Back in the day, Doctor Who could be a fairly trippy little show. There was a Second Doctor story where he and his companions journeyed to the Land of Fiction, where they met Gulliver, and where Jamie temporarily “regenerated” because the Doctor couldn’t remember his face accurately. There was a Fourth Doctor story where the Doctor and Leela were cloned and shrunk down to microscopic size so the Doctor could traipse about inside his own brain. And then there’s today’s episode, which owes a bit to that story, “The Invisible Enemy” and to a First Doctor story, “Planet of Giants” (a story which, ironically, was supposed to be the second in the series before being replaced by “The Daleks).
This episode has the Doctor, by himself, arriving at a spaceship full of soldiers who also have an injured Dalek; a Dalek who believes all Daleks are evil and that their constant war of destruction is pointless, because life will, as was once observed, find a way. The Doctor goes back to Earth and snags Clara, bringing her to the ship so that the two can be shrunk down, along with a few redshirts, and go inside the Dalek to find out what’s making it “good”. Along the way the Doctor is forced to confront his own prejudices and we get to see an army of Daleks doing what Daleks do, instead of screwing around cloning pigs and serving tea to WWII British soldiers.
There was a great deal that I liked about this story. In fact, I liked basically everything about it. It really “felt” quite a lot like an old series episode, and that’s to its credit. There were some amazingly trippy scenes and bizarre camera work that reminded me quite a bit of the stuff that was done back in the day. Further, Capaldi really shines here, showing exactly why he was chosen to be the Doctor, and proving that he very much belongs in the role. The story itself was gripping and intelligent, and is easily the best Dalek story since the Ninth Doctor first met them. In fact I’d go so far as to say it is one of the best new Who episodes to date, and that’s saying something. Oh, and as a special bonus, this is two for two for series eight episodes that aren’t set on contemporary Earth. Next week will bring us up to three for three. I like that trend.
This story also had some great pacing, and did a wonderful job of introducing a new character in the form of Danny Pink. I’m quite keen to see what happens with his character, and if current fan theories about his identity prove to be true.
All in all, as I write this, I realize that I have zero complaints about this story, and that’s saying something. It really was really good, and I hope it bodes well for the rest of the series.