Doctor Who Recap: “Into the Dalek”

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Doctor Who meets Honey, I Shrunk the Kids this week, when Peter Capaldi zaps himself crumb-sized and literally journeys inside a Dalek. Clara gets tiny too, along with a few soldiers from a fighter ship called the Aristotle. The reason for their endoscopic adventure is medical: the Dalek, which has been captured on board the Aristotle, isn’t acting like a normal Dalek. It’s saying weird things, like “Daleks must be destroyed.” Could it be possible that this is a good Dalek? Or is it just sick?

Turns out it’s both. After sealing a crack in the Dalek’s power centre—which stops radiation from leaking into its system—the Dalek charges into full EXTERMINATE mode. So its goodness was just radiation poisoning. Or was it? As Clara points out, the incident also reveals the Dalek’s capacity for goodness. If they can just introduce some new ideas into its consciousness, they could reprogram Rusty (that’s his nickname) to be good.

This good vs. bad question mirrors the Doctor’s own internal debate this week. Before taking Clara to the Aristotle, he sits her down and asks her a serious question: “Am I a good man?” She says she doesn’t know. (Though she later says that he’s trying, which is the most important thing.) This sense of uncertainty appears to be an important feature of Capaldi’s new Doctor, who was fully himself for the first time this week. His Doctor feels a little more unstable than previous incarnations. The way he talks in an almost-whisper makes him appear at once scared and menacing—and his black coat looks like serious business. It’s interesting to watch a character that we know so much about—and yet know very little about.

And while Clara gets into the groove with her new-faced friend—she and the Doctor are definitely starting to bicker—she also encounters a potential love interest. (And a potential co-companion for space/time travel.) Danny Pink is a former soldier, and a new teacher at Clara’s school. And though he’s really hot, he’s also really awkward. But Clara doesn’t mind that he totally botched their first conversation: she asks him for a drink moments later. We only got a quick intro to Danny this week—still haven’t tested his mettle in the TARDIS—but he seems pretty cute. Maybe they can grab that drink in another galaxy!

Also, the mystery of Missy continues. After sacrificing herself to the Dalek, a soldier named Gretchen wakes up in Missy’s Alice in Wonderland-ish lair. “Welcome to Heaven,” Missy says. We don’t yet know what this place is, but we doubt that’s it.

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