Doctor Who: Into The Dalek Review (Contains Spoilers)

Peter Capaldi clashes with Skaro's finest for the first time...

The Fantastic Voyage-style story is now a largely discredited science fiction plot, roundly avoided by Doctor Who since 1977€™s The Invisible Enemy. But the Doctor€™s journey into the body of Rusty the damaged Dalek shows that all it needs to work is a healthy suspension of disbelief from the audience. Although the episode has more than a few similarities to the Series 1 episode Dalek (both stylistically and in terms of story), it also has enough originality to create a strong and engaging story. Particularly since it explores the potential morality of the Daleks more than usual, has a lot of character-specific moments, and provides an entirely new setting for most of the episode. Which allows for a lot of new concepts to be explored (like the reveal of exactly how the Daleks function), and different action elements and directorial techniques since it€™s the rarely used idea of exploring a living creature.
While Deep Breath was Clara€™s episode, Into The Dalek is definitely the Twelfth Doctor€™s as he takes his new body and personality for a drive in front of Clara and the audience for the first time. And he€™s shaping up to an interesting mix of the Sixth and Tenth Doctors; with an even stronger dislike of the military than the Tenth and (eventually) a similar drive to find good in even the worst of the universe. All while possessing the brusque and sometimes callous attitude of the Sixth, particularly his lack of sympathy to the death of Journey€™s brother and making no attempt whatsoever to save the soldier that triggers Rusty€™s antibodies. In terms of character, this episode is largely limited to the Doctor, Clara, Journey, and Rusty; with the other characters having very little to do other than shoot and/or die. Which is a bit of a waste of Michael Smiley as Colonel Blue. But amongst the cast, of particular note are Peter Capaldi (as usual), Fresh Meat€™s Zawe Ashton as Journey, and Samuel Anderson who turns in a very promising first performance as Danny Pink. And of course Nicholas Briggs; who gets to do a lot more in his role as Doctor Who€™s resident Dalek voice artist this time around, with Rusty offering him the most vocal opportunities since Dalek Caan at the end of Series 4.
As with last week€™s episode Deep Breath, the problem with Into The Dalek is the pacing. It feels pretty uneven with the Doctor and Clara not entering the Dalek until fifteen minutes into the episode, and what comes across as an inordinate amount of time is spent developing Danny Pink at the expense of the rest of the episode. Although it€™s setting him up for his future appearances, the material would have been better suited to an episode centred on modern day Earth. As well as that, the action sequences set on the Aristotle feel a bit hollow since they€™re not really of any great consequence and don€™t do anything very original until Rusty enters the fray and starts blasting the hell out of the other Daleks. On the whole, they€™re very reminiscent of Dalek, right down to the rebel soldiers having similar uniforms to Henry Van Statten€™s security guards. But pacing and underwhelming action sequences aside, Into The Dalek is still a solid episode. It does something new, explores ethics more deeply than the average Doctor Who episode, and expands the Dalek mythology a lot by actually going into great detail about the inner workings of them. And when it comes down to it, Into The Dalek is entertaining and innovative enough for the viewer to be able to disregard the flaws and enjoy it for what it is; a strong mix of action scenes and moral exploration with some excellent ideas. What did you think of Into The Dalek? Let us know in the comments section below...
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JG Moore is a writer and filmmaker from the south of England. He also works as an editor and VFX artist, and has a BA in Media Production from the University Of Winchester.