Life After the Doctor: “Asylum of the Daleks” Review


It is no secret that I felt that last season was patchy. I felt the season ender was half-baked and not as epic as I would have preferred. I think the ideas were all in the right place, but the execution wasn’t quite there. I’m not sure why that is.

I watch the episodes and I love it. I wring my hands, I cry, I laugh… but it doesn’t sit with me. It doesn’t stay with me, not like it did before. It doesn’t get its fingernails into my heart. The high vanishes and I realize that I didn’t love it as much after the episode is over as I did in the moment.

Perhaps because I still can’t get on board with Amy Pond. I don’t know what it is but I just don’t like her has a person, so I dislike spending that hour with her. She does amazing things and I respect her for it, but I think she’s also whiney and childish, churlish and rude, and I don’t think I’d want to spend time in a pub having a pint with her. As a human being, she is undesirable.

Perhaps because I feel that Rory is the strongest, most complex, most real character in the whole series currently and I’m annoyed that he keeps getting shunted to the side to be the comic relief or the guy who dies for the sake of the plot. He is so much more than a redshirt, so much more than the straight guy, so much more than a collection of crappy things happening and I want so desperately for the show to respect his loyalty, his honesty, and his devotion.

Perhaps it’s because I feel like River Song was a wonderfully intriguing and complex character when we met her in The Silence In The Library, but she has descended into bad Mary Sue cliché since. I know I’ve said it before, but the show is called Doctor Who, not Doctor Song. She’s become a black hole of plot in all the worst ways, she’s better than the Doctor at Doctory-stuff, and I am getting tired of her repetition. She seems completely unaffected by everything she’s done, everything that’s done to her, and even her worst crime – killing the Doctor – was in the end revealed to be meaningless because he still lived.

Perhaps it’s because I really wish I could read Matt Smith’s face better, and want the makeup people to draw him some damn eyebrows. And I wish he did gravitas as well as Eccleston and Tennant did. He’s great at goofy and excitable, loving and honest, but when he comes down into serious or anger, I feel he goes flat. (Except in The Lodger; that was above and beyond Smith’s best episode, IMHO.)

Perhaps it’s because I think that the writing has been really, really on for some episodes (Vincent and the Doctor! Oh god, I can’t watch that but for weeping and I’ve seen it a hundred times by now) and some are really, really off (The Wedding of River Song was a hot mess unsure of which story it was supposed to be telling; I wanted less Churchill and more about the aliens who have come to say, “Yes, yes, of course we’ll help the Doctor”.)

These are all minor quibbles, easily repairable, but combined they’ve left me with a sense of dissatisfaction. There’s just something that has prevented me from grabbing hold and enjoying these episodes as much as I wanted to. It could be as simple as the fact that Tennant was my Doctor and Smith is not Tennant. I don’t know.

I loved the idea of The Silence and The Rhyme: Tick-tock goes the clock/even for the Doctor. But I don’t feel like they were used to their full potential last season. There was just so much there, so many possibilities, so many ways it could have come together to be severely epic and I felt that Demon’s Run and The Wedding of River Song just shuffled through them, checking off tick boxes of completion instead of really getting into them elbows-deep. Yes, the Doctor is married to River now… so what? What does that change? What does that affect? Nothing, as far as I can tell. The Doctor just continues to do as he does, River just continues to do as she does, and nothing’s different except that the Ponds have wine in the back yard with their daughter sometimes and the Doctor didn’t die, yet.

I was hoping to see these elements – The Silence, the Rhyme, The Question/Answer, the Wedding – developed further in The Asylum of the Daleks, to see them matter, but instead the episode seemed to entirely forget them, like all that super-important life-changing stuff never even happened. I am disappointed, as I wanted some continuation there. There was, a little, when The Question/Answer was touched upon, and I’ll discuss it further down, but not as much as I would have liked.

This especially irks me because the relationship between Amy, Rory, and River was so strong at the end of The Wedding of River Song. What could have happened to lead to the divorce that River couldn’t have helped her parents navigate?

Having said that, it is only the first episode and because of the quality of said episode, I am willing to be patient to see if The Silence, The Rhyme, The Question/Answer and The Wedding will now play out. I just hope they do.

At any rate, I still adore Doctor Who as a whole, but I find I am currently not enamoured of the Moffat-era series. I loved Coupling; that show got me through the agony of having a broken knee in Japan and no way to leave my apartment building for six weeks. I laughed until I hurt. I am loving Sherlock, (though I acknowledge the problematics regarding the portrayal of women and people of colour and hope the next season is better), because it’s just so tight, and clever, and there is not one line or one look that is superfluous. I adored Hawking because it unfolds so slowly and so beautifully and it’s just heartbreaking and lovely. But there’s just something off about his Doctor Who and I can’t quite put my finger on it.

All in all, Asylum of the Daleks was a satisfying episode. If it had been a mid-season episode, I would have gone so far as to call it a great episode.  But as a season opener, it was a bit weak. It’s not great, it’s just good.

Not only was the story not as epic as a season opener calls for (could have been two parts with the running-about and trapped-in-a-maze tension ramped up to eleven and then I would have called it epic), but the resolution was a bit meh, Amy narrated everything to the point of being obnoxious, and it didn’t hearken back to last season at all except for a single use of The Question/Answer. At first it was cool when I heard it being used. But then I realized, compared to its set up, was pretty weak for a payoff. If it is, indeed the final payoff of all that set up. If it’s not the final payoff, and I hope it isn’t, then it’s going to be damn cool. If it was, then that was a huge waste of a build-up.

I felt the same about the last Christmas special, too. Moffat clearly knows how to do epic, and edge-of-your-seat (hello, Jekyll) but he seems to be failing at producing properly epic Doctor Who lately, and I don’t know why. Especially since his episodes under Davies are easily among the best of the entire run.

I feel like he does his best writing when there’s someone above him, like Davis on Doctor Who or Gatiss on Sherlock, someone who is looking over his scripts and has the ability to say: “Well, that’s nice, Steven, but this bit is awfully-self indulgent. Why don’t you tighten it up?” So it was a relief to see that Moffat had taken a step back from self-indulgent-land and got back to the business of writing a really solid episode.

Luckily, in Asylum of the Daleks, Moffat is back to being good—actually-clever instead of insufferable-and-not-actually-all-that-good clever like his episodes last season.

I wouldn’t say it’s his best episode of course – The Girl in the Fireplace, and Blink are both hard ones to top – but it’s definitely not his worst.

And I really loved some of the lines – “How much trouble are we in on a scale of one to ten? Eleven.” – and the way that he turned a recurring joke into an heart-breaking reveal – “Where do you get the eggs and milk?” – and the very clever, startling early introduction of Oswin.

And this episode had some great emotional resonance, which Moffat often struggles with in Doctor Who – even though I called that Oswin must be a Dalek quite early on, I still actually cried in the theatre. That’s some damn fine storytelling.

All in all, a solid episode, but perhaps not quite epic enough for its placement in the season.

As showrunner, I wish he would spend more time on solidifying the characterisations and the plot through-lines with other writers than writing his own episodes. I like them, I just feel that the show would be better served with him either firmly in the writer’s room, or firmly in the producer’s chair, and not a blend of both. He doesn’t do his strongest work when he’s hopping between them.

All that said, The Asylum of the Daleks is a very solid story that I feel may have the potential to get me to love the Moffat-era series.  I can’t tell you if it actually does have the potential, because for the first time, Moffat has me baffled. Usually I can guess where he’s going and what he’s doing within the first five or six scenes (the hazards of being a professionally story-teller), but it took me a good fifteen minutes to start to guess this time around.

There were little things I saw coming (the corpses being puppets, too; the Doctor putting his wristband on Amy when no one was looking, etc), but there were surprises, which Moffat hasn’t done to me in ages and for which I love both him and the episode. And more than that, there are other things in the episode, moments and lines and ideas, that have started something that I can’t predict. Moffat has planted seeds and I have no idea what shape the plants are going to take when they germinate and start to grow, and for me that is thrilling.

In conversations with other fans, I have likened this episode to a Chinese puzzle-box. Moffat has gifted it to us and it is solidly constructed, beautiful and seamless and wonderful to hold, and when you turn it this way or that, the different grains and stains of wood pop out, make patterns and catch your eye. And you know that there is a way to unlatch it, to unfold it, to get to the inside and see what’s what, but we don’t have the key yet. We don’t have the answers.

And there is a note attached to the box. It reads: “Just you wait and see how I unfold this thing for you. It’s going to be awesome. – <3 The Moff”

And for the first time, I believe him. I’m looking forward to it.

There were three major elements to the story that I feel warrant more specific discussion, so let me break them down:


The Ponds

One of the hazards of travelling with the Doctor is that afterwards nothing else seems as thrilling, as bright, as wonderful. Life, normal life, is just a little bit less. Sarah-Jane Smith told us as much in School Reunion, and Rose said the same in The Parting of the Ways. Donna’s whole impassioned plea to remain Doctor-Donna was the perfect example of what it means to be a Companion.

Getting to see the aftermath of the Doctor’s affect on a Companion’s life – especially one that has culminated in something as disastrous as the loss of your child – is new, and I think, clever. Yes, I know that River finds her parents and grows up alongside them, but Rory and Amy were still cheated of being parents in the most visceral and honest sense, and I am pleased to see that Moffat has decided to deal with that sort of emotional turmoil realistically. Couples really do break up because one thinks they love their spouse more than their spouse loves them, and couples really do break up over fertility issues, and they really do break up over the death of a child.

And you know what? Rory wouldn’t have protected The Pandorica for two thousand years if it wasn’t for the Doctor. Amy wouldn’t have been made barren if it wasn’t for the Doctor. Rory would never have travelled with the Doctor, been consumed by the crack, and returned as the Lone Centurion.  Amy would never have travelled with the Doctor (though truthfully, she would have been killed by Prisoner Zero, so I guess her divorce is a better fate than being hollowed out and turned into a meat puppet), never become known as his Companion, never kidnapped by the Silence and held at Demons Run, and never had her child taken away and her fertility compromised.

The Doctor did that to them, and then he left. He forced Amy and Rory to go (well, Amy more than Rory) because he couldn’t bare the thought of them getting hurt because of them, but he had already done so much damage that it threatened their marriage, their ability to live normal lives, and their ability to have faith in their love for one another.

So on the one hand, while I think it’s a bit high-handed of him to try to fix their relationship, the cracks in it were ultimately his fault, so I like that he is taking responsibility for them.

And, okay, can I just say… as a woman who has had her own fertility compromised: it’s a big part of your personal identity. Even if you don’t want kids, society teaches women that if there’s something medically wrong with their ability to have children, then they are somehow lesser and incomplete and useless. For years I’ve been saying that I have no particular want for a kid (though I will happily have one with the right person), and I have been treated like a crazy lady because of it. People look at me with pity and say “Don’t worry, you’ll want them later.” Um, no. It’s not that there isn’t a switch in my brain that hasn’t turned on and I’m broken. It’s that I’ve made a conscious choice not to bring another life into the world unless I’m in a position to really care for it, with a partner who will help me do so with love and understanding. It’s also that I don’t count myself as a failure of a woman if I don’t spawn.

However, there were some medical problems and now it’s possible I won’t be able to have children, if I decide I want to try for it. And it was a shock. Because the choice that had been mine was taken from me, and I feel betrayed by mother nature and my own body.

I’ve never bought into that crap, that women are only half-a-person if they’re childless, but it’s still around me, still a part of society, still needles at me, and people still say “well, you can get it fixed medically and/or adopt” because it is unthinking to them that I should a) choose not to have children and b) choose to remain “broken”. Even my gyno had to be talked around to understanding that I am really okay with maybe never having biological children and no, we don’t have to immediately put me on treatments after the surgery was over. I’m not desperate to have them, but if I met the right partner to raise them with, I would be happy to go through either the treatments or the adoption paperwork and have a kid. But only then.

However, on the other hand, it sometimes shocks me, slaps me right across the face, when I remember that I may never be able to do the one thing that, biologically speaking, I’ve been created to do. And that hurts, way down deep in the human animal part of me. Something in my Darwinian hind-brain screams that I am wrong. And it hurts even more to think that someone whom I may come to love very much might suddenly decide that they can’t be with me because I may not have the ability to reproduce. And it will have nothing to do with my personality, my talents, my heart, my intelligence, or who I am and everything to do with one stupid, bloody fluke of nature and a part of my body so buried beneath flesh that it can’t even be seen. And that scares the crap out of me.  It actually prevents me from dating, a lot. They can’t leave me over it if I never make that connection with someone.

So Amy freaking out the way she did over it? Amy being the strong one and giving up Rory so he can have what she can never give him, because she loves him that much? Yup. I get it. That worked. I spent that whole scene trying not to let anyone else in the cinema see how much it hurt to see my fears and pain up on the screen like that, how much I was crying, and how well it was done.

It was terrifying to see my fears portrayed like that. And it was a relief, too. It was liberating.

And as much as I dislike the Amy character (when she’s a nag, when she’s a stereotype, when she’s just the hottie instead of being a whole person), there are moments when I can’t help but respect the ever-loving crap out of her.  I can only hope that when it comes to my time in the TARDIS, I will be as strong and brave as her: she has never stopped loving Rory, and believing in Rory, even if she’s waffled over her childhood crush on The Raggedy Doctor; she killed herself and their child to save herself and her friends in a reality that might not exist; she waited forty years for rescue in a medical centre out to kill her and didn’t do it sitting on her heels; she endured the Pandorica to save the galaxy; she tried to give Vincent van Gogh joy, knowing that he was fated to commit suicide alone and depressed; she turned to Madam Kovarian and made a choice to end her in revenge for what she’d done to Amy at Demons Run. There are a thousand things that Amy has done that makes her incredible, but I think divorcing Rory so he can find someone else and have the children he wants is the strongest, because it’s not extraordinary. It’s not life-or-death, saving the universe stuff. It’s one of those every day, horrifically domestic tragedies, and that makes me respect Amy even more; because when push comes to shove, she is brilliant not only out there, in the universe, but she is also brilliant back here, on Earth, with boring old Earth stuff too.

And, alright, I love that Amy looked so much like River with her hair curled in the very first shot, when she was modelling. It’s a very small thing, but when I saw Amy done up like that, I could finally see where River gets her looks. I never thought Alex Kingston looked very much like either Arthur Darvill or Karen Gillian which, fair enough, she was cast as River way before they were cast as Rory and Amy, and probably the creators hadn’t devised that River was their daughter when they were being cast. So I could accept it as one of those things on TV that requires belief-suspenders. But when I saw Amy I went, “Oh! Her daughter does look like her!”

I also loved that while Amy signs the divorce papers as Amy Williams, the Doctor still calls them the Ponds. I think it shows great respect and affection for them, for the strength of Amy’s character and how much he feels he owes her, and for his father/son/brotherly/son-in-law affection for Rory.

Lastly, I am really looking forward to the coming episodes not because of the dinosaurs and the cowboys (though, Rupert Graves! I can already envision the crossover fanfic and I love it) but because the previews and the webisodes airing in Great Britain are hinting that series seven will throw a greater focus on what happens around the zaniness of travelling with the Doctor. I am thrilled to pieces that we’re going to see some of the Pond’s home life, especially that we’re getting to meet Rory’s Dad. I loved the dynamic between Jackie and the Doctor; I can’t wait to see how it’s the same and how it’s different with Mr. Williams.

Lastly, I do think it was quite clever to use the Dalek’s own very straight-forward logic to force the Ponds back into the thick of the story. Even though the Doctor parted ways with the Ponds in order to protect them, the Daleks know that the Doctor always travels with Companion and thus, logically, they believe he must. Therefore, when they kidnap him to force him into the Asylum and do some adventuring for them, logically they assume that he must have his Companions present.

Though, why the Ponds specifically, I’m not certain. The Daleks can’t know that Donna would die if she was the one brought to him, and I would certainly think that they would assume she was the strongest and best Companion based on their interactions with her. They couldn’t take Rose, because she’s in Pete’s world, but they are familiar with Martha, Jack… and for that matter, why not Ace? Or Sarah Jane Smith? (Well, I know why not SJS: because Elizabeth Sladen has passed away)  I guess what I mean is: I wish it had been explained why it had to be Amy and Rory specifically, and not one of the other dozens of people that have encountered Daleks and been recorded as the Companions of the Doctor. (Beyond the obvious restrictions of television production – that Karen and Arthur were contracted and therefore Amy and Rory had to be written into the episode).


The Daleks

I was happy to see the Skittles Daleks in the background of the episode. Nice continuity there. At first I was confused why the Daleks would have a Parliament when they have an Emperor, but I accepted it because the Commonwealth countries have Parliaments and a Monarch. I wonder if it was more confusing or harder to accept for American fans. (Any thoughts, Americans?)

I also thought it was clever that the Daleks would send The Predator up against the thing they are too scared to face themselves. More fantastically convoluted Dalek logic: Who is the one person who can kill Daleks? The Doctor. Therefore, send the Doctor in to kill the Dalek that scares the bumps off them. Makes sense.

And oh, oh. Moffat, you clever devil. Making the Daleks forget the Doctor, all of them? That’s fantastic. And the echoed “Doctor Who?” was a great call-back to last season…

… or was it?

When the Daleks asked “Doctor Who?” and there is a pregnant, stunned pause from the Doctor and the Ponds, my first thought was: “Oh, cool, silence did fall when the question was asked!”

But after about a second, another thought came on its heels: “What, that’s it? That was what all that lead up was for? A whole season of teasing and building and plot arcs… for that? A pregnant pause? Uhg! What about the Fields of Trenzalor? What about The Fall of the Eleventh when no living creature can speak falsely or fail to answer?”

Now, admittedly I think that this is a brilliant way to deal with the reality that the Dalek vs. Doctor dynamic was getting old and over-done.

There was really very little left that any writer could have done to freshen up that struggle. Writer Robert Shearman did a phenomenal job bringing the Daleks into the 21st century in “Dalek”: he gave us an episode about the aftermath of the Time War, the horror of being the last two combatants left on the field, the anger of genocide, the sorrow of being alone, and most importantly, took all the things that were laughably dated about the Daleks (their plungers, their inability to climb stairs, their robotic voices) and turned them into effective new nightmare fodder (the plungers are really weapons and information sucks, they can elevate, the voices now have pathos).

When I first watched the episode Dalek, I didn’t even know what a Dalek was. I had to Wikipedia it after it was over to get all the heavy background info (in fact, I horrified my British friends Helen and Liz by pronouncing it Day-lek the first time I spoke with them about the episode afterwards). But I was still emotionally affected by the episode because the writing was just that good; the script is the basis of everything, and Eccleson’s performance told me everything I needed to know about fearing the Daleks. I didn’t know what a Dalek was, but it scared the Doctor near to tears, left him incoherent and gibbering for release from the room, literally scratching at the door to escape, and that told me enough.

I had never before seen the Doctor so terrified, and so I too was terrified.

(Robert, I know I’ve said this to you in person before, but let me repeat it here: BRAVO, MAN. Let me buy the first round in London.)

But after that episode, I didn’t fear or admire the use of the Daleks as much.

They were put to great use during the Army of Ghosts; Doomsday episodes to ramp up the dramatic tension (and who didn’t love the Dalek/Cyberman verbal smackdown?), but after that I just wasn’t buying it any more. In The Stolen Earth, when Jack Harkness grabbed Ianto and Gwen and sobbed, “We’re dead! I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do!” I laughed. I didn’t buy it. Because I’ve never seen the Daleks win. Never. Not once.

I’ve watched Daleks kill characters, even major characters, but either they were characters I didn’t really care about and were created to die anyway, or if they were important, they were revived. So, Daleks? Not scary outside of the immediate.

(Especially when in Victory of the Daleks, the Doctor threw a bloody child’s temper-tantrum and wailed on a Dalek with a blunt object. That is not the standardized behaviour of the pacifist-until-you-leave-him-no-other-option Doctor I know and love).

So this? This turning the Daleks into something not quite the same as an enemy, but never-will-be-an-ally? This is intriguing.

Obviously the Daleks, even without memory of the Doctor, still recall the Time War, and will still continue on their life-purpose-mission to exterminate every life form that is not a Dalek. And so my beloved pacifist-until-you-leave-him-no-other-option Doctor cannot leave them gleefully to it.

The Doctor and the Daleks will eventually have cross paths again, and while their animosity will not have the same deep history and respect/fear dynamic, they will still have to fight and try to destroy one another. And I think it will be worse for the Doctor because before he could scare them away with words, with forcing the Daleks to recall who he was, to name him and tremble in memory of his deeds, and thus win with less killing, less action on his part. And he can’t do that anymore because Oswin took those memories away.

The Daleks knowing who the Oncoming Storm, the Lonely God, the Predator was used to be the Doctor’s greatest weapon against them. And now it’s gone.

And so he will have to be more violent, more cruel, and more merciless to stop them. He will have to forge new memory of him in them, and new fear. Poor Doctor. Poor, tired Doctor. And the Doctor will still hurt over it because he still hates killing anyone, but he will still do it because he is the only one who can prevent the universal genocide the Daleks threaten.

(I am suddenly struck with memories of John Smith in Human Nature weeping and asking Nurse Redfern, “Why me? Why does it have to be me?”)

But I digress. A lot. I was talking about the silence falling when the Doctor stepped out of the TARDIS and the Daleks asked “Doctor Who?”

It was clever for a moment, but…  using The Question/The Answer this way? It sort of all comes off like Moffat had this great idea and built two/three seasons on it, but then when he got to the moment when he had to reveal it, he forgot what he was doing and grabbed hold of the first plot point that sprang to mind. Erasing the Doctor from the minds of the Daleks is cool, but it doesn’t seem to fit with what he was building before.

I hope I’m proven wrong, and this is just the beginning of the payoff for The Question/Answer.


Soufflé Girl

Yup, that was Jenna Louise Coleman. SURPRISE! (That was the big secret we were sworn up and down to keep). The companion that was cast for the Christmas Special, was, indeed in the first episode of series seven; and I think that’s nifty because it shows that there’s going to be something deeper, something more to Oswin than there was to the other Christmas One-Off Companions, like Jackson Lake or Abigail and Kazran, or any of the others.


This is why we had to keep it secret – because if everyone knew going in that Coleman was in the first episode, they would look harder at the Christmas stuff and the shock of Oswin’s death might not resonate with the audience.


But, okay, I’ll admit that I saw it coming. Oswin died at the end of the episode, as I predicted she would, because she was a Dalek, as I predicted she would eventually be revealed to be, because that’s how Doctor Who goes. It’s the pattern, and even though the Doctor no longer says “I’m sorry, I’m so so sorry,” the pattern hasn’t changed all that much since 2005.

What I found really intriguing though is that a) Oswin appeared at all and b) she sounded an awful lot like the Doctor’s daughter, Jenny. Maybe it was just a similarity in the way both actresses delivered their lines, or maybe it was the way the characters are written, or maybe it’s just my yearning for the Doctor to find and interact with his family (I want to see Smith-Doctor having a quiet moment with Susan Foreman/Campbell so badly), or maybe she really is Jenny. I don’t know, but I can’t wait to find out.

How delicious a mystery Moffat has set up for us: how and why does Oswin not know the Doctor when she meets him in Asylum? She is later in her timeline than he is at this meeting, so she should know him. It’s first for him, last for her (hmmm, smacks of River, now that I say it like that). We already know that she will have met him before she dies, because she’s going to be in the upcoming Christmas Special. It’s all so marvellously Timey-Wimey!

And don’t forget that the Doctor has a Time Machine. That is one thing that I love about the Moffat-era series above the Davies-era: Moffat remembers that the Doctor has a time—ship and uses it.

Moffat also remembers that to the Doctor, our lives are like that of a mayfly; fleeting, beautiful, worth remembering, but ultimately seen in snippets and flickers, and tragically short. He did this perfectly in The Girl in the Fireplace, which Spider-man writer Dan Slott championed as “The absolute perfect example of what an episode of Doctor Who should be.”

And it seems, wonderfully, as if Moffat’s setting up series seven to be all about that very thing – time, the human lifespan, how life goes on “slowly, and in the right order” without the Doctor, and what it means to have a Mad Man With A Blue Box flitting in and out of your life like an errant, fantastic, wild, and ultimately dangerous and terrifying child.

I always love teasing out the thesis of a series (listen to the podcast where I do so for series five and six), and I am looking forward to seeing if my guess for series seven is right: Life After The Doctor. (What I wouldn’t give to have a good look at the whiteboard in the Doctor Who writer’s room!)

It reminds me, suddenly, quite a lot of my Classical Mythology classes. While learning The Illiad, I asked my professor: “Why would anyone accept the Armour of Pelias? It’s fated that whomever wears it will die in it, even Pelias himself. So when it’s offered to Hector, why would he take it?”

“Because,” my teacher answered, “You do not say ‘no thank you’ to a god. They’re gods. Bad things happen if you do.”

“Bad things happen if you say yes, though,” I argued. “Laurel said no to Apollo and she was turned into a tree. But Cassandra said yes to him and she went mad because no one believed her prophecies.”

“That’s the sad part of being a plaything of the gods,” my professor explained. “They’re gods. We’re just human. Any human who comes in contact with a god, either for good or ill, is destined to be destroyed by that god’s attention. Simply because they are bigger than us. More than us. Their anger is angrier, their lust is hungrier, their appetites and wraths and joys larger. They will play with us to death, just as a careless child does with a captured wild toad.”

There is a reason, I think, the enemies of the Doctor call him the Lonely God.  He is bigger, he is more in a way that his human (and other non-Time Lord) Companions are not, can never be. His anger is angrier, his curiosity is larger, his wraths and joys more terrible. And like the gods of ancient Greece, he is impossible to refuse but dangerous to accept. You cannot ever say no to the Doctor, and that, as Rory has pointed out, is his greatest danger. And even if you say yes, his moreness will still affect you, still, in the end, destroy you in some way.

As I said before, this episode is satisfactory, and doesn’t quite earn the moniker “great”… but the nested possibilities are exciting and have me on the edge of my seat.

The potential is breathtaking.

I can’t wait to see how Moffat makes this play out.

JM FreyLife After the Doctor: “Asylum of the Daleks” Review

1 comment

Join the conversation
  • James Bow - September 2, 2012

    That’s a good, lengthy and incisive review. Thanks for the hard work you clearly put into it in getting it together. Thanks also for the retweet of my own review (seen at, if you’ll forgive the shameless plug).

    I really don’t think the question is over and done with. The lines at the end of “The Wedding of River Song” suggests to me that Moffat is playing a long game that will culminate in the regeneration of the eleventh Doctor (“the fall of the eleventh”, anyone?), but what we have here is a suggestion of what the question might actually mean.

    As muddled as the sixth season was in terms of its overarching arc, the implication was clearly that the Doctor’s growing reputation WAS the main problem leading the Silence to attack him. They feared the question, because after it was asked, “silence would fall”. But what if the question results from the Doctor taking the opposite tack and trying to be forgotten — not just by the Daleks, but by the rest of the universe?

    You have to remember that, back in the original series, the Doctor was largely anonymous. It was far more common for monsters and enemies not to know who the Doctor was than to know. The growth of the Doctor’s reputation into a universal god of hope, as perpetuated by Davies, was an aberration, and I think that Moffat’s exploring the consequences of this. Further, I think the Doctor wants to go back to the time when he was just an anonymous traveller in time and space. It would be ironic, and tragic, if this desire is what leads to his fall.

    It might seem like the happy medium between a God of Hope and an Anonymous Nobody may be easy to find, but probably not for this Doctor, don’t you think?

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