Into the Dalek Review
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There is a certain perspective from which, going in, this looked like the most cynical thing imaginable. Since every Doctor requires a Dalek story, they get it out of the way up front, treating it as something to get over with instead of something to anticipate. Accordingly, you take the Daleks and an unapologetically high concept premise and basically give Capaldi a second episode of having lots of other stuff going on to cover as he beds into the role. And with Gatiss having finally cracked the problem of how to pander to the sorts of fans who want a return to the classic series without losing the other 100% of the audience last season with Cold War, an unabashedly straightforward “just like you imagine Doctor Who being” episode becomes the order of the day. Fair enough, but equally, the sort of episode that a segment of fandom (by which I really just mean myself) looks at and (along with next week) goes “well, at least there’s a proper Moffat episode coming on the 13th.”
(Mind you, there’s a logic to it. Matt Smith got the same basic treatment with River Song and the Weeping Angels in his first two episodes. This time they actually shot Capaldi’s first two episodes first, so they put the Paternoster Gang and the Daleks in to smooth out the transition. And the series can’t serve up my kind of episode every week because, again, the other 100% of the audience would rightly object.)
So with the caveat that this is not an episode after my own heart and that I went in with fairly minimal expectations, I thought this was quite good. I seem to not be alone – comments so far on the post are broadly positive, Twitter’s pretty enthusiastic, and the GallifreyBase poll has it running slightly better than Deep Breath was. (72.7% in the 8-10 range, but skewed higher in the range) I suspect that a year’s hindsight will help Deep Breath and hinder this a little, but we’re all about the now here, and this seems, in the immediate aftermath of broadcast, to have scratched the itch it aimed for.
The script, obviously, is primarily bibs and bobs of other Dalek stories, most obviously the ones by Rob Shearman. But this is not entirely unsurprising. Phil Ford’s an odd writer – his best script prior to this was, of course, the one Russell T Davies rewrote entirely. His next best was an episode of Torchwood. And then there’s a succession of Sarah Jane Adventures that range from the quite good (The Lost Boy, Prisoner of the Judoon) to the bizarrely lightweight and disposable (Eye of the Gorgon, The Eternity Trap). The late addition of a cowriting credit for Moffat suggests that in this case he was commissioned as a matter of production expediency – that he was there, in effect, to provide the broad shape of a script for Moffat to tinker with. I recognize that this sounds rather critical and even dismissive, but I honestly don’t mean it to be. Writing to be rewritten is a skillset in itself, requiring a more “jack of all trades” sort of approach. Rewriting someone with too distinctive a style leads to, well, Planet of the Dead. (Which is to say, I really hope that Roberts’s script coming up in the season is very minimally rewritten. That’s the one story where “and Steven Moffat” is not entirely reassuring.)
And this is, to be honest, the sort of story that is made to be a multiply-authored script, because its job really is to hit a series of set pieces in order and in a way that feels unified. So yes, there are large swaths of Shearman here, but any suggestion that this is a remake of Dalek is deeply misguided. Dalek, like any Shearman script, is a theater piece. Into the Dalek is an action movie. In Dalek, the “you would make a good Dalek” line is part of an extended exploration of the Doctor’s psyche intended to show him as, in his own way, a monstrous figure. In Into the Dalek, it’s one last grim little kicker – the line that sends the Doctor grumping away with the knowledge that he’s only had a partial victory. There’s none of the sense of ambition in the line – instead it works as the quote it is – a reminder of the by-now longstanding tradition of the Daleks twisted understanding of the Doctor. (Also, a hat tip to dm in the comments, who points out a marvelous reading of the “you are a good Dalek” line in which the Dalek is using the term exactly as the Doctor is – that is, that the Dalek is acknowledging the Doctor as a Dalek who is morally good.)
But the ways in which the big thematic resonances are superficial and based in effect on allusions to past episodes does make the whole thing a bit muted. The entire “am I a good man” bit feels unearned, with the story not having done much of anything to justify the Doctor asking the question in the first place, and while Clara’s “you try to be” bit at the end is marvelous, it’s still a lovely resolution to a plot that never quite came together.
More interesting is the theme of soldiers, and, of course, Danny Pink. The Doctor’s “rule against soldiers” is clearly complex and nuanced, as suggested by the fabulous scene of Gretchen’s sacrifice (rewatch it and look at everything Capaldi does once the Doctor realizes what Gretchen is going to do). His objection manifestly isn’t to their killing, but a more subtle one having to do with the nature of military authority. “Soldiers take orders.”
But in this case the script is just a starting point. In reality, this is a story about the visuals. Ben Wheatley came under some criticism for the action sequences in Deep Breath, which were, admittedly, not its strongest point. But here, given the opportunity to do Dalek action sequences, he excels. At the heart of it is the decision to work with model shots and actual props, minimizing the CGI for the actual Dalek fight. So we get lots of fire and viscera, and it’s all terribly, terribly gorgeous, to the point where it largely masks the fact that the climax otherwise consists of Clara crawling around hitting buttons and the Doctor wrestling with what is fairly obviously a bit of ductwork. (Though here Peter Capaldi properly earns his Doctor Who wings, managing to make a scene dramatic despite having no co-stars on the set with him and nothing to act with other than the aforementioned duct. In every Doctor’s tenure there’s a scene where he realizes what the job in fact entails, and this is his.) Wheatley makes it feel as fresh and energetic as Camfield felt in the 1960s. (Indeed, the phenomenal Covent Garden battle in Web of Fear is probably the nearest touchstone in the series’ history. Certainly the Daleks themselves have never actually looked this good.
Much of this comes, one suspects, from hiring an experienced and respected film director with a childhood love of Doctor Who and turning him loose on a script that left him with a big Dalek battle to basically fill in as he pleased. The result is something that’s clearly making an effort to feel like the classic series always wanted to feel. The obvious touchstone is Resurrection of the Daleks, which can be looked at as a story that existed to try to do these action sequences and just couldn’t. But in many ways I’d go back to things like the elaborate toy-based action sequence at the end of Evil of the Daleks (however that actually looked in practice), the devastation of the Mechanoid city in The Chase, or any number of sequences in the three Pertwee Dalek stories.
Also deserving of effusive praise is the set design for the Dalek interior, which took something that could easily have been silly and made it satisfyingly unsettling. The long, distorted shot of entering the eyestalk and the play of light builds up expectations, and the resulting set delivers marvelously. The shot of everybody looking up towards the Dalek brain after the Dalek has been repaired is wonderful, giving a sense of the internal shape of the Dalek. The Dalek aesthetic, such as it is, is maintained throughout, in a really satisfying way (which really just means lots of Dalek bumps). But equally, the interior of the Dalek is worn and ugly, in a way that makes an interesting contrast to the excessively pristine Dalek ship.
So, a story that is not necessarily long on ambition, but that takes care to get what it does right. Capaldi gets another episode to bed in, and is brilliant more often than not, although there are a handful of moments where I’m not entirely persuaded by his choices, most notably in the final confrontation with the Dalek mutant itself, but there’s far more where he’s electric. The first scene inside the TARDIS, rescuing Journey, is brilliant, as is his slightly distracted, mournful final scene with Clara. For the obligatory Dalek story, a slot that has, let’s be honest, been a problem slot for the series since about 1965, this is far, far better than we had any right to expect. It’s almost enough to give one hope that Gatiss can be satisfying.
- Is Ben Crompton the most criminally under-utilized actor Doctor Who has ever had? He’s a phenomenal character actor, and I’m pretty sure he gets exactly five lines plus a “scream like you’re being disintegrated by Dalek antibodies.”
- Still nothing to speculate on with regards to Missy, really.
- I’ve decided I like the new credits sequence. The clangy bits at the beginning resolving into something more traditionally sci-fi works for me – it’s almost like a theremin. And I’m glad to see Gold’s scoring moving a bit more towards synths for this season. I think it’s the right shift in the music, keeping it fresh and very 2014.
- To talk about Danny Pink agin, it’s awfully early to say a lot about him, but it really is promising at the start. He’s got good comic timing and can keep his end of a scene full of banter, which is at least a good baseline for a Doctor Who companion. I do hope they find an excuse to give William Russell a cameo soon, though, if only to get the sense of a modern day Ian to be even stronger.
- Letter grades may be a no, but I’ll at least rank the episodes. So, thus far:
- Deep Breath
- Into the Dalek.
August 30, 2014 @ 2:48 pm
I wouldn't lay too much significance on that. It's probably just psychosomatic.
That boy needs therapy.
August 30, 2014 @ 2:54 pm
August 30, 2014 @ 2:55 pm
The "good man" stuff, probably, too.
August 30, 2014 @ 2:58 pm
I was thinking the EXACT same thing when I read the script. Wasn't sure if it was something that had been said before this blog, or if Phil had come up with it himself, so… and, again, not sure if I actually commented on it here during the leakings. shrugs
August 30, 2014 @ 3:00 pm
Did anyone know that Bill Kerr died? Giles Kent from "The Enemy of the World", aged 92. Shame he never got to record a commentary — they should've done it last year, rather than bareboning it. 🙁
August 30, 2014 @ 3:01 pm
I have a feeling this will be a major component of Twelve's arc. How does he reconcile his pacifism with UNIT? Who affords him the luxury of pacifism, if not UNIT? Who made him the arbiter of what's justifiable violence and what isn't?
Moffat is clearly keen on rehabilitating UNIT, seeing as how the Curator is working with them. He's not going to mindlessly wrench them back in. It has to have logic to it.
August 30, 2014 @ 3:02 pm
Ha. I'm flattered, but I've got to point out that the idea that the first confrontation between the hero and his arch-nemesis is formative for the hero has got to be one of the least original observations in talking about adventure stories these days. If Alan Moore hadn't written The Killing Joke yet, that would be one thing, but alas, I suspect Moffat and I were both reaching for the same low-hanging fruit.
I mean, I am satisfied by the ways in which the Moffat era has confirmed some of my claims about the series, but don't forget, I started TARDIS Eruditorum in part because of how much the Moffat era excited me. I think it's more likely that I'm pretty good at understanding Moffat's aesthetic and tastes and have been heavily influenced by that understanding than that Moffat is a secret fan.
I'm totally claiming Hide as a deliberate shout-out though.
August 30, 2014 @ 3:07 pm
Lie down on the couch.
August 30, 2014 @ 3:21 pm
In "Extra", Steven says he wanted to do an "explore the inside of a Dalek" story (he pitched it as an idea for a game, then apparently said no because he wanted to do it as an actual story), so presumably that also plays a part – he suggested the idea to Phil Ford in the first place.
August 30, 2014 @ 3:24 pm
My assumption is that Moffat did a full rewrite. Moffat contributes most of the story ideas, that being part of his job as head writer, so I doubt that would be enough to trigger a cowriting credit. Given that Moffat gets his name on five of the first six scripts, and the sixth is by Gatiss, I would assume that there was a conscious decision to have him oversee the early scripts more closely so as to make sure there are no problems with the early development of Capaldi's Doctor.
As I said in the review, the only place this puzzles/worries me is The Caretaker, as I'm not convinced rewriting Roberts works well.
August 30, 2014 @ 3:29 pm
Right. I can't say that I am familiar enough with Phil Ford's writing to be able to say "this part felt exactly like Phil Ford," but none of the actual Dalek plot felt particularly Moffaty.
August 30, 2014 @ 3:32 pm
It's possible that the Caretaker wasn't a rewrite but was actually co-written by Roberts and Moffat a la Baker and Martin or Gaiman and Pratchett – Roberts and Moffat seem like the types to be able to send goofy scenes back and forth while writing a script.
August 30, 2014 @ 4:00 pm
Roberts has co-written some Big Finish stories with Clayton Hickman, no? Hickman's been known to turn up around here, hasn't he? Perhaps he could provide some insight into the process of collaborating with Roberts.
August 30, 2014 @ 4:02 pm
Triturus – it's "You are a good Dalek," with heavy emphasis on the "you".
August 30, 2014 @ 4:02 pm
Hickman and Roberts have collaborated on a lot of stuff, including a Sarah Jane Adventures story. They have a very, very similar aesthetic.
August 30, 2014 @ 4:05 pm
"The One Doctor" is hilarious, at any rate.
August 30, 2014 @ 4:06 pm
Both last week and this week I have got the sense from a few lines now and then that there has been an active script decision to balance out the longer, slower, more complex talkie scenes with much more overt, signposty lines than normal. I mean sure, Doctor Who has had some pretty bad exposition lines in is time, but some of these are almost Shakespearean in their brash "This Is What The Plot is Doing Now" glory.
Normally, lines like that make me sound the exposition alarm, but it's actually working for me so far. It seems like it's playing to an idea that the kids/adults [delete as appropriate] will get bored or not follow what's going on and is then having quite brazen fun with it.
I'm still not sure about the whole Missy/Master thing, but there was definitely another nod to it here with a clearer parallel between Heaven and a TARDIS, to go with the garden/console room stuff.
This pre-title sequence gives us a reminder that the Doctor can materialize his TARDIS around an individual just as they're about to die – Heaven must do the same.
I can't decide if it's really suggesting she is the Master because she definitely IS the Master, or because she definitely ISN'T.
August 30, 2014 @ 4:07 pm
I wonder whether Journey Blue is being set up to replace Clara next year (Jenna Coleman is leaving at Christmas, isn't she?), which I wouldn't be disappointed by – she seems potentially to be an interesting, conflicted character who actively wants to travel on the TARDIS for its own sake.
I'm convinced that Clara is the Sarah Jane of the new series, in that when Sarah Jane was opposite Jon Pertwee, she could only be Not-Jo, performing the same function as Jo Grant but not in the same way (and thus, unsatisfyingly), but when she was paired with Tom Baker she actually came into her own as a character. That's based on my memories of the way the series seemed forty years ago, which might not be reliable. Jenna Coleman valiantly did a lot with not quite enough (in terms of the writing she had) last season, and it's still nice to see her getting better stuff this year.
I was very struck by how it seemed (along with the last episode) to be a conscious evocation of Classic-Who pacing (without being genuinely glacier-slow), and a very deliberate attempt to get away from the foot-jammed-on-the-accelerator-devil-take-the-hindmost pacing of the Matt Smith years. It works for me, though I do worry that the general audience will just think the series has become boring (which it definitely hasn't).
I do think Dr Who continues to be one of the most interesting series on television (I'm not saying the best, although obviously I do think it's very good) with the range of things it's aiming to do. The only other series I find as interesting (though in a completely different way) and textually rich is Hannibal. That is a crossover I never, ever want to see.
August 30, 2014 @ 4:09 pm
And the shrinking, of course.
August 30, 2014 @ 4:12 pm
Thanks John. I'm now officially a bit silly. And, apparently, either deaf or losing my short-term memory..
August 30, 2014 @ 4:15 pm
The only other series I find as interesting (though in a completely different way) and textually rich is Hannibal. That is a crossover I never, ever want to see.
The Two Doctors?
August 30, 2014 @ 4:19 pm
Some friends and I have often thought that Zawe Ashton would make a great Doctor.
Here she is introduced in the new Doctor's first proper story, after an episode where he is realizing that he now has the face of someone he's met before. He thinks this is him trying to tell himself something.
Given Journey Blue's role in establishing this Doctor's relationship to former soldiers, which presumably is about to be questioned by Danny Pink, what Capaldi has come to associate with Journey Blue may well be important enough to send his next regeneration a message about.
So…there we go- Zawe Ashton is the next Doctor.
August 30, 2014 @ 4:34 pm
What does that mean?
August 30, 2014 @ 4:37 pm
I think the Sarah Jane comparison is a good one, and it's one I wanted to make a while ago on somewhat different grounds. Because, as charming as Lis Sladen was, and as much as she made of the part, I think it's reasonably fair to say that Sarah Jane wasn't all that consistently written, and that at times she defaulted to "generic companion" in a way that Jo never did. I'd say this was actually even more true of Sarah Jane with Baker than it was with Pertwee (the problem with Season 11 Sarah was that the consistent character trait they gave her was "Terrance Dicks's caricature of a feminist"). People love the character of Sarah Jane, but that's almost entirely a function of Sladen's acting, not of the character as written.
Season 7 Clara in many ways seems quite similar – a charming and talented actress working with a character who often seemed inconsistent from week to week. I think it's really interesting, and shows how both fandom and the show have changed, that Sarah Jane is probably the most beloved companion of the classic series, while Clara is probably the least popular companion of the new show.
But I think your point that with Pertwee Sarah could only be "not Jo," but was able to come into her own with Baker. Also note that, like with Sarah in Season 12, we seem to be moving from Clara as the sole companion to being paired with an action man type companion.
August 30, 2014 @ 5:01 pm
You seem to be suggesting that Gatiss wrote this episode. He didn't. This episode was written by Phil Ford and Steven Moffat.
August 30, 2014 @ 5:19 pm
Given that the Doctor also claimed to be defined by choosing the Daleks as his arch-enemy, I'm not convinced things are quite as bad as they seem with this Dalek. It also seemed to pause to see if the Doctor was going to say goodbye. I can't help but wonder whether, if it lives long enough, it will also find hope for the Daleks as a whole.
The Doctor being saved from narrative collapse at the end of series 8 by Daleks would make for a nice switch.
August 30, 2014 @ 5:22 pm
Trying to find nice things to say about INTO THE DALEK, in five parts:
1. Parts of it looked nice. Not the stuff-blowing-up-(yawn) parts, but other parts.
2. While the witty banter was not up to the usual standards, it still was good of them to insert a bit of it.
3. The fact that one of the actors is a dead ringer for Ray Stevens offered a brief distraction from the story's plot holes.
4. The new regular looks like he might be good. Guess we'll find out for sure when they let him do something.
5. VICTORY OF THE DALEKS need no longer suffer the disgrace of being the worst story of the Moffat era.
August 30, 2014 @ 5:50 pm
I liked it more than you did; and I thought it had some of the best witty banter in a while, actually. (Mostly the Doctor being Tuckerish.)
The stinker from my point of view is next week's. But the week after that promises good things.
August 30, 2014 @ 5:54 pm
I actually thought the "good man" theme was pretty satisfyingly explored, especially when placed alongside the revelation that our new companion is a soldier who carries around the burden of having been responsible for the death of a civilian. I watched those scenes (and only those scenes) in the leaked version and was blown away that the show was so directly exploring the consequences and ramifications of war.
I also thought the main set piece of a "good dalek" was really interesting, in particular the fact that it was being confronted with a moment of intense beauty which created space for remorse and moral progress, which reminded me of Martha Nussbaum's work on ethical development. Nussbaum argues that Wonder is integral to the development of compassion. Uniquely among the emotions, she argues, Wonder is non-eaudaimonic, not concerned primarily with our evaluation of our own sense of flourishing and that of our projects, and it is therefore integral to bringing concern for other's wellbeing into our sense of our own flourishing. The Doctor thought, if he could just show the Dalek the wonder he sees in the cosmos, it could redeem the entire race.
Instead, it saw his hatred towards those who destroy, threaten, and that wonder, and in the end, simply ended up as a soldier fighting for a different side (and in the leaked version but not the final version, apparently, a suicide bomber)
August 30, 2014 @ 5:58 pm
That seems like an account of why wonder is eudaimonic, not why it's un-eudaimonic.
August 30, 2014 @ 6:24 pm
Nussbaum argues that virtually all emotions, ultimately, are cognitive value judgments regarding what the stimulus implies for the self, its goals and projects, that is, in the broadest sense possible, its flourishing. But wonder is different, in that it entails a forgetting of the self and its flourishing, lost temporarily in contemplation and appreciation of its object.
That opening, the space which wonder creates, she argues, enables us to bring the wellbeing of others into our estimation of our own flourishing, such that they truly matter to us.
It's actually very similar, I would argue to the way in which Buddhist meditation seeks to use mindful appreciation of the present moment as an opening for a blurring of the boundaries between self and world, and ultimately to compassion and the Bodhisattva vow, to rid the world of suffering as a precondition to one's own liberation.
August 30, 2014 @ 6:32 pm
It's interesting that Moffat has gotten us all so used to chronologically nonlinear storytelling that no one even comments on its use in the story. Once upon a time that would have been the most striking aspect of the episode.
August 30, 2014 @ 6:32 pm
Given that I talk about Ford's writing in the fourth paragraph, I'd politely suggest reading past the first one before you treat me like I'm an idiot thanks.
August 30, 2014 @ 6:38 pm
Right, but that seems to slide between a wide (Aristotelean) and a narrow (modern) sense of eudaimonia. The eudaimonia into which others' wellbeing gets incorporated would have to be wide eudaimonia. But the eudaimonia that is forgotten in wonder could only be narrow eudaimonia. If Nussbaum were consistently Aristotelean she couldn't describe wonder as non-eudaimonic. Eudaimonia is the wellbeing of the self, but it's not about the self.
August 30, 2014 @ 6:45 pm
Sorry, not trying to sound critical. I apologize if that's what I came across as. I really enjoyed your review and I did read the whole thing. I was just confused because of your last sentence, "It's almost enough to give one hope that Gatiss can be satisfying."
August 30, 2014 @ 6:46 pm
Oh, sorry – I had assumed you were reacting to the discussion of Gatiss in the first paragraph. No, no – the last sentence is referring to next week's episode, which is by Gatiss.
Sorry to have been snippy.
August 30, 2014 @ 6:47 pm
And I did read the fourth paragraph about Phil Ford, but I got confused with that last sentence (and sort of forgot about you mentioning Phil Ford earlier). Sorry.
August 30, 2014 @ 6:49 pm
Oh, Rusty…it never occurred to me that it was a Russell T. Davies reference. I just thought 'Rusty Dalek' or something like that. Yeah, I was hopeful about Journey Blue as well…although now I'm wondering if they're going to make her into the next Benny. Hmm, not sure about that. Yeah, I loved Danny Pink as well at the start, definitely a mystery that they've created there about him. And…yeah, mostly I'm just affirming what you've said. I can't really think of much extra to add. Of course, I just saw it for the first time a few minutes ago…maybe I'll rewatch it later.
August 30, 2014 @ 6:53 pm
Well, the Invisible Enemy wasn't entirely bad…and I just had the thought that they introduced the tin dog K-9 in the Invisible Enemy…but Danny is not Mickey Smith. And you know, they did sort of hint at Asylum, but part of me wishes they might have done more with Clara and the Dalek and the Doctor thinking about how one of her selves was a Dalek. Sigh. That probably would have been more fanfic-cy than they like. And unfortunately, they're still doing the whole 'Doctor insults Clara's body'…grumble.
August 30, 2014 @ 6:54 pm
You really thought Victory of the Daleks was better than this one? I…don't understand that point of view at all.
August 30, 2014 @ 6:56 pm
Had we ever seen that in Doctor Who pre-Moffat? The only previous instance I can think of for certain is The Wedding of River Song, but I may be forgetting something.
August 30, 2014 @ 7:01 pm
I do miss the gonzo stuff and you're totally right about the miniaturization stories. They really can be cool if done properly and playing them up for laughs might not be so bad. This was a pretty good version of it, although the concept was played with only as far as the time limit allowed.
And the thing about Missy that I started to wonder about is whether or not her heaven is a time capsule that she closes around people just before they expire, like the Doctor did with Journey Blue, and save them. So they're not really dead/in heaven, just saved.
August 30, 2014 @ 7:03 pm
Wasn't Journey looking down when Gretchen died? One assumes she'd have noticed that.
August 30, 2014 @ 7:04 pm
His expression when he's eye-to-eye with the Dalek and inside its mind, sharing everything…that was a fascinating bit of acting there, really trying to go for the hypnotic approach. And he's facing the camera, technically talking to the audience as the Dalek and trying to share with us the 'divinity' of the universe, remember that moment in Doctor Who…
August 30, 2014 @ 7:09 pm
Oh my gosh, Genesis of the Daleks…duh (on my part, I had not realized that). Now I'm wondering if this good Dalek 'Rusty' is going to one day become a new baseline/direction for the show, ala Davros, or hopefully not Davros. Ah, he probably won't show up again.
August 30, 2014 @ 7:19 pm
Maybe random, maybe not entirely related to this comment, but to another, but another word that has been echoed from this episode and last week's was larder–the Doctor inside the clockwork-droid's ship called it a larder and the Doctor here said the weakest places to break into/out of are morgues and larders, because no one protects the dead.
There's a lot of this 'dead' imagery in this episode and last week's episode, all of this underground/inside bases/really cramped quarters with deadly enemies all around in just the first couple of weeks. Of course, Doctor Who is generally a lot like that. You have some nice, dark corridors inside some base/studio that make for good 'running away from monsters' territory. But still, the whole highlighting of the 'larder' situation…Doctor Who really is a larder/morgue of the dead like Gretchen Allison Carlisle.
August 30, 2014 @ 7:22 pm
It reaches beyond the self, certainly. But even when manifesting as love or compassion, our eudaimonia, she argues, still has a self-referential element. Caring deeply about a just cause to the extent of acting selflessly for that cause still entails, in some sense, making it a part of yourself, making it a project of your own. She emphasizes that this does not make the emotions egoistic, merely "localized". They "see the world from my point of view".
And it is precisely the element of Wonder, entailing a loss of awareness of self, which enables moving from the narrower, egoistic sense of what it means to flourish, to the broader sense.
August 30, 2014 @ 7:22 pm
I definitely read "you are a good Dalek" as a response to "you would make a good Dalek," not a quote. It is saying that the Doctor is a morally good Dalek, which I take to mean that he is defined as they are by hatred and the drive to exterminate, but that he shapes it to good ends.
Which, I mean, as someone who regards "The Happiness Patrol" as the definitive encapsulation of what the Doctor does (arrive one evening, decide he doesn't like the local power structures, destroy them by morning, wander off)… it's a perverse phrasing, but not really wrong?
Mostly though, this episode bored me.
Clara's improving rapidly as a character, though, and I like her scenes with Danny Pink. Also so far I like Danny Pink, particularly his face when the student asked if he ever killed a civilian. Not the tear drop (which was a disappointing and blatant instance of the director not trusting the actor or the audience, as single tears trickling down nearly always are), the moment before that. That was good actor face.
August 30, 2014 @ 7:24 pm
And there was that whole about the Doctor asking Clara if he pays her to do anything, whereas she just refers to this as a hobby she likes to do, but she really does pursue it with enthusiasm and teaches the Doctor, or at least prompts him to find a better way of handling the Dalek. Aristotle was the one who taught his students by asking them questions so that they can find/realize the answers themselves. And he had some very dedicated students who really did love him, according to the stories.
August 30, 2014 @ 7:25 pm
And then I just realized I'm confusing Aristotle with Socrates. Hmm.
August 30, 2014 @ 7:28 pm
And if what I've heard about the series finale is true with the monster they are going to face…the larder theme might not be a bad idea.
August 30, 2014 @ 7:29 pm
Well, I'm not about to watch them back to back to decide once and for all, as that would entail watching them again.
August 30, 2014 @ 7:34 pm
You know, the scenes of Death in the 7th Doctor books…from the few that I have read, mostly Paul Cornell-penned…I think it's kind of interesting. It veered a little towards Neil Gaiman territory, yes, but bringing Death onboard in physical embodiment might be a challenge that leads into the fantastical/mythological realm. Beyond what Doctor Who usually covers, although they might not go so far as that.
And I'm really going to be intrigued by how they might further incorporate UNIT into the Doctor Who narrative. Hopefully it will be different than 70s Pertwee. He was trapped on Earth for awhile, he couldn't really go anywhere, and UNIT was more military-based with science and technology as a side-line. Maybe he won't be trapped on Earth, comes and goes as he pleases, but still there might be a connection to UNIT beyond an obligation, or maybe the obligation is deeper than 'just a job'. And while there might be some military/action basis with UNIT, a more prominent expansion of the science and technology aspect of UNIT could lead to some good stuff. Yeah, it might work.
August 30, 2014 @ 7:37 pm
Ah, the shrinking…remember the time we had a puny Master? Yeah, that was fun. I really wish Peri had squashed him.
August 30, 2014 @ 7:59 pm
Perhaps Missy hijacked one of the Antibody Eyeballs and used yet another miniaturization ray to save Gretchen Alison Carlyle.
August 30, 2014 @ 8:37 pm
What do people make of Clara slapping the doctor? For me that crossed a pretty big line. If the roles had been reversed it would have been inconceivable, so does the fact Clara is female somehow make it ok? The doctor won't travel with soldiers but casual domestic violence is ok as long as the female is doing the hitting?
August 30, 2014 @ 10:08 pm
I loved the way the Doctor is still able to get giddy about the birth of a star, it was lovely getting Capaldi to go all Hartnell in his speech ( surprised no one mentioned this, am I seeing things that aren't there?)
August 30, 2014 @ 10:33 pm
Farewell, new paradigm Daleks. We hardly knew ye.
August 30, 2014 @ 10:36 pm
Since every Doctor requires a Dalek story, they get it out of the way up front, treating it as something to get over with instead of something to anticipate.
I think there's more to it than that. There seems to be an effort to build parallels between this Doctor and Hartnell (the first Doctor of regeneration cycle #1, and the first of regeneration cycle #2), the most blatant of these being that both have companions who teach at Coal Hill School.
This is a Doctor who, like Hartnell, is not yet a hero, but who will learn to become one during the course of his adventures. So, of course, this Doctor's second adventure has to be an encounter with the Daleks — and the first Doctor's moral journey after his own second-adventure encounter with the Daleks is explicitly evoked.
The late addition of a cowriting credit for Moffat suggests that in this case he was commissioned as a matter of production expediency
Or are they just explicitly acknowledging what was always already happening, that the chief writer has a big input into many of the scripts? This is the same style of crediting as was introduced in the last season of Sherlock — in seasons 1 & 2 Stephen Thompson was credited alone for his episodes, whereas in season 3 Gatiss and Moffat's input was acknowledged with co-writer credits.
My guess was that the division of writers might reflect the division of scenes, with Moffat writing the Danny Pink/Coal Hill School material, and Ford the Dalek/space scenes — Moffat possibly not wanting to leave the introduction of a major new character to another writer.
August 30, 2014 @ 10:43 pm
This is interesting. I have no obvious answer that redeems the slap itself. Interpersonal violence is not good. But in absolute terms it's small potatoes compared to Dalek antibodies and mass exterminations around it.
August 30, 2014 @ 11:25 pm
One of my favorite things about Moffat is that he's the first person since David Whitaker in "Evil of the Daleks" to try to do something more interesting with the Daleks than just make them a horde of omnicidal maniacs. Even his missteps (most notably "Victory of the Daleks") have, IMO, made the Daleks more interesting than they have been since the black & white era. I may be the only person alive who regrets that Moffat has seemingly abandoned the interesting ideas raised by the "Victory" Daleks simply because everyone whined about the new color scheme.
August 30, 2014 @ 11:32 pm
Agreed on both counts. With 'You are a good Dalek' I thought the intention was clear but some people have run with it as solely an Eccleston era reference and missed the more subtle moral judgement and heel face turn of the expected denoument. (The story in lesser hands would have ended with the Dalek discovering its humanity). The Dalek is definitely saying that the Doctor has the attitude of a Dalek tempered by a 'good' morality. So the answer to "Am I a good man" becomes "No you are a good Dalek".
With Danny's single tear, it becomes a plot point later in the script when Danny misreads what Clara is saying to him and assumes someone has told her about him crying. Unfortunately it's a clunky piece of dialogue and ruins the previous scene by requiring us to actually see the shed tear.
August 30, 2014 @ 11:38 pm
Clara is probably the least popular companion of the new show.
I think that's about to change, personally. Clara so far works with Twelve in a way that she never did with Eleven. I'm astonished at how much more I enjoy the character this season compared to 7b.
August 30, 2014 @ 11:43 pm
In the context of the scene, I could buy it. From her perspective, they were all about to die and all Twelve could think about was his satisfaction in being right that all Daleks were inherently evil. I saw it less as domestic violence and more of a "snap out of it" thing. YMMV.
August 30, 2014 @ 11:54 pm
Unfortunately the Doctor's needlessly callous and dismissive treatment of the first trooper to die in the Dalek soured me on the rest of the episode, which was a shame since as noted Wheatley's action direction was a big step up from last week. I'm all for the Doctor being more alien and detached, but I don't think even in the darkest days of Saward I can ever remember the Doctor being so – well, yes, cruel and cowardly. Especially given the redemptive revision of Day of the Doctor, I can't begin to understand why Moffat wants to go over the Doctor's morality yet again; I can't see how we will learn anything we didn't learn the last four or five times, and for poor old Capaldi it means he can't get as far away from his currently most famous role as he's capable of. In addition, the pacing was all over the shop. Puzzling, tedious and troubling.
August 30, 2014 @ 11:58 pm
Is there something going on where maybe we will later find out it somehow isn't quite the full doctor? Sadly I fear not, but I'm hoping this is all part of a plot arc.
August 31, 2014 @ 12:15 am
Same thing I made of River slapping the Doctor, which was, honestly not a lot.
August 31, 2014 @ 1:19 am
"We're going to die in here, and there's a little bit of you that's pleased. 'The Daleks are evil after all, everything makes sense, the Doctor is right'!"
Context is important.
What Happened To Robbie?
August 31, 2014 @ 1:29 am
I'm glad someone else felt the same way. I couldn't believe what I had just seen. I found 11's actions towards Solomon in DoaS similarly troubling but this came across much worse.
August 31, 2014 @ 2:11 am
Now, I've just seen someone say that the thing the Doctor gives him to swallow is basically just a placebo type deal to stop him panicking in his last moments, which I would be slightly more all right with, compared to how I read it, which was that the thing was like a homing device or something to make sure the antibodies killed the right dude. Maybe I should go watch it again, I don't know. I'm all for ambiguity and such but this didn't seem to me to be deliberately ambiguous (like the did-he-jump-or-was-he-pushed bit from last week) so much as just clumsily presented so it wasn't clear what was actually going on. I admit I lost concentration here and there because it was all so familiar…
August 31, 2014 @ 2:22 am
To clear this up, the 'pill' was no more than a spare power cell. He tracked its radiation signature in order to find where Ross' material would be deposited – because 'nobody guards the dead', that's where they would escape from the antibodies. He didn't kill Ross, or ensure his death, but used his impending death to save the others rather than getting emotional about it.
August 31, 2014 @ 2:23 am
The pill contained some kind of tracer (something like barium, maybe) so that when the soldier was disintegrated and hoovered up, the Doctor could trace the path his remains took and find the waste chute that they used as an escape route.
Even though he couldn't save him, Tennant's or Smith's Doctor would have tried to comfort the soldier before he died, which Capaldi didn't bother doing, so he is definitely colder, but it's not like he actually did anything to cause or hasten the soldier's death.
August 31, 2014 @ 2:24 am
August 31, 2014 @ 2:33 am
Ah, OK then. I still have a problem with him saying "trust me", though. And it seems to me the situation only arose in the first place because they were all too stupid to discuss how they should / shouldn't behave towards the Dalek innards beforehand
August 31, 2014 @ 2:39 am
There's also the idea that, again only partially, perhaps Steven's name is on scripts to draw people in too? That was the reason Russell co-wrote 2009, to draw in bigger names with his name attached to scripts (as well as him doing the usual rewrites). Is it possible that Steven's also taking this approach?
August 31, 2014 @ 2:39 am
the doctor wasn't callous or dismissive to the soldier dying – he threw him the tracker and let him die hopeful at least, if we give the doctor enough credit to assume he wasn't lying about being unable to save him.
the doctor was dismissive of the remaining soldiers, because they're soldiers and this story had a lot to say about the soldier's approach to the world – the doctor rescues a doomed soldier and is ordered around with a gun. he returns the soldier to their home and a coward orders him killed without conscious by appeal to his own orders. pink orders around children who ignore him, then can't justify his own actions to children. that's before we get in the dalek – and then the soldiers want the doctor to be more compassionate to the dead soldier? every single action by every person with agency that lead to (the soldier) being where he is when he dies was callous and dismissive of the worth of life. the doctor doesn't want to comfort the people who were complicit in that.
August 31, 2014 @ 2:45 am
I much prefer when companions shout him down; no need for a physical slap, even if it is "snap out of it!"
August 31, 2014 @ 3:31 am
Based on this episode, I've decided that the Half Face Man jumped from the balloon. In the second episode, we see Gretchen go to Heaven, but not Ross. At this point in the series, I think Heaven is populated by those who willingly sacrifice themselves to help the Doctor.
August 31, 2014 @ 3:39 am
What I am offended by is MRA style trolling about reverse sexism, which seems to be what most of the complaints about the slap amount to.
August 31, 2014 @ 3:49 am
Couldn't see if this was discussed elsewhere, but surely the rather heavy-handed Blue and Pink (interestingly, gender swapped from the usual colour allocation) thing suggests that they might indeed be the siblings from the start of the episode? The Doctor saved Blue, but someone might have saved Pink as well?
August 31, 2014 @ 3:57 am
Clara so far works with Twelve in a way that she never did with Eleven.
I agree. Both in the episode I enjoyed last week and the episode I disliked this week, the Capaldi/Coleman dynamic was one of the best things onscreen. Clara, a character I'd found rather bland, is suddenly interesting.
August 31, 2014 @ 4:06 am
"I do hope they find an excuse to give William Russell a cameo soon, though, if only to get the sense of a modern day Ian to be even stronger. "
I thought they couldn't do that because Sarah Jane said that Ian and Barbara had never aged, and seeing him in person would contradict that.
August 31, 2014 @ 4:06 am
Maybe Rusty will end up being a companion, K-9 style. Just as K-9 had to stay in the TARDIS whenever the Doctor landed where there was grass, Rusty will have to stay inside whenever there are stairs.
August 31, 2014 @ 4:36 am
Maybe I misunderstand John, but MRA is about saying men are oppressed? I'm just saying I don't think hitting should be considered justifiable or normal between friends of either gender. The context arguments are spurious, and there is a definite sexual double standard in considering this kind of thing.
Perhaps more, I'm just a bit saddened as the non-violence and intelligence of the heroes used to be one of the defining features of this show.
August 31, 2014 @ 4:56 am
I don't think any of those little explanations from SJA's Death of the Doctor were meant to be taken as Incontrovertible God Canon/Must Not Be Contradicted Ever, any more than the Doctor's claim of having 507 extra regenerations.
Or any more than any other 'canon' in the series, really.
August 31, 2014 @ 5:58 am
Well, there's https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soldier_Blue
Also, I suspect the civilian Mr Pink killed was a woman (hence the incredibly reference to him being a "ladykiller").
August 31, 2014 @ 6:02 am
(Actually, reading the précis of the film, I'm not sure how helpful that is, although I'm still convinced it's deliberate.)
August 31, 2014 @ 6:27 am
Alan – What about Shearman in Dalek?
August 31, 2014 @ 6:28 am
And, I should add, even more so in Jubilee, but that might not count.
August 31, 2014 @ 6:44 am
This may be so obvious as to not be worth stating, but:
The Doctor asks if he's a "good man" early in the episode, and is told he is a "good Dalek" at the end. The question turned out not to revolve around whether he was good, but whether he was a man, and the answer appears to be "probably not". That's interesting in continuing a possible theme of a Doctor who is more explicitly not human, which I hope is something that carries on through the rest of the series.
August 31, 2014 @ 7:00 am
People have been talking about the end of this episode was changed from the screener print… And I checked and it totally was.
Originally it ended with Rusty suicide bombing the Dalek ship blowing it up. Definitely prefer the new ending 24601%.
August 31, 2014 @ 7:28 am
MRA = Men's Rights Activism. It often devolves into a giant tu quoque argument.
August 31, 2014 @ 7:30 am
I've been watching the leaked screeners after the episode proper to compare the two, because that's the sort of person I am, and that scene really did stick out at me. Whether it was removed to lose an effects shot, or for narrative reasons, I'm with you that it was the right call.
Another interesting thing I noted, (and avert your eyes now if you don't want them tainted by what is in the scripts and screeners) is that an ADR radio voice the Boss One spoke to at 28:47 was referred to in an onscreen caption as "Angel Bob", with the temp voice giving a similar intonation. After cursing myself for missing that in the episode proper, I double-checked and found that this wasn't actually in it – and must be an in-joke or code the production team used.
August 31, 2014 @ 7:47 am
What do we make of this change? Why film a sequence like that and then cut it? Does this indicate that Rusty and its "mission" will play a larger role down the line?
August 31, 2014 @ 8:53 am
A William Russell cameo needn't be an Ian cameo.
And vice evrsa too: if they want a young-Ian cameo they could use the guy who played Russell in Adventure. That way they could have Barbara too.
August 31, 2014 @ 8:54 am
Last week a flashback, this week an achronological edit. What next? Unreliable narration?
August 31, 2014 @ 8:59 am
It could also indicate that the budget ran out and they needed to cut an F/X shot. (It was unfinished in the screener.)
August 31, 2014 @ 9:01 am
It needn't be, but given that Ian is ostensibly still at Coal's Hill, that was what I had in mind.
I am strongly disinclined to prioritize not contradicting Sarah Jane Adventures over the opportunity to see Ian realizing that another generation of Coal Hill School teachers are on the TARDIS, but that the Doctor has (mostly) learned to fly the damn thing this time.
August 31, 2014 @ 9:05 am
It is, I believe, traditional to link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzmnPs64K74 upon any claims that the Doctor is non-violent. (NSFW without headphones)
John correctly identifies part of why I don't really care about the slap, which is my suspicion that many of the people who do care about the slap are people I've generally vowed to never be on the same side of an argument as, particularly an argument even tangentially related to feminism.
But yes, the fact that Clara is a woman makes it better, because it means that it's just feeding into the normalization of violence in general, which has always been a bit of a grey area for Doctor Who, as opposed to feeding into the normalization of male-on-female violence, which is independently a problem.
August 31, 2014 @ 9:05 am
Yes, all that's fine — but since for an Aristotelean, eudaimonia always means the broader sense, I'm puzzled at the description of wonder as non-eudaimonic. It seems an unnecessary concession to the non-Aristotelean view.
(Incidentally, "egoism" has those broader and narrower meanings too.)
August 31, 2014 @ 9:12 am
I hated next week's episode when I read, and then watched, the leaked versions. But maybe Phil will find a way to redeem it.
August 31, 2014 @ 9:16 am
Are they bringing Kandyman back?
August 31, 2014 @ 9:23 am
The fact that they deleted his originally filmed suicide-bombing scene suggests he may return.
Then again, Moffat supposedly asked Davies not to kill off Jenny Who, but has never used her since (as far as we know).
August 31, 2014 @ 9:29 am
they're still doing the whole 'Doctor insults Clara's body'…grumble.
There's more to come, I'm afraid. I think it's all meant to be an echo of the alien-ness of Tom Baker's "you're a beautiful woman, probably" in "City of Death."
August 31, 2014 @ 9:48 am
people I've generally vowed to never be on the same side of an argument as
Word to the wise: That sort of vow never ends well. Eventually two of those people will come down on opposite sides of an important debate, and then you'll start twirling in circles with smoke coming out of your ears saying "MUST/MUST NOT" until you explode.
August 31, 2014 @ 9:49 am
Or just find somewhere else to debate that point.
August 31, 2014 @ 9:59 am
I suspect they will be back. They presumably still have the models.
August 31, 2014 @ 10:15 am
It seemed signposted to me, and even almost obvious, that Danny Pink is going to be a Dalek duplicate. His unspecified war, his slightly machine-like gait into the classroom, his barking tone at the cadets, the fact that he teaches the stereotypically emotionless subject of math … my only question is whether he'll turn out to be Journey Blue's brother, abstracted from the doomed ship by the Daleks instead of the Doctor (the names are a hint), or else Rusty the Dalek itself (the tear is a hint).
August 31, 2014 @ 10:27 am
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that he served in the British military in the Middle East, and that any similarities between Pink and the combatants in a far-future Dalek war reflect the show's themes, not direct plot connections.
August 31, 2014 @ 11:28 am
It's funny how Sawardian much of the ethos of this story was. And not generally being a fan of that ethos (though certainly enjoying many of the stories within that run) I'd think I'd be predisposed not to like Into the Dalek.
Except that it's so damn alchemical. I had no idea (until catching the wind of a spoiler late last week) that Danny Pink was showing up so early in Twelve's run. Well, having boned up on The Great Work after The Crimson Horror and discovering the alchemical underpinnings of shows like Breaking Bad (Walter White and Jesse Pinkman) or The Hunger Games (Coal, Snow, Fire) I was rather hoping that Danny Pink's introduction would be an alchemical affair.
And boy is it ever.
The first stage in an alchemical working is called nigredo or "blackening." It's a period of soul-searching, of discovering what one is not, of uncovering one's shadows, of putrefaction and dissolution and mortification. Before one can purify and redden (white and red, or "pink") one must first rot, dissolve, blacken.
One must go into darkness.
So I'm reminded of Phil's description of Season 22, that it was an exorcism of a sort. And that's kind of the vibe I got from Into the Dalek, which is focused on the nature of darkness, and indeed of coal. Coal Hill. Like, the Doctor realizing that he had defined himself in terms of what he was not. How Danny ruminates about what he had not done in the face of Clara's flirtations. How Clara reminds the Doctor of what he had not learned. And that he is not a good man, and did not make a "good" Dalek. Blue focuses on how the Doctor did not save her brother. A hospital without doctors. How about, "That is not The Question?"
And so I can't help but think that Into the Dalek is in service to the nigredo stage of an alchemical working. It's working out what Doctor Who ultimately cannot be. And so the story rather revels in the Sawardian ethos, plays it up as much as that note can be played, but ultimately the sound of that bell can only carry so far. Eventually we must pass into the mercurial phase, the albedo with its whites and silvers, before all turns rubedo again. Red doors on a Cupboard.
Clara ends up donning a black coat at the end of the story. Having been dressed in Red for the entire story (and a red covered in Open Eyes, no less) she begins the Great Work yet again, perhaps realizing subconsciously that there is no end to the circle, no end, that resistence to life is futile, and that new life can only spring from decay and fermentation.
The snake eats its own tale, it has to.
August 31, 2014 @ 11:44 am
It seemed signposted to me, and even almost obvious, that Danny Pink is going to be a Dalek duplicate
Have you read the leaked script for "Listen"? Because the probability or otherwise of your hypothesis is, I would say, strongly affected by the events of that episode.
August 31, 2014 @ 11:49 am
In the movie of "Fellowship of the Ring," Gandalf comments that Ian-Holm-Bilbo hasn't "aged a day" since he got the ring — which was true in the context of that movie, where a flashback showed Ian-Holm-Bilbo finding the ring; but now that we've seen Martin-Freeman-Bilbo finding the ring, Gandalf's line has been retroactively rendered a bit incongruous.
Anyway, it would be funny if they addressed it by having the Doctor say to old-Ian "you haven't aged a day.'
August 31, 2014 @ 12:03 pm
No, I've avoided any season spoilers; I don't even know how many episodes are in this run.
August 31, 2014 @ 1:04 pm
Clara's last words: "Not me."
August 31, 2014 @ 1:57 pm
At the risk of being a ratings bore, and to quash the inevitable "sky is falling" reports, "Into the Dalek" appears to have grabbed 5.2 million overnight.
Noticeably down on "Deep Breath's" 6.8, but almost identical to Series 6's "Day of the Moon" (5.4) and Series 7's "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship" (5.5). Sadly nowhere near as good as the second story of the "disastrous" Series 5 ("The Beast Below" – 6.7). [Sarcasm Mode]
As usual though, the true story lies in the finals for the week after, and I confidently predict "Into the Dalek" to peak at about 7.3.
The sky isn't falling. Don't panic Captain Mainwaring! It's business as usual for the Doctor.
August 31, 2014 @ 2:49 pm
I don't think anyone's brought up the serious plausibility problem with this story yet.
I know, I know, Doctor Who is hardly Hard SF, and I've never said it should be, but sometimes it presents something that so blatantly breaks the bounds of possibility that it is impossible to get past.
I refer of course, to the depiction of a 27-year-old woman carrying an actual physical newspaper. And not even a freesheet!
Moffat Must Go.
August 31, 2014 @ 3:21 pm
I think the distinction is that emotions such as love and compassion retain a self-deferential dimension for Nussbaum, which is almost entirely absent in wonder. In compassion, someone else's suffering matters to me and I feel it as my own. In the moment of wonder, there is no "me" for beauty to matter to.
She does acknowledge, I think, that this is a departure from other interpretations of Aristotelean eudaimonia, though I believe she considers her own account more accurate as a description of human emotions: " . . . we have left out . . . something which lies deep in ancient eudaimonism but that is never explicitly recognized. Emotions contain an ineliminable reference to me"
But in any event, I found it really fascinating that this was explicitly the framework around what could make a Dalek "good". Before it could have compassion, it had to see Beauty.
And I thought it doevetailed very nicely with the "soldier" motiff. The Doctor tries to show it beauty, but ends up showing it the far more complex and ethically nebulous emotion of hatred towards those who destroy beauty, which leads it into remaining a soldier (and possibly a suicide bomber).
August 31, 2014 @ 5:58 pm
Okay, a whole day late with a comment. This'll be noticed.
But is anyone else getting a City Of The Saved vibe off 'Missy'? Human/TARDIS saving all of humanity after they die? And she did call the Doctor her boyfriend, of which there's only two candidates, one of which isn't River (clue: "My thief").
Should Philip Purser-Hallard (writer of possibly the best spin-off media in all of the wilderness years, why haven't you mentioned it other Phil) be wondering where all this is going?
August 31, 2014 @ 7:16 pm
Oh well, in that case: Danny Pink turns out to be a Slitheen, who in turn turns out to be possessed by Fenric.
August 31, 2014 @ 9:45 pm
Oh gods yes
August 31, 2014 @ 10:06 pm
Thanks for the plug – have looked forwards to hearing about your book and wil check it out.
August 31, 2014 @ 10:14 pm
Well, as long as he hasn't fallen into Coal Hill School from a Reservoir Dogs crossover.
…I suppose I should clarify my own critical shorthand. It is "almost obvious" to me not so much that Danny Pink is a Dalek duplicate, as that the narrative wants me to think he is. The show might yet do any number of things with this expectation, and whether it's eventually satisfied or thwarted, I do hope it's managed cleverly.
August 31, 2014 @ 10:16 pm
@ Chicanery: "Calling the Dalek 'Rusty' was a bit rough on RTD, but I assume it's good natured"
& @ Bennett: "What lies inside a Dalek?"
On re-watching I laughed my head off when I realised who the Dalek was named after and remembered that one of RTD's early concepts for the big bad appearing in series one's Dalek was a race of nasty floating spheres (later becoming the Toclafane). So RTD's stories appear (or versions of them anyway) also inside the Dalek! Or maybe every Dalek story is inside a Dalek?
August 31, 2014 @ 10:21 pm
Yeah Alan I do agree, and feel that generally the Daleks has been made a lot more interesting and nuanced. That I feel John would indeed go back all the way to Rob Shearman with Jubilee, where the groundwork was laid for the current Dalek stories. I feel that there is certainly influences anyway, especially as elements of that tale were reworked for Dalek.
August 31, 2014 @ 10:27 pm
@ Callum Leemkuil: "Speaking of Ben Wheatley, he's fast moving into my top 5 list of Doctor Who directors"
Oh my golly, next to Nick Hurran he is immediately one of my favourite directors on the show. As someone mentioned above his colour palette is glorious – though I may try your trick and watch some in B&W just as an experiment. Great framing and I like the focus on characters faces, giving an aliveness to the emotional life of each episode so far.
August 31, 2014 @ 10:28 pm
What made "Dalek" work was that the last omnicidal maniac looked around, saw that it was the last omnicidal maniac, and promptly killed itself. It didn't do anything to challenge the basic paradigm of "Daleks are all omnicidal maniacs." "Evil of the Daleks" was really the last thing to play around with that idea, though there were some interesting experiments (culminating in "Remembrance") with the idea of two factions of basically identical omnicidal maniacs warring over which group was the best omnicidal maniacs.
And Jubilee is a good example of something done in the audios that should have been picked up on in the series, especially at the conclusion of "Journey's End." Namely, someone should point out to the Daleks that if they ever succeed in exterminating all non-Dalek life, they will thereafter have no reason for existing, since they have absolutely no purpose in life except exterminating things.
August 31, 2014 @ 10:29 pm
That scene felt appropriately claustrophobic, and the battle scenes felt so much more visceral being carried out through model work and practical FX.
August 31, 2014 @ 10:34 pm
Well my daughter said "maybe it really is heaven." to which I replied "so robots go to heaven now do they?"
August 31, 2014 @ 10:35 pm
@ Phil: "As I said in the review, the only place this puzzles/worries me is The Caretaker, as I'm not convinced rewriting Roberts works well."
Yeah agreed – unless Moffat is being rewritten by Roberts? Moffat could come up with the basic story and Roberts then put flesh and meat around it? Here's hoping Gareth's work shines through.
August 31, 2014 @ 10:36 pm
A new Kandyman, resurrected by thinly disguised expies of David Cameron and BoJo, chasing tiny ratlike Liberal Democrats through the sewers. I'd watch that.
Sadly, I doubt you could do the sort of allegory that would a return of the Kandyman worthwhile nowadays. All the Tories squeal like toddlers about the BBC's liberal bias whenever their subjected to even the mildest criticism.
August 31, 2014 @ 10:40 pm
Given Journey Blue's role in establishing this Doctor's relationship to former soldiers, which presumably is about to be questioned by Danny Pink, what Capaldi has come to associate with Journey Blue may well be important enough to send his next regeneration a message about.
Hmm. And I just now noticed that "Journey Blue" is actually suggestive of the TARDIS. Funny that.
August 31, 2014 @ 10:42 pm
I'll say it again — I liked the paradigm Daleks and hope they do come back. If only (a) to find out whether the Soldier Daleks might have any thoughts on the fact that they were created to be disposable and (b) to find out what the heck an Eternal Dalek is.
August 31, 2014 @ 10:52 pm
Yeah they were both brilliant pieces of writing that certainly expanded the range of feelings and responses that us as viewers can have in response to Daleks and I agree with your points.
One story that this episode also made me think of (though I have not read) is The Only Good Dalek graphic novel by Justin Richards, which is essentially about the only thing that can stop Daleks is another Dalek.
August 31, 2014 @ 11:03 pm
Phil: "I'm totally claiming Hide as a deliberate shout-out though."
I had not idea what that reference was, just went and checked the transcript for the episode – and totally yes! That's brilliant!
August 31, 2014 @ 11:20 pm
There does in this episode, certainly seem to be parallels being made between what Missy is doing to people as they die and what the Doctor did for Journey.
August 31, 2014 @ 11:31 pm
@ John Peacock: "I'm convinced that Clara is the Sarah Jane of the new series"
Think there is really something in that. I think there are some Pertwee parallels in the series so far with season 11 when Sarah Jane first appeared. The first three stories there were:
– The Time Warrior
– Invasion of the Dinosaurs
– Death to the Daleks
Well, we had the T-Rex in the Thames; we've just had Death to the Daleks (recited at least in-episode) and next week we have the companion visiting some form of Medieval England. Although all of these story ideas are not being copied, but reworked/revisioned somehow.
September 1, 2014 @ 12:19 am
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September 1, 2014 @ 12:21 am
@ Jane: "So I'm reminded of Phil's description of Season 22"
Great thoughts Jane, thank you!
Since the ending of Deep Breath in the post telephone call scene I have been feeling that there is some kind of journey of healing going on (long-term), and the immediate healing that came to mind especially from this scene was that Season 22 was being healed – and specifically the psychosis inherent in the 6th Doctor's behaviour at that time. Compare the scene above and the Doctor's responses to Clara with the 6th's to Peri in the Twin Dilemma.
One reason to take the alchemical journey into darkness is perhaps to face and maybe eventually integrate and heal what lies there. Another important step in the Great Work displayed in this episode is e stage of dissolution, the 'solve et coagula', where aspects of the self are reformed, blockages and impediments are broken down which can feel like a collapse. Years of tension and limitation are challenged – gradually then building to a climax.
Interesting then that we see them fall into the dissolved protein of the dead and the entire story takes place within a powerful 'crucible' – the vessel which contains the Work and a term already used by the Daleks.
A tarot image in the episode that struck me is The Tower, especially at the point when the damage to the Dalek is discovered and they gaze up at the core pouring radiation – though the image is turned inside-out and seen from within. The Tower represents the breaking open of structures, either of the personality or outer structures, radical change and even the discovery of inspiration – present in the Dalek's awe at the birth of a star and the effect this had.
September 1, 2014 @ 1:04 am
What made "Dalek" work was that the last omnicidal maniac looked around, saw that it was the last omnicidal maniac, and promptly killed itself.
Wasn't that Remembrance? As I recall, the one in Dalek killed itself because it was ceasing to be fully a Dalek, which meant that it lost the armoured carapace of unadulterated certainty and strident self-definition of perfection which is all that makes being a Dalek bearable, exposing its soft squidgy core to the furnace of its own misery and loathing. What was Dalek in it could not endure its unDalekness and what was not Dalek could not endure its Dalekness. Which to me is both far more interesting and a lot more plausible. Solitude would be no reason for a Dalek not to go on doing what Daleks do. One is enough. "We would destroy the Cybermen with ONE Dalek!" (Doomsday, incidentally, got the Daleks spot-on for me.)
I certainly found that vastly more effective than the ham-fisted efforts of this episode, which first decided that a Dalek being utterly consumed with hatred of Daleks rather than utterly consumed with hatred of not-Daleks amounts to a Dalek being "good", had the Doctor set out to replicate that effect, and then had him consumed with dismay when he did so, not because he had realised anything new about what he was doing but because the writers had apparently forgotten what their original attribution of "goodness" consisted of.
I also experienced plausibility breakdown over the characters' unquestioned assumption that by repairing it they had undone a genuine change in its thinking, when the most obvious and likely explanation from their perspective would be that it had been shamming all along to trick them into fixing it – pretty much a re-run of what happened in Dalek.
September 1, 2014 @ 1:52 am
Incidentally, that's a similar flaw to the one that ruined Waters of Mars for me, though in a less extreme form, since that had the basic problem that Phil talked about, of the incapacity of arbitrarily-declared Unbreakable Laws of Time and Stuff to override normal moral and emotional imperatives, as well as the more avoidable one that the declared reasons for why the crew had to be abandoned to their deaths could scarcely have been more nonsensical if Ford had actually been aiming for that.
September 1, 2014 @ 2:10 am
The Ian who hasn't aged isn't on the Coal Hill board of governors; he's a Cambridge professor. So that's already been contradicted.
September 1, 2014 @ 3:46 am
And why not?
September 1, 2014 @ 5:03 am
On a second watch, my favourite line/delivery was Capaldi saying: "Are you going to miniaturise me?" One of those lines you can imagine every Doctor saying but in entirely different ways.
September 1, 2014 @ 5:44 am
quite. otherwise where do all the calculators go?
September 1, 2014 @ 10:36 am
I get where John is coming from. SJ started out with Pertwee but really hit the chemistry with Baker, so much so that she is forever seen as the quintessential 4th Doctor's companion. I kind of get the vibe that Clara will grow as a character when paired with Capaldi, in a way she never did with Smith. Having said that, the media are throwing about rumours that this will be her last series which (although it is the media who are not to be trusted) would be a shame if a new Sarah Jane were nipped in the bud, so to speak.
September 1, 2014 @ 12:41 pm
Likewise, I'd almost call the exchange about Skaro being where the Doctor discovered who he really was to be a direct shout out to the early days of the Eruditorum, in phrasing if in nothing else.
This episode felt like it was the most invested in pre-existing Dalek mythology we've been since… what… Remembrance? The Journey Ends perhaps, from another direction? I can't remember the last time we were directly reminded of what the material components of a Dalek are, the closest being Matt Smith's joke about there not being "a bone in your body" at all.
Wait a minute, male Coal Hill teacher, bit of a big goody awkward softy, semi-romantic arc with the female companion, ambiguous military history… they've made Young Wilf a companion! I mean, no, sorry, the other guy. Chatterfield!
The only thing I feel is actually missing from this episode, the only thing that's not here and that I wish it was, is the title should have been Interior of the Dalek.
September 1, 2014 @ 2:14 pm
Daibhid C: I don't know much about the selection criteria for boards of governors, but are you saying that Cambridge profs are excluded?
September 1, 2014 @ 2:32 pm
(c) to finally see something come out of that damn hatch at the back. After all, it was the hunch-back that invited the most criticism, so let's see what all the fuss was about, hey?
September 1, 2014 @ 2:40 pm
A woman slapping a man in such a situation is often subconscious shorthand for "Our relationship is such that I feel comfortable expressing my anger and frustration with you in this manner, knowing that you will not hit me back, but that you will accept and realise the depth of my feeling in this matter."
September 1, 2014 @ 2:47 pm
RTD in "The Writer's Tale" pointed out how he co-wrote most of the scripts in his tenure, but that once he had failed to take a co-credit on the first one it became impossible to do so ever again. Because the first time he did it would imply in the viewers' minds that the author's work was somehow substandard and had to be rescued. I believe that "Waters of Mars" was the first (and last) story that he took a co-credit for, at Julie Gardner's insistance. Perhaps Moffat has no such qualms and feels happy to take credit if his input passes some kind of threshold. Like RTD he very probably rewrites most stories anyway.
September 1, 2014 @ 3:18 pm
Not quite a defense, but:
If I was in trouble and the Doctor started saying "I'm sorry, I'm so so sorry" I'd not be comforted in my last moments, I'd be freaked out. If he says "Trust me" then I'm comforted. It's a lie, and this case a self-serving lie, but it IS comforting.
September 1, 2014 @ 3:41 pm
Not sure if anyone is still reading this, especially with an Eruditorium post out today, but I finally was able to watch the episode. I think it's very interesting that out of the first two episodes of this series, we've gotten two separate reflections of the Doctor through his villain. As Jane said above, this Doctor is still defining himself by what he's not. But the show doesn't seem to agree that he's not those things; at least not yet. Talking to the Half faced man last episode, the Doctor said that their was nothing of the original him left, and we were clearly supposed to interpret that as being applicable to the Doctor as well. Now this episode has The Doctor enter the mind of a Dalek and finds that they share one thing in common: hatred.
I wonder if we will continue to see this idea of the Doctor as being similar to the things he fights as the series goes on, or if it was just these first two stories.
September 1, 2014 @ 9:05 pm
Holy shit! 188 comments! I'm going to add mine now and just hope I won't be too redundant, though it seems mathematically unlikely at this point.
First time through, my heart sank when I realized what "Into the Dalek" was going to mean, and apart from the jaw-dropper when I saw how the Doctor addressed what happened to Ross, I was pretty disappointed. That "Dalek redux" feeling, mostly. Plus, I found all the treatment of "soldiers" borderline offensive: I know a few soldiers in real life (as I'm sure many of us do) and they're by and large better people than I am. It's the people giving the orders you have to watch out for.
Second time through, it clicked for me that the reason the Doctor doesn't want Journey Blue on the TARDIS is not that she's a soldier and will do things he doesn't want her to. It's that she's a soldier and he'll be tempted to have her do things he does want her to.
The last thing he needs on the TARDIS is a soldier. This episode makes it clear that he needs a teacher. Preferably two.
The theme music's growing on me too, so I have to apologize to Murray Gold for my comments last week.
September 1, 2014 @ 9:08 pm
We didn't see Gretchen's body, but we saw the robot impaled last time. However Missy got him into her garden, it wasn't before his death — though conceivably she could have picked him up and revived him afterward, since he's a robot.
September 1, 2014 @ 10:10 pm
I saw some Hartnell in and around that moment as well. It's in Capaldi's physicality even more so, I think.
September 1, 2014 @ 10:13 pm
I don't see too much about the use of the name Aristotle in the comments above, so here's THE DEFINITIVE ARISTOTLE POST. Actually, I'm mostly just hoping that someone with a better understanding of Aristotle's writings responds with something more erudite.
Aristotle wrote that ethical behavior must be learned–that is, acquired through culture, imitation, and habit. The idea that individual Daleks are only evil because their learned ethics are acquired from evil sources–that is, from the Dalek culture and from other evil Dalek individuals–is thus introduced quite early in the episode.
But the Dalek's revised ethical system–that in which the primary good is exterminating the other Daleks–is also learned; he gets it from the Doctor. Arguably, he is even attempting to imitate the Doctor by going to war against the other Daleks. Notably, this was not something the Doctor saw coming; from his attempts to show the Dalek beauty, it seems he expected it to extrapolate moral first principles from the realization that the universe can be beautiful. But of course, if ethics must be acquired by learning, habit, and imitation, then the Dalek's response to seeing inside the Doctor's mind was always going to be based on how he saw the Doctor treat the Daleks. In other words, if he had been more mindful of Aristotle, the Doctor should have seen Rusty's decision to exterminate the Daleks coming.
…not that the Doctor wasn't right to be surprised that extermination was all Rusty saw. Personally, I would have loved to see Rusty react to Tom Baker deciding not to exterminate all the Daleks in Genesis, or even to Tennant trying to help Dalec Sec with the hybridization plan (not that I particularly liked that episode, but it does seem ethically relevant).
September 1, 2014 @ 10:14 pm
(Speaking of Rusty's revised ethics: I was a little taken aback in the first couple scenes by the response to Rusty saying that all Daleks must be destroyed. To me, this statement sounds like exactly the sort of thing a Dalek hoping to be mistaken for a "good Dalek" would say: Dalek ethics are entirely determined by the question of whom to exterminate, so from their perspective, their enemies must surely consider virtue to consist of a desire to kill Daleks. But the Doctor judges this sentiment to be straightforwardly "good," and Clara doesn't bat an eye at this judgment. Yes, it's an improvement over "must exterminate all non-Daleks," but surely even for a Dalek exterminating one's one species can't really be considered moral behavior. So I was glad that the episode revisited this point and showed that the Doctor doesn't actually consider a Dalek-exterminating Dalek to be a "good" Dalek, but it puts the entire premise of "a Dalek so damaged its turned good" on shaky ground, and makes the conclusion of the episode seem inconsistent with the Doctor's attitude early on.)
The rest of my thoughts on Aristotle aren't even a little bit fleshed out. Aristotle believed that virtue is to be found in the middle ground between two opposing evils. I suppose you could consider "exterminate non-Daleks" and "exterminate Daleks" to be opposing evils, with the "virtuous" middle ground being something like "stop friggin' exterminating everything," but that seems like a stretch to me.
As far as Aristotle's position on soldiers (another major subject of the episode), apparently he considered them prime examples of the virtue of courage (http://isme.tamu.edu/JSCOPE95/Hittinger95.html), but I don't really see much in the episode that ties in with this. There is, of course, Gretchen's sacrifice, which may be an example of true courage (as it is in the service of a good cause and is neither foolhardy nor cowardly), and if the originally-planned Rusty-suicide-bomb ending had been kept, perhaps that would have made a good parallel. (I haven't watched the print, but I'm curious how the Doctor reacted to Rusty's actions, especially as contrasted with (1) the final version of his last talk with Rusty and (2) his reaction to Gretchen's sacrifice.)
Two other beliefs Aristotle is popularly known for: (1) events have final causes, and (2) the "realness" of a thing is in the thing itself (rather than, as Plato believed, in some "Ideal Form" external to the thing itself). Going into the episode, I thought perhaps they'd try to make something of the second point, since the Doctor was literally going into a Dalek. I didn't really notice anything interesting on that front, though.
September 1, 2014 @ 10:14 pm
Chris: good call. I was wondering why Gretchen and not Ross as well, and I think you've nailed it.
And last time we saw the Master, he sacrificed himself to save the Doctor….
September 1, 2014 @ 10:15 pm
(…these are all supposed to be replies to my "definitive" Aristotle post. Why is this comment system so difficult to use for long comments, even when copied-and-pasted from a real editor??)
Other thoughts (non-Aristotle related):
Returning to my mention of Tom Baker not killing all the Daleks in Genesis, I really would like to see the show revisit that decision in some way. Given that the War Doctor decided that the best course of action was to kill not just the Daleks but even the Time Lords, does the Doctor regret not having eliminated the Dalek race when he had the chance, or does the fact that he didn't do it help him to remember that in fact he wouldn't make "a good Dalek"?
I was surprised Clara didn't object to the Doctor refusing to let Journey Blue join them.
"It's much worse than [the most dangerous place in the universe]." …oh really? A bit of radiation and some antibody drones?
Even by television standards, everyone cleaned up remarkably quickly after falling into the pool of protein sludge.
September 1, 2014 @ 10:17 pm
"…the reason the Doctor doesn't want Journey Blue on the TARDIS is not that she's a soldier and will do things he doesn't want her to. It's that she's a soldier and he'll be tempted to have her do things he does want her to."
Ah. That makes me like the ending quite a bit more. Thank you.
September 1, 2014 @ 10:43 pm
Oh yeah Spacewarp that was really what I wanted to see those Daleks again for – and see one turn itself into a Special Weapons Dalek.
September 1, 2014 @ 10:52 pm
Very good points. I do have a feeling that you are right and that it will continue in some way beyond this first two episodes.
September 1, 2014 @ 11:02 pm
It's pretty much the only way the episode hangs together thematically for me, so I hope it's what was intended, or at least is supported by what we see. It didn't occur to me until I was writing my review and trying to piece together the "good Dalek" and "soldier" stuff in a way that I could live with, and I haven't watched it again since then, so I haven't been able to check that it fits.
One of the lines that put me on that track was the one about how the Dalek was a better soldier than Journey could ever hope to be.
September 1, 2014 @ 11:13 pm
"One of the lines that put me on that track was the one about how the Dalek was a better soldier than Journey could ever hope to be."
Tying in with this I thought there was an implication throughout from the Doctor towards her that she let her feelings get in the way which clouded her judgement and abilities as a soldier, a good soldier.
September 1, 2014 @ 11:28 pm
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September 1, 2014 @ 11:32 pm
"Are you going to miniaturise me?" One of those lines you can imagine every Doctor saying but in entirely different ways.
Absolutely. I just went through them all in my head. Troughton's delivery was the best.
September 2, 2014 @ 12:41 am
Oh yes, I like that much better too.
It rhymes with AGMGTW, where the wrongness of his "going to war" was not so much about him wreaking wantonly vengeful havoc (since he successfully resisted the urge to do so, except as permitted by the Cyberman sub-clause of the Daleks Don't Count rule), as it was, firstly, about where the temptation of being able to summon up an army to do his bidding might lead him in future; and secondly about turning him from someone who goes into danger to help other people with their problems, and asks nothing in return, into someone who gets other people to go into danger to help with his own, marshalling them into line by calling on a notion of reciprocal obligations like some ring-giving warlord.
And "no soldiers", from that point of view, also chimes very well with his "no guns" rule. As has often been remarked, that can hardly stand up as a coherent ethical principle, given his general readiness to smite his enemies with whatever other means of destruction comes to hand. But it does make sense as a discipline, a self-denying ordinance that helps him remain who he is rather than who he could slip into being. For someone like him, who leads his kind of life and does what he does, carrying a weapon would be a very easy habit to get into, if he ever got started, and would become all too convenient a way of solving problems.
Good men don't need rules. Today is not the day to find out why I have so many.
September 2, 2014 @ 1:28 am
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September 2, 2014 @ 1:33 am
So, I posted a comment, and it appeared. Then it disappeared. Then I posted it again, and not only did the replacement appear, but the original comment did too. So I deleted the replacement, whereupon they both vanished.
September 2, 2014 @ 1:37 am
And now the original is back again. So what I post seems to appear on the page only when I get there by posting, rather than just loading it normally. Perhaps my cache is going bananas. Never have quite got a handle on how those things work.
As a matter of scientific curiosity, is anyone else seeing any of these increasingly baffled comments, or are my words like silent raindrops falling etc?
September 2, 2014 @ 2:36 am
Aye can see your comments fine. Sometimes I lose comments too but mostly the system is ok.
September 2, 2014 @ 3:28 am
There is no such thing as The Doctor.
September 2, 2014 @ 3:38 am
Final cause… that's "Telos," yes?
Unfortunately, I am not an expert in Aristotelian philosophy. I've barely read Aristotle. I've wikiied and googled him, but that, I think, only scratches the surface. Still, the surface is better than nothing, and may suffice for my purposes here, which is to glean an understanding of what Into the Dalek is trying to accomplish vis-a-vis the invocation of Aristotle.
The first thing I find striking about Aristotle is that he was an Essentialist. Everything can be categorized according to its substance, to "what it is," and that "definition" is therefore "a phrase signifying a thing's essence." He conflates "substance" and "essence" but it's still, well, essential for his system of categorization.
And this is of concern for Into the Dalek, and, I'd argue, for all of Moffat's Who, because of The Question: "Who are you?" The Doctor, especially in the light of recently regenerating, is always on a quest to define his identity. Who is he?
Likewise, this line of questioning applies to the Dalek as well, because the Doctor takes an Essentialist stance when it comes to Daleks: they are, by definition, evil; it is their eidos. Ergo, there's no such thing as a "good" Dalek.
Which leads me to the second aspect to Aristotelian thought that I find compelling: Logic. "The same attribute cannot at the same time belong and not belong to the same subject and in the same respect." This is the Law of the Excluded Middle — and notice how this is predicated both on a sense of dualism, as well as negative space.
For example, the Doctor defines himself as "not the Daleks."
Therefore, it's very important for the Doctor to believe that he is a "good man," because of the Law of the Excluded Middle…
September 2, 2014 @ 3:40 am
The Aristotle as a spaceship explores the irony of the Excluded Middle. According to its insignia, it's a hospital, but it's not a hospital, it's a battleship. It's shaped like a gun, with a cross on the end.
But it's still a hospital. It has medical equipment.
But it's not a hospital, it has no doctors.
But it's a hospital, for it has a patient in need of a doctor.
So what is The Aristotle, really? Is it a hospital or not?
Related to the question of what makes a Dalek a Dalek, and what makes the Doctor the Doctor, is the question of what, exactly, is "good," and how this is related to "beauty."
For Plato, the question of the Good could not be answered directly. Rather, it could only be approached through other concepts, namely "beauty, proportion, and truth." Aristotle, on the other hand, separated Beauty and Good, noting that Beauty could reside in that which had no motion, but the Good necessarily "implies conduct as its subject" and therefore was predicated on acts.
When the Doctor first meets Rusty, he only knows it from the surface, from its appearance, namely that it wants to destroy other Daleks. Because Daleks are evil, therefore Rusty might very well be good.
This is impossible, the Doctor thinks, because of the Law of the Excluded Middle; at best, it is merely "malfunctioning." When the Dalek is "fixed" it loses its "goodness."
But Clara, the Impossible Girl, disagrees. She doesn't explain, but has the Doctor work it out for himself — as expressed in lucid terms, the Dalek had a "moment of grace," when it "gave up" its resistance to life and could finally appreciate the beauty of a star being born.
So "fixing" the Dalek did not remove the expanded consciousness, it merely repressed it, and by inducing a state of anamnesis the Dalek "remembered" that beauty again.
All well and good, until the Doctor made quite the impression.
September 2, 2014 @ 3:41 am
See, the Daleks have a unique conception of Beauty: it is predicated on Hatred, rather than Love. So despite the Doctor's love of the Universe, of such eudaemonia, when the Dalek finds the Doctor's hatred of Daleks, it experiences Beauty on its own terms, yet in a way that's congruent with "the divine perfection" of the Universe itself.
So the Dalek understands that Daleks are Evil, and to be Hated, but that this in itself is a Beautiful thing. It is a union of Good and Evil, an apotheosis.
So the Dalek can't be a "good" Dalek, because it is by definition an "evil" thing. And even though it does a "good thing" by exterminating other Daleks, the fact that its motivation is born of Hatred means that the Doctor can never consider it to be a "good" Dalek.
But the Doctor, the Doctor is defined as "not Dalek." If Rusty is "not a Good Dalek" and the Doctor is the opposite of Rusty, a negation of Rusty in fact, then (by definition) the Doctor is "not not a Good Dalek" — ergo, "a good Dalek." And not just by definition — for he too is motivated by Hatred, like Daleks, but he also is motivated by a sense of Beauty that's aligned with something else, like Wonder. So he too has achieved an apotheosis, for he too has transcended the Excluded Middle by participating in Good and Evil simultaneously, not to mention being Dalek and Not Dalek at the same time.
So I think it's a beautiful thing that Clara declares, at the end of story, that when it comes to rules against soldiers, she says, "Not me." For now she's defining herself in opposition to the Doctor. She's not not not a Good Dalek, and yet she obviously used to be a Good Dalek. So she too partakes of apotheosis, transcending duality.
"Run, you clever boy, and remember."
September 2, 2014 @ 3:51 am
I took the Doctor's rejection of Journey Blue on the basis of her being a soldier to be motivated by his experience with Rusty. Despite seeing the glory of the Universe, in all its divine perfect beauty, it will still exterminate because that's what Daleks do. The Doctor does not believe that a Dalek can change its eidos. And since the Dalek is nothing more than a soldier, neither would Journey Blue change her eidos as a soldier.
The Doctor's take is cynical.
But the show is not aligned with the Doctor's perspective. The introduction of Danny Pink shows him to be someone who has changed his eidos of having been a soldier. And furthermore, Clara fully recognizes this, and in fact gets in the last word on the matter.
So the show is aligned with Clara's perspective, not the Doctor's.
The second point where the show diverges from the Doctor is in the salvation of Gretchen. Gretchen is shown to be smart, self-sacrificing, moral, an independent thinker who cares about the long-term implications of her choices. And she is Saved.
Of course, not all soldiers are depicted nobly. "Uncle" is a coward, and Ross is merely a thug. So the show ends up demonstrating that it's not the individual behind the soldier that is being judged, but the role of "soldier" in of itself. Not the person, but the eidos. And that's something I can actually agree with.
September 2, 2014 @ 4:42 am
Virtues in Aristotles are character traits, rather than adherence to a principle. 'Exterminate all daleks' is more of a principle. So Aristotle would think of the virtuous amount of aggression as falling somewhere between passive acquiescence and genocidal hatred. That said, his attempt to apply the schema to the virtue of justice is notoriously unconvincing.
September 2, 2014 @ 4:57 am
I think 'you are a good dalek' here is a better line than 'you would make a good dalek' in Dalek. 'You would make a good dalek' is simply the first and perhaps most effective of the 'Shut up you're a psychopath' speeches that cropped up so frequently in the Davies-era. ('Shut up you're a psychopath' being the response that Phil points out the Doctor never actually makes but would always be justified in doing so.) Little to nothing in the plot of 'Dalek' actually justifies giving the speech any more weight than 'just another example of the twisted way in which daleks see the world'.
Whereas the 'you are a good dalek' is fraught with more ironies and ambiguities. It's clearly playing off 'good dalek' in the Dalek sense ('you would make a good dalek') against the dalek who is morally good sense. The Doctor has to take some responsibility for the dalek's current moral set. The plot and script have been trying to gesture, if not very successfully, towards 'what is good'. The Doctor has just referred to 'a good dalek' as an aspiration he would have for the dalek to fulfil, so the dalek can genuinely intend it to please the Doctor. It's just a more interesting line.
September 2, 2014 @ 5:22 am
Aylwin: I was confused too, last week, until Phil pointed out to me that once there are a lot of comments you have to click the "Load more" link at the bottom to see the rest of them. I had to do it this time just to see this thread.
I'm still very uncomfortable with the idea that even the role of "soldier" is equivalent to the role of "Dalek." I guess we'll have to see how this plays out.
September 2, 2014 @ 8:57 am
Oh, bravo, Jane.
It does raise an interesting thought, namely that Danny Pink would be halfway between albedo and rubedo–so depending on which version of the magnum opus you're using, he may correspond to citrinitas. This would imply associations with fire, and that he is a meeting point of opposing forces, with the potential to shine by its own light, able to accomplish the lesser work of petty alchemy (making gold), but not quite the complete spiritual transformation and immortality of the true Great Work.
Citrinitas is, of course, "yellowing"–which makes it the opposite (mirror?) of Blue…
As for the much commented-on switching of colors, that's our doing, not the show's. Blue was traditionally a feminine color, strongly associated with the Virgin Mary, while red/pink was considered masculine, being associated with blood and therefore on the one hand Jesus, and on the other warfare. Then about a century ago it switched for no particular reason.
September 2, 2014 @ 8:59 am
One of the things I was toying with and perhaps prematurely set aside was whether "good" here refers to (1) benevolent intent, (2) positive outcomes, or (3) characteristic behavior. I think all three are in play, and I think that's important, but I haven't quite worked out what I think it means.
It seems like the Doctor is hoping to produce a "good Dalek" (1), i.e. a Dalek that loves peace and harmony and has a flower vase instead of a gunstalk (reminiscent of the new VW Beetle and its Nazi origins). What he arguably produces is instead a "good Dalek" (2), a soldier fighting for his side, an actor using violent means to produce arguably positive ends (stopping other Daleks from exterminating people). But in "Dalek," it's definitely "good Dalek" (3) — the accusation is that the Doctor would be good at being a Dalek because he hates Daleks and would like to exterminate them.
I think the "You are a good Dalek" line here is playing among all three of them. jane, I think you make a good case for what it means, but I also think the Doctor isn't happy to be described that way; he doesn't feel that he's transcended anything, but had it reinforced to him that he himself is not even as good as a "good Dalek" (1) would be. And when Clara tells him that he may or may not be a good man, but he's trying to be, she doesn't sound like she thinks he should be happy about it.
September 2, 2014 @ 9:04 am
@osmie – was taking the Danny Pink thing in a totally different direction. (having stedfastly kept myself spoiler free for this season). I saw them setting things up for Capaldi's choices in character: disliking soldiers with the same disregard that Tom had since they just "follow orders" and clearly having, later in the season, to deal with a moral soldier in Danny, this creating character conflict.
September 2, 2014 @ 11:03 am
Ah! Thank you!
September 2, 2014 @ 11:59 am
…right, I'm still lost; what's the reference in "Hide"? :-S
September 2, 2014 @ 1:19 pm
i made this point last week as well in the comments column, and i don't think that as many people saw it in Deep Breath, but it was terribly apparent to me. We got a regenerated Clara as well as Doctor. Clara who was primarily a mystery to be solved as was a "not-Amy", is now working on being the new Barbara, and we just, potentially, met her Ian. Moffat did say that with Amy a nd Rory he was having a go at making his Doctor/Sarah/Harry team, well, here is his 55 year old Dcotor with two Coal Hill teachers. Is that where wer're going here? I've been spoiler and leaked script and screener free, so i'm just speculating but it sure looks that way to me.
September 2, 2014 @ 1:41 pm
Part of the business with the Metebelis 3 crystal:
EMMA: What does it do?
DOCTOR: It amplifies your natural abilities like a microphone, or a pooper scooper.
PALMER: What exactly is this arrangement?
DOCTOR: A psychochronograph.
September 2, 2014 @ 2:42 pm
I'm allowed one good call per series. I may not be correct, but anything else I say this year will be silly nonsense.
(So glad to have gotten it out of the way so early.)
September 2, 2014 @ 4:43 pm
Another thought. It's likely that the Doctor will end this series traveling with two school teachers from Coal Hill School. What's the odds that he will also have his granddaughter aboard too? Maybe the daughter of Jenny, which is why Moffat didn't want her killed?
Is Moffat that fore-thinking and fiendish?
September 2, 2014 @ 10:39 pm
It's heavily rumoured (Moffat and Coleman both dodged the issue at a recent Q&A) that Jenna Coleman is leaving at the end of series 8. See also 'The Problem of Susan'
September 3, 2014 @ 7:23 am
I was wondering about the eye imagery, especially the Doctor and everybody gaining access through the Dalek's eye: is there a reading here, is the metaphor too meta, as it were?
September 3, 2014 @ 12:59 pm
You never disappoint Jane. Thank you again from those of us who don't know nearly enough about alchemy to see these things when we watch episodes.
September 3, 2014 @ 3:13 pm
I think it's meant to be ambivalent. At this stage, there really is no justification for not aborting the Daleks back on Skaro. None. It's rather like Batman refusing to kill the Joker on philosophical (even superstitious) grounds, or at the very least not rendering him a quadriplegic. I think the Doctor was right the first time:
A Dalek can't be cured, that's what we just learned.
The blather that followed was obliged by the story structure. Rusty was Moffat's wink to the audience: Yes, the Daleks can't be redeemed. Rusty is now off to do the work that the Doctor is too high-minded to tackle.
The narrative demands that the Doctor tolerate the Daleks within his sphere. And that is how the Doctor came to resemble them in the end.
This episode was a massive indictment of Doctor Who, and a healthy one. Not that I agree with militarism, genocide, or even capital punishment: but Doctor Who's argument for sparing the Daleks is toothless. It always has been. And to ignore the gaps in logic is to be willfully dull.
September 3, 2014 @ 3:33 pm
It's actually easy, you click reply under the post you made. Add Comment adds a new comment thread instead.
September 3, 2014 @ 3:45 pm
So a couple of things I just realized today, when the episode wandered into my head.
First, no one so far has commented on the connection between the sources of danger in both this episode and The Daleks. In both cases, the characters are dying of radiation poisoning. In The Daleks, they are dying of radiation poisoning because the Daleks require high levels of radiation on Skaro to survive, poisoning both the Thals and the TARDIS crew. In Into the Dalek, the Dalek himself is suffering from radiation poisoning, dying of the very thing that caused death in their first appearance. Something that's part of the essence of being a Dalek (at least in their original appearance) is now killing him, a parallel of how the Doctor's original definition of being "not a Dalek" is killing him emotionally.
As for the "most dangerous place in the universe," I'm fairly certain The Doctor means it metaphorically, not physically. He seems a bit afraid of being infected by the Dalek's hatred, even though they are the ones invading. Instead, the opposite happens – his viewpoint infects the Dalek.
September 5, 2014 @ 11:47 pm
Jane: I think that it's a brilliant point you make when you say that the show is aligned with Clara's perspective rather than the Doctor's.
September 6, 2014 @ 6:24 am
I'm so glad Phil mentioned the "load more comments" button in today's placeholder (and I hope he keeps that bit when he posts the actual review, so more people can benefit). For the last week I've thought the thread ended with my posts. These responses are quite lovely, though.
Jarl, as you can see from my third post, I do know how to do that. I thought I did press "reply" for my second post. But in any case, no comment system is sufficiently easy to use for long comments that puts arbitrary limits on comment length.
September 7, 2014 @ 12:36 pm
September 8, 2014 @ 6:47 am
Yes, although Colin Baker's indignant "Are you going to miniaturise me?!" did make me chuckle.
September 15, 2014 @ 6:49 pm
That's almost scarily accurate given it peaked at 7.29 in the end.
September 15, 2014 @ 7:07 pm
Somewhat late with this, but I'm surprised that more hasn't been made of the bisexual subtext of Danny Pink and Journey Blue with regards Clara here. Not only are Blue and Pink applied to the stereotypical opposites of their gender associations, they also combine to make purple, which completes the colours of the bisexual flag. It's also clear that both are love interests for Clara, Journey somewhat implicitly set up to be through the 'who makes you smile' dialogue at the start and her reaction toward Clara at the end. Journey wanting to travel with the Doctor is more than slightly lacking in sense. Journey wanting to travel with Clara, who she appears enraptured by as a result of her getting through the Doctor and being paired off with her during the resolution, makes an awful lot of sense.
It's also interesting that Journey and Danny not only take the opposite gendered name, but the stereotypes implied by it. Either because of what he's done, or for some other reason, Danny is extremely uncomfortable with stereotypical masculinity. Journey however is a particularly masculine soldier, with her emotions hindering her. That's not a criticism, more of an interesting observation.