Doctor Who: Series 7, Episode 1 – Asylum of the Daleks

Doctor Who is back on our screens as the seventh series began yesterday. With Daleks, divorce, a delightful Doctor plus a surprise special guest, this first episode had a little bit of everything.

Actually, it had quite a lot of Daleks.

Before we get onto the episode proper, it’s worth a quick mention for Pond Life – the pre-series build up mini-episodes that featured on the BBC’s Doctor Who webpage every day last week. Each one was only a minute or so long and featured the Doctor trying desperately to get back to Amy and Rory, whilst real life tore them apart and galactic troubles kept him away.

I like things like this, particularly when they aren’t necessary to watch to keep up with the main series but add something if you’re fan enough to seek it out. I’m not sure if the divorce thing in episode one would have come completely out of nowhere if you hadn’t seen Pond Life, but then again we only saw two small scenes to indicate troubles anyway, so we weren’t wholly in the loop.

I’ll refrain from mentioning the hideous wig that Amy seemed to be wearing in Pond Life, and will just stick to saying that I preferred when the five episodes were bundled together in a five minute outing than the individual mini-sodes.

So, onto the first episode itself. Great, marvellous, brilliant. As mentioned, the divorce thing was the centre stage story for Amy and Rory – one that I only half-heartedly believed. After everything they’ve been through I’m not sure she would just give him up without discussing it with him, but whatever. You can never fully fathom someone else’s relationship, and it was a reasonable enough sub-plot to what was really happening.

Two important things. Firstly, the Doctor found the Daleks wanted his help, which was an intriguing turn of events and something he probably would never have believed could happen. The adventure to the planet of abandoned Daleks was fun, and scary, and all the things Doctor Who should be, but crucially, it ended with the Doctor’s worst enemy not knowing who he was. Can that be right? Although the Doctor Who scenes at the end were great, we’ve already had the Doctor letting the whole universe believe he was dead, now they are having their minds wiped too. If no one is left knowing who he is, will he even matter?

Secondly, we had the glorious surprise of Jenna-Louise Coleman. The future companion made an amazingly unspoiled appearance in this first episode, as a spaceship crash survivor turned Dalek. The twist at the end was horrifying, and well-done in that it was only really guessable in the last few minutes before revelation.

She seemed ever-so-fabulous, gutsy and smart, not fazed by the Doctor at all, and ready with some backchat for all and sundry. It’s reminiscent of Donna and that makes me happy. How events will transpire to make her a companion and not a tragic human trapped in a dreaded foe is something I can’t even begin to fathom – but that’s why Steven Moffat is the genius in charge, and I am just the silly human watching along at home.

Overall, I loved it. I was glad it was more of a standalone adventure than a big over-arcing and complex story like that which we saw at the start of series six, but it still raised questions that we’re going to need answers to. I’m still glad that we’re moving towards the end of Amy and Rory’s story – things are just getting ever more sentimental with those two – but I loved it when she asked the Doctor if it was wrong she had missed their adventures. They’ll both be missed, for sure. But before we wave them goodbye, there are still adventures to have, and next time looks to be the exciting mission that delivers the now-infamous line: “Dinosaurs. On a spaceship!”