Doctor Who: Asylum of the Daleks Review -

Doctor Who: Asylum of the Daleks Review

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  • Episode: Asylum of the Daleks
  • Starring: Matt Smith, Nicholas Briggs, Arthur Darvill, Karen Gillan, Jenna-Louise Coleman
  • Written By: Steven Moffat
  • Directed By: Nick Hurran
  • Network: BBC One, BBC America
  • Series:

Doctor Who: Asylum of the Daleks Review

Battling Zombie Daleks...

By Kimberly McCall     September 03, 2012


The number of “Doctor Who” fans is more than ever before. The 2005 revival of the ever reincarnating Time Lord planted a new seed which has now, seven years later, branched out and flourished all over the world. Indeed, the adventures of the timeless and mysterious doctor continue to leave us fans hanging over the edges of our seats with tears in our eyes and pining for each week’s Tardis ride.  The first episode of season 7 finally premiered after what seemed like an eternity of hype and speculation. However, what finally pushed our lust for more “Doctor Who” over the edge was a season 7 trailer which returned what has been popularized as one of the greatest fictional villains of all time and the doctor’s oldest enemy: the Dalek.

Lured to a spacecraft above the Dalek planet, Skaro, in the form of a trap, the Doctor (Matt Smith) is reunited with Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill) Pond, who were also kidnapped by Dalek spies. During the kidnappings, it is learned that Amy (now a supermodel) and Rory are in the middle of an angry divorce with no real explanation. The story has barely even started before we find our three heros in the custody of more Daleks than have ever been on screen at one time since their creation in 1963.

To the surprise of the Doctor (and the audience), the army of hateful cyborgs does not wish to exterminate the Time Lord, as they’ve vowed to do time and time again. Instead, they seek his help to deactivate the force field of the planetary Dalek asylum below, where only the most dangerous and terrifying Daleks have been imprisoned. Amy, Rory, and the Doctor are given special wristbands to protect them from becoming Daleks, themselves, while being exposed to the planet... and the adventure begins.

While the three main characters are busy battling zombie Daleks (that’s right, zombie Daleks), getting separated, and playing catch-up, we are introduced to a young woman named Oswin (Jenna-Louise Coleman) who crash landed on the Dalek planet about a year ago. She develops a relationship with the Doctor via intercom and aids him as he and Amy search for Rory, who becomes lost. Oswin is a whimsical character, despite her tragic circumstances, and spends her spare time baking souffles and hacking into Dalek systems. It is with her help, alone, that the Doctor is able to escape danger. She uses her hacking skill to erase all knowledge of the so-called “doctor” from the memories of the Daleks.

The story comes to a sad close as the Doctor attempts to rescue Oswin after she helps him to complete his mission and save him. He breaks in to find not the pretty, young woman we have all been watching, but a Dalek instead. Oswin’s time on the planet had converted her and she had merely created and elaborate fantasy world. Upon the realization of what she has become, Oswin fights her programmed hate and allows the Doctor and his companions to escape. Before the planet is destroyed, however, Oswin gives a curious look directly toward the camera as if to tell the audience that we’ve not yet seen the last of her.

The season 7 premiere delivers in plenty of action and more Daleks (and zombie Daleks) than any giddy fan could wish for. It is a classic summit of the forces of good against evil that almost seems more fitting of a finale than a premiere. Steven Moffat continues to keep us in touch with each memorable character as he (in one episode) takes us through how Amy and Rory’s relationship faltered and yet continues to prove itself a great love story. It is also no longer possible to deny Matt Smith’s ability to bring the Doctor to life. With each new season (this episode, no exception), he wins us over.
The ending might only be curious to true “Doctor Who” fans who already know that Jenna-Louise Coleman will serve as Matt Smith’s new companion after the departure of Amy and Rory Pond toward the end of this year. After witnessing this particular story, we, as viewers, have no idea how her character will come back.  Are we seeing these events in sequential order? Have we even met the real “Oswin” at all?

It is the rare, magical storytelling of “Doctor Who” that will answer all these questions and more about all that is possible in this and other worlds. So, dust off those sonic screwdrivers and join the rest of us for what is sure to be another year of unforgettable adventure.


Next time on Doctor Who... 


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doublec 9/3/2012 1:52:10 AM

 This was a memorable episode, particularly with the Oswin storyline. I was in tears during the big reveal there. I'm highly intrigued as to how she'll become a companion.
Am I just being cruel or is Karen Gillan supposed to be the world's heaviest supermodel? She's not fat by any stretch but she gained a good 15lbs or so in the off season and it shows, particularly in her face.

Welcome aboard, Kimberly! I hope you know what you've gotten yourself into...
And thanks to Mania for finally covering the most popular sci-fi show of all time on a weekly basis...

Doctorwannabe 9/3/2012 7:35:24 AM

 Hurray for weekly Who Reviews!!!

Great episode, that opens up all kinds of new possibilities for the Doctor and the Daleks. Though the sudden erasure of the Dalek memory of the Doctor might prove to be a bit murky in the future...considering that the Daleks have had time-travel capabilities at various points in their history (that seems paradoxical doesn't it), couldn't they at some point re-remember him?  Hmmm...



Wyldstaar 9/3/2012 8:43:28 AM

 Fantastic episode.  It had been too long since we got a quality Dalek tale.  

I was surprised to see the bronze Daleks alongside the New Paradigm Daleks at the Paralment.  It's good to know that they've not been dropped completely in favor of the new design.  My only complaint is the way all the classic era Daleks in the asylum were left entirely in the background instead of participating in the action.  The first return of the Special Weapons Dalek in more than twenty years, and it's just sitting there.

fenngibbon 9/3/2012 11:54:13 AM

 I was kind of disappointed that after all the hype, you couldn't really tell the difference between the different types of Daleks; they were too dusty and badly lit.  And I wanted to see the Special Weapons Dalek in action.


I was surprised to see JLC in this episode, given that she's not supposed to show up until the Christmas episode and her name is supposedly Clara, not Oswin.  And I don't think it's a nonsequential, timey-wimey thing because Oswin said this was her first trip into space.

Personally, I'm wondering if JLC is going to be the seasonal arc this year.

Wyldstaar 9/3/2012 6:25:03 PM

Interesting theory about the seasonal arc there, fenn.  It would be nice if that's the case, as opposed to the usual bit with an ominous phrase that constantly shows up in each script.  I really like the character of Oswin, so I hope that Clara isn't much different.  It would be nice to have a regular companion character aboard the Tardis who isn't from contemporary England.  Aside from being a pleasant change, it would also make it far less likely to have so many episodes take place in the modern UK.

Noovtere 9/4/2012 1:03:42 AM

Great episode.

fatpantz 9/4/2012 7:45:46 AM

I am ashamed to say I have never seen a single episode...what would be a good starting point for someone new to the Doctor Who universe?

DaForce1 9/4/2012 2:11:47 PM

 Fatpantz, you can really start with the Matt Smith episodes which are the last two seasons (5 & 6), jump into the new season, and then at the break go back to the other seasons. 

JLC's character on the show is going to be named Clara Oswin. So who knows what happens in later episodes. The thing that bothered me about this episode was why the Daleks go to all the trouble of kidnapping the Dr., Rory and Amy when they couldhave beamed down a bomb(s) on a timer to take out the shield generator in the first place. Yes, yes, we don't get the story, plot, or the new character introductions otherwise, I get that, but it just seemed somewhat lazy. 

RobertTrate 9/4/2012 3:31:45 PM

 fatpantz, I would start back at the 2005 relaunch. However if you wanna get right into this Doctor go with DaForce1 suggstion. It's a great place to hop on

Meegle 9/6/2012 11:48:55 AM

I found myself not disliking this episode as much as most of this Doctor's other adventures mainly because it had moments of genius in an overall stew of "meh'..for example:

Dalek - "Ex-"

Rory - "Eggs?"

Also loved the codependancy aspect of the Daleks but was very confused about something else? When exactly did the Daleks become the Borg? Did I miss when they started assimilating people? Also...wasn't Skaro destroyed? (I guess it was revealed that it wasn't in non-canon Who though!)

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