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When Season 7 of Doctor Who aired, I posted (generally short) reviews of the episodes which made up my initial impressions. Now that the season is available in its entirety on Hulu+ I thought it might be interesting to do a re-watch and see how my opinions have changed or not. I'm also interested to see how well the season progresses thematically and otherwise given the criticism it's received.
My original review of Asylum of the Daleks can be found here and I was a bit negative about. And a lot of my issues seemed to be with the pacing.
On rewatching most of those pacing issues seem to have gone away. I'm not sure whether that is because I now know the plot or because after a season of it, the pacing has just become the new normal. There are still some problems that I noticed, but first lets point out some highlights.
- I love the childish glee of Matt Smith's 11th Doctor and it's here in spades in this episode.
- Souflle Girl/Oswin/Future Clara as played by Jenna Coleman is wonderful. All her dialogue sparkles and her interaction with both the Doctor and Rory is great
- The dialogue throughout this episode is just plain fun to listen to.
- The insane Daleks really are incredibly creepy. Extra points for the scene where the Doctor is genuinely terrified by them.
Plot wise I still think the pacing is off a bit, but that's mainly in the B story of Amy and Rory's relationship. The acting by both Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill somehow sells the significance and emotion of their relationship. But that is despite a complete lack of build up in the script to support it.
You could reasonably nit-pick a bit here and ask why the Daleks of all creatures would have a Parliament, but it's not actually that crazy given how they've been presented over the years. Oswin says they have a hive mind but we're always shown them either chatting to each other or or chanting in large numbers. If that's how they like to communicate a Parliament sort of makes sense as a talking shop.
My other nitpick would be, who puts the chains on these Daleks and why do they keep using chains that won't actually hold them?
And the exploration of the the Doctor's relationship to the Daleks. The idea that he is their predator, that he makes them stronger is a good one and links into a larger theme for the season. Also the notion that Dalek's do have a sense of beauty (just a really warped one) was a strong note for me.
All in all then the good easily outweighs the bad here and my second viewing was much more enjoyable than the first it seems. This sets the season off on a strong note and points us to the thematic echoes we're going to see repeating as things go on.