Doctor Who: Season 1, Episode 6: Dalek  » TV  »
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  • As Dr. Who is a family program, some weren't fond of it, but I think it all worked out rather well
  • As the Daleks' primary objective is to exterminate , this poses something of a problem for the villain as it found itself without a purpose
  • Honestly, I don't think my mouth closed at all during the last ten minutes of the episode

    • by David Finniss


      I honestly didn’t think I was going to be able to take the Daleks seriously. As such, I had mixed feelings going into this, but man alive, this episode proved me wrong on so many levels. Who would’ve thought that a goofy looking robot whose soul purpose is to kill could manage to elicit so much pathos?

      The episode opens with the TARDIS being drawn to an underground bunker in 2012. It picked up on a distress signal and drops our heroes in said bunker, which is located somewhere in Utah. Rose and the Doctor find that the bunker is a museum of extra-terrestrial memorabilia. Among the items seen, Rose comes across a Slitheen arm and the Doctor sees the head of a Cyberman (a call back to the classic era of the series). While I am something of a neophyte to Dr. Who myself, I’ve been reading enough about them online to catch the reference. Non web surfers might find themselves a bit lost at that bit, but luckily, it doesn’t play that big a part in the episode’s plot.

      The pair are soon taken captive by Henry Van Statten, an eccentric and corrupt billionaire who heads up this museum. He brings the Doctor to the prize of his collection, something he calls a “metaltron”, but, much to the Doctor’s horror, it’s a living Dalek. It’s revealed to be the last of it’s kind and had fallen

      through time as a result of the war with the Time Lords.

      At first, the alien seems powerless. It’s death ray doesn’t work and Van Statten regularly tortures the thing in an effort to gain more knowledge and to get it to talk. The only thing that manages to get a rise is the sight of the Doctor, who is quite pleased to see a member of his enemy’s race so defeated and robbed of dignity.

      Rose, not surprisingly, isn’t so merciless and goes to talk to the Dalek. I’m not sure if the Dalek was genuinely lamenting its situation or if it was simply playing Rose. In either case, Rose touches the Dalek and it is somehow able to use her DNA and temporal energy (acquired from traveling in the TARDIS) to regain enough of its strength to escape.

      As said before, I was expecting another Slitheen situation, where I couldn’t take the villain seriously due to the goofy appearance, but I see why Whovians (ardent fans of Dr. Who) are so fond of the Daleks as they really are great villains. This thing is both creepy and deranged, but you were still able to feel sorry for it. The fact that I was blown away with this adversary is especially impressive considering that, for a large portion of the episode, the Dalek’s primary weapon is a plunger, not the most intimidating thing in the world for an intergalactic ...

      • threat.

        Much like Darkseid does for Superman, the Daleks seem to be the beserk button for the Doctor as his pacifistic beliefs go right out the window to the point where he suggests the Dalek kill himself. Even the robot calls him on it, saying that the Doctor would make a good Dalek. Between the talks of suicide and torture, this episode is a bit darker. As Dr. Who is a family program, some weren’t fond of it, but I think it all worked out rather well. None of it was done solely for shock value and it all served the story magnificently.

        One of the major twists comes when the Dalek finds that it’s resolve in killing is weakening. As the Daleks’ primary objective is to “exterminate”, this poses something of a problem for the villain as it found itself without a purpose. It made for some great and dramatic moments.

        The downside is that this development supports the whole “Rose is a Mary Sue” argument. I find it hard to believe that Rose was the first compassionate alien to touch the Dalek armor. Considering how unstoppable these things are supposed to be, it seems like a flimsy way to instill such a drastic change in attitude. Still, the identity crisis of the Dalek was one of the highlights of the episode, so the trade off was probably worth it.

        Honestly, I don’t think my mouth closed at

        all during the last ten minutes of the episode. My jaw dropped and remained that way for the duration of the episode. That doesn’t happen all that often. Seeing the Dalek struggle with its new outlook and then suddenly turn on itself as a result was appropriately dramatic and tragic in a bizarre way. As I said, you wouldn’t think that a genocidal robot would make for a sympathetic character, but the writers of this episode managed to pull it off in spades.

        The story itself wasn’t particularly complicated (stop the Dalek) but the episode more than made up for it with deep characterization and drama. All sorts of mini-conflicts arise from this situation and it makes for great tension. The Doctor himself goes through something of an arc as he sees that the Dalek has changed and that his hatred towards them and desire to see them all killed may be a bit much.

        This stands as my favorite Who episode to date. Yeah, I have little frame of reference, having only seen 7 episodes, but this was honestly that freaking good. In fact, I feel bad for the next few episodes as this one raised the bar significantly. It had great character development, an exciting plot, pathos, the script was top notch, and it even sold me on an antagonist I wasn’t all that interested in. All things considered, I’d call this episode a roaring success.

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