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Recap: Doctor Who S27 E6 "Dalek"
aka: Doctor Who NSS 1 E 6 Dalek
Biggest mistake of Rose's life in 3... 2... 1...

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?
Dalek: I want... freedom.

This episode marked the return of the eponymous villain to Doctor Who, and began the extremely brief tenure of bad companion Adam Mitchell.

The episode was adapted by Robert Shearman from his Big Finish Doctor Who episode "Jubilee".
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, Ironic Echoing him when he'd earlier decided another assistant had failed him and ordered him memory-wiped and dumped on the side of the road in "some place beginning with 'S'".

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.


Tropes:

  • 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? Who are you changing into?"
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: The Dalek breaks through van Statten's lock (when it is 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.
  • Badass Boast: "THE DALEKS SURVIVE IN ME."
  • 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..."
  • Chekhov's Armory: Van Statten's collection. A subversion, as almost everything in it is useless junk.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Chris Eccleston starts literally foaming at the mouth. Justified because, well, 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 establish 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. By 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".
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Heroic BSOD: The Doctor nearly loses it when he finds a Dalek survived the Time War.
  • I Cannot Self-EXTERMINATE: Well, 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.
  • Kick the Dog: Sure, the Dalek could have just shot each guard in the warehouse area, but triggering the sprinkler system and electrocuting the guards through the resulting puddles is way more fiendishly satisfying. And far more efficient too.
  • 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 we feel sorry for a Dalek of all things. 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.
  • Name Tron: 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:
      The Doctor: The Daleks have failed! Now why don't you finish the job, and make the Daleks extinct?! Rid the universe of your filth! Why don't you just die?!
      Dalek: (pause) You would make a good Dalek.
    • Not to mention, with a large dose of nightmare fuel:
      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 not aware that this is not a compliment.
  • Oh Crap:
    • The biggest one ever. 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?
      Dalek: EL-LE-VATE!
    • 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.
  • 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!
  • Reconstruction: The episode might as well be called "Reconstruction of the Daleks"; the production team are clearly going all out to restore the Daleks from "tired jokes" to "shit-your-pants scary". 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 now fly upstairs to kill people. 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 now use its plunger to crush people's skulls. And so on. 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.

    Some of these weaknesses (particularly the flying thing) had been addressed in the earlier "Remembrance of the Daleks", 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 was not 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. Heck, even the dorky 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.
  • 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. His final fate is immensely satisfying.
    • Van Statten's chief scientist / torturer 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). This makes the bit where the Dalek settles scores by crushing his face in oddly satisfying as well.
    • Adam is also a bit smug and 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: The head scientist / torturer, 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.
  • 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. Oh boy, the Daleks.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: As the 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:
    • One could interpret the Dalek's rampage as this, given the lines shouted at van Statten when it corners 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.)
  • Unwitting Pawn: Van Statten; Rose
  • Vasquez Always Dies: The paramilitary guard who escorts Rose and Adam to safety is an Action Girl who tries to stop the Dalek herself with a normal handgun. It doesn't end well.
  • 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 are expendable and it is 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!"
  • 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."


Doctor Who S27 E9 'The Empty Child"Hugo AwardDoctor Who S27 E8 'Fathers Day"
Doctor Who S27 E5 'World War Three"Recap/Doctor WhoDoctor Who S27 E7 'The Long Game"

alternative title(s): Doctor Who NSS 1 E 6 Dalek
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