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Dear Steven Moffat, You Promised Me Scary Daleks

This is my 100th post!  Yay!  Be forewarned that here be spoilers:

Dear Steven Moffat,

You promised me scary Daleks.  You made sure that I knew that they would be frightening again, like they are supposed to be.  Not these endearing little pot-shaped plot devices for the Doctor to destroy, but vicious and ruthless destroyers of all that is good.  I was excited for terrifying Daleks.

However, save the PTSD-addled Daleks, the most terrified I got of the Daleks was early on, before the Doctor, Amy and Rory even arrived at the asylum.  Thousands of Daleks begged the Doctor (in unison) to save them.

If this is the scariest the Daleks were, begging for salvation, I am less impressed than I wanted to be.  I was more afraid of Amy and Rory’s marriage potentially dissolving than I was of the Daleks.

I want to see the Daleks be fierce.  I want to see the Doctor try and fail to stop them a handful of times before he wins.  I want to see the rumored and fabled hatred of the Daleks.

The last time the Daleks were even a little bit scary for me was when Rose pops back out of the parallel world, and Tenth Doctor is running to embrace her, and the Dalek shoots. him. down.  Daleks have no mercy.  And they want to destroy the Doctor.

The Dalek/Cyberman standoff in series two was also a little intimidating for me.  I ended that episode saying, “Holy crap!  Daleks can fly!”  It was scary.

But let me tell you what was not scary:

  • Daleks pretending to help Winston Churchill
  • Daleks turning people into pig slaves
  • Daleks in a museum
  • Dalek/Human hybrids in Manhattan
  • Daleks with existential crises

These are all choices that have happened over the past seven years involving the Daleks that were not really scary.  I want my Daleks to give me nightmares.

To be sure, there were some scary parts of “Asylum of the Daleks” — very scary parts.  Like the nanogenes turning both living and dead things into security puppets.  Zombie-Dalek grabbing at Amy was just creepy and gross.  I was scared for Rory when he first landed in the asylum and was talking to the defective Daleks (“Eggs?  Are these eggs?”  No, Rory, those are balls of dalekanium, and you should not be touching them).  I was a pinch worried that Amy would grow a little eyestalk out of her forehead and they would have to figure out how to reverse it.  I was afraid of the Doctor going through “intensive care” (Daleks with PTSD chasing down their traumatic event?!).

So yes, there were some scary parts, which makes “Asylum of the Daleks” better than most of the other Dalek stories of New Who.  It’s been the best Dalek story with Matt Smith by far.  It was well done.  I loved Oswen.  I guessed that she was inside of a Dalek (I was hoping for it to be something like the teselecta, but alas.)  Her fight to remain human was great.  This was by no means a bad episode.  It was good.  And sometimes, it was scary.

But I was promised scary Daleks, and I didn’t quite feel it.  I want my Daleks to be scary!  I want them to be like Nazis.  They are supposed to be like Nazis.  I want them to be like the Spanish Inquisition: fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, an almost fanatical dedication to the Pope, nice red uniforms.

I wanted to be properly scared for the Doctor.  But apart from the Post Time-Lord Stressed Daleks, I never was.  And I guess that’s why I want them to be scarier; it’s not that they weren’t scary, it’s that I wasn’t scared for the Doctor.  I knew he would win in the end.  And I knew that Amy and Rory would fix their marital problems by the end.  And I knew that Oswen wouldn’t make it out in the end.  And I knew that they would escape the place in the end.  I wasn’t scared enough, consistently enough to suspend belief in the Doctor.

So basically, Steven Moffat, All Daleks should be PTSDaleks.


Maggie Felisberto, a fearless fan.


One thought on “Dear Steven Moffat, You Promised Me Scary Daleks

  1. I enjoyed the episode and did not find the Daleks to be inadequate in fear instilling quotient. Just collecting the Dr, Amy and Rory was bothersome enough. Ending with the Daleks questioning Dr. Who? made me laugh and opened the door to the rediscovery and recreation of their relationship, resulting, no doubt, in the same one. I did find the Amy-Rory split to be the most frightening component and my first guess was that we were seeing some not real parallel existence because it just made no sense. I’m happy that was not turned into an ongoing plot point. Resolution was comforting, though overall that bit was probably the most unbelievable sub-plot in the show. That the Daleks would invite the Dr. to save them, all the while trying to trick him into allowing them to destroy him, was a nicely nuanced strategy. For it to work, it was necessary for the Daleks to appear to be in need and thus less frightening. Which then makes them more psycho creepy. But mostly, I just enjoyed the episode. Last season seldom fully engaged me, and I rarely cared if I caught the next episode, but this episode has me looking forward to the next.

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