Asylum of the Daleks
Asylum of the Daleks was the first episode of the seventh series of Doctor Who produced by BBC Wales. Steven Moffat’s first script to feature the Daleks as the main adversaries, it also served to launch the beginning of the series’ major plot strands: the end of Amy and Rory’s travels in the TARDIS and the beginning of the mystery surrounding Clara Oswald’s identity. The episode also saw Rory and Amy’s love challenged, following on from Pond Life, with the issue being resolved by the end of the story.
Importantly, it introduced audiences to Oswald as “soufflé girl”, a moniker that would ultimately gain greater resonance in the series finale. Indeed from the production team’s perspective, the episode marked a major victory in Moffat’s war on spoilers, in that the surprise of Jenna-Louise Coleman’s appearance was preserved for the vast majority of the global audience. Despite several advanced screenings, no major leaks about her presence were known to have occurred in press reports or on social media. It was also an important episode for fans of Dalek design, in that several models of Dalek stretching all the way back to the 1960s were seen in the story — if only briefly.
With respect to the BBC Wales Dalek designs, it seemed to reverse the Victory of the Daleks‘ implication that the “color-coded Daleks” would destroy any remaining bronze, RTD-era Daleks as inferior. Instead, the RTD Daleks were clearly shown to be numerically superior to the color-coded version, and both were shown to be working together in a Moffat-introduced Dalek governmental structure called the “Parliament of the Daleks”. The episode also re-introduced Skaro on television for the first time since the 1996 TV movie, showing it in a state of heavy ruin.
On Skaro, a woman called Darla meets the Eleventh Doctor in a huge Dalek statue. She asks the Doctor to save her daughter from a Dalek prison camp, the camp she escaped from. However, the Doctor realizes that it is all a trap: unbeknownst to Darla, she has actually been converted into a sleeper agent of the Daleks. Right as he says this, her programming becomes active, and she stuns the Doctor as a Dalek saucer arrives.
On Earth, Amy Pond is posing for the camera when her secretary tells her that her husband wants to see her. She remarks that she doesn’t have a husband any more. She walks in to a make-up room, where Rory asks her to sign the divorce papers, joking that Amy was just “pouting at a camera”. Once she has signed the papers, he leaves as Amy’s make-up artist,Cassandra, enters. However, it turns out she is also a Dalek puppet, and she teleports Amy away. Meanwhile, Rory gets on a bus, but the bus driver turns out to be yet another puppet, who in turn teleports Rory to the Daleks.
He wakes up in a cell with Amy, and looks through a small window to see they are in space, with an armada of Dalek saucers accompanying them. They are then taken to the Parliament of the Daleks, where the Doctor says it’s finally Christmas for the Daleks because they managed to capture their greatest enemy. Much to the Time Lord’s surprise, the assembled Daleks don’t try to exterminate him. Wondering for what other reason they could have captured him, the Doctor is met with a surprise; the Daleks want the Doctor to save them, to which he replies, “Well, this is new.”
The Daleks bring them to a planet they call the Asylum, a place that the Doctor has heard of only in legend. It’s a place where the Daleks dispose of those of their kind who go wrong: the insane, the battle-scarred and the uncontrollable. The Doctor learns, to his disgust, that the Daleks didn’t destroy their insane brethren because they find “Divine Hatred” to be beautiful. The whole planet is automated and surrounded by an impenetrable shield, but the Daleks have detected a signal of unknown origin on the planet: The Doctor traces the signal to a woman called Oswin Oswald, who has been hiding out on the remains of the crashed star-liner Alaska for a year.
The Doctor realizes that when the Alaska crashed, it ruptured the planet’s shield, leading to the risk of the inmates escaping. A planet’s worth of insane Daleks roaming free is something that scares even the Daleks, who captured the Doctor to deal with the threat. The Daleks explain they kidnapped Amy and Rory because their records show he is always accompanied by companions. Because the shield is still strong enough to resist an assault from orbit, the Doctor and his companions will be sent down to the planet to deactivate the shield so the planet can be “cleansed” (of all life). The three are given protective bracelets so they will not be affected by the “Nanocloud” that surrounds the planet, and are unceremoniously sent down the gravity beam.
Amy is the first to come to after landing, and sees a man in a white coat approaching her. Panicking, she runs away, with him chasing after her. The Doctor is next to come to, finding a Dalek eye watching him; Oswin has discovered visitors. Speaking to her via the radio, the Doctor decides to look for Amy and Rory first. Eventually, he and Amy run into each other, and the man, Harvey, reveals that he was a crew member of the Alaska. They decide to find Rory first. The Doctor tracks the reading coming to a hole in the ground; Rory is below them, in the actual facility. Because they cannot get to Rory at the moment, the Doctor and Amy decide to help Harvey.
Reaching the ship, they discover the rest of Harvey’s crew are dead, having decomposed into skeletons. The Doctor reveals to the confused man, who claims they were alive and well not two hours ago, that they have been this way for a long time (a year at least). However, matters get much worse when Harvey remembers he died as well… The cold preserved his body, and the nanocloud turned him into one of the Dalek puppets charged with keeping the Asylum running. With his programming activating, Harvey tries attacking the Doctor and Amy. They quickly shut him into the storage unit of the ship.
The Doctor explains that the nanocloud will transform anything living or dead not protected by one of the Dalek bracelets into one of the “staff”. Amy points out the second part of his explanation; even the DEAD are converted… including the dead crew members surrounding them. As the decayed husks of the crew begin to come to life, the Doctor and Amy flee to another part of the ship. However, the undead attackers grab Amy for a minute before the Doctor pulls her free and locks them out. They then notice, on the monitor, that the zombies have a bracelet; Amy’s is missing, meaning she’s now in danger of being converted. Oswin contacts the Doctor and Amy, informing them that there’s a rope ladder leading down from the ship. It’s the only way out now.
Elsewhere, Rory awakes to find himself underground. Oswin contacts him and leads Rory through the facility, where several deactivated Daleks litter the halls. Rory accidentally trips on a piece of metal, making a loud noise that awakens one of the severely rusted Daleks. Oddly, it repeats “Eggs…” over and over again, making Rory think it wants the orbs that have fallen out of its casing; Rory offers an orb to the Dalek in confusion. However, the Dalek’s voice finally manages to unscramble; it’s been trying to say “Exterminate.” Rory runs through the room and locks himself in the teleport room on the other side. After Oswin makes flirty jokes, she tells Rory that she’ll guide the Doctor and Amy to him.
In the tunnels below the ship, Amy questions the Doctor about what will happen to her. The Doctor explains the Nanocloud will erase her memories, “replace her love with hate”, and transform her into a Dalek puppet. Memory is the first thing to be affected, and worse, it’s already begun; he’s explained this to her four times already. The Doctor encourages Amy to embrace fear to keep herself human; Daleks don’t feel fear. They head for the exit, but upon hearing the Daleks outside the teleport room yelling “Exterminate”, they’re forced back. The Doctor asks Oswin how many Daleks ahead of them as Amy walks off; she sees people in the room ahead. However, the Doctor, having noticed her, informs Amy her perception is now being affected; she’s looking at Daleks. A Dalek advances on them, identifying the Doctor. However, once the Doctor taunts the decaying Dalek for having a damaged death ray beyond use, it simply activates its self-destruct program in the hopes of taking him with it. Instead, the Doctor sends it flying in reverse, straight into the other Daleks as it explodes.
Rory hears the explosion and leaves the teleport room to find several charred Dalek casings. Wondering who killed all the Daleks, Rory sees the Doctor carrying an unconscious Amy. With a smile, the Doctor rhetorically asks Rory, “Who do you think?” Once in the teleport room, the Doctor explains the situation to Rory, and discovers the teleport has enough power to get them back to the Dalek ship in orbit once the force field is down. Oswin points out that hostility — something Amy displayed by slapping Rory — is the first sign the conversion is becoming permanent. Amy jokes “Someone’s obviously never been to Scotland,” implying she’s normally hostile. Accepting this, Oswin asks to be taken along, but the Doctor questions her about how she keeps getting the ingredients for her soufflés. His companions tell him to put the matter aside; they need to leave the planet before they lose Amy for good.
The Doctor then wonders how Oswin is not being affected by the Nanocloud, and learns that she used her genius to create a shield to block it. Leaving Amy and Rory behind, the Doctor sets out to find Oswin, as she refuses to turn off the shield until they come to rescue her. Rory offers to give Amy his bracelet to keep her human longer; he claims it would take longer for the Nanocloud to transform him into a puppet. He reasons since it transforms love into hate, he would last longer because he always loved her more than she loved him, referencing the 2000 years he spent protecting her inside the Pandorica as an Auton. As they argue, it’s revealed Amy has been left sterile because of something the Silence did to her at Demons Run; while Rory thought Amy suddenly left him, in truth, she knew he had always wanted children, so Amy “gave him up” so he had a better chance at having them with someone else, saying her sacrifice in doing so was far greater than his two-thousand year vigil. They then realize the Doctor put his bracelet on Amy while she was out cold; being immune to the Nanocloud to begin with, he’d tricked them into working out their relationship problems.
In the meantime, the Doctor reaches “Intensive Care”; it houses Daleks defeated in battles with his first, second, and third incarnations. Once the Doctor mentions they “survived” him, the Daleks (missing their guns) come back to life and corner him against the door leading to Oswin, intending to enact revenge. Luckily, Oswin hacks into Pathweb (the Daleks’ shared information center), and erases all data on him, effectively making them forget the Doctor. The deranged Daleks quietly go back to their cells and go back to “sleep”. The Doctor says it’s impossible to hack the Pathweb; even he couldn’t. Oswin invites him to meet the person who did. However, once the Doctor enters her room he discovers, to his infinite sadness, Oswin is also a Dalek. The room she thought she was in only exists in her imagination. The Doctor explains the rope ladder he used to get into the facility was originally used by her when she was human. Oswin had been captured by the Daleks, and because of her genius, had been fully converted into a Dalek instead of simply made into a puppet.
When Oswin refuses to believe him, the Doctor points out that she wouldn’t have been able to get eggs and milk for her soufflés for an entire year because there’d be a limited supply. The shocking truth causes Oswin to remember her exploration of the facility, her capture by the Daleks, and her conversion. Repeating “Eggs”, she reverts to a Dalek personality, yelling “Exterminate!” The Doctor yells for Oswin to regain control of herself, which seemingly works as she is next heard crying. She then asks the Doctor why the Daleks hate him so much, learning that he always prevents them from achieving large victories. Content with her fate, Oswin (still imagining herself in the fake room) tells the Doctor to remember her, explaining that the shield around the Asylum has been dropped. The Doctor thanks her, and — on her order — runs for his life.
In the teleport room, Rory wonders how long they can wait for the Doctor. Amy says for the rest of their lives and they kiss. The Doctor arrives and tries getting their attention — “for God’s sake!” Annoyed that Amy and Rory always pick the worst times to kiss, the Doctor activates the teleport.
On the Dalek Parliament ship, the Supreme Dalek reports that the destruction of the Asylum has been successful. However, the alarm goes off; a teleport from the Asylum has occurred. They consider it an attack, and prepare to defend. The Doctor’s voice is heard over the loudspeaker, saying that he is very good with teleports, before leaping out of the TARDIS, calling the Daleks “suckers”. They demand that the Doctor identify himself, shocking him; he tells them who he is, only to be met with confusion. The lead Dalek puppet, Darla von Karlsen, asks “Doctor Who?”, and soon the entire Parliament of Daleks begins repeating it continuously. The Doctor now realizes that Oswin deleted him from the entire Pathweb — not just for the Daleks in Intensive Care, but for their entire species. He marvels at Oswin’s accomplishment, and laughs: “You’re never going to stop asking.”
Despite their demands to stay there and elaborate on his identity, the Doctor takes off. He deposits Amy and Rory back at their house. Waving good-bye, Amy smiles to Rory and enters the house; she’s taken him back. Rory smiles himself and whoops with joy. Rory then calms down when Amy says “I can see you.” In the TARDIS control room, the Doctor is laughing to himself and saying “Doctor Who?”, repeating the question himself several times, with joy, as he sets the TARDIS on course for his next adventure.