In the third episode of the fifth series of Doctor Who , the Doctor heads to London to help Winston Churchill during The Blitz, but discovers a very familiar enemy…sort of? I mean…wait, what? If you’re intrigued, then it’s time for Mark to watch Doctor Who.
Daleks? So soon? They had to come back with a new Doctor, but I actually had to think for a moment to remember exactly how it was possible that there could be any Daleks left. As I’ve said before, I like the Daleks, but I think that this might be the weakest of the stories of the new series. It’s not that there aren’t things to like here (there are quite a few), but I feel like the story is never really sure where to stick its focus.
I have a slight obsession with World War II and the chance to get this view (albeit a VERY fictionalized one) of the Cabinet War Rooms was promising to me. Add to that the fact that Ian McNeice played a pretty fantastic Winston Churchill and that Churchill was seemingly unthreatened by the Daleks and…I don’t know. I had high hopes for what story Mark Gatiss would tell us, but…ok, LET ME GET THERE.
It’s fun to watch the images of joy and excitement that cross onto the faces of Amy and the Doctor as they familiarize themselves with their surroundings. Unfortunately, they’ve arrived late. (This makes the third time this series that the Doctor has severely missed a date. I still don’t understand the logistics of how that works. Does the Doctor set a specific time or just hope that the TARDIS ends up there? Don’t answer that if it’s spoilery.) In the time since Churchill’s first call, when we saw the shadow of a Dalek, things haven’t quite turned out like I expected. Churchill is certain that the war is going to go his way, and he takes the Doctor out onto the roof to demonstrate new technology developed by Professor Edwin Bracewell.
Um. Those are Daleks. Bracewell. THOSE ARE DALEKS. This is what this episode particularly succeeds at. It’s absurdist humor and drama and Doctor Who does it well. We know those are Daleks. The Doctor knows they are Daleks. But no matter how much he shouts at the world and demonstrates his knowledge of the creatures, it doesn’t matter. He’s not going to be believed.
The scene of the Doctor angrily shouting in frustration at Churchill, Bracewell, and anyone else who will listen is Matt Smith’s first chance to show us the Doctor at the most furious he’s been. Gatiss writes the scene well because the Doctor and us, the audience, are the only people who are in on the reality of this. Plus, it’s a fascinating idea: Is it possible for the Daleks to be adapted? To live in peace? To be replicated? And if so, how is that even a possibility?
Unfortunately, we don’t get to spend much time with this concept at all, as it’s revealed that the Daleks were merely pretending to be Bracewell’s creations all along. Using the Doctor’s “testimony,” his statements about him being the Doctor, the greatest enemy of the Daleks, the Progenator Device is activated. TRICKED YOU, THERE’S A DALEK SHIP ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MOON.
Ok, so here’s the thing. Like I said, there is some neat stuff here. Bracewell is a fascinating character. The space battle feels like a giant Star Wars reference. And despite that the Doctor leaves Amy behind in a way, she proves, once again, to be super useful.
But, oh boy, some of this just doesn’t make sense. How were the Daleks able to build Bracewell? They don’t have arms. I know that I’m overthinking this, considering that THERE IS A GIANT DALEK SPACESHIP FLOATING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MOON. Yes, all of this is ridiculous. But…yeah, how do the Daleks build things? How do they build each other? And…why exactly did they need the Doctor to activate the Progenator? Seriously, you can answer that, because I’m not quite sure I understand it at all.
I have a lot of questions, you all. How did Bracewell modify the Spitfires in like an hour? I mean, ultimately, it doesn’t matter, because SPITFIRE SPACE BATTLE, which is pretty darn cool. Right? We don’t have enough space battles on Doctor Who.
But I imagine I am about to be a broken record for the whole fandom. And I’m actually pretty sure, having done no research on the subject, that there were a lot of people who felt the same way. So perhaps I am re-igniting this particular bastion of fandom anger, but I really have to say:
WHY DO THE DALEKS LOOK LIKE SKITTLES
I’m sorry, but what the fuck. I actually started laughing so hard that tears came to my eyes. Which is actually a beautiful moment, so part of me is really happy that this scene existed. But seriously. Ok, so the Daleks see everything through those blue filter eye things, so why even make colored Daleks? Is it an artistic statement? Are they secret weapons because they’re brightly colored? LOOK, I REALLY DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY THEY HAVE TO BE COLORED. AT ALL.
Furthermore, though I like the end result (partially), the whole “Oblivion Continuum twist is a little too ridiculous for my tastes. How exactly does that thing work? And how can you convince a robot they are human when they know they are not? I mean, the Doctor even acknowledges that later, when he doesn’t deactivate Bracewell, telling him to go after the girl he spoke of to Amy. Well…how does that work? SURELY SHE WILL TAKE OFF HIS SHIRT AND SEE A GIANT METAL CHEST, right???
I ask too many questions today. I do like that there are two huge hints to the future in “Victory of the Daleks.” Why can’t Amy remember the Daleks when the earth was stolen? Or, if she can’t remember them, did she not even see them at all? WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING? And despite that the clue is pervasive, seemingly in every episode, I love that the crack keeps appearing. What happened in Amy’s room all those years ago? How is it going to change all of this? I AM INTRIGUED.
All in all, this episode is just ok. I don’t hate it, but it’s not one I’ll probably watch again.
- “Would you like some tea?” Ok, I would take tea from a Dalek. Seriously. They probably heat the water perfectly and steep the tea just right.
- “You do not require tea?” HE SOUNDED SO UPSET!
- “Scan negative! TARDIS Self Destruct does not exist!” “All right, it’s a Jammy Dodger! But I was promised a cup of tea!” Seriously, all of the tea lines in this episode were amazing.
- I didn’t say much about Amy because I feel she doesn’t play a huge role in this episode, at least not as much as I’d like her to. Still, she’s such a different companion for the Doctor, completely without fear and game for virtually anything. She never seems to question the absurdities of the situation, and I really like that about her.