[This post is of a series: Doctor Who Explained. It’s the third installment. Read the prior one’s here!]
The Doctor has several enemies but none can rival, the Daleks.
At first glance, they look more docile then threatening with their plunger arm and motorized wheelchair speed. But its the psyche of the Daleks that’s frightening.
Daleks only experience hatred and are powered by fear. The fear of what they can do to every being in the universe. Their mission is to purge the every planet of life. As they wage war upon the worlds, people resist, people fight, but most of all people fear. Which in turn fuels the Dalek’s existence. Met by fierce opposition from all armies but none have succeeded in defeating the Daleks.
Except the Doctor.
Within the show, the Daleks have been a foe from the very beginning. The Doctor has faced them single handled through duels, world wars, muses, and traps. But the epitome of them all, the Time War. Every routine scenario has been played out so the only place left to go is into the Daleks. Literally.
And doing so aides the first time viewer, we get to see what makes a Dalek. Why are they nothing but hate and how do they strike fear into every living soul? As we follow the Doctor we see that a Dalek is a small creature infused within a metal case of destruction. It’s part alien, part machine. It’s hard drive stores everything that it has experienced yet only allows anger, fear, and hatred to be felt.
[This next bit will make the most sense if you have watched the second episode of Season 8. Entitled: Into the Dalek. Go watch it on Hulu Plus or Amazon Prime, I’ll wait for ya! SPOILERS!]
As the episode starts I am pleasantly surprised by how fresh and polished it feels. From the 2005 reboot the production value has increased immensely. Sure, sets are recycled & CGI has crept into everything but Doctor Who’s storytelling has matured well.
As the Doctor confronts Rusty, the Dalek, his distain for his race is evident. So when he discovers that Rusty is good, he is beside himself.
The mystery of finding a “good Dalek” mirrors the Doctor’s pursuit to find the “good Doctor.” This theme is embossed by the Doctor’s question., “Am I a good man?”
So as the Doctor goes on this Dalek safari, the Doctor’s mind is preoccupied by something deeper than just curing a helpless patient. Once again, as the Doctor figures out who he truly is, so do we! I found his cutting words and harshness unflattering. Yet Clara stands beside him, being a “pal” as best she can.
Anticlimactic is an understatement when the Doctor “heals” Rusty only halfway through the runtime of the episode. So as Rusty returns to his “normal” destructive self, I rejoiced. And ironically, so did the Doctor. I thought that as the arch-enemy of the Doctor returned, he would valiantly destroy it. Instead, the Doctor just gave up, slumped his shoulders and retreated into his own mind.
“He is lost in the ruin of himself, and we must bring him home” came to mind as I watched this 12th Doctor not live up to The Doctor’s true nature. The Doctor always questions logic and endlessly redefines time. But apparently not with this one.
Clara’s swift slap to the Doctor’s face surprised me but even more so the Doctor, himself. He’s always aware of his surroundings and knows what’s coming. But not this. He’s perplexed. Clara mocks the Doctor with questions. Is that all? Is that all we learned today? Dalek’s will always be bad, and that’s it? As she goes on you can tell that for once she has it figured out before the Doctor does and is begging him to catch up. (But only in Clara’s fierce yet flirty way!) The Doctor’s gears begin to turn and within a blink, the Doctor is back!
Instead of seeing all Daleks as fixed beings in time, unable to change or grow, the Doctor finally sees Rusty’s unique potential! Joining minds with him, the Doctor shows Rusty true beauty. Just as he does, the plan backfires as Rusty discovers the Doctor’s own hatred. His instilled hatred of the Dalek race mirrors Rusty’s hatred for every race. The Doctor himself is a Dalek in nature. Fueled by the fear of an alien race, desiring to obliterate them from the universe. This is what makes the Doctor a “good Dalek.”
For the Doctor, this victory isn’t celebrated. He is just left back where he started. Asking himself, “Am I a good man?”
For me, I am still pondering on that one as well as:
- What is Paradise?
- Who is Missy? (a crazed Mary Poppins?)
- What’s the Doctor’s catch phrase?
I am still just as confused and intrigued as ever!
Let me know what you thought of the this episode. What questions do you have that are left unanswered? And what parts of the Doctor do you wish to know more about?