Friday, August 22, 2014

Doctor Who--"Dalek"

Fan opinion has it tonight’s episode is the turning point of the season. After “Dalek,” the Doctor and Rose settle in to their roles and the writers get rid of much of the campiness that has permeated the first five installments. After viewing “Dalek,” I have to agree it feels like a turning point. It was a pleasantly dark experience, certainly the darkest so far.

The Doctor and Rose follow a distress call to an underground complex in Utah. The year is 2012. They arrive in a room full of alien artifacts--including our first look at the new Cybermen head. The Doctor triggers an alarm accidentally and he an Rose are surrounded by security forces. The two of them learn they are in a complex owned by Henry van Staten, a man who claims to also own the internet. Van Statten has been colleting alien artifacts for decadesand has now found a live alien itself. He takes the Doctor to see it. The alien is chained in the shadows of a cell. The Doctor tells it he is here to help. They immediately recognize each other, leading to an extremely intense scene.

The time Lords and the Daleks had a knock down, drag out war which wiped them both out except for the Doctor and this Dalek. This dalek is unaware of that fact until the Doctor tells him in anger. The distress signal was meant for his race to receive. With the realization that he is alone, the Dalek taunts the Doctor, first by saying all the Time Lords died but the coward and finally, after a few angry outbursts from the Doctor, claims the two of them are more alike than different. It isn’t made very clear whether the Dalek was telling the truth about the Doctor being a coward or if he just taunting. Either way, it touches a nerve that prompts the Doctor to attempt killing the Dalek until he is stopped by van Staten’s men.

Van Staten heard the Dalek speak and orders one of his scientists to force it to speak again by any means necessary. Meanwhile, Van Statten also realizes the Doctor is a one of a kind alien he wants to study as well. Rose witnesses the torturing of the Dalek and demands to speak to it. During their conversation, she touches it allowing the Dalek to absorb her DNA, which gives it renewed strength. The Dalek breaks free and the chase is on. The Dalek hooks itself up to a computer and downloads the entire internet. The Doctor warns that now it knows everything. I would assume it now has particular knowledge of Star Trek and pornography.

The Dalek racks up a Rambo sized body count during its rampage that is most impressive for what was originally network television. The visible skeletons when the Dalek’s laser hit humans was a nifty touch, too. Maybe I’m just morbid. The Dotor is eventually forced to drop down blasts doors to prevent the Dalek from going above ground and reaching Salt Lake City where it could kill millions. Unfortunately, Rose is trapped behind the door with the Dalek.

It cannot find the will to kill her, however. Her DNA allows it to feel fear in her, which does not compute. Instesd, he holds her hostage and demands the Doctor raise the blast door. The Doctor says he can’t kill Rose a second time and complies. The Dalek and Rose make it to Van Statten’s office where it plans to kill him for all the torture it suffered. Rose talkes it out of the murder. It doesn’t have to kill anymore. What does it really want? The Dalek answrrs: “Freedom.”

While the Doctor desperately hunts for a weapon, Rose takes the Dalek to the top level just below the surface. It blows a hole n the roof to allow sunshine in. The Dalek’s armor opens up and it stretches a tentacle out to a sunbeam. The Doctor arrives with a cannon of a gun determined to rid the universe of Daleks once and for all. Rose won’t let him do it. She says the Dalk is changing because it didn’t kill her or Van Statten, but she is worried about how the Doctor is changing. H reflects on what he was about to do and is ashamed to say Rose is right. He was becoming no better than a Dalek. Speaking of which, Rose’s DNA is causing it to have all sorts of new thoughts and emotions it can’t handle. It asks Rose to oder it to die. Reluctantly, Rose does so and the Dalek incinerates itself. The Doctor muses that since he is the only survivor of the last war, he is the winner. But he doesn’t much feel like it. Van Statten’s mind gets wiped of all memories as punishment for causing all these deaths and his complex is cemented up. The Doctor, Rose, and Adam, one o Van Satten’s assistants, take off in the TARDIS.

I agree this has so far been the best episode of the season. The claustrophobic feel to it all made the show. I figured it would be difficult to make a rolling salt shaker into a believable killing machine in this day and age, but they pulled it off with a lot of dark humor. I really liked the bit in which the Dalek pointed his plunger at one of the scientists who replied, “What are you going to do? Suck me to death?” Why, yes, as a matter of fact, it did. Classic joke, classic episode. It’ll be hard to top.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Here's a little bonus. Someone made a music video featuring scenes from "Dalek" set to 3 Doors Down's hit, "Kryptonite." An odd choice of song indeed, but a nifty video nonetheless.

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