OK, while I’m not going to do a plot run-through, I am going to babble about various aspects of last night’s opening episode in a manner that might reveal things that anyone who (a) hasn’t seen it yet and (b) has managed to avoid the internet, might not want to know yet. Or to put it another way:
Right, if you’re still here, I’ll carry on. I’ve mentioned before that Steven Moffat is a master of misdirection and confusion, and he’s done really well with those things this time. Despite loads of publicity, released videos, and general stuff about the episode, there were a few high-quality surprises. The first one was the rather icky business of apparently normal humans being Dalek “puppets” who right up until the moment the eyestalk slides out have no idea of what they are. Nasty, and fun.
Then there was the business of the Parliament of the Daleks. Wait? What? I don’t know about you, but I’ve never really thought of the Daleks as being all that interested in the democratic process. They’ve always been more inclined to autocracy, with either Emperors or Supreme Daleks doing the screaming thing while all the other Daleks squawk:
So, it was a little odd to find them having a nice friendly gathering, with loads of bronze Daleks, a nice little scattering of the New Paradigm Daleks from Victory of the Daleks, who it seems aren’t so much replacements as management, and a Prime Minister, who’s a Dalek Mutant in a fish tank rather than the usual kind of Dalek tank. Come to think of it, it was probably meeting Winston Churchill who gave them the Prime Minister idea…
Then there was the whole entertaining notion of the Daleks grabbing the Doctor not for the usual reasons of wanting to Exterminate him, but to get him to help them with a little problem they were having. Of course, a bit of Extermination may well have happened in due course, but that wasn’t the actual reason for bringing him and his friends along. So maybe they’re getting more sophisticated…
But the biggest surprise was Oswin. Who? Well, she was this young woman who had crashed on the Asylum of the Daleks, that lovely place where the Daleks put the Daleks that are too bonkers even for them, many of them driven to post-Dalek insanity by their encounters with the Doctor, of course. Oswin was quite surprisingly played by Jenna-Louise Coleman, who I certainly wasn’t expecting to see before the Christmas episode, when she is due to become the Doctor’s new companion. Oswin was superb – flirty, funny and mind-bogglingly brilliant. Able to hack into the Daleks’ systems, guide the Doctor, Amy and Rory to the nearest thing to safety in a planetoid full of deranged Daleks, and generally having “perfect companion” written all over her. Of course, some things didn’t make sense. How could she keep making souffles after a year in an escape pod buried in a Dalek asylum? Where did she get the milk? Or the eggs? While it was apparent that all was not as it seemed with Oswin, the final reveal wasn’t quite what I was expecting, and all the more tragic for that. Now the Doctor never actually saw Oswin’s actual face, so it’s quite possible for someone who looks like her to run into him at some point without him doing the old “don’t I know you?” routine, but knowing Steven Moffat, something very complicated indeed will happen.
And as if all that wasn’t enough, there was the matter of Amy and Rory. As hinted at in Pond Life, they’d had a bit of a relationship problem, which Amy was reluctant to explain. The reveal of that would probably have been more effective in a less “busy” episode, but it did shine a little light into the depths of Amy, which worked for me.
With a final gag involving the Daleks having their memory of the Doctor deleted by Oswin, allowing a repeat of the
routine from The Wedding of River Song, for what I’m sure won’t be the last time, this was as big and bold a series opener as ever.
And that’s without mentioning the “eggs” gags, which gave Rory some lovely comedy moments.
In previous years, the episode would have been followed by Doctor Who Confidential on BBC Three, but as the management of that station are apparently very silly, that’s been cancelled, so all we have is some background material on the website, and this video, which contains Daleks:
And if that was all a bit long, here’s the executive summary:
 Mr Moffat managed to persuade the press, bloggers and everyone else who saw the preview showing of the episode to keep very quiet about her appearance
 For reasons made apparent towards the end