Television: Doctor Who, "Into the Dalek"

. . . Which really just means Innerspace with a Dalek. Remember that movie? "I'm possessed!" Would've been funny if the Dalek had said that . . .

The short version is that in some unspecified space and time, there is a war of humans against Daleks (the Daleks appear to be winning). This isn't taking place on Earth; perhaps there is no Earth at this point, or if these humans were from some other planet, well, now they all live on a ship or station called Aristotle. Guess that makes them from Earth? Unless other planets also have Aristotles?

Anyway, the Doctor bothers to rescue one of the soldiers serving on Aristotle, a woman named Journey Blue. (The name makes her sound like a TARDIS waiting to happen.) He takes her back to Aristotle and is shown (a) a miniaturizing machine, and (b) a "sick" Dalek that has been captured. This Dalek, who they name Rusty, wants to exterminate—pretty typical—but it wants to exterminate other Daleks. Decidedly less typical.

At this point the Doctor goes to fetch Clara, who is busy making nice with the new maths teacher at her school, a Mr. Pink. I feel like these colors are going to be important down the road? Also the fact that Pink is, or was, a soldier. In truth, it seems like they are possibly setting up for Jenna Coleman's rumored departure in giving Clara more reasons to stay put than galavant with some old Time Lord. Still, she agrees to go with (under the assumption she'll be put back in time for her date). Not entirely sure why the Doctor needs Clara at all for this; maybe it's just a matter of gaining confidence from knowing there's someone with you, someone familiar who you know is on your side.

So the Doctor, Clara, Journey, and two other soldiers (read: "red shirts") are miniaturized and sent into Rusty. I missed whatever part explained why they felt the need to fix it at all, but whatever. Turns out Rusty once saw a star being born, and somehow the beauty of that moment brought a kind of epiphany: No matter how many worlds they [the Daleks] destroyed, more would always be created. It was all in vain, an endless task.

Now, some might think that just means job security. Always something to destroy means always more work for the Daleks to do. What bothered me, though, was the fact that they characterized this messed up Dalek as "moral." I don't think it was. I don't think self-loathing can be equated with morality.

And yet Rusty doesn't seek to destroy itself, either. I felt like the episode pretended to delve into the psychology while it really glossed more than it probed.

But this isn't really about a self-hating Dalek, is it? It's about the Doctor's dark side. At one point he asks Clara whether he is a good man, and she answers, "I don't know."

As much as the Daleks hate, well, everyone and everything that is not Dalek, the Doctor hates the Daleks a million times more. He characterizes them as "evil," and I suppose they are. But one might as well call dinosaurs evil, too. As Alan Grant says in Jurassic Park, "They do what they do." This one Dalek proves, however, that they can be rehabilitated. Can the Doctor likewise learn to let go of hate and eventually forgive?

Back to the plot. Inside Rusty, they find and fix a crack in its "heart." But healing Rusty only returns it to its natural, homicidal state—that is, wanting to kill the humans instead of other Daleks. Rusty contacts its fellows and an assault on Aristotle begins. Meanwhile, from the inside, the Doctor and Clara and Journey work to find Rusty's memories so as to remind it of the beauty of the forming star. Rusty acknowledges the beauty, but then sees into the Doctor and discovers his hatred for Daleks . . . Rusty's self-loathing returns and it begins to exterminate other Daleks that have come to Aristotle to wage war against the humans. It seems the humans now have a Dalek ally.

As the Doctor and Clara prepare to leave, Journey asks the Doctor to take her with him. He declines, in large part because she's a soldier. So I guess he hates Daleks and soldiers? Did he not learn anything in all this?

And then somehow, even though he has a history of being off the mark as far as time and place go, the Doctor does manage to get Clara back at the right time and place for her date with Mr. Pink.

Oh, and one of our red shirt soldiers ends up in "Heaven" with Missy.

So we have colors, and we have soldiers, and we have Missy all building toward something. And possibly "good" Daleks. Well, if we can have Strax, I guess we can also have Rusty.

It seems they're skewing a bit darker with Capaldi, though I only have the two episodes to go on. This incarnation doesn't seem to know himself yet, which I suppose makes sense in a way; being the Doctor must be a bit like have MPD—he's the same, but not really. Each "upgrade" has new toggles and things to adjust to, just like when one upgrades one's phone or computer OS. It all works mostly the same, but there are weird differences, and until you get used to the new way of things, you find yourself trying to do things the way you always have. And that doesn't work. And it's frustrating, at least until you retrain yourself. But you would never dream of going back to the older model, now would you? Even if you could travel back in time. Better to suffer through with the latest and greatest technology.

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