doctor coming to save her. While the Doctor is gone, Rory tries to give Amy his bracelet. The Doctor explained that love slows the Dalek puppet conversion, and Rory justifies that by "coldly and logically" asserting that he has always loved her more than she loves him, thus he would be converted more slowly, invoking his 2000-year vigil "The Pandorica Opens". Amy angrily replies that she loves him equally, but gave him up since she is infertile as a result of the events of "A Good Man Goes to War" and thus unable to bear the children she knows that he has always desired. They then realise that the Doctor has already given Amy his own nano-field bracelet but didn't tell them, in order to allow the two to converse and reconcile.
The Doctor makes his way to Oswin, venturing through the 'intensive care section', containing Daleks who survived encounters with him. They begin to re-activate, but he is saved from them by Oswin, who deletes the Doctor from the Daleks' collective, telepathically shared knowledge, leaving them with no memory of him. The Doctor enters Oswin's chamber only to discover to his horror that she has been fully converted into a Dalek. Unprotected from the nanogenes for nearly a year, she could not prevent herself from being converted in order to preserve her genius-level intellect for Dalek use. Unable to cope with her conversion, her mind retreated into a fantasy of survival as a human, which was picked up as the Carmen transmission. Oswin is nearly overcome by a Dalek personality at this revelation, though she still possesses human emotions and is unable to kill the Doctor. Oswin fulfils her promise of deactivating the force-field, on the condition that the Doctor remember her as the human she once was.
The Doctor returns to Amy and Rory and teleports them back to his TARDIS, which is on board the Parliament ship, as the planet is destroyed. The Daleks fail to recognise him due to his removal from their hive intelligence. He leaves the ship and drops the reunited Amy and Rory back home. He then departs alone, delighting in the Dalek Parliament's closing question to him: "Doctor who?".
In her opening speech, Darla refers to the Doctor fighting in the Time War and then dying. The Doctor appears to die in the episodes "The Impossible Astronaut" and "The Wedding of River Song". The nanogenes are mentioned in the two-parter "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances", also written by Moffat. In the closing exchange in the Parliament, the Doctor refers to one of his nicknames as "The Oncoming Storm", first mentioned in the episode "The Parting of the Ways". The final question of "Doctor who?", besides being an obvious callback to the programme's title, is the "question that must not be answered" that Dorium asks at the end of "The Wedding of River Song".
Some of the Daleks are survivors of previous encounters with the Doctor on Spiridon (Planet of the Daleks), Kembel ("Mission to the Unknown" and The Daleks' Master Plan), Exxilon (Death to the Daleks), Aridius (The Chase), and Vulcan (Power of the Daleks).
"Asylum of the Daleks" contains every kind of Dalek that has ever faced the Doctor, including the Special Weapons Dalek from the 1988 story, Remembrance of the Daleks. Executive producer Steven Moffat announced in 2011 that he intended to give a "rest" to the Daleks. The reason for the rest was that Moffat felt their frequent appearances made them the "most reliably defeatable enemies in the universe". Moffat recalled that the Daleks were remembered for being scary, but due to their legacy as British icons they had become "cuddly" over the years and their true menace forgotten; with "Asylum" he intended to make them scary again, reminding the audience of their intentions. He thought the best way to do this would be to show Daleks that were considered even madder than usual. Gillan admitted that she had not been scared of the Daleks before working on the episode. It is also the first Dalek story Moffat has written for the show; he stated that he "couldn't resist" the opportunity.
In March 2012, it was announced that Jenna-Louise Coleman would replace Gillan and Darvill as the next companion, first appearing in the 2012 Christmas Special. It was Moffat's idea to have her appear in "Asylum of the Daleks" as the character of Oswin. He intended to keep it a secret, and thanked the press and fans that it was not leaked. Whether Coleman's later character is the same as Oswin has yet to be confirmed.
According to The Daily Telegraph, the production team located the remaining models of the various versions of the Daleks and shipped them to the studios in Cardiff Bay. This included a Dalek owned by Russell T Davies, Moffat's predecessor. Executive producer Caroline Skinner knew Davies well and asked to borrow his replica. She stated that he was "thrilled" that it was canonised. The total number of different Daleks was around 25, with models from 1963 to 2010; Skinner said that "there was just a real magic and sense of history about having them". Many of the props were built from scratch. The snow scenes on the asylum planet were filmed during the production of "A Town Called Mercy" when the production team realised they were near the snow resort in Sierra Nevada.
Broadcast and reception
"Asylum of the Daleks" was preview screened at BFI Southbank on 14 August, and at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival during 23–25 August. On 25 August it was also screened in New York City and Toronto.
"Asylum of the Daleks" was broadcast on 1 September 2012 on BBC One in the United Kingdom, BBC America in the United States, and on Space in Canada, and on 2 September on the ABC iView service. It will premiere on 8 September 2012 on ABC1 in Australia, and on 13 September on Prime TV in New Zealand. Overnight viewing figures for the UK showed that it was watched by 6.4 million viewers, the lowest overnight figure for a premiere episode of the revived series; however, viewing patterns indicate that fewer people watch Doctor Who live, and it won its timeslot. It was also the most-viewed episode on BBC's online iPlayer the day that it aired. It achieved an Appreciation Index of 89, the highest for a series opener of Doctor Who.
"Asylum of the Daleks" received positive reviews from critics. Dan Martin of The Guardian praised Moffat's "script packed with ace curveballs and zappy dialogue" and Nick Hurran's direction. He also was pleased that the asylum setting could explore the Daleks while making it reminicent of the classic series. The Daily Telegraph reviewer Gavin Fuller gave it four out of five stars, describing it as a "confident opener" and highlighting the concept and set design of the asylum. He particularly praised Coleman, who he called "the star of the episode". Michael Hogan, also writing for The Telegraph, gave "Asylum of the Daleks" a slightly higher rating of four and a half stars out of five, also commending Coleman as well as many details of the script.
Neela Debnath of The Independent commented positively on the show's continuing exploration of the Daleks and the more "adult tone", praising the peformance of the three leads. Radio Times writer Patrick Mulkern stated that it "ticks all [his] boxes as a Doctor Who fan of more than 40 years standing", describing it as "clever, fast, funny, eerie, surprising and tearjerking". Nick Setchfield of SFX gave the episode five out of five stars, calling it a "strong, cinematically-minded series opener" which succeeded in making the Daleks scary. He also praised Coleman's debut, Smith's performance, the special effects, and Amy and Rory's emotional subplot. io9 reviewer Charlie Jane Anders noted that the plot "is mostly just an excuse to explore the Doctor's ongoing relationship with the Daleks, and to show how sad it's gotten".
Digital Spy's Morgan Jeffery also awarded it five stars, though he felt Amy and Rory's breakup was "a little difficult to buy" as it was resolved quickly, even if the situation was "sensitively handled" and "deftly performed". Keith Phipps of The A.V. Club graded "Asylum of the Daleks" as a "B+", also writing that he had a "quibble" with the Ponds' marriage issue as it had not been foreshadowed. IGN's Matt Risley rated the episode as 8.5 out of 10, finding that the "only downside" was that "it felt less a tale about the Daleks than an adventure that just happened to have them in it". Maureen Ryan, writing for The Huffington Post, felt it was a "ripping start to the season" that redeemed the Daleks from "Victory of the Daleks". While she commended Gillan and Darvill's acting during Amy and Rory's emotional confrontation, she noted that they were not a couple that would break up because of infertility.