Recap: Doctor Who S27 E6 "Dalek"
Rose: You don't have to do this any more. There must be something else, not just killing. What else is there? What do you want?This episode marked the return of the eponymous villain to Doctor Who, and began the extremely brief tenure of the untrustworthy companion Adam Mitchell.The episode was adapted by Robert Shearman from his Big Finish Doctor Who episode "Jubilee".
Dalek: I want... freedom.
Dalek: I want... freedom.
The Doctor and Rose arrive in 2012 Utah, in a museum of alien parts. As they discover when they are captured, they're in the Elaborate Underground Base of Henry van Statten, an American tycoon with way more money than sense. The pride of The Collector of the Strange's collection is a strange metal... droid... thing, that Mister Alien Expert just knows is sentient, but that he can't communicate with. So he locks the Doctor in there with it.Even the usually unflappable Ninth Doctor freaks out when he sees... a Dalek. It's his first clue that the genocide that ended the Time War wasn't as complete as he'd thought. A tense standoff ensues, during which we see all the Doctor's rage and pain.Anyway, van Statten kidnaps the Doctor for forcible induction into the Alien Museum. While he's indisposed, the Dalek tricks Rose into touching it, repairs itself using her time traveller DNA, and escapes from its holding cell to wreak some serious havoc. The Dalek is horrified to learn it is the last of its kind.Rose and Adam try to rejoin the Doctor (who has convinced van Statten to let him go try to save everyone's lives), but are separated by a steel blast door. And Rose is on the wrong side of it. An even tenser standoff ensues, while the Doctor watches over CCTV, but Rose's DNA — transferred to the Dalek when she touched it — is messing with the Dalek's xenophobic sensibilities, and it suffers an identity crisis instead of just killing Rose. The Dalek nearly kills a panicking van Statten, but Rose stops it, and it decides it wants to leave. She goes with it to the top floor of the dam and it shoots a hole in the ceiling, letting in the sunlight. It opens its shell to feel the warmth of the sun. The Doctor arrives at this point, wielding a BFG and telling Rose to get out of the way. She refuses and calls him out on trying to kill it when "all it wants is the sunlight." The Dalek learns Rose touching it has combined its DNA with hers, making it "impure". It decides it wants to die rather than live as a new lifeform, and orders Rose to tell it to self-destruct. She reluctantly does so, and it kills itself.Meanwhile, van Statten's assistant, disgusted by the death that has occurred, has his guards seize him and orders them to wipe his memory and dump him on the side of the road in "some place beginning with 'S'", Ironic Echoing him when he'd earlier decided another assistant had failed him.Rose and the Doctor get ready to leave, followed by Adam, who doesn't understand why they're going into a box when the dam is going to be filled with cement, but Rose has persuaded the Doctor to let him come. He follows them into the TARDIS.
- Alas, Poor Villain: The Dalek, who goes through a traumatic roller coaster of discovering morality, discovering emotions beyond hate and fear, and unable to kill anything that it hates, begs Rose to make it commit suicide as it watches the sunlight, unable to do anything. Rose complies. It gives one last, rather morose-sounding "Exterminate!" before blowing itself up out of self-loathing.
- Arc Words: "Bad Wolf One" is the call sign for van Statten's helicopter.
- Armor-Piercing Question: "What about you, Doctor? What the hell are you changing into?"
- Awesomeness by Analysis: The Dalek breaks through van Statten's lock (it's broken and low on power, so it couldn't do "Open!" Says Me) because its genius intellect and sucker manipulator mean it can run through the billion possible combinations in seconds.
- Bad Boss: Henry van Statten keeps control via his army of mooks and by brain-wiping his executives on a whim, keeping them in a state of sycophantic terror. Unfortunately by insisting the Dalek be captured regardless of casualties he alienates his security force, and by breaking down in fear in front of Goddard he loses her respect. Both quickly join forces to depose him after the crisis is over.
- Badass Boast: "THE DALEKS SURVIVE IN ME."
- Badass Decay: The Dalek's In-Universe recognition that this is happening to it prompts its own self-destruction.
- Batman Gambit: The Dalek pulls off a marvelously simple one to regain a hold on its situation.
- Berserk Button:
- The Daleks, for the Doctor.
- And vice versa. Remember, the Dalek had been there for years, stoic, until someone introduces himself to it as the Doctor.The Dalek: DOC-TOR? THE DOC-TOR?! EX-TER-MINATE! EX-TER-MINATE!! EX-TER-MINAAAAAATE!!!
- Bill... Bill... Junk... Bill...: "Broken, broken, hairdryer, broken..."
- Break the Badass: See Establishing Character Moment. The second the Doctor realizes what the Metaltron really is, he starts pounding on the door in sheer terror, begging van Statten to let him out.
- Chekhov's Armory: Van Statten's collection. A subversion, as almost everything in it is useless junk.
- Chewing the Scenery: The Doctor starts literally foaming at the mouth. Justified because, it's a Dalek.
- The Collector of the Strange: Van Statten.
- Computer Equals Monitor: The Dalek smashes a computer monitor with its plunger arm, and proceeds to both recharge itself (draining power from the entire West Coast in the process) and absorb the entire Internet.
- Conservation of Ninjutsu: The lone Dalek wipes out the base's security, takes command of the place, and establishes itself as a very credible threat to the world, reminding us why these creatures are the Doctor's greatest enemy.
- Continuity Nod:
- The Dalek's cry of "Have pity!" as the Doctor tortures it echoes Davros' exact same words in "Genesis of the Daleks". He asked more or less the same thing of Seven back in "Remembrance Of The Daleks", and got about as sympathetic a response as Nine gives the Dalek.
- Although not named, Davros is given a Shout-Out when the Doctor is asked who created the Daleks.The Doctor: By a genius, van Statten. A man who was king of his own little world. You'd like him.
- The scene of the Doctor being tortured is shot to strongly resemble the controversial torture scene that opened "Vengeance on Varos".
- The Cyberman head van Statten has in his collection is of the one used in either "The Invasion" or "Revenge of the Cybermen".
- The Daleks putting the "technical" in the Doctor's Technical Pacifist nature is nothing new. (See also Berserk Button.)
- Van Statten's line about how his men are replaceable but the Dalek is unique is quoted almost word-for-word (replacing "Krynoid" with "Dalek") from Harrison Chase in "The Seeds of Doom".
- Van Statten's museum also contains a stuffed Slitheen arm, presumably looted from the wreckage of Downing Street.
- Cross Referenced Titles: Since this is the episode that definitively introduced the Daleks into the revived series, its title seems to be a conscious nod to "The Daleks", the serial that introduced them to the classic series (though it's fittingly retitled "Dalek", since there's only one of them this time).
- Crucified Hero Shot: The Doctor when Van Statten is torturing/interrogating him.
- Death Seeker: The Doctor shows signs. "You [the Doctor] survived." "Not by choice."
- The Dog Bites Back: At the end of the episode, Van Statten's surviving subordinates revolt and drag him away to wipe his memory and dump him somewhere, just how he used to punish incompetent subordinates at the beginning of the episode.
- Driven to Suicide: This episode demonstrates just how scared the Daleks are of becoming anything other than their idea of perfection.
- Elaborate Underground Base
- Electrified Bathtub: The Dalek triggering the sprinkler system and electrocuting the guards through the resulting puddles.
- Establishing Character Moment: Oddly, one that doesn't involve the character being established actually doing anything: When The Doctor first sees The Dalek, he completely freaks out and begs to be let out. That's right: The Dalek is so dangerous that The Doctor's first instinct is to get as far away from it as possible.
- E.T. Gave Us Wi-Fi: Apparently, broadband came from Roswell.
- Evil Is Not a Toy
- Fake Kill Scare: The scene in which the Dalek is chasing Rose. She gets trapped behind the closing door, then you hear "EXTERMINATE!" and a shot over the radio. Then it's revealed she didn't get killed after all.
- False Innocence Trick
- Foreshadowing: One of the techs mentions that the last person to touch the "Metaltron" burst into flames. When Rose touches the Dalek, because she's a time traveler it feeds from her and draws enough power to free itself.
- Get It Over With: Rose to the Dalek. "Go on then, kill me."
- Getting Crap Past the Radar / Gosh Dang It to Heck!: A weird case - van Statten's "goddamn it" remains about the strongest bit of profanity used in the main series...but it was his use of the antiquated term "spooning" people made a fuss over.
- Heroic BSOD: The Doctor nearly loses it when he finds a Dalek survived the Time War.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Van Statten's fate.
- I Cannot Self-Terminate It can, but only if it's ordered to first.
- Immune to Bullets: The Dalek has an anti-bullet force-field (apparently powered by sheer badassery) surrounding it.
- Internal Homage: The destruction of Gallifrey, which the Doctor here elaborates on (and which turns out to have been his own doing), was also a massive Story Arc in the Eighth Doctor Adventures novels.
- Ironic Echo: "Take him away, wipe his memory, leave him by the side of the road somewhere." First said by Van Statten regarding an employee he fired on a whim, then said later by Goddard regarding Van Statten after his actions resulted in 200 people being killed.
Ninth Doctor: (said coldly, spitefully, and full of hatred)(joyfully astonished) It's not working..! (laughs mean-spiritedly) Fantastic! Oh, fantastic! Powerless! Look at you. The great space dustbin. How does it feel!?Third Doctor: (said warmly, triumphantly and full of confidence)Well, well, well. Daleks without the power to kill. How does it feel?
- Also this line...
- The real kicker is that the latter is long before the Time War, and the former is not long after, over half a dozen incarnations later. Three treats this kind of situation like a staunch, reserved, and observant gentleman who is happy to be in a position of superiority over a group of Daleks and believes there's a real chance at turning the tables on them. But after seeing the Daleks have grown into a much bigger threat and propelled the Time War, Nine is reduced to a panicked, hopeless fear just to be in the same room as a Dalek, and then gets worked up into a frothing rage turning openly wrathful and vindictive, maybe even bloodthirsty, at just one Dalek.
- Kick the Dog: Van Statten has an executive brainwiped simply for giving him the wrong answer.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Goddard, arguably a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing herself, promptly removes Van Statten from GeoComTex after he causes 200 deaths and gives him the karmic punishment of firing and mind-wiping him just as he did to the people he didn't like, and dumping his grubby keister "somewhere with an 'S'" without a scant trace of his own identity.
- Laughing Mad: Briefly, but the Doctor’s attack of laughter at seeing the Dalek chained up does have a maniac quality to it.
- Laugh with Me: "I'll tell you how they got in, in-tru-da-window." [...] "In-tru-da-window, that was funny!"
- Last of His Kind: The Dalek.
- Licensed Game: A flash game based on this episode is available on the BBC website. Remarkable in that it lets you play as the lone Dalek and exterminate everyone, including the Doctor.
- Mercy Kill: The Dalek begs for Rose to order it to exterminate itself, because it can't bear to be an impure Dalek.
- Monster Sob Story: This is the one story where a Dalek comes off as sympathetic. In fact, it was also the former Trope Namer for Lone Dalek which is now this trope.
- Morality Chain: Rose arguably acts as one to the Dalek. She "corrupts" it, making it unable to kill her and even convinces it not to kill the Doctor and Van Statten.
- Mythology Gag: A dark one, albeit: The Doctor refers to the Dalek as "the great space dustbin" while torturing it. Daleks have been said to resemble dustbins among various other things by fans and non-fans of the show alike.
- The Name Is Bond, James Bond: Goddard, Diana Goddard.
- NameTron: The Dalek is at first called a "Metaltron" by van Slatten and Co.
- Next Sunday A.D.: From 2005 to 2012.
- Not So Different:
- The Doctor sure doesn't like it:
- Also:Dalek: I am alone in the universe.
The Doctor: Yep. (bitter smile)
Dalek: So are you. (The Doctor's smile slips) We are the same.
The Doctor: We're not the same! I'm not... no, wait. Maybe we are. You're right, yeah, okay. You've got a point. Because I know what to do. I know what should happen. I know what you deserve. (sadistic grin) Exterminate! (yanks down the shock lever)
Dalek: (screaming) Have pity!
The Doctor: Why should I? You never did! (turns it up further)
- The Doctor also suggests that van Statten would like Davros, the creator of the Daleks (without referring to Davros by name). Van Statten, naturally, is unware that it's a Stealth Insult.
- Oh Crap!:
- The one characters had when they saw the pants-browning horror that was the following statement.Adam: Great big alien death machine. Defeated by a flight of stairs.
DiMaggio: Now listen to me. I demand that you return to your cage. If you want to negotiate, I can guarantee that Mr. van Statten will be willing to talk. I accept that we imprisoned you, and maybe that was wrong. But people have died, and that stops, right now. The killing stops. Have you got that? I demand that you surrender, is that clear?
- The Doctor has this moment when he realizes that van Statten's "Metaltron" is a Dalek: he panics and begs to be let out of the cage before the Dalek can kill him.
- The one characters had when they saw the pants-browning horror that was the following statement.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Anna-Louise Plowman's attempts at an American accent. Subverted with Corey Johnson (van Statten), as he was born in New Orleans.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: The original version of this episode, the Big Finish Doctor Who story "Jubilee", was well over twice as long and involved a massive Timey-Wimey Ball. It also starred Dr. Evelyn Smythe as the companion, who (as opposed to Rose) already had plenty of experience with Daleks. Robert Shearman cut out the Alternate Timeline plot and the political implications of the original story, and instead focused on Character Development for Rose and the Ninth Doctor, with fantastic results.
- Pyrrhic Victory: What the Doctor seems to be feeling after the Dalek self-destructs.Rose: Is that the end of it then? The Time War?
The Doctor: I'm the only one left. I "Win".
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
- The Doctor delivers several to van Statten, at one point bluntly calling him worse than the Dalek. An especially powerful one once Rose is trapped down with the Dalek:The Doctor: Let me tell you something, van Statten. Mankind goes into space to explore. To be part of something greater!
Van Statten: Exactly! I wanted to touch the stars!
The Doctor: You just want to drag the stars down and stick them underground, beneath tons of sand and dirt, and label them! You're about as far from the stars as you can get! And you took her down with you.
- He gives another one earlier on:Van Statten: There has to be something it wants.
The Doctor: What's the nearest town?
Van Statten: Salt Lake City.
The Doctor: Population?
Van Statten: One million.
The Doctor: All dead. If the Dalek gets out, it will murder every living thing. That's all that it needs.
Van Statten: But why would it do that?
The Doctor: Because it honestly believes they should die. Human beings are different, and anything different is wrong. It's the ultimate in racial cleansing, and you, van Statten, YOU'VE LET IT LOOSE!
- The Doctor delivers several to van Statten, at one point bluntly calling him worse than the Dalek. An especially powerful one once Rose is trapped down with the Dalek:
- Reconstruction: The episode might as well be called "Reconstruction of the Daleks"; the production team are clearly going all out to make the Daleks a genuine threat. Before writing the script, Rob Shearman asked his girlfriend what she thought were the silliest things about the Daleks. He then took the responses he got — that they couldn't go upstairs, that they had that silly plunger, that they couldn't see anything behind them, that bullets could damage them, etc — and had the characters actively invoke them in the story. And then had the Dalek completely subvert the expected weaknesses and even use them to kill said characters horribly:
- The Dalek can swivel its midsection and weapons to kill people behind it.
- The Dalek now has a forcefield that melts bullets.
- The Dalek can actually fly up stairs. This had been demonstrated in the earlier "Remembrance of the Daleks" episode, but that story was both over fifteen years in the past at the time of this story's airing, and was broadcast at a time when Doctor Who wasn't as popular with or watched by as many people as were watching in 2005, so it's not entirely surprising that the production team thought a refresher was in order.
- The Dalek can now use its plunger to crush people's skulls and leech off electrical sources to repair casing and weapon damages.
- The half-spheres embedded in every Dalek's lower chassis seem a lot less frivolous when it's revealed that they're a sophisticated self-destruct mechanism.
- It's also notable that several terms often used dismissively towards the Daleks ("tinpot", "pepperpot", etc.) tend to crop up — and the people who use them tend to die horribly not long after.
- Shirtless Scene: For Christopher Eccleston.
- Shout-Out: The joke of an alien culture's hairdryer being mistaken for a weapon was previously done in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.
- Slow Doors: Complete with an Indy Hat Roll by Adam.
- Smug Snake:
- Van Statten's callous disregard for the lives of his men as the Dalek massacres them, as well as his massive ego, make him completely unsympathetic and detestable.
- Simmons, the guy tasked with "making [the Dalek] talk", also comes across as a bit of a smug, slimy weirdo who enjoys his job of essentially torturing a living thing every day a bit too much (it's a Dalek, granted, but it's not like he knows that).
- Adam is also a bit full of himself as well. It's a hint that, as the next episode demonstrates, he might not be the best choice of companion for the Doctor.
- Teen Genius: Adam Mitchell.
- Tempting Fate:
- Simmons, upon being confronted with the released and seemingly powerless Dalek, smugly asks whether the Dalek is intending to "sucker [him] to death". The Dalek then grabs the scientist's face with the plunger and crushes his face.
- Rose, Adam, and DiMaggio try to flee up a staircase, believing the Dalek's design will prevent it from climbing. Adam even taunts it to this effect."E-LE-VATE!"
- That Liar Lies: The Dalek responds to the Doctor's claim to have wiped out the Dalek race with "YOU LIE!"
- Took a Level in Badass: The Daleks.
- Trailers Always Spoil: As does the episode title. While a great episode, how much more shocking would have it been if the audience had no clue a Dalek would be involved? Then combine that shock with The Doctor's outright panic. Subverted for newer fans, who probably didn't know what Daleks were.
- Unstoppable Rage:
- The Dalek's rampage comes off as one, given what it shouted at van Statten when upon cornering him. Then again, it's a Dalek — they start at Unstoppable Rage and work their way up.Dalek: Van Statten. You tortured me! (tone rises dangerously) WHY?!
Van Statten: (after various panicked apologies and excuses) I swear, I just wanted you to talk!
Dalek: (With a definitely acid tone) Then hear me talk now. Exterminate. Exterminate! (gun-stick raises) EXTERMINAAAAATE!!!
- The Doctor himself gets a fair amount of this in this episode, like when he first tries to kill the Dalek and when he's yelling at it to die.The Doctor: Your race is dead! You all burned, all of you! Ten million ships on fire! The entire Dalek race wiped out in one second!
Dalek: YOU LIE!
The Doctor: I watched it happen! I MADE IT HAPPEN!
- This is the only time The Doctor reveled in what he did in the Time War. (Even then, he recoils enough after the taunt, horrified he went there.)
- The Dalek's rampage comes off as one, given what it shouted at van Statten when upon cornering him. Then again, it's a Dalek — they start at Unstoppable Rage and work their way up.
- Unwitting Pawn: Van Statten and Rose.
- Vasquez Always Dies: Paramilitary guard DiMaggio is an Action Girl who tries to stop the Dalek herself with a normal handgun. It ends as well as one would expect.
- Villainous BSOD: The Dalek never lets The Touch of Rose take full effect, but the results are much the same.
- Wag the Director: Nine's interaction with the Dalek was originally written to be just mocking and flippant. Christopher Eccleston decided to pour in incredible amounts of rage and pain as well. Writer Robert Shearman was briefly miffed, then delighted once he realized how well it worked.
- Was It Really Worth It?: The Doctor asks van Statten if letting the Dalek live was worth losing everyone it killed.
- We Have Reserves: Van Statten orders his soldiers to stop attacking the Dalek, as they're expendable and it's unique.
- Wham Episode: Though Daleks were enough of a staple that they would obviously return to the series, some people considered them a bit of a joke. This episode shows how deadly and xenophobic the Doctor's foes can really get. And while the Doctor's already revealed that the Time Lords were gone, this episode reveals the Doctor was responsible for the act that killed all of the Time Lords.
- Wham Line:
- "You would make a good Dalek."
- "I watched it happen. I MADE it happen!"
- What Measure Is a Mook?: Averted. The Doctor is as horrified at the deaths of Van Statten's legions of nameless henchmen and scientists as he would be at the deaths of anyone else. He even calls Van Statten out on sacrificing them so pointlessly.
- Withholding the Cure: Van Statten claims to have discovered the cure for the common cold, but isn't letting it out of the labs. "Why sell one cure when I can sell a thousand palliatives?"
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit: How the Dalek made Rose touch it. Justified in that it was tortured, but it's clear that it was exaggerating to trick Rose into touching it.
- Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: The Doctor is mortified when he's told that "You would make a good Dalek."