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mygif

It wasn’t a terrible episode, by any means, but I did find it somewhat underwhelming. The daleks have lost a lot of their sting over the years, and in this episode they largely felt goofy as opposed to disturbing or threatening, and the Asylum itself felt very empty.

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mygif

I really like this theory… except that since Oswin was cast as the next companion before this series even started airing, I think it might ALWAYS have been supposed to be oSwin.

And man has this season been underwhelming. Not BAD. Not HORRIBLE. But not GREAT or even GOOD. Just… there.

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mygif

This season feels “exhausted” somehow.

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Bryan Rasmussen said on September 21st, 2012 at 5:20 pm

When Oswin says remember me, she turns and looks to her left, which happens to also be towards the viewer as if she is asking the viewer to remember her. I don’t think that’s it though, I think she is looking at something to her left and saying remember me. So what, if she is saying remember me to the Doctor, is there in her imaginary abode that she would turns to look at while she says it.

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mygif

Great theory… but I think SM, having written for Doctor Who since it came back and showrun it for two years, would have a pretty good idea of what he could/could not get away with. Which’d mean not pitching a story the BBC would flat-out refuse!

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mygif

And man has this season been underwhelming. Not BAD. Not HORRIBLE. But not GREAT or even GOOD. Just… there.

This. And, I’d go an extra mile and say the entire Matt Smith era has been trending this way. You could feel it in his first episode, when the Doctor stares down an invading army by basically pointing out that he is who he is. I feel like the mythos has been outgrowing the man.

Really, I just don’t want to see another “Demon’s Run” episode, which was basically Dr. Who flailing between Ultimate Awesomeness! and Oh, You’ve Been Tricked!

The Doctor needs to lose a few rounds, to settle him out a bit. The Chris Eccleston and David Tenant’s writers knew how to do this a bit better. Stick the doctor on a world, basically have him get his ass kicked, and let him barely escape from it intact. Matt Smith’s era is a lot less survivor horror and more Superman in a Stetson and bow tie.

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mygif

Do you actually think the BBC tells Moffat what to do? And do you actually think he listens to them when they do? They only person he seems to accept notes from is his oldest son.

And your theory is just so tonally wrong, it’s ridiculous. I’ve long held the theory myself that North Americans are watching a completely different show to the one being made, and this idea kind of helps to prove it. I mean, why don’t you imagine the Dalek raped her while you are at it, that seems to be the sort of edgy darkness many seem to want from a Saturday night kids show that’s on between the dancing and the lottery results.

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mygif

@Darren K: Um…no. Why don’t I not? Because I think you and I are in agreement that the sexual peril trope is wildly overused whenever a female character is involved in the story, and I don’t think we need to discuss the reasons why it’s a mistake for that very reason. You want to go complain to someone about adding rape scenes where they’re not warranted, go talk to DC. I think there’s a line, though.

I will, however, clarify. I didn’t say “tortured to death” because I think torturing someone to death is all cool and adult, hur-hurh-hurh, but because it would have to have been a slow death for the Dalek to really understand who Oswin was. The episode would, presumably, have elided over the details of Oswin’s death in the same way the episode as shown elided over the details of her conversion. You don’t need to see it to know that it was bad. (Hear that, Geoff Johns?)

But tonally, it makes far more sense if Oswin was always a Dalek. The whole episode is about the question, “What are the Daleks afraid of? What disturbs them?” The answer, “A Dalek with a conscience,” makes far more sense than, “A human being who refused to give in because the human spirit is indomitable and blah blah blah snore”, because that’s not profound, it’s pat and cliche.

In a whole story that’s about insane Daleks, the big reveal is that there’s a human being out there who has a Dalek body. That’s not thematically consistent. A Dalek who thinks it’s human fits the bill far more.

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mygif

@John I think you explain your thesis and you thinking somewhat better in your comment above than in your post. But the final bit, the elevator pitch: “A Dalek who thinks it’s human” – isn’t that what the episode was about anyway? How the Dalek comes to think that is almost irrelevant. It doesn’t affect the plot in any way, or any character other than Oswin, and only in terms of her backstory, not her engagement with the current story.

In fact, the biggest change would be in audience response and reaction. Instead of reacting with sympathy and sadness, moved by Oswin’s fate, the audience would have to deal with significantly more complex emotions when we find out the character we had come to like and feel for was in fact a torturer and murderer gone mad. There is a place in Doctor Who for that, like in A Town Called Mercy, but sucker punching the audience – an audience made up of a significant amount of children – is not on and doesn’t fit within what Doctor Who is as a cultural product.

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mygif

A Dalek with human feelings being abhorrent in the Dalek mindset would fit with some of what we’ve seen in the new series. Anyone remember back during Eccleston’s run, “Dalek,” where a Dalek that starts experiencing human emotions courtesy of Rose kills itself? Or Tennant’s doctor at the Empire State Building with the Dalek/human hybrid who was gunned down by his full-Dalek underlings? I think your theory that Oswin was originally supposed to be a Dalek whose mind broke has some definite meat to it.

That said, I also think the Daleks have been jobbing for too long. When I was a kid, even one Dalek showing up was cause for an icy knot of dread to clench in my gut. Now, whole armies of them soar effortlessly through space and are defeated just as easily. Moffat, give me a reason to fear the Daleks again, please.

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mygif

As a new-school Who fan who’s only seen isolated clips of the old show, I couldn’t really take into account the criticisms of old-school Who fans, but I’ve turned against the Moffat era for some of the same reasons it seems the old fans didn’t like the RTD era. The episodes of the new season are sitting on my DVR unwatched, in peril of deletion.

What Zifnab25 says (mythos outgrowing the man) is one of my main problems. The first four seasons of current Who had denouments where the Doctor was a central actor in attempts to save Earth or the Universe. The first two seasons of the Moffat era had denouments where the Doctor was a central actor in attempts to save the Doctor, and saving the Doctor is taken as metonymy for saving the universe. A godlike adventurer through all time and space is a lot more compelling to me than a godlike adventurer through his own life.

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mygif

The Doctor is the writers own ego – discuss.

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mygif

But anyway, this entire series has the overarching theme of Oswin becoming the new companion. Hence why we have the vacuous character of Pond hanging around for no good reason (take her and hubby out of most episodes and nothing changes), to remind us he needs to travel with someone – which they actually prove he doesn’t.
The Doctor will meet Oswin in her pre-Dalek days and not be able to tell her what is going to happen to her in a tortured ‘oh isn’t being a Time-Lord awful’ way – probably with the annoying River Song popping up to say ‘Spoilers!’ to her when she asks (as only Moffat seems to like).

Moffat has limited abilities writing for women (which in this day and age is unforgivable) so we shouldn’t expect much from Oswin beyond ‘pretty and mouthy’ once she’s established. Particularly as Matt is likely to move on after Christmas 2013 – meaning the next series will be leading up to his regeneration.

It’s occurred to me that Moffat actually prefers the film version Doctor to the TV one – the Dalek colours, now the humanoid assimilations/slaves. He’s wrong of course.
And ‘Doctoooooor WhoOOOOOOO?!!!’ was Peter Cushing level embarrassing.

Oh for the days when there were more Time Lords and the Doctor wasn’t so special and could be put in his place.
But then what do I know, I’m pretty convinced Pertwee and Baker shouldn’t be classed as regenerations… a discussion for another day.

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mygif

I think I get Pertwee (since the Timelords used some of their advanced technology to turn the second Doctor into the third Doctor), but I would love to hear the reasoning behind Baker… and which Baker.

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mygif

To get double spoiler-y, isn’t that basically Iain M. Banks’ “Use of Weapons”?

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I like the ‘Geoff Johns’ barbs that appear out of absolutely nowhere. Seriously, WHAT does that have to do with anything?

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Mark Temporis said on September 22nd, 2012 at 6:11 am

That was actually a theory I had about Cameron from “The Sarah Connor Chronicles”.

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mygif

I’m not sure that a Dalek would torture somebody. Too… inefficent? They generally just ‘download’ the person’s brain (it’s painful and kills them, but that’s just a side effect). Though maybe I’m unaware of times they have tortured in the past?

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mygif

@Ian: After ‘Infinite Crisis’ and ‘Blackest Night’, do I still need to explain why Geoff Johns springs to mind whenever someone talks about wildly inappropriate ludicrously graphic on-screen violence in an ostensibly family comic? Or do I need to post the screenshot of Psycho-Pirate getting his head popped like a grape again? :)

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mygif

Anything that gives the Daleks a personality is a plus in my book.

Its like making lint a villain.

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mygif

I thought close to the same while watching, though my own version had no Oswin at all (mostly because I didn’t know they were planning to keep the actress on), just a Dalek who was insane because it thought it was a human. And the Doctor, with his own set of prejudices, wouldn’t be able to handle that any more than the other Daleks could, and forces it to face the truth.

On another note, regarding episode 3: it would be a lot easier to buy the Doctor’s moral stance (uncertain or not) about not allowing the cyborg to kill if he hadn’t straight up condemned to death the old man from the episode before that.

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mygif

For the overall arcs, I’m optimistic that this year’s focus will be on pulling the Doctor back into his sphere. Logically, the first two series of Eleven could be a reaction to the RTD-era Doctor Everybody Knows, Lone God sort of thing, and this series could be about learning to pull back and tone it down. When the universe has COLLECTIVELY tried to destroy you multiple times… it might be time to take a hint.

Then again, I’m always optimistic to the point of foolishness about shows I like (or really want to like). I was hoping that Heroes would return to Season One awesome right up through the end of Season Four, I thought Dollhouse was going to really pick it up any day now, and we will not speak about The Cape.

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oooweeeeooooo said on September 22nd, 2012 at 8:15 pm

i respectfully disagree with your theory on the basis that i think that to suggest that a normal dalek has the capacity to feel sympathy is to destroy the very concept of what a dalek is. Daleks were made only to be able to feel hate, it is a biological impossibility for a dalek to feel anything else with out some sort of complication (like rose touching the dalek in season 1 for example) With other monsters there is always that element of emotion, that hope that you can get them to feel something, With daleks they are incapable of feeling and that is what makes them terrifying. The fact that they now have to ability to turn humans into that kind of creature is even more horrifying. I think that the episode went the way that it was supposed to by giving a dalek human emotions thus causing the daleks to be scared enough to tie it up and it also brought on an extra element to the show as we watch the daleks try to take away the very think that makes amy amy, a fate worse then death.

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mygif

@Cespinarve Every season of NuWho has its fair share of forgettable episodes. What really marks this season out (at least in the SM era) for me is the lack of a fantastic opener. ‘Eleventh Hour’ was a jumble of joy. ‘The Impossible Astronaut’ was the definition of how to start a season with a bang (almost literally). ‘Asylum’…it felt like a midseason Monster-of-the-Week episode. I was also disappointed by the Christmas episode. One of the few things you can always count on with a SM episode is off-the-wall bonkers fun and a cleverness that’s almost too proud of itself. So far I’ve seen little of that. Without that momentum, the inconsistent quality of Who writers is more apparent.

In a way, we’ve been unusually lucky. Series Five had Stephen Moffat on all cylinders, Angels two-parter, the Dream Lord, Van Gogh, and a simply beautiful fairytale two-parter ending. Series Six killed the Doctor with an astronaut, brought Neil Gaiman, ninja Amy, the Shining, Nazi Germany, an awesome (albeit not as awesome as should be) mid-season break, and Caesar Churchill. The overall lacklustre quality of Series Seven I hypothesize to be the lack of a truly exciting opening episode to pump us up past the poor episodes. Like SM is holding all his cards for the Fall of the Silence and the answer to the Question.

All to say that SM really needs to get some more standout writers on the team.

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mygif

Your theory is wonderfully, horribly clever, and all I can say is, I hope it’s not true. The twist of the episode as aired was heartbreaking enough….I think I might have actually cried if your theoretical version had been broadcast.

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mygif

It may have morphed from an unrelated stand-alone story idea into a season opener, but at that point I think there’s no way it didn’t unfold the way it was supposed to. In theory there was setup for the series arc, just like all the other two SM series openers. The various versions of talking about ‘remember’ing, “Doctor who?”, the Ponds’ issues and the Doctor thinking about his relationship with them, setup for the new companion Clara.

Also I don’t think revering hatred is the same as compassion. I actually liked that idea, including the barb at the Doctor and his hatred.

Ignoring the plot holes which seem to be way more in your face this series, the questions I have from that episode are:
Was the Doctor altered by the nano swarm, and does that explain his more ruthless nature recently?
If so, was he then connected to the telepathic web on some level?
Could Oswin have transferred her consciousness over the web to somewhere/someone else?

That gives a path from Oswin to Clara that doesn’t involve yet another non-linear companion story. And if that’s the case, then there’s possibly an out for the River stuck in the library too.

I guess it also allows some version of your theory too, in that the Oswin Dalek might have been a copied consciousness, and the real Oswin/Clara is somewhere else.

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mygif

You’re assuming that Asylum is an entirely stand-alone story.

Do you really think The Doctor would leave a helpless victim to her fate, even if she was a Dalek?

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@Marionette: He left four or five unconscious randoms to die in the exploding ship just this last episode.

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mygif

Asylum was… not so good. The Daleks have “toilet plunger” arms because they hate the human form so much they’d rather have something like that than a functional arm and hand. Meanwhile, I thought converting humans into robot-alien things was the Cybermen’s shtick? And hey, -another- magical strong-willed pixie pretty girl to banter with the Doctor (give me Donna, Leela, Martha, or even Kate Stewart at this point) because Amy is leaving.

Meanwhile, the plot is that the Doctor and the Dalek’s team up to… you know what, I’ll stop there. In the old run the Doctor once tried to commit temporal genocide on their whole freaking race, breaking every law of his culture and himself in the process. Not a hint of that hatred makes it on the screen. Nope, it’s just “hey, another mean bunch of aliens are threatening me and my friends. I’d best see what they want.”

Actually… I think the whole episode could’ve been improved greatly, without changing much of anything, simply by making it a Cyberman episode instead of a Dalek one.

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mygif

“Was the Doctor altered by the nano swarm, and does that explain his more ruthless nature recently”

“Recently”?! This is the doctor who weaponised the entire human race to kill the Silence on sight. Doc v11 is a dark, ruthless incarnation, and has been for a while. Doc v10 wasn’t much better; remember what he did to the Family of Blood?

On an unrelated topic, I wish Rory’s dad was gonna be the new companion. THAT would be awesome.

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@Jacob: The Doctor’s always had a dark streak, sure. It’s why Seven’s my Doctor. To me there’s a big difference between doing what’s necessary to defeat/stop an enemy, and executing one after you’ve won. Or flying off the handle and trying to rush someone to their death, however deserved. Or triggering the explosion of a ship he was on while there were unconscious people in the room with him, and just casually wandering off. Ten at least imprisoned/punished the Family, and in the original version I don’t think Seven even actively did that – it was an accident from the explosion, maybe? Been a long time since I read Human Nature.

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Grasa Total said on October 2nd, 2012 at 10:40 am

John, your post seems to suggest that the episode was telling us the Daleks considered Oswin insane, i.e. that she was on the planet for the same reason most of the Daleks there were.

And if that had been the point, I would get where you theory was coming from. But it’s not! Oswin is on the planet because her ship crashed there and the nanobots turned her into a Dalek. She’s in chains because, I dunno, the crazy Daleks see her as a threat. (Which is not crazy!) The rest of the Daleks don’t know who she is and don’t have an opinion about her mental state, aside from the fact that by making escape from the planet possible, her ship’s crash landing is a bummer for them.

Right? Or am I totally off the wall here too?

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The Unstoppable Gravy Express said on October 2nd, 2012 at 10:52 am

I wish Rory’s dad was gonna be the new companion. THAT would be awesome.

Or he could at least team up with Donna’s Dad and Jackie Tyler to form a new Torchwood.

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