Hi. Hope you had a good week. I bloody well did, watching this. That can be safely categorised as an “epic”, and also one of the most successful “long” serials (over four parts) since Dalek Invasion of Earth. Okay, there’s a bit of a lull in the middle few episodes, but as soon as the action transfers to Skaro… fuck me.
It’s a tour de force for The Doctor, and the success of the story hinges on playing with the audience’s expectations of him. He’s incredibly morally dubious throughout – he tricks Jamie in order to collaborate with the Daleks, and it’s not clear why until around episode six. This brings The Doctor and Jamie into quite a visceral and disconcerting level of conflict, just as the two of them were being established as BFFs. We’ve seen companions call The Doctor out on his shit before (such as Steven in The Massacre), but never this viciously. Utterly compelling – two fantastic actors at the top of their game.
It’s not just The Doctor who’s behaving against established conventions. The Human-Factor-infused Daleks are a joyful way to “break” a villain that the viewer thinks they can predict. The child-like mannerisms are equal parts disturbing and hilarious, and the overall effect can only be described as “fucking awesome”. Roy Skelton – at his all time peak Zippy-ness – is outstanding in his delivery of lines such as “I will not obey”.
And then there’s the Dalek Emperor, and the Dalek civil war, and the ultimate destruction of the Dalek City… there’s just so much amazing mythology built in to those last couple of episodes. The Doctor states that this could be “the final end” for the Daleks. It wasn’t, of course, but if it had have been, it would have been a fitting end for them. The fact that I can’t see another “of the Daleks” in my spreadsheet until mid-Pertwee suggests that it served as a “last ever Dalek episode” for some considerable time.
Regardless of that, it’s hard to think of a better way to end a season. While previous finales have been exciting because of the potential they open up (The Time Meddler being the first to blend history and sci-fi; The War Machines being the first to be set on contemporary Earth), this one was an epic finale in its own right and on its own terms. They went out on a bang, with a story that had seeds stretching back throughout the preceding weeks. Russel T who?
There had to be a downside though. It’s the return of 1960s Attitude Watch! Maxtible introduces a henchman, who he describes as being “dumb”, “simple” and “underdeveloped”. Enter: one of only a handful of non-white people we’ve seen in the show so far. Fair enough, Maxtible is a Victorian, but it seems like the production was also using Kemel’s ethnicity as a shorthand for his lack of intelligence and savage nature.
Luckily, it transpires that Kemel is a more nuanced character than anyone gives him credit for. Elsewhere in the guest cast, it was nice to see Windsor Davies pop up, and Waterfield was great in the “good man doing bad things because kidnapped daughter” role. As for Victoria, well, she didn’t have much to do beyond being locked up, rescued and being told she’s an orphan now, but I’m looking forward to seeing her in action as a companion.
So yes, it’s another milestone reached.
SEASON AVERAGE RATING: 7.56
- Seasons/Series watched: 4 of 34
- Stories watched: 36 of 253
- Individual episodes watched: 169 of 813
Ah, I like that. I often feel like I’m hurtling through this thing, but looking at those stats reconfirms just how much longer I’ve still got to go. This is a very good thing – I currently feel like I never want this journey to end.