Recap: Doctor Who S12 E4 "Genesis of the Daleks"
"I know that although the Daleks will create havoc and destruction for millions of years, I know also, that out of their evil, must come something good."
"Genesis" begins with the Doctor and companions being hijacked on their way back to Nerva Beacon and deposited instead on Skaro, home planet of the Daleks
. The planet is at an early stage in its history, with a long war of attrition currently ongoing between its two human-like native races, the Kaleds and the Thals. The ultimate result of this war is that the Kaleds will inevitably mutate due to the high "chemical
" levels. They've built themselves travel casings to remain mobile — and as we all know, these will enable them to become the Daleks. The Time Lords instruct the Doctor to either prevent this entirely, or divert the Daleks' development into a more peaceful form, or — failing that — destroy them. They give him a "Time Ring" to allow him to return to the TARDIS once this is done.
The Doctor and companions make their way past horrific mutants, victims of the war's "chemical
" exchanges, into the Kaled bunker, where truly frightening crippled mad scientist Davros and his henchman Nyder are conducting genetic experiments. They plan to discover the final form of mutation for the Kaled race and develope a new "Travel Casing" for the results, which Sarah and the Doctor instantly recognize as a Dalek. The Doctor and Harry escape from the bunker and persuade the Kaled leaders to put a stop to the experiments, but Davros colludes with the Thals to open the Kaled City's defenses and allow it to be destroyed. He then activates his experimental Daleks and uses them to kill the Thals.
The Doctor makes his way back into the bunker and sets explosives on the Dalek breeding tanks, needing only to touch two wires together to prevent the Daleks from ever existing. However, he can't bring himself to commit genocide, and reasons that much good will eventually come out of the undoubted evil of the Daleks, and who is he to play god like this and so on
. This fascinating debate is then interrupted by the arrival of a Dalek, forcing the doctor to drop the wires and leg it. As the Dalek pursues it runs over the wires, blowing up the tank anyway.
Meanwhile, some of Davros's fellow scientists are uneasy about the experiments and demand they be stopped. Davros turns the Daleks on them, but his creations then turn on their creator and Davros himself is exterminated (he gets better
). Thals who survived the massacre destroy the entrance to the bunker, sealing the Daleks inside, while the Doctor and co make an escape thanks to the Time Ring. The Doctor estimates that his interference will have put the development of the Daleks back by a thousand years, but inadvertantly fires the first shot of the Time War that will eventually rage across the universe.
One of very few serials not to involve the TARDIS even by implication: the Doctor and companions arrive by transmat beam, and leave by Time Ring.
Considered a classic among fans, and one of the best stories, if not the best
of the original series, and maybe of all time. David Tennant
went on record as saying this is his favourite story. This was the last six-parter that wasn't a season finale; from this point forward, all non-finale serials had two to four episodes.
Part 1 can be seen here.
Part 2 here.
Part 3 here.
Part 4 here.
Part 5 here.
Part 6 here.
- Absolute Xenophobe: Take a wild guessnote
- Air-Vent Passageway: Used multiple times, if somewhat deconstructed: it gets you in and out of places, but it's by no means a stealthy way to do so.
- Always Save The Companions: Davros forces the Doctor to give him information about future Dalek defeats by torturing Harry and Sarah Jane.
- Also Always Save The Doctor: Sarah Jane and Harry manage to convince the Thals to hold off bombing the Dalek base until the Doctor gets out.
- Armor-Piercing Question: The Doctor, on the verge of destroying the Daleks, pierces his own armor welded together with thoughts such as "Daleks are Evil," "The Ends Justify The Means," "You are better than them anyway," "Even your own people want this to happen," and "You're under orders to destroy them." His dilemma into the moral rightness and the fact the Daleks will produce some good in the form of forces who would be antagonistic toward one and another join together in fear of a common foe lead him to hesitate long enough until another option comes about.
- Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: When the Doctor can't bring himself to blow up the Dalek incubation chamber, a Dalek sees him. When trying to pursue the Doctor, it drives over the wires, making the bomb explode.
- BBC Quarry: Skaro, of course.
- Beast and Beauty: The mutants want to kill Sarah because she's not one of them.
Sevrin: She's beautiful. No deformities, no imperfections.
Gerrill: She is a norm. All norms are our enemies. Kill her now for what she's done to our kind.
Sevrin: No, why? Why must we always destroy beauty? Why kill another creature because it is not in our image?
- Bizarre Alien Biology: Although we don't get specifics for another eighteen seasons.
- Black and Gray Morality: Both Davros and the Daleks are portrayed as utterly evil, with the Thals and Kaleds paling in comparison. However, the war between the two races is Gray and Gray Morality at best and comes very close to being Black And Black Morality. The Kaleds are Nazi allegories who desire the destruction of the Thals, while the Thals use disposable slave labor to build weapons and murder the vast majority of the Kaleds to bring about peace, a sentiment Davros himself echoes later in the story.
- Blasphemous Boast: Davros boasts that he's mightier than the Gods.
- Bystander Syndrome: No-one dares defend Ronson from Davros and his accusations.
- Caps Lock, Num Lock, Missiles Lock: Happens twice! First with Davros' chair is equipped with a button that will turn off his life support and kill him in 30 seconds, placed right next to all of his other controls, which could easily be accidentally hit, considering he barely has any control over his only functioning hand. And, also, the rocket which the Thals plan to use to destroy the Kaleds has two buttons right next to one another on its main control. Fire and Destruct.
- The Chessmaster: Davros, in a way not repeated until "Revelation Of The Daleks" in Colin Baker's era. Watch closely — for the whole 6 episodes, he is not so much as momentarily inconvenienced by any of the events of the serial until the very end.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Davros has a particularly developed case, which gives the fact that he does not foresee the Daleks' betrayal of him coming a nice sense of irony.
- Cliffhanger Copout: A notorious example in the episode two/three cliffhanger, where Sarah falls from a great height while climbing the access tower of the Thal rocket... and lands on a platform just below her that definitely should have been visible in the previous episode.
- Cosmetically Advanced Prequel: The Doctor describes the prototype Daleks as 'primitive', but they're still portrayed by 1970s-style props, rather than the older 1960s design.
- Crapsack World: Want to know why the Daleks are the wonderful caring culture they are? Look at where they came from.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Poor Ronson doesn't die instantly from the Dalek's rays like everyone else does.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Thals have blonde hair and are warriors, the Kaleds have brown hair and are scientists. Now consider what the Daleks were inspired by, and their combined legacy is the Daleks...
- Domed Hometown: The Thal Dome and the Kaled Dome.
- Doomed Hometown: One gets betrayed and nuked. The other gets overrun by the Fell Saltshakers.
- The Dragon: Nyder, Davros's nearly emotionless right-hand man.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Even Nazi-analog Kaleds find Davros' scheme abhorrent.
- Likewise, Davros is quite upset when the Daleks kill Nyder, and when they move to kill his only other loyal supporters too, he is shocked and tries to think up reasons for why the Daleks ought to let the men live.
- Nyder subverts this when this when told by Davros of his plans to exterminate the Kaleds as well as the Thalls, for a moment he seems truly shocked that Davros would really do such a thing, before immediately deciding he did not care.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Davros truly, honestly believes that the Daleks killing everything other lifeform will be a good thing.
- Evil Cripple: Davros. A truly frightening portrayal, especially the way he moves his one remaining hand.
- Fantastic Racism: This serial shows that on pre-Dalek Skaro, the Kaleds (the race that became the Daleks) and the Thals hated each other, and both of them hated the mutants, to the point that the Thals (who were usually shown as pacifist allies of the Doctor) used them as slave labor.
- Flashback to Catchphrase: The Kaled scientists use the word exterminate a lot in their normal conversation. Then the Daleks show up, and EXTERMINATE was born...
- Four Eyes, Zero Soul: The repellant Nyder.
- Genocide Dilemma:
- The Doctor posses this question to Davros: If he had a virus in a capsule that would destroy every living entity in the universe, would you release it? Davros, after brief consideration, screams with joy he would do it.
- The Doctor, on the other hand, found himself with the means and ability to wipe out the Daleks forever. His debate and rationalization of the permissibility of this action, of what it would turn him into if he did the very thing that he condemns the Daleks for doing, eventually leads him to not doing it.
- Of course, since The Daleks were pretty much programmed to feel nothing but hate and rage for other lifeforms, The Doctor really should have known a false equivalency when he saw it. Hope you're looking forward to four lifetimes of True Art Is Angsty Doc.
- Genre Blindness: Pretty much no one sees Davros' constant betrayals coming, despite the fact that he is Obviously Evil. Davros himself has a case of this when he expects the Daleks not to turn on him.
- Good Cannot Comprehend Evil: Garman just doesn't get that Davros is an utter monster, and honestly thinks he'll go quietly.
- Gone Horribly Right: You wanted merciless half-machine beings that bowed to nobody and nothing, Davros? You got it.
- Heroic BSOD: The Doctor (briefly) goes depressed when he thinks Sarah and Harry are killed by the Thal missile.
- Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: Discussed.
"If someone who knew the future pointed out a child to you and told you that that child would grow up totally evil, to be a ruthless dictator who would destroy millions of lives...could you then kill that child?"
- Hoist by His Own Petard: They wanted unstoppable powerful killing machines. They got it.
- Hopeless War: The Thal-Kaled War has been going on for years and years, and both sides are technologically regressing with no hope of breaking the stalemate and no appetite for a peaceful solution. (The Davros-centric Big Finish Doctor Who audios make it even worse).
- If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: Spelled out for the viewer in almost those exact words by the Doctor as he tries to rationalize his act of genocide.
- Improbable Age: Lampshaded with General Ravon, who would owe his rank to both his fanatical dedication to the Kaled cause and the fact that he started as a Child Soldier.
- Irrevocable Order: The Doctor almost gets Davros to do this. The Doctor has control of Davros' life support system and tells him to give the order to destroy the proto-Daleks or else he'll turn it off.
Davros: This is Davros. Elite unit seven will go to the incubator room. All survival maintenance systems are to be closed down. The Dalek creatures are to be destroyed.
Doctor: Tell them the order cannot be countermanded.
Davros: This order cannot—
Nyder knocks out the Doctor from behind
Davros: This is Davros, this is Davros. My last order is cancelled, repeat, cancelled. No action is to be taken.
- It's All About Me: The Kaled government threatens to delay Davros's works? Davros engineers the destruction of the entire Kaled city.
- Joker Immunity: The real reason the Doctor couldn't bring himself to wipe out the Daleks.
- Also the reason why Davros comes back after being exterminated by the Daleks at the end.
- Lack of Empathy: The Daleks, as well as Nyder, Davros' soulless right-hand man.
- Land Mine Goes Click: "Harry. I'm standing on a mine."
- Mad Scientist: Davros. Duh.
- Mutants: Both the mutos, who live in the wastelands, and the results of Davros's animal tests, that live in the caves.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: It only becomes obvious later that the events of this episode were the beginning of a chain of events that directly led to The Last Great Time War, first mentioned in "The End of the World", "The Unquiet Dead" and "Dalek".
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Nyder is blatantly Skaro's morphic-resonance copy of Heinrich Himmler.
- Nuclear Weapons Taboo: Despite claims in most earlier and later Doctor Who stories, and much of the text on this very page, the word "nuclear" is never mentioned in "Genesis of the Daleks", and problems that are usually associated with radiation are ascribed to mysterious "chemicals".
- Oh, Crap: See Land Mine Goes Click above and Villainous Breakdown below.
- Omnicidal Maniac: Davros hasn't quite got this far (yet), but his 'virus' speech shows us that if he had that kind of power, he would use it, just for the sake of having it.
- Putting on the Reich: Kaled dress, propaganda, medals, and salutes. As if the very nature of what Davros was creating wasn't enough to clue you in.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: The heads of the Kaled government listen to what the Doctor has to say, and have been trying to circumvent Davros' near-total control for some time. Of course, they've got the same Genre Blindness as everyone else, and trust Davros when he appears to go along with their requests.
- Redemption Equals Death: Most of the surviving Kaleds try to oust Davros from his position of authority at the end. Davros proposes a vote, so he knows who to shoot.
- Refuge in Audacity: The line the Doctor uses to distract some Thal guards while breaking in to their city to rescue Sarah Jane
Doctor: Excuse me, can you help me? I'm a spy.
(knocked out by Harry)
- Retcon: In previous episodes the Kaleds were called the Dals, and the war between them and the Thals lasted just one day (i.e., implied to be a nuclear war). Here the war has been going on for a thousand years.
- Then again, this is a show about time travel...
- It explains in the expanded verse The Dals were extinct by the time of the Thousand Year War between the Thals and the Kaleds, as were the Tharons, as a result of a programme of genocide orchestrated by the Kaleds. A few words of the Dals' language were preserved, such as "Varga" meaning "devourer." (AUDIO: Purity) Davros, the creator of the Daleks, found a prophecy in the forbidden Book of Predictions, written in the extinct language of the Dals, which stated "...and on that day, men will become as gods." In the original language, the final word was pronounced "Dal-ek." so it very possible is a case of mistaken identity.
- And the Thals says it has been 500 years since the war and don't seem to have been in a position to write the best histories.
- Rogue Agent: A Time Lord points out to the Doctor that they allow him to roam the universe doing his thing in exchange for doing the occasional favor for them, so he should just stop griping and get with the program.
- Schizo Tech: Mentioned in Part One. The war with the Thals has been going on so long that instead of using expensive laser weaponry, they're down to conventional gunpowder arms, and if things keep up they're going to finish with bows and arrows.
- Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The Doctor tries to prevent the Daleks' creation.
- Start of Darkness: Come and see just how the Daleks came to be.
- Thrown from the Zeppelin: When Davros confronts dissenter Gharman and his scientists and guards and asks who is with him and who is against him, a few step over to join him and Nyder. No prizes for guessing what happens to Gharman and the others.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Up until this story, the Thals were the Daleks' good counterparts. All that changes as it turns out they use mutos as slave labour or simply shoot them if they're unfit, infect their prisoners with radiation poisoning, psychologically abuse Sarah for kicks and not only butcher the entire Kaled population but force the Doctor to watch. Possibly an inversion, as all their previous stories are set later on in their history.
- Previous stories set later in the Thals timeline often mention their hatred of war and violence, based on their experiences with it, and that they used to be warriors. It was never said that they were that bad, though.
- Undying Loyalty: Nyder to Davros.
- Weaksauce Weakness: Why does Davros have a button on his chair for the express purpose of shutting down his own life support system?
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Kavell, the Kaled scientist who frees Harry, Sarah and Gharman, disappears between Parts Five and Six. He's last seen midway through Part Five leaving with Gharman, but isn't with him and the other Kaleds when they're confronting Davros in Part Six. Unlike other MIA Kaleds (Ravon and Tane especially), it can't be argued he died in the Kaled dome when the Thals blew it up, since that happened a couple of episodes earlier.
- Villainous Breakdown: Davros very quickly lapses into one when his creations betray him.
- Weight And Switch: A variation is done when the Doctor stands on the land mine: Harry props rocks under the mine, so it is blocked.
- Word of God/Harsher in Hindsight: Russel T. Davies, who directed the modern series up until series five, has cited this episode as the first shot in the Last Great Time War.
- The X of Y: The title.