Thursday, 28 August 2014

Doctor Who: Into the Dalek - Spoiler-Free Preview

Doctor Who: Series 8, Episode 2
Into the Dalek

Written by: Phil Ford and Steven Moffat
Directed by: Ben Wheatley

Broadcast Date: Saturday 30th August at 7.30pm on BBC One

Reviewed by Louis Rabinowitz for The Gallifrey Times

The Gallifrey Times have seen Into the Dalek and have put our spoiler-free preview together:

Journey Blue (Zawe Ashton)
Second episodes are tricky - both David Tennant and Matt Smith's sophomore outings (New Earth and The Beast Below) somewhat failed to stick the landing despite strong opening episodes. So does Peter Capaldi's second episode, Into the Dalek, beat the second episode curse?

Into the Dalek is in many ways what it says on the tin - the Doctor, Clara and a collection of soldiers head into a Dalek that has been damaged to the point where it has become 'good' - but despite the movie-poster title, Into the Dalek is a little bit more cerebral than you might expect.

Daleks vs soldiers...
The Daleks might be in the title, but it's the Doctor that Into the Dalek is mainly about - and the question we've heard time and time again in trailers - 'am I a good man?'. It may be only Peter Capaldi's second episode, but this is an outing you could slot anywhere in Series 8 - Capaldi once again turns in a fantastic, confident performance that very much delivers on the 'dark Doctor' hype - your sympathies might not always be with the Doctor this episode...

Clara once again proves that she's a better fit for the Twelfth Doctor - casting the 'control freak' as more of a moral compass to the Doctor - and outside the TARDIS, there's promise of romance for Clara as maths teacher Danny Pink arrives on the scene. Danny is a while off meeting the Doctor, but his introduction here is an effective one - Samuel Anderson turning in a sympathetic performance that very much distinguishes him from Rory and Mickey, and leaves this viewer intrigued to see how Danny collides with the Doctor later on. The episode's main guest stars - Zawe Ashton and Michael Smiley, are also excellent.

Danny Pink, looking sad.
Aside from the character development, of course, there's the old foes in the title. Into the Dalek offers a rare, intriguing peek into a Dalek's psyche - but if you're looking for good old-fashioned exterminating, it won't leave you shortchanged either. It's not a landmark episode for the Daleks, but they're more threatening here than they have been in recent episodes - and it's refreshing to see a writer treat them as more than just psychotic tanks, and dig into what makes a 'good' Dalek.

Into the Dalek is still flawed - the episode's conclusion is somewhat rushed (even if the episode fits the 45 minute runtime surprisingly well), a couple of ideas from very recent episodes are reused wholesale and the Danny Pink material, even if it is strong, is fairly tangential to the main plot.  

Overall, however, Into the Dalek is a solid and often thrilling second outing for Capaldi's Doctor that manages to keep up the gritty, more talky tone seen towards the end of Deep Breath and adds new shades to the Doctor's greatest foes, even if it fails to conclude in a satisfying fashion and reuses some ideas from episodes barely three years old.

The Gallifrey Times Rating: 8/10
Thanks to BBC for providing a preview copy of this episode.