Into the Evil of the Daleks - Doctor Who S08E02 and OldWho #038

By: ; Date: 2014-08-30 22:59

Tags: Doctor Who

We just watched Into the Dalek, and we have to acknowledge something - the story line references way back into Old Who, to a set of Patrick Troughton (Doctor #2) episodes collectively titled The Evil of the Daleks. In both cases we had a humanizing of Daleks, and Doctor#12's certainty there can be no humanizing of Daleks may stem from the experiences shown in The Evil of the Daleks.

Unfortunately Evil of the Daleks is one of the stories where there are missing episodes. The BBC in its infinite wisdom simply erased some of the master tapes of Doctor Who (and other programs) because of tight budgets and the need to reuse video tapes. Generally speaking recycling is a good thing, but when it's the only copy of your cultural history it's a bad idea. The result is there are about 100 Doctor Who episodes which are missing, with Patrick Troughton's era being especially hard hit.

In this episode, Into the Dalek, we see The Doctor (and companions) shrunk to tiny size so they can run around inside a broken Dalek. The Dalek in question was found floating in space, having seen the light of stars being birthed, and realizing the futility of killing living creatures, and recognizing the determination of Life that it keeps on living. Or some such. It's hard getting deep reasoning out of a Dalek, but this one managed to say some interesting things showing it had some kind of awakening.

As a result the Dalek was remorseful for its past, and wanted to kill all Daleks. Which surprised the Doctor, and he described it as a Good Dalek.

Which hearkens back to The Evil of the Daleks. In that story, the Doctor had been caught in a Dalek trap in which they sought help with the Doctor in an experiment. That experiment was to distill some "Human Essence" so they could inoculate a trio of Daleks, who would become Human Daleks. Once that was accomplished, those three Daleks started playing games, having fun, like children, and the Doctor thought they would rapidly mature and possibly become proper people. Except, they were whisked back to Skaro pretty quickly. The Doctor made his way to Skaro, and learned that the Emporer Dalek had no plan at all to launch a race of Human Daleks. Instead the real purpose of the experiment was to distill a Dalek Essence, so the Daleks could be even more bloodthirsty than ever.

In other words, the last time The Doctor met a Good Dalek it turned out to be a hoax to create even bloodier Daleks.

Can we blame him for not trusting a reformed Dalek after all his time interacting with the Daleks?

What I found real interesting was the climax of the episode. The Doctor brought divine space into the middle of a Dalek, and as a result changed (Healed, even) the Dalek.

THAT hearkens back to something River Song said during A Good Man Goes to War. She pointed out that the word Doctor is supposed to mean Healer - one who resolves situations, brings health and healing, etc. Is that what we see the Doctor doing with his life? Nope. He's more like a warrior.

But, in Into The Dalek, the Doctor acted more like a proper Healer. By bringing divine space into the Dalek, by showing the Dalek a different path, that Dalek had a different/new direction in life, to act to stop the Dalek menace. How? By helping the Dalek to remember his true nature, to remember his past actions, and to reawaken the normal person-instincts which the Daleks purposely suppressed.

Is this signaling a whole new direction for the Doctor as well? We're seeing him questioning himself, his motives, whether he's a good man, etc. Is he going to start doing more of this, being a proper Healer and shedding the warrior role he put himself into?

« Let's Kill Davros! Or, a review of Doctor Who S09E01, the Magicians Apprentice Peter Capaldi's earlier career as an ice cream salesman? »
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