Last week’s Doctor Who season premiere was in some ways just a placeholder. Regardless of what the storyline was, a good deal of the attention was inevitably going to be focused on simply giving the audience a chance to get used to the new guy carrying the TARDIS keys. Even showrunner Steven Moffat has admitted he wanted “a quite simple menace” for the premiere so most of the focus could be on the turmoil between the Doctor and Clara. With this week’s episode, however, the show should be hitting full steam, with the Doctor and Clara facing off against the Daleks. Yes, again. At this point, we’ve seen the screaming bastards so often that I’m sure I’m not the only ones suffering Dalek fatigue, so it begs the question: are there any more interesting Dalek stories to tell? A pair of newly released Who clips hint at the answer.
WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS FOR “INTO THE DALEK” BELOW!
The first clip provides a little more context to that soundbite that’s been ubiquitous throughout the show’s recent marketing push: the Doctor asking Clara, “Am I a good man?” Well, “Into the Dalek” is the episode that actually contains this exchange, and it’s a question that carries on some of the narrative threads from the premiere. This new Doctor is very much trying to figure out who he is, and unfortunately Clara’s uncertainty about him isn’t helping matters.
In the premiere, that uncertainty was echoed by the “rubbish robots” who were constantly swapping their parts out for harvested organic material, until there was little or nothing left of their original form…certainly a situation where it’s easy to draw parallels to the Time Lords’ ability to regenerate. In “Into the Dalek,” the Doctor’s nature is once again explored in contrast to that of the Daleks, one of his greatest enemies.
But this time around it’s no ordinary Dalek. I won’t go into any further details, but this second clip contains a hint at why this particular Dalek intrigues the Doctor, posing the question, “When is a Dalek not a Dalek?”
That second clip also highlights this new Doctor’s more aloof attitude. This particular regeneration has stripped him of some of his niceties and most of his tact. He’s a man on a mission, he doesn’t have time to remember the names of the people carrying guns, and he’s appointed Clara as his “carer” while he sorts his own identity out — she cares so he doesn’t have to. It’s certainly a long way away from David Tennant’s empathetic catchphrase of, “I’m so, so sorry.” (The Doctor’s emotional detachment also makes for a line that made me snort out laughing while reading the script, repeated here without context: “Top layer, if you’d like to say a few words.”)
I’m glad to see that one of the big story elements of “Into the Dalek” still hasn’t been introduced in any of the teasers, so I’m going to keep my trap shut as well and just provide you with the official synopsis below. “Into the Dalek” premieres Saturday night at 9/8c on BBC America.
A Dalek fleet surrounds a lone rebel ship, and only the Doctor can help them now… with the Doctor facing his greatest enemy, he needs Clara by his side.
Confronted with a decision that could change the Daleks forever he is forced to examine his conscience. Will he find the answer to the question, am I a good man?