- "I find it fascinating that a living creature would subject itself to such dangerous experimentation. Knowing that it would die.."
This episode is the first part of the I, Davros origin story arc, the events of which more or less directly precede "Genesis of the Daleks". The story is told by Davros to the Daleks before his "trial" after the events of "Revelation of the Daleks". The story is somewhat modelled on Robert Graves' famous I, Claudius.
The Kaled and Thal races are at war. No one really remembers why, or when it started, but generations of people on both sides have lost so very much.
Born into an influential family is Davros. Now aged sixteen, he is being pulled in various directions: His father wants him to follow tradition and go into the military, his sister has joined the Military Youth and his scheming, devoted mother wants him to pursue a life of science.
But no one seems terribly interested in what Davros himself wants. So he must begin to assert himself, begin to take control over his own life, begin to work towards his destiny.
- Better to Die than Be Killed: All Kaled soldiers have the right to request a mercy killing from their fellow officers if they are too ill, injured or infirm to continue fighting. Davros's father Colonel Nasgard demands that his subordinate Major Brogan kill him after Brogan betrays him by telling high command that Nasagard is too ill to maintain his command.
- Body Horror: What Magrantine's radiation chamber does to him after Davros seals him inside and switches it on. Made even worse by the fact that Magrantine survives by clinging to his pure hatred of Davros.
- Black Widow: Calcula kills off her husband Nasgard with a bomb planted at their house, mostly to keep him from forcing Davros to become a soldier.
- Creepy Child: Young Davros is an intellectual prodigy, but arrogant, creepy and perfectly happy to commit murder even at that age.
- Et Tu, Brute?: Colonel Nasgard feels this way about Major Brogan after Brogan briefs their superiors on Nasgard's failing health, leading to his own promotion and Nasgard's forced retirement.
- Fix Fic: The framing device revisits something that's long been thought out-of-character for the Daleks - putting Davros (and later the Master) "on trial". This story reveals they actually mean "trial" in the sense of "test". They're going to see if Davros can be of use to further the Dalek conquest.
- Framing Device: Davros is recounting his history to the Daleks before his "trial", placing the framing story after "Revelation of the Daleks"
- Mercy Kill: Magrantine begs for this after Davros mutates him.
- My Beloved Smother: Davros's mother Calcula adores and indulges him constantly, despite his irritation at her.
- Mythology Gag (or maybe Discontinuity Nod): Davros' sister Yarvel is named after Yarvelling, who created the Dalek travel machine in the old TV Century 21 comics.
- Parental Favouritism: Calcula clearly favours Davros over Yarvel.
- Skewed Priorities: After finding out what Davros has done to his tutor, Calcula is annoyed due to how difficult it is finding a good tutor.
- Teen Genius: Davros is shown to be one and Calcula appreciates it the most, wanting him to have the best education he can get.
- The Un Favourite: Yarvel is clearly this to her mother and knows it.
- Whole Episode Flashback: The episode begins with Davros as prisoner of the Daleks who want "to try him out" as a solution to their failures. He recounts the story of their creation in order to decide a new future for them.
- You Killed My Son: Magrantine wants to kill Davros as his stepfather killed his son. Davros talks him out of this.