[Spoiler-oni] This episode had a few genuinely moving moments, but they were overwhelmed by the elements in the story that left me feeling a little deflated. Some elements seemed to have no precedent in the Doctor Who canon, and seemed only to muddy the distinction between the various races of the Doctor’s enemies.
One example of this is the Dalek-ed humans- To me, the greatest threat the Daleks offer is, well, extermination. The Daleks embody pure racism, fascism, and nationalism, and I think any thought of hybridizing humans and Daleks would be anathema to them. Therefore having a hybrid class of servants, serving in the Dalek Parliament, of all places, is really unbelievable, and actually converting a human into a Dalek, if even possible within their technological mythology, seems utterly inconceivable for the pure-race Daleks.
Conversion into a robot is a nightmarish fate traditionally in the purview of the collective, communist, Cybermen, as is the idea of a collective mind. When the Dalek-ized woman deletes the Doctor from the collective memory of the Daleks, we can only imagine that this could have been the solution to a Cyberman episode. In fact I wonder if the script had initially called for Cybermen being the antagonists instead of the Daleks.
Something else that bothered me was how readily the Doctor seemed to turn his back on the Dalek-human-lady. He didn’t try to help her, didn’t imagine ways to free her from her sarcophagus; he only seemed to write her off as Dalek-kind as if her conversion was somehow complete and irredeemable. You could say that this was the doctor’s deep, Dalek-inflicted motional scars talking, but considering how many “miracle cures” he’s come up with over the years, it seems like he could have found a way to rescue her.
I think the entire idea of a human-become Dalek is weak and poorly integrated into the story. This could have been avoided by simply keeping a Dalek a Dalek- to be sure, an insane Dalek; indeed, one so insane that it truly identifies with, and believes it is, a human. The Doctor still wouldn’t discover this until the end, but it would explain the ease with which he seems to deny it, as well as giving us a fresh look at Dalek psychology. It would show that Dalek nationalism is a psychosis that only insanity can bring any sort of humanity to.
I love the new Doctor who series, but I feel that the foundation under of the whimsy, the color, the energy and the enthusiasm could be better built and more attentively maintained.