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die hard is a xmas movie | by maryann johanson

Doctor Who blogging: “Into the Dalek”

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[previous: “Deep Breath”]

warning: spoilers!

It’s not the Fantastic Voyage ripoff that bothers me here — though it’s cheating to have the Doctor talk about medical miniaturization as a “fantastic idea for a movie” as if that should erase any objections. It’s the ripoff of the wonderful early episode of the rebooted Doctor Who: “Dalek.” This episode goes over all the same emotional ground that one did eight years ago: created a moral equivalence between the Doctor and his greatest enemies, used his hatred of them to define how much he — as a character in our eyes and as a man in his own eyes — had been changed by his battles with them.

And maybe all of the rewalking a path we’d already been down would have been okay if the story built around it made the slightest bit of sense in a moment-by-moment, scene-by-scene way, purely on a plot basis. Why does the Doctor choose to save one person — Journey — in the middle of a battle in which presumably hundreds or thousands of people are dying? Why her? Why any soldier at all if suddenly he doesn’t like soldiers for some reason we have no idea what that could be about? How does she know he’s “a doctor” if he hasn’t introduced himself (and there seems to be no time for those sorts of pleasantries to have happened offscreen)? When is this big battle between humans and Daleks taking place? (Go on, Moffat, give us a century, at least. And wait, didn’t all the Daleks kill one another or get caught in a time wastebasket or something in the Time War?)

Why is inside a Dalek “the most dangerous place in the universe”? Why did you think was going to happen, Doctor, if you fixed “a Dalek so damaged it’s turned good” for whom its newfound “morality” is a “malfunction”? When fixing the breach turns the Dalek bad again — cuz what a shock — because it cut off “the radiation [that] allowed it to expand its consciousness,” why not just open the breach up again? (This is separate from the bizarre notion of radiation as consciousness enhancing.) Why on earth would the antibodies stop heading for Clara and Journey once it has its “good” memories back? (It had no conscious control over them before, which is to be expected, as the Doctor pointed out to Clara and others.) What the heck does a Dalek know about “divinity,” or whether the Doctor has any in him? Sorry, but witnessing the birth of a star doesn’t clue you into galactic mythology.

I’m with the Doctor: Death to the Daleks already.

Why does the Doctor need Clara to figure out a good Dalek? Why does he keep coming back to her at all? What’s with the supply closet? Had Clara prearranged to meet Doctor there… after he clearly abandoned her without warning in a distant city three weeks earlier? (And didn’t we see her walking along with him to go get coffee? How could he disappear?) Why does she get in the TARDIS if “no offense but I’ve got plans”?

I simply do not understand Clara at all. Okay, Danny Pink is cute and adorably shy and all, but if there really a choice between a drink after work and flying off into time and space in a magic box with a wonderful madman? If there’s something more compelling that traveling with the Doctor among Clara’s life options, we simply are not seeing it. So she just pops in and out — reluctantly! — of the Doctor’s life, and Moffat has to come up with completely ridiculous reasons — or no reason at all, in this case — to get Clara back into action when she could just be there all the time.

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Poor, poor Danny. Not only is he subject to random sexual harassment from a school secretary — which isn’t funny or interesting, so why is it here? — he’s also going to be subjected to random harassment from the Doctor when he inevitably gets shoved into the TARDIS in some forced, phony way. Cuz not only does the Doctor hate soldiers now, he is committed to making fun of Clara and her appalling lack of sexual appeal. I can hear the dialogue already: the Doctor will say something denigrating about her “boyfriend,” she’ll jump right in with “He’s not my boyfriend,” and it’ll go downhill from there. It’ll be a rerun of Rose and Mickey.

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I know Moffat is hoping we’ll feel all the feels here — the Doctor upset about not being a good man, Clara “caring” about whatever — but nothing here earns any of the emotion that the episode would have us believe that it does. Moffat has no idea, not a clue, but insert Clever Thing here, and we’re done. *rubs hands together with satisfied glee*

Random thoughts on “Into the Dalek”:

• She’s really drinking that coffee?

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Ewww. It’s been sitting around a while…

• Why does Doctor insist on making unkind comments about Clara’s body? Calling her old, deeming her hips manly… this is not the opposite of flirting, not the opposite of not being her boyfriend. It’s just mean and worse, makes no sense. The Doctor is now incapable of seeing human beings in the way he did before?

• This was a nice moment, if an extremely tiny one:

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The Doctor says something scary and ominous, and then goes, basically, “Boo!” (I bet that was all Capaldi, and not in the script. It doesn’t really jibe with the Doctor as scripted so far: too playful. Too, dare I say it, flirty.)

• So, they’re covered in goo:

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And then minutes later they’re all nice and clean again?

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Is there a locker room and dry-cleaning service in the Dalek?

• The breach allowing the radiation leak is a little bit Crack in the Universe:

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Please, let that not be a thing again.

• Journey is so clearly the template of the perfect companion in the classic-series mode:

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She just lost everything (her brother), she proved herself useful to the Doctor, that I feel like Moffat must be making some sort of point in having the Doctor so cruelly reject her request to take her with him. (She is, also so clearly, exactly what he needs: an actual companion, not someone who bops in and out at random.) I suspect Moffat is telling us that this is not going to be old-style Doctor Who, though I don’t know why that’s necessary at this point.

• Right, so Heaven, run by Missy, is going to be full of people the Doctor got dead:

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Great quotes:

A Dalek is “evil refined as engineering.” –the Doctor

“Is he mad or is he right?” –Gretchen, about the Doctor
“Hand on my heart? Most days he’s both.” –Clara

[next: “Robot of Sherwood”]


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