The Triumphant Return of Doctor Who! “Asylum of the Daleks” Recap!

By Ruthie

David Tennant once said, “The thing about ‘Doctor Who’ is that it’s very hard to explain and not sound like a lunatic.” Well, he would know. And so would I! Whether you’re new to the whole Doctor Who phenomenon or you’re old hat, welcome to the Wicked Theory Recaps of Doctor Who.

I’m Ruthie, your resident lunatic, and I’m looking forward to (read: squealing with delight about) the new season of Doctor Who and recapping it for you!

I really love this show. How much do I love it? Would it surprise you to learn that I’m currently watching it in my Doctor Who themed media room? That I played with a toy K-9 as a kid? That, until my husband placed a blanket veto on all names Doctor Who derived, I was seriously and earnestly trying to convince him that either Romana or River would be awesome middle names for our as-yet-unborn daughter? I’m a complete geek about this show. So I’m glad you’re here, I’m glad the Doctor’s back, and let’s get into this...

Asylum of the Daleks” opens with a view of the planet Skaro, and wow, is it a dump. You can see the massive ego of the Daleks in the giant statues of themselves they’ve left around the place, but it appears to be completely trashed. Environmentalists they aren’t. Inside the head of a giant Dalek structure, a cloaked, red-headed woman is waiting. The Doctor appears in suitably dramatic fashion, and she tells him that she wants his help to rescue her daughter from a Dalek prison camp from which she has already escaped. The Doctor smells a rat right away.

“You’re a trap,” he says, “and you don’t even know it.” Sure enough, a creepy blue eyestalk pops right out of her forehead, she zaps him, and a Dalek announces, “The Doctor is Acquired!”

We cut to Amy. She’s all dressed up goofily and made up to look like a heroin addict—oh, she’s modeling. Well, we knew she was doing that. Remember last season’s “Closing Time?” We got a brief glimpse of Amy’s pretty face on a poster in the department store the Doctor was working in.

I’ve heard a lot of people actually complain that this is an unrealistic career path for Amy, but I have to disagree. Remember what she was doing before the Doctor came back? Modeling is a big step up from Kiss-a-gram. And it’s not like she has any really marketable skills, like being a doctor or the best temp in Cheswick, and she’s much too impulsive and opinionated to do well working for UNIT or Torchwood. She disobeys and acts on whim, which is fine for saving star whales, but not so good for fitting into a military-style intelligence organization. Modelling. It’s a good outlet for her energy and personality. She mugs for the camera until someone interrupts her to tell her that her husband is waiting.

“I don’t have a husband,” she says, and my stomach sinks and I want to cry. Thanks to the “Pond Life” webisodes, we did have an inkling this was coming, but still. Ouch.

Rory is waiting for her. He is full of hostility as he hands over some divorce papers, and she doesn’t hesitate before scrawling her name on the dotted line. She shoos him away because she’s working, to which he responds, “Really? I thought you were just pouting for a camera.” Oh, ouch. And that really hurts, because it shows how far apart they’ve fallen. Remember that episode, “Closing Time?”

Remember how a little girl recognized Amy from the poster and asked for her autograph? And remember Rory’s face? He was beaming. He was genuinely proud of her. And now… Pardon me, I’m going to sob quietly for a moment.

Back on the show, Amy’s makeup artist starts to fix her up, but another eyestalk pops out of her head, and “Amelia Pond is acquired!” Rory is acquired just outside on a bus. He comes to in a round white room near Amy, and it’s only a moment before the Doctor joins them, flanked by Dalek guards.
Cleanest lift ever.

The floor raises them to the midst of a room full of every kind of Dalek we’ve ever seen: bronze ones, metal ones, old school rusty-looking ones, and the shiny new Skittles-ones. The Doctor tells them that they are in the Parliament of the Daleks. “What do we do?” Amy asks.

“Make them remember you,” he says. Oh, ouch. The force behind the words makes his meaning painfully clear. The Doctor knows they are dead. There are no more plans, no more running; all they can do now is to die well. Amy and Rory understand this as well; their eyes struggle with the words as the Doctor goads the Daleks to shoot him.

Instead, the Prime Minister, whimpers, “Save us. You will save the Daleks.” And around them, everyone chants “Save the Daleks! Save the Daleks!” Well. That was unexpected.

After the opening credits, we cut to some sort of spaceship or pod, where a beautiful woman in high-heels and red lipstick is narrating a diary. “Day 363.The terror continues.” The opera Carmen plays in the background. We see her hammering closed a door as part of her defenses and noting that she burned a soufflé. She comments that “they” came again last night. Shortly thereafter, we hear the unmistakable Dalek voices pounding at the door. She turns up the opera and tries to ignore them.

Back on the Parliament of the Daleks, the Doctor has taken stock of the situation, including the fact that something’s up with Amy and Rory. The cloaked, red-headed woman is there, her forehead eyestalk still glowing. She used to be a human, but the Daleks emptied her out to use as an envoy or automaton; everything about her that made her who she was is gone. (This may be important later, hint, hint.) The Prime Minister explains that they are in orbit above a planet called the Dalek Asylum, a dumping ground for the battle-scarred, insane, and uncontrollable. Even the Daleks fear the escape of the inmates. From the heart of the planet, however, there has been a mysterious signal coming from the heart of the Asylum—it’s the opera Carmen.

What's that recipe again?
The Doctor calls down to the lipsticked woman, who identifies herself as Oswin Oswald whose starliner crashed on the planet about a year ago. Since then, she’s been fending off Dalek attacks and baking soufflés. (“Where do you get the milk?” the Doctor asks.)

The Daleks say that the crash damaged the planet’s force field. There’s a danger that the inmates might escape, and so the Daleks want to blow the place up, but they can’t until the force field is turned off, and it has to be turned off from inside. Guess who they want to blow the place up?

The automatons hastily strap some glowing bracelets onto our heroes (“They will protect you from the nanocloud.” “The what? Nano-what?”), and explain that the gravity beam will convey them to the surface. That’s a nice way of saying “We’re throwing you out of the spaceship.” It’s a pretty long fall.

On the surface, it’s all ice and snow, and a poor fellow in a white parka is trying to get into a hatch. He sees them land and runs to Amy, who freaks out and runs away looking for her friends. The Doctor, meanwhile, comes to and has a nice chat with a little Dalek eyeball that keeps peeping at him out of the snow. It’s Oswin (aka Soufflé Girl), who tells him she has hacked the Daleks’ technology.

The Doctor is impressed. Amy and the poor guy in the white parka arrive, and all three take off looking for Rory. Instead, they find a hole in the ground. The actual asylum is below the surface, and it seems that this is where Rory has ended up. It is wet and rusty and full of Daleks… I might go so far as to describe it as “creepy as hell.” But they seem mostly dead, so he’s probably not going to die (again) right now.

The parka guy leads them to his escape pod, explaining that they crashed twelve days ago. Which doesn’t jive, because he’s from the same ship as Oswin, and she’s been here for a year. So something dodgy is going on. He leads them inside the pod, where there are a whole lot of people in identical white parkas slumped forward on chairs. They are dead. And when I say dead, I mean a whole lot of dead. Decomposed. If you were pursued by a zombie this desiccated, you wouldn’t need a flame-thrower so much as a match, if you take my meaning. Parka guy is surprised. He claims he was chatting with them just a few minutes ago. So either he’s nuts or something else is going on.

“Stupid me,” he says suddenly. “I died outside, and the cold preserved my body. Forgot about dying.”

Then an eyestalk pops out of his forehead! Before he can make another move, the Doctor and Amy manage to push him into a hallway and lock the door. The Doctor makes the connection between the previously mentioned “nanocloud” and their bracelets. The air is full of nanogenes (remember them? We haven’t seen those little fellas since “The Empty Child/ The Doctor Dances!”) that automatically process any organic material, living or dead, into a Dalek. Therefore any invaders become part of the security system. Handy. Amy picks up on the “or dead” portion of the story, and sure enough, a moment later, all the corpses hop up and attack. With their white hoods on and skeletal faces, they really remind me of the spacesuits inhabited by the Vashta Nerada from “Silence in the Library,” only now there are a ton of them. They manage to get hold of Amy, but the Doctor tugs her into a forward compartment and locks the door.

Oswin greets them over the sound system. She’s watching them on a little round screen in her crashed ship. The Doctor is again impressed that she’s managed to hack into the Dalek security system and asks how she managed it. She manages to explain that she’s a “total screaming genius” in a flirtatious sort of way. The Doctor likes her. She points them to a hatch in the floor, from which there are signs someone has already escaped.

The Doctor takes this opportunity to ask Amy what’s going on with her and Rory, and she shrugs it off. “We split up. What can you do? That’s life.” On the one hand, she’s right, and it’s almost refreshing to see a character on television acknowledge that sometimes relationships end and it’s not because anyone is evil, but just because sometimes people grow apart and that’s just part of being human. But on the other hand, no. Rory waited for Amy for two-thousand-flipping-years. It would take more than a little bit of life to make him leave her; it would have to be big. So no. I’m not buying that.

Before they climb out, they realize that when the zombie-Daleks grabbed Amy, they managed to get her bracelet off. She’s exposed to the nanocloud.

Meanwhile, Rory is wandering the Dalek-filled corridors. Can I just take a moment to say how much I love Rory? Seriously. I adore him. The Daleks seem mostly rusted out, but he pokes one to have a look at it, and it moves back into place. So, obviously not dead, then. Sure enough, he steps back, and the sound of his shoe bumping against a little metal bob on the floor brings all of them to life. “Egg egg egg egg egg,” chants a Dalek. Rory, ever the thoughtful thing, thinks it’s referring to one of the ball things that appear to have fallen off of it and tries to help. “Egg… Stir… Min…. Ate….” the Dalek clarifies. And now they’re all chanting “Exterminate.” Run Rory! Oswin breaks through and tells him to run for the door at the end of the corridor, and shuts the door behind him.

Amy and the Doctor, meanwhile, are still climbing down the ladder. The Doctor explains that the nanogenes are “rewriting” her, undoing her feelings and her memories, and, unfortunately, it’s already started, as he’s had to explain this four times and she keeps forgetting.

Oswin, meanwhile, leads Rory to a safe chamber, still flirting.

Amy and the Doctor are in a corridor next to a chamber full of Daleks. He leaves Amy on lookout and goes to Oswin for help. She has him on visual, which leads him to wonder, “Why can’t I ever see you?” She shrugs it off. “Limited power, bad hair, take your pick.” It’s got to be limited power, because for a woman who has been fighting off aggressive aliens and locked all by herself in a room for a year, Oswin is one seriously made up and gorgeous girl. I don’t look that put-together on my best day, much less after a year as a castaway in an alien insane asylum. She tries to walk him through something, but before they finish, Amy begins to hallucinate that all the Daleks in the chamber are in fact somewhat creepy people who appear to have decided to have a cocktail party in the middle of the Asylum. The Doctor catches her, and she realizes just in time that she was about to walk into a room full of Daleks. One pursues them and tries to attack the Doctor. It has no firepower, so it sets off its own self-destruct. This suits the Doctor just fine; he flips the reverse switch, and the unwitting Dalek rolls backward into the chamber where it blows itself and its buddies to kingdom come.

Not just a promo pic! Actually happens. But with less photoshop.
Rory was apparently just on the other side of the room and comes running in; “Who killed all the Daleks?” he asks. “Who do you think?” the Doctor answers as he enters carrying an unconscious Amy. And there’s the visual from all the preview posters.

Back in the other room, Rory and the Doctor try to wake Amy. Oswin muses, “Do you know how they make someone into a Dalek? Subtract love, add anger. Doesn’t she seem too angry to you?” “Somebody’s never been to Scotland,” Amy grouses as she stands up. The Doctor asks Oswin why she wasn’t converted. She reminds him that she’s a genius and explains that she shielded her escape pod. Then the Doctor then asks why, if the Asylum is supposed to be fully automated, it’s such a dump; she says she’s had a year to mess with them and not much else to do. Then he again asks where she gets the milk for the soufflés. Oswin asks him why the Daleks call him the Predator. He redirects the conversation back to their mission; turns out the round glowy thing on the floor is a telepad, and if Oswin can drop the force field, he can teleport them all back onto the Dalek ship before they blow up the planet. The Doctor tells her to drop the force field and come to them so they can teleport out together, but Oswin is no dummy and insists that they have to come get her before she drops the force field. Which is sensible since she just met them and doesn’t know that they won’t totally abandon her to save their own skins.
Just a regular day on the Job.

So the Doctor sets out.

Before he goes, he tells Rory to prolong Amy’s transformation by keeping her remembering. To Amy, he reminds her that they are “subtracting love” and admonishes, “don’t let them.” Rory paces, before announcing that he’s going to be cold and logical about this. He proposes that he take off his own bracelet and put it on Amy because it will buy them time. He explains that the process will take longer with him, because, “We both know—we’ve both always known” that he loves her more than she loves him. Amy is appalled. He reminds her that he spent two thousand years waiting for her outside a box (sob, sob), and she slaps him as though he’s said something terrible. “You kicked me out!” he retorts, looking heartbroken. Amy begins to sob.

“You want kids, you have always wanted kids, since you were a kid,” (sob, sob), “And I can’t have them.” So that’s it. Whatever the Silence and Madame Kovarian did to her at Demon’s Run, Amy can no longer have children. So she kicked Rory out to set him free, so he could have what she knew he wanted and she couldn’t give him. That’s just… stupid, but very, very sweet. And so very Amy. She argues that it proves that she loves him just as much since she did the harder thing in letting him go. Rory tries to take her arm to put his bracelet on, but surprise, there’s already one there. The Doctor put his on Amy while she was unconscious. He doesn’t need it—he’s a Time Lord. But he always saw saving Amy and Rory’s marriage as part of the mission objectives, and he wanted them to have this moment to talk it out and remember how much they love each other.

The Doctor, meanwhile, is only about twenty feet from Oswin, but unfortunately, he has to walk through “Intensive Care.” These are survivors of certain wars; she names them, and the Doctor recognizes them all as battles the Daleks fought with him. They come to life as he walks among them, chase him down and pin him against the door; he pleads with Oswin to get it open, but she’s having trouble. They are chanting “Doc-tor, Doc-tor,” and he screams at her to open the door, but she can’t. She can’t and he’s going to die—no, wait, the Daleks all suddenly seem to lose interest.

Wait, what?

"Wrong turn. This is the Matrix."
Oswin explains that the Daleks use a system called the PathWeb, a sort of telepathic information share system. She says that she hacked into it, and the Doctor pauses. It’s impossible; he’s tried. No, she insists that she did, and she’s just deleted every reference to the Doctor in the system. She made them forget him. The door opens, and he finds himself in Oswin’s chamber.

It’s immediately clear that something is wrong. The Doctor’s face is just frozen in horror. “You’re right outside, come on in!” she says cheerily, gathering her things for her escape.

“Does it look real to you? Where you are now, does it look real?” he asks her. He explains that everything she sees—the room she has lived in, the soufflés she has baked, the opera she has listened to, even the defenses she set up against the Daleks—it is all a dream, created by her mind to protect her from the horror of reality. You see, it was Oswin who climbed out of the escape pod, down into the Asylum; she traced the same path as Amy and the Doctor, but with no bracelet to protect her, the nanocloud set to work. It recognized her brilliant mind, and Daleks need geniuses. Rather than making her into a simple automaton like the others, it completed a full conversion. Oswin was turned into a Dalek. The little round screen from which she has been watching the Doctor is in fact her own eyestalk. No wonder she can hack the Dalek technology; no wonder she can hack the PathWeb. She is a Dalek.

There’s a tense and teary moment as Oswin comes to terms with what the Doctor is telling her. Oswin asks the Doctor why they hate him, and he explains that it is because he fought them. “Run,” she tells him. She will take down the force field. “I am Oswin Oswald. I fought the Daleks, and I AM human. Remember me. Run.” She really is awesome.

On the telepad, Amy and Rory embrace, waiting to die. But the Doctor arrives at the last moment and hits the button just before the Dalek attack destroys the planet.

Back on the Parliament, we discover that the Doctor has successfully teleported directly into the TARDIS. He pops out to goad the Daleks a little, and they don’t recognize him. Ha ha, Oswin got them all. It wasn’t just the Daleks in Intensive Care whose memory she erased—all of the Daleks have forgotten the Doctor. Even the redheaded automaton woman has forgotten him. The TARDIS takes off as the Daleks ask, “Doctor who? Doctor who?” He drops off Amy and Rory at home, and they go in together; Rory does a little victory dance. Back on the TARDIS, the Doctor himself chants, “Doctor who! Doctor who! Doctor who!” reveling in the joy of anonymity.

Well, that was pretty good. A solid episode, although not probably one of my top ten. I dunno, personally I’m not that big on the Daleks (I find the newer villains like the Weeping Angels and the Silence much scarier, although that could be because I got used to the Daleks as a kid), but this was a fun take on the Daleks. I also like the idea of a planet full of insane Daleks. That’s fun. Shame they blew it up. But what do you think? Let me know in the comments—seriously, do.

I could talk about Doctor Who all day.

Check us out on Facebook and come back next week, when we’ll be recapping our next episode, “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship.” And really, with a name like that, it’s got to be good. See you then!

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