The time has come. After eleven long months off the air, Doctor Who has made its triumphant return to television with Asylum of the Daleks. I’m Jonathan Lack, We Got This Covered’s resident Doctor Who expert, and I’ll be reviewing and analyzing each episode of the new season in depth right here, every Saturday night. If you would like to read my previous Doctor Who writing, please visit my old website, where everything is archived.
But without any further ado, spoilers for Asylum of the Daleks are about to begin…
“How much trouble, Mr. Pond? Out of ten? Eleven.”
Never trust Steven Moffat to do things the simple way.
Kicking off a new season with dramatically expanded Dalek mythology, a sad new status quo for fan favorite companions Amy and Rory, the introduction of an extremely important new character, and attempting to tell a cracking good standalone Doctor Who story all at the same time is a challenge akin to madness. But as Moffat has shown in two excellent seasons as showrunner, madness and genius can run awfully close together.
And Asylum of the Daleks? That was Moffat’s mad genius at its most wonderfully unhinged, and I loved every single minute.
Moffat has spoken of his intention to make this seventh series more individually focused than recent seasons, concentrating less on yearlong story arcs and more on strong, individual “blockbuster” episodes. If Asylum of the Daleks indicates what we can expect going forward, I say that’s a pretty tremendous idea, as it gave us one of the more memorable standalone Who adventures in recent memory without sacrificing strong character moments and emotional development, two areas where Moffat’s run on Who has always exceled. Though the sixth series was creatively successful on the whole, it became bogged down in larger arc mechanics at certain points, and part of the fun of Asylum is to simply sit back and have an exciting, heartfelt adventure with the Doctor, free of any overhanging narrative loose ends.
And what an adventure it was, one of the very best Dalek stories of the modern era, a top-notch season premiere, and one of the better outings Moffat has ever penned. It’s an invigorating and at time overwhelming way to get things rolling once more, and after eleven months without Doctor Who, I could not possibly be happier to have the show back, especially in such fine form.
This is a vast, multi-faceted episode, so we shall dissect it one piece at a time. Our discussion begins with the episode’s biggest shock: Amy and Rory’s seemingly broken marriage.
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