On the surface, “Into the Dalek” looks like just another Dalek adventure, just a small and low-key one, without many sets or speaking parts. The kid was incredibly pleased; it’s everything a ten year-old audience wants from Who, along with tips of the plot hat to an earlier adventure, “The Invisible Enemy” and its antecedent, Fantastic Voyage. It’s co-written by Steven Moffat with Phil Ford, who had contributed so many entertaining Sarah Jane Adventures, and it gives us a second glimpse of Michelle Gomez’s mysterious new character of Missy, who we met very briefly in the previous story. It also introduces Samuel Anderson as Danny Pink, a new recurring character who works as a teacher alongside Clara at Coal Hill School.
Unfortunately, it also introduces two new elements to Capaldi’s Doctor which I really can’t stand: he doesn’t know whether he is a good man, and he hates soldiers. Mercifully, these get resolved soon enough, but it’s the introduction that bothers me. There isn’t one. At some point in that summer of 2014, Moffat actually had to clarify that these are both holdovers from the hundreds of years that the last Doctor spent defending Trenzalore, because they aren’t detailed onscreen at all. I like that the twelfth Doctor is very brusque and rude, but I wish that he had quietly said something like “I’m sorry, I can see that you’d like to be a good person, but the last several hundred years were difficult, and I don’t want to be around soldiers right now.” The character may not have needed to know about that, but the audience did.