Moffat's Missed Opportunity

My husband and I are big Doctor Who fans. Recently, we were talking about one of my favorite recent episodes--Asylum of the Daleks, where Oswin is introduced--and the husband came up with a great theory.

(Spoilers ahead if you've not seen that episode)

See, in Asylum of the Daleks, Oswin is trapped in a Dalek prison. The Doctor tries to save her--but when he finally reaches her, he discovers that the Daleks have turned her into one of them. Through intense medical procedures, they've put her mind inside Dalek armor. She's no longer human. She's Dalek. But she's somehow been able to maintain her human soul and mind. It's with great sadness that the Doctor, at the end of the episode, has to leave Oswin behind as he destroys the whole planet.

Now, this episode was great. It had a twist ending and a tear-jerker surprise.

But Moffat missed an opportunity.

See, Oswin was human--on the inside. It was only her outside that was changed to a Dalek, the Doctor's long-time enemy. My husband came up with a great plot idea. What if the Doctor saved Oswin? What if he took her with him? He could make a hologram that would show her real body (to the audience and to the other characters), but there could come a time (say when she had to climb steps) that the hologram would fade, and he'd flinch to see her real body. He could be torn between loving her for who she is, and hating her for what's become of her. The plot could even revolve around the day Oswin loses her humanity and fails in the fight against the part of her that's being consumed by Daleks.

In talking with my husband, we both realized immediately how awesome such a story line would be. The Doctor's hated the Daleks for so long that having him actually fall in love (not even romantically, but as a friend) with one would be brilliant. It's the opposite of what anyone would expect for that character.

But Moffat missed that opportunity. He blew up the planet instead.

I'm sure many of you have seen the Pixar graphic of 22 Tips for Writers. Rule 12 is:
Discount the first thing that comes to mind. And the second, third, fourth, and fifth--get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
This is what Moffat should have done. The obvious thing is When the Doctor sees a Dalek, he hates it and kills it. That's classic. That's old. It's been done.

But how awesome would it have been to have totally turned that on its head? To have, instead, done When the Doctor sees a Dalek, he can't hate it. He can't kill it. He grows to love it.

That? That would have been brilliant.

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Anonymous said...

This is a great point. I am terribly curious how Moffat is now going to add Oswin into the rest of the series, as she is to be The Doctors new companion.

Lexie said...

@Beth - my friends and I discussed this as well. It wouldn't just be the Doctor dealing with it--for the episodes Rory/Amy were with him they'd have to deal with it as well (and though their trauma with them isn't the same as with his past companions, they've still had to deal with them).

I would have loved to see River interact with Oswin, i think they would have been best friends (and possibly the two who would understand the best what it means to be in that position).

@Laura - I think that while the actress is coming back, she's coming back as a different character (unless she swings around and becomes Oswin at some point).