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Doctor Who - S8E2 - Into the Dalek

Previously on Doctor Who, ‘Deep Breath’ 

Honey, I shrunk the Doctor and made a good Dalek!



The Main Plot 

A space station hidden in an asteroid belt is in possession of one good Dalek: It has been damaged, and the resulting radiation poisoning overrode its extermination programing, allowing it to see beauty in the birth of a star and the scope of the Daleks’ destruction, causing it to determine that all the Daleks should die. They must repair the Dalek from the inside, so the Doctor, Clara, and a team of three soldiers are miniaturized via nano-scaler. They fight through the Dalek’s physiology—a pool of Soylent Green and vaporizing antibodies, which kill two soldiers—to fix the leak. Unfortunately the repair reboots the “bad” cortex cells, overriding the good memories and setting the Dalek, nicknamed Rusty, on a killing rampage. After a moment of gloating, which Clara slaps out of him, the Doctor declares that they must attempt to save Rusty’s good part. The remaining soldier, Journey Blue, and Clara climb to the cortex to reawaken the good memories as the Doctor speaks to Rusty’s biological form, allowing it to connect with his mind to see the beauty of life. And it does see beauty… and splendor… and murderous hatred of the Daleks. Rusty turns next on its own kind and lays waste to a Dalek rescue party, fortunately for the base but unfortunately for the future of spreading goodness throughout Dalekdom. Back on the outside and in normal size, the Doctor laments that he wasn’t able to achieve a permanently “good” Dalek after all, to which Rusty chillingly replies, “I am not a good Dalek. You are a good Dalek.”


The Side Plot

Clara is teaching back on Earth and meets a new soldier-turned-teacher, Not Mickey Danny Pink. He’s haunted by having to kill during his service and adorably evasive when she offers to take him to a going away party for a colleague. Clara catches him pulling a literal Head Desk back in his classroom and breaks down his dorkiness with her honesty. Smiling, she returns back to her room to find the Doctor standing in her cupboard, coffee in hand, 3 weeks and a country late. As the episode closes, he returns her to the same spot, 30 seconds later, and she walks happily down the hall with Danny.

The Long Game 

One of the soldiers sacrifices herself by setting grappling hooks inside the Dalek so that Clara and Journey can return to the cortex. The Dalek’s antibodies kill her and, still screaming, she awakes at a table with Missy, who offers her a spot of tea.

Thematic Discussion

  • It’s been a while since we’ve explored the humanity of the Daleks themselves. From its self-awareness and concern for its wellbeing, to the pain response to the grappling hooks, to the screams of the creatures as Rusty goes on its killing rampage at the end, we’re confronted with the Doctor’s lapse in morality when it comes to the Daleks. Will this be the season that each side in this equation changes for good?
  • Is the Doctor a good man? This is what he asks Clara upon first picking her up from her classroom. She initially answers that she doesn’t know, then at the end, elaborates that she thinks he tries to be, and that’s “probably the point.”
  • The issue of soldiers and morality comes up in three different ways in this episode:
    1. Danny Pink is quite traumatized with killing during his service. His students question if he has killed, and he’s certain people are gossiping about it so he keeps to himself. He tells Clara that he likes to imagine modern soldiering has a moral dimension, to which she quips, “Oh, you shoot people, then cry about it afterwards.” Later he wonders if Clara is really going to have drinks with him, because she “might have a rule against soldiers.”
    2. The Doctor tells Journey that “crying is for civilians” and that soldiers don’t need to be liked because they have guns. Then as they’re debating whether to destroy or save Rusty, he exhorts her not to “be a soldier,” so she acts against orders to help Clara reach the cortex. Later when the Doctor is ready to go, she asks him to take her with him, and he replies that she’s probably a good person, but he wishes she hadn’t been a soldier.
    3. The Doctor views the Dalek as a sort of ultimate soldier—it remains “pure” in its mission to exterminate by having only those cortex cells turned on while anything that would question that turned off. After exterminating its shipmates, Rusty tells the Doctor that he is a good Dalek compared to Rusty. How did you interpret this?

Pinnable Quotes:

Journey, about the Tardis: “It’s smaller on the outside!”

Clara: “I’m his carer.” Doctor: “She cares so I don’t have to.”

Doctor: “Morality as malfunction. How do I resist?”

Doctor: “An anti-climax once in a while is good for my hearts.”

The Missy Files, what we know so far:

  1. Missy presumably made sure Clara got the Doctor’s number in the beginning of their relationship.
  2. She also placed the ad for lunch.
  3. She claims that the place she’s taking people is Heaven or Paradise.
  4. The two beings this season ending up there have apparently made a conscious, noble sacrifice, otherwise the first soldier would also have been there (which suggests the robot in Deep Breath jumped rather than was pushed).
  5. Photo from Deep Breath

  1. Photo from Into the Dalek

  1. Bonus photo from The Girl Who Waited, the planet Apalapucia, when Amy was in quarantine. Relevant or location reuse?

Photo credit: Llywela @

  1. Trivia: this location in real life is the Pompeian Garden of Dyffryn House in Wales
About Sarah de Poer (199 Articles)
Eminently sensible by day, by night, she can be found watching questionable scifi, pinning all the things, rewriting lists, pantry snacking, and not sleeping. She was once banned over an argument about Starbuck and Apollo, and she has to go right now because someone is wrong on the Internet.

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