The Doctor is back, and boy has he been missed. After the series went on hiatus for a year, fans were growing restless waiting for everyone’s favorite Time Lord to return to the airwaves. Now he’s back, and luckily he’s brought his most iconic foes, the Daleks, with him.
Season seven’s opener, “The Asylum of the Daleks,” has The Doctor (Matt Smith) and his companions Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill) recruited by the Daleks themselves to infiltrate their planet-wide asylum, a dumping ground for all the Daleks that went wrong.
Unlike the last two seasons, whose openers set up the story arcs for those seasons, this episode acts as more of a stand-alone story. Genuine terror pervades throughout as the three principle characters find themselves trapped in the bowels of the Dalek asylum. While the Daleks themselves are as scary as they should be, given their status as The Doctor’s most feared foes, they unfortunately are not the main focus. That instead falls to Amy and Rory’s relationship troubles.
The character interaction, coupled with a surprise twist at the end, make the episode worthwhile, but definitely not as strong of an opener when compared with the last two season premieres. Any veteran “Doctor Who” fan would feel disappointed that a seemingly Dalek-centered episode was used as a backdrop to showcase The Doctor’s companions. Newcomers should not look to this episode as a good jumping off point either, since despite its stand-alone nature it still has many shout outs to episodes past.
Given what the writers were trying to accomplish, the Daleks would have been better saved for a later episode, while the companions’ stories should have been coupled with a different plot for the opener. As it stands, this was a mismatched episode that was underwhelming but still fun to watch. It’s great to see the good Doctor back in action after a yearlong absence, and hopefully the next few episodes show off the wit and intelligence “Doctor Who” is known for.