Although he’s just two episodes into his first series of Doctor Who, it looks as though Peter Capaldi gets to face off against the Doctor’s most infamous enemies – the Daleks. But while the domed menace tends to strike fear into the hearts of men, it looks as though there’s one Dalek in particular who might be a little… different.
Appearing right in the thick of it, the Doctor is thrust into an unexpected battle with the Daleks… and within moments, he’s saving the lives of those around him. Enter Journey Blue – a young, female soldier with an odd-sounding name who the Doctor ends up escorting back to Rebel Command aboard the aptly-named spaceship, Aristotle.
Following last week’s jaunt across Victorian London, it’s a welcome change of pace, thrusting Clara and the Doctor into the far future. But should Capaldi have met his greatest foe quite so early on in the series?
I have to admit – it feels a bit like a gimmick to keep the audiences interested – a misguided attempt to ensure that fans of the previous Doctors will keep coming back. Given the gravitas that Peter Capaldi brings to the role, it really feels like a mis-step. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the episode, but perhaps Capaldi’s Doctor should have been given a bit more room to breathe on his own before bringing in the heavyweight villains.
That said, it’s an interesting take on the Daleks we know and fear. For one thing, it seems that this particular Dalek – referred to by the Doctor as ‘Rusty’ – has developed a conscience. Not exactly what you’d expect from a bloodthirsty killing machine.
Residing aboard the Aristotle with the Rebel Command, it seems that poor old Rusty is in need of some TLC… and after finding out they have a Doctor in their midst, the humans are quick to send him in to see to his new patient. But not in the way you might think.
Having perfected miniaturisation, the Rebels send Clara and The Doctor into the belly of the beast – shrinking them down along with a security team to get to the bottom of Rusty’s new sense of morality. And of course, it all goes a bit wrong…
Obviously, it’s not the most original of ideas. In fact, it’s all very ‘Inner Space’ but with a Doctor Who twist… but that’s really not such a bad thing. After all, we finally get a glimpse at the inner workings of humanity’s greatest threat… and not just the mechanical bits, either. Instead, the journey takes a rather existential twist, questioning exactly what it is to be a Dalek.
It’s a weighty topic for a Saturday evening, especially when you look at the flipside – what does it take to be human? And does the Doctor have what it takes? Obviously, the parallels are strikingly obvious and it seems that there’s already a recurring theme for Capaldi’s early episodes. What is it that makes a man? And while the Doctor isn’t exactly from round these parts, have the countless human companions rubbed off on him?
Thankfully, there’s a bit more to it than that. And with a nice bit of action and adventure thrown in for good measure, it’s well-rounded episode that could be up there with the best of series eight. Brought face-to-face with his own demons as well as the Daleks, the Doctor gets inside the mind of his enemy – both literally and figuratively – as he attempts to work out what makes Rusty tick.
Does this mean that we’re getting a more intellectual Doctor Who this time around? It certainly looks that way… but he’s a dab hand with a sonic screwdriver, too.