First of all, spoilers follow! Go away if you don't want the Doctor Who episode "Asylum of the Daleks" to be spoiled.
Oh, Steven Moffat. You live to manipulate our emotions. And you do it so well with "Doctor Who."
Moffat promised us stand alone, movie-scale episodes this season. I would say "Asylum of the Daleks" seems to be a good start -- except, is it really a stand-alone episode as Moffat says? Because we come away from the episode with a bit of a mystery that's going to last us until mid-season at least.
This would be a good time to point out again that there are spoilers throughout this article, so if you haven't seen it yet, go watch it and then come back.
It picks up where Pond Life and a short prequel left off, with Amy and Rory on the brink of divorce and the Doctor headed to Skaro, the dead planet of his worst enemy. All three get kidnapped by Daleks and they are sent to the Dalek asylum planet that where the Daleks send the incurably insane. It seems that something has crashed onto the asylum planet and now there is a risk that the crazy Daleks will all escape.
When the trio land on the planet, they discover a cruise ship that has crash landed on Skaro, and a lone survivor, Oswin Oswald, who is holed up in an escape pod and able to communicate with the reunited trio and keep the Daleks out of her ship through loud opera and baking souffles.
Here's where it gets weird -- Oswin is played by Jenna-Louise Coleman, the actress who is playing the new companion. Oswin is a genius who can do anything in her pod -- she can access maps, control cameras, wipe the Daleks' memory of the Doctor. Oswin is instantly likeable -- clever, witty, quick-thinking and good to have on your side in a crisis. It's genuinely sad when the Doctor has to leave her, because she's farther gone than she realizes. It turns out, she's been trapped inside a Dalek and her pod is a construct of her genius mind keeping the Daleks at bay.
Some viewers on other comment boards have suggested that this is a case of when the Doctor is running into Oswin at the end of her life and he will go back in time to catch up with her, but I don't think that will happen again. For one thing, we've already that story with River Song. Oswin also makes a point of saying that she doesn't know the Doctor and she's never met him. Other viewers theorize that one of Oswin's ancestors or relatives will be the Doctor's companion. I'm going to put my cards on the table, and say that I think it's going to be relatively straightforward: Oswin escapes from the explosion offscreen to catch up with the Doctor in the future. But I hope that the ultimate explanation is plausible and a little better than "and with a few keystrokes, she was free!"
Though Amy and Rory have been my favorite companions to date, I was a little taken aback by the soap-opera quality of their relationship in this episode. Rory waited 2,000 years outside a box for Amy, Amy twice has chosen death over life without Rory, they raised a human Timelord together as children. It doesn't seem like anything would be insurmountable given everything they've been through, except, perhaps, Amy's insecurity.
So many things to love about "Asylum of the Daleks." We essentially get a reboot of the Doctor/Dalek relationship, so they can rebuild their mutual hatred of each other all over again. We are introduced to a new companion in a strange and intriguing way. And this is a stand-alone episode? Bring on the next one, "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship."