“Asylum of the Daleks” not only put the Doctor, Amy and Rory into an extraordinarily dangerous situation, it put the cat among the pigeons, by introducing viewers to Jenna (then Jenna-Louise) Coleman as Clara (then Oswin) Oswald, some weeks before anyone thought they were due to meet her.
And of course, as the story unfolds, it becomes clear that Oswin won’t be joining the Doctor aboard the TARDIS, a situation that created more questions than answers, which is just how you want to start a new season of Doctor Who.
Here are a few things to keep an eye out for, the next time you watch:
This is Steven Moffat’s first Dalek story for Doctor Who. He had been in line to write the Tenth Doctor story of their invasion of New York that eventually became “Daleks In Manhattan” / “Evolution of The Daleks” but was too busy with other commitments at the time and had to bow out. It was written by Helen Raynor, leaving Steven free to write “Blink.”
Part of his inspiration for the plot was the claustrophobia of the Bruce Willis movie Die Hard, encouraging the Doctor, Amy and Rory to navigate a network of corridors and shafts, while surrounded by their enemies. This may be why they all end up so dirty by the end.
Sixteen months before this episode aired, Steven announced he would be giving the Doctor a break from the Daleks, as there was a chance they might be seen as less than terrifying for having been so often beaten. He told BBC News: “There’s a problem with the Daleks. They are the most famous of the Doctor’s adversaries and the most frequent, which means they are the most reliably defeatable enemies in the universe.”
The troubles in the Pond marriage were intended to be represented visually, with Rory having grown a beard — something Amy would have hated. Arthur Darvill had grown a beard for his role as Mephistopheles in a production of Doctor Faustus, but in the end the filming schedule dictated that he shave it off, they filmed “A Town Called Mercy” before starting work on this story.
During Amy’s photo shoot as a model, the music played to suggest high fashion going about its business is “Feel the Love” by British drum and bass duo Rudimental, with some help from John Newman:
The reference to Dalek prison camps comes from the Fourth Doctor story “Destiny of the Daleks,” in which human slaves are used to help the Daleks dig down through Skaro to try and find their creator Davros.
Oswin names the Daleks in intensive care as the “survivors of Spiridon, Kembel, Aridius, Vulcan, Exxilon.” To put those names into context with Doctor Who stories:
• The Third Doctor adventure “Planet of the Daleks” takes place on Spiridon, and he would also encounter his oldest foes on Exxilon, during the events of “Death to the Daleks.”
• Kembel was one of many locations for “The Daleks’ Master Plan,” foiled by the First Doctor,
• He was pursued by the Daleks to Aridius during “The Chase.”
• The Second Doctor’s first encounter with the Daleks (“Power of the Daleks”) took place on Vulcan, just after his regeneration.
Oswin is clearly a huge fan of Georges Bizet’s 1875 opera Carmen. While making her soufflés, she listens to “Toreador, en garde!” and “L’amour est un oiseau rebelle” (“love is a rebellious bird”). Whether there’s any deliberate crossover between the latter title and the method by which she will eventually die (in “Face the Raven”) is open to speculation, but seems unlikely. Bizet was picked after Steven’s original idea that she’d be a big Elvis Presley fan had to be changed, after it proved too expensive to secure the rights to “Blue Suede Shoes.”
The play on the word “eggs” as both a major ingredient of a soufflé and the first syllable of “exterminate!” has appeared before in Doctor Who, but not on the television. Future Who scriptwriter Paul Cornell wrote a comic in the 1993 Doctor Who Yearbook called Metamorphosis in which the Seventh Doctor turns into a Dalek, and he begins the transformation by saying first “eggs” and then “stir.”
Jenna recently admitted that she managed to burn herself by sitting on a lamp during filming on her first day, and Oswin can be seen with clenched hands, as Jenna deals with the pain:
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