Into the Dalek
Into the Dalek was the second episode of the eighth series of Doctor Who produced by BBC Wales, and marked the Twelfth Doctor’s first encounter with the Daleks.
Featuring the Doctor and Clara leading a miniaturized team inside a Dalek, this story originated as a pitch by Steven Moffat for a Doctor Who video game before deciding to save the idea for an episode, handing it over to Phil Ford.
The effects of the Doctor fighting the Daleks for 900 years on Trenzalore is also shown, as his hatred for the creatures has intensified to the point that he unintentionally causes Rusty, the ‘good’ Dalek in this episode, during a mind link to see what it called his ‘Divine Hatred’ of the Dalek race.
Journey Blue’s ship is being shot at by a Dalek ship, and her brother Kai is unconscious. As it explodes, she appears in theTARDIS console room. She points her gun at the Doctor, demanding that he take her back to her command ship, the Aristotle. He waits for her to ask nicely before complying. The TARDIS materializes and they step outside. The pair walk onto the Aristotle, a base for Combined Galactic Resistance, the Galaxy’s united front against the Daleks; while the other soldiers initially plan to kill the Doctor (out of paranoia that he may be a Dalek spy), Journey points out they have need of a physician.
Journey’s uncle, Colonel Morgan Blue, takes the Doctor to a dying Dalek – later nicknamed Rusty – that they have managed to capture. At first the Doctor is uninterested in helping the creature, until stunned when the Dalek voices its desire to slaughter the rest of its own kind!
Meanwhile at Coal Hill School, a new Maths teacher, Danny Pink, a war veteran, meets with some students, the Coal Hill Cadet Squad, in the courtyard. Clara Oswald and he briefly catch each other’s eye. Later, Danny is ending a class when one of his students asks if he has ever killed anyone. The rest of the students groan, and Danny implies that as a soldier, he may have killed enemy soldiers. The student persists by asking if he ever killed anyone who was not a soldier. Danny does not answer, but a lone tear appears in his eye as he dismisses class. Sometime later, Danny is introduced to Clara, one of his fellow teachers. She recalls having seen him in the yard earlier. She then asks if he is going to another colleague’s event later, which he indicates that he is not. Having awkwardly turned down her subsequent invitation for a drink, he verbally berates himself later once he has returned to his classroom. Unbeknownst to him, Clara has overheard him. Given another chance, he now accepts her invitation to have a drink.
Returning to her office, Clara discovers the Doctor standing there with the takeaway coffee she sent him for three weeks ago. The Doctor claims he needs Clara’s help urgently, explaining the situation on the way. He then takes the liberty of asking her to tell him – as honestly as she can – if she thinks he is a good man, to which she answers that she does not know.
Back on the Aristotle, the Doctor explains that a malfunction that is also killing it has given the Dalek a conscience and he, fascinated by the idea, has agreed to help it. The group, consisting of the Doctor, Clara, Journey and two other rebel soldiers (Ross and Gretchen), are shrunk down: they are inserted into the Dalek through its eye-stalk and begin exploring the upper levels.
The Doctor takes the liberty of introducing the group to Rusty’s artificial memory drive which filters out good memories and reinforces bad ones, calling it “evil refined and turned into a machine”. The Doctor then asks Rusty what made it turn on its own kind. It turns out that it witnessed the birth of a star, which made it realize the futility of the Daleks’ mission of destruction.
Realizing that they have to go down, Ross sets up a zip line which inadvertently damages Rusty’s body and triggers the release of antibodies. Realizing that he cannot save Ross, the Doctor has him swallow a pill that allows him to track where the antibodies store his
obliterated remains so that they can hide there. From there the group makes its way to the lower regions where they find the batteries.
Discovering a crack in one of the batteries that is leaking deadly radiation that is both killing Rusty and now them, the Doctor seals it off. Now that Rusty is fixed, it immediately returns to its programming and begins slaughtering the station’s soldiers. The Doctor, however, is
ecstatic as his belief that there is no such thing as a “good” Dalek is restored (even though he knew Oswin Oswald).
Clara is enraged by the Doctor’s apathy to the point of slapping him – hard – and points out to him that what they have learned is not that there is no such thing as a good Dalek, but that it is possible. Inspired by Clara’s words the Doctor instructs her, Gretchen, and Journey to make their way back to the memory drive and try to restore Rusty’s memories of the star while he tries to reason with Rusty.
Gretchen sacrifices herself to set up a zip line to get Clara and Journey to the memory core while she fends off the antibodies coming after them. Dying from the antibodies, Gretchen finds herself in Heaven, where Missy introduces herself. Meanwhile Rusty calls for backup from the Dalek fleet and plots to join in their slaughter of the rebels.
Clara is able to deduce how Rusty’s memory core works and reactivates all of his suppressed memories. With this the Doctor is able to form a psychic link with Rusty and transfer all of his memories. However instead of reawakening its good side, Rusty is inspired by the Doctor’s own “Divine Hatred” of the Daleks to instead try to wipe out the rest of its kind, whom it once again sees as evil.
Rusty slaughters the rest of the Daleks on the station and the Doctor, Clara and Journey are returned to their proper size. Rusty has broadcast a signal to the rest of the Daleks voicing the Humans’ (completely fictional) intention to set the station to self-destruct, leading them to retreat. Rusty leaves to rejoin its kind, stating it will continue to sabotage them.
Before it goes Rusty disagrees with the Doctor’s assessment that there is no such thing as a good Dalek: it says that the Doctor himself would make a good Dalek. The Doctor also views it as something of a hollow victory: someone looked into his soul and saw nothing but hatred.
Journey attempts to see the Doctor off when he reluctantly says an unemphatic farewell to the Aristotle personnel. She wishes to join him on the TARDIS as a companion, but the Doctor turns her down. While he recognizes the good in her under the battle-hardened exterior, he just wishes that she wasn’t a soldier. Journey accepts his refusal and gives him a subdued smile, knowing the Doctor is only doing what he feels is best.
Clara is returned to Coal Hill School 30 seconds after the Doctor had picked her up, changing into new clothes for her evening with Danny on the way. As she leaves, she at last answers the Doctor’s question about whether or not he is a good man – while she cannot say for sure that he is a good man, he tries to be one, which is the important thing. This clearly reassures the Doctor. She joins Danny for their date, trying not to adopt the Doctor’s policy against soldiers.