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Recap / Doctor Who 2019NYS "Resolution"

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"What do you call this look, junkyard chic?"

"No matter how many times you try, no matter how long you wait... I will always be in your way, backed up by the best of humanity."
The Doctor
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The one where we start the new year with an old "friend".

This special first aired January 1, 2019. Written by Chris Chibnall.

For the first time since 2005, the series forewent airing a Christmas special. Series 11's 10-episode length and October debut meant the obligatory special would simply tag along behind the new episodes, and there wouldn't be much of a cushion for the wait to next season. Chris Chibnall had been involved with the show long enough to see enough Christmas specials come and go, and as the newly-appointed showrunner, he wanted to spice things up a bit, so he went a slightly different route and went with a New Year's special.


In the ninth century, in England, three enemy armies fight together, at terrible cost, to defeat an incredibly dangerous enemy with powers beyond their imagining. To ensure the defeated enemy doesn't rise up again, its body is cut into three pieces, with each part entrusted to a custodian who is supposed to bury it in a remote corner of the world. Two of the custodians do their work, landing on a remote Pacific island and Siberia to bury their pieces and stay to guard, with their descendants still holding vigil in the present. But the third custodian is shot dead by a bandit in Yorkshire before his journey has barely begun, his burden left with him, forgotten in the dirt.

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New Year's Day, 2019. Archaeologists Lin and Mitch come in to their dig site underneath Sheffield City Hall, since they don't have anything else to do that day. They're digging up the body of the third custodian. Mitch has heard of the now half-mythical battle that the custodians survived, but Lin doesn't believe that it happened. And when the third piece of the creature is placed under a UV light, it begins to awaken, calling the other two pieces to it from across the world, making it whole again so it can proceed on its mission: the subjugation of Earth. When the "artifact" disappears, Lin goes to look for it while Mitch stays at the workstation, and in the tunnel stumbles upon a grey squid-like creature on the wall, which she reaches for out of a disgusted curiosity...

Onboard the TARDIS, the Doctor and her companions have been repeatedly celebrating the New Year in various times and places when the ship detects something going on back in Sheffield, something dangerous. The Doctor duly steers the ship back to Earth, where Mitch gets a surprise when the time machine lands right in front of him. Mitch and Lin explain that one of the artifacts is missing, and Lin mentions the squid-like thing she saw on the wall. The Doctor collects some of the slime left behind on the wall to figure out what she's dealing with, and they think the creature has gone into the water of the nearby sewers, so it could be anywhere. They disperse, with Lin and Mitch sent back home since the Doctor declares the dig site quarantined, as the time travellers go to Ryan and Graham's house.

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Unfortunately the creature is not in the sewers — it's attached itself to Lin, and when she gets home, she tries to get rid of it, but it starts to control her, and forces her to use her computer to look up information on the current state of the Earth, data it can use to destroy the world. The creature eventually forces Lin to take to the road, eventually stealing a police car and uniform, to steal weapons and alien technology, specifically its own technology, the remnants at least. The Doctor and company only realize what they're dealing with after it's already started, however, when the TARDIS informs her via a DNA test that their foe is the most dangerous creature in the universe: a Dalek.

In the middle of all of this, Ryan has to deal with his estranged dad Aaron turning up, trying to repair their relationship. Oh, and UNIT's operations have been disabled pending a financial review, so there's no help from that angle. And this isn't a normal Dalek they're facing: the Doctor, analyzing what the mutant is doing with its hostage, Lin, deduces it's an even more dangerous type, a reconnaissance scout, the first Daleks to leave Skaro and search for new worlds to conquer. The Dalek eventually uses Lin's body to construct a makeshift new casing for itself, and after the Doctor confronts it, it gets away and sets off to contact the Dalek fleet so the Earth will be annexed into their empire. When oblivious soldiers confront what they assume to be a mysterious new drone, they are slaughtered as they try to flee — not even a tank has any effect.

As the Doctor and her friends and new associates try to stop their enemy alone, she realizes it's heading for the UK's main communications centre to send that invasion signal to the fleet. As the Dalek slaughters its way through the communications centre and begins preparing the signal, causing a nationwide Internet and phone service outage (on New Year's Day, when most people are at home using those services), Mitch's old books about the ancient battle against the Dalek provide the key to defeating it, using a microwave oven Aaron is trying to sell: immobilizing the armour and heating it up to roast the mutant inside. They arrive just in time to prevent the signal from being sent, but the mutant jumps ship before its casing is immolated and takes control of Aaron, holding him hostage in exchange for being returned to the Dalek empire. The Doctor accepts the deal … but instead pilots the TARDIS to a supernova, where, as Ryan makes sure his dad isn't sucked out via a vacuum corridor, the Dalek is burned up in the death of a star.

Lin and Mitch are returned to their archaeological dig, and Ryan promises his dad he'll stop by and visit sometimes during his travels in time and space. As they set off, Yaz asks the Doctor where she's thinking of going, and she responds, "Everywhere."


Tropes:

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Apparently the sewers below Sheffield City Hall resemble a massive cavern.
  • Action Survivor: Lin turns out to be this, as she takes advantage of a moment of weakness in the Dalek to escape the (literal) clutches of its Puppeteer Parasite powers.
  • Ancient Evil: A Dalek reconnaissance scout was defeated and buried on Earth in the ninth century, and is unleashed in the twenty-first, roughly 1200 years later.
  • Arch-Enemy: This incarnation of the Doctor comes into contact with her age-old enemy, who she calls the most dangerous creature in the universe. Likewise, once the Dalek learns her identity, it shoots blindly at her as the Doctor is the enemy of all Daleks.
  • Bait-and-Switch Credits: The opening plays more like a historical documentary, like those the BBC is known for producing.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • The Doctor is... less than pleased... at the sight of Ryan's dad, Aaron, bluntly mentioning: "You weren't at Grace's funeral. Ryan waited for you. You let him down." She later refers to him making up for his "parenting deficit", thus showing that she is incredibly displeased...
    • Graham is also very blunt when he tells Aaron that "you haven't done enough" in regards to being a parent and is more than a little smug at Aaron when he expresses shock at Ryan calling Graham "gramps".
  • Big Damn Kiss: Lin and Mitch decide to come in to work on New Year's Day in part because they want to discuss their having one of these at a party the night before.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Sure, the Dalek scout is defeated and the Earth is saved, while Ryan renews his relationship with his father (formerly a Disappeared Dad), and Lin and Mitch both survive to pursue their Relationship Upgrade. On the other hand, the Dalek exterminated dozens, if not hundreds, of humans while on its brief rampage across the UK.
  • Book-Ends:
    • In the first episode of Series 11, the Doctor forged her new sonic screwdriver out of refuse and spoons. In this special, a coda to S11, the recon Dalek forges a new casing out of farm equipment.
    • The episode itself begins and ends with a narrator's voice relating the history of the Dalek scout's threat being neutralized by unlikely allies.
  • Borrowed Biometric Bypass: After killing Richard the security guard, the Dalek controlling Lin drags his whole body over to the door to open the lock with his fingerprint.
  • Building Is Welding: Lin is shown welding while she assembling the new casing for the Dalek.
  • Bury Your Gays: Richard the security guard at MDZ gets killed after about a single line, in which he refers to his boyfriend.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • After a whole series with no returning antagonists, a Dalek finally appears in this episode.
    • For the Daleks themselves, this is the first time one has been a major antagonist since "The Magician's Apprentice"/"The Witch's Familiar".
  • Call-Back: When the Dalek is using Lin's laptop to research Earth's defences and what it's up against, the words "The Black Archive" pop up on screen. It was last referenced in "The Zygon Inversion", with some of the action taking place there. The actual alien weapons facility made its original debut in The Sarah Jane Adventures episode "Enemy of the Bane". It is implied that the Dalek material at MDZ may have come from there.
  • Character Development: The Doctor admits matter-of-factly that she learned to think like a Dalek long ago. Even Twelve, whose whole thing was trying to admit his faults and move on from the Time War, was never able to bring himself to admit this so bluntly. The Dalek still brings out the worst in Thirteen, but at least she can admit she has a problem.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Aaron's microwave oven is stripped down for spare parts and reassembled into a device to overheat and rupture the Dalek's casing.
  • Close on Title: In the same style as "The Woman Who Fell to Earth" before it, with no Title Sequence.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Creepy Monotone: Lin, while under the Dalek's control.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: One Dalek in "junkyard chic" ramshackle casing versus several dozen soldiers and a tank. It's not remotely a fair fight as the Dalek casually slaughters the lot of them.
  • Cutaway Gag: Rather unusually for Doctor Who. After realising that the Dalek has caused a communications outage, we cut to a random family who finds that their Internet is down. The children and mother are horrified that they might have to actually talk to each other. The scene never gets brought up again.
  • Distant Prologue: The episode opens with the story of the recon Dalek's initial defeat and the separation of the pieces of its body, 1200 years before the rest of the plot.
  • Double-Meaning Title: Aaron's New Year's resolution to try and repair his relationship with his son, and the Dalek's resolution to try and conquer the Earth for the Dalek empire. It could also apply to Lin and Mitch resolving to act on their feelings for one another.
  • Drives Like Crazy: The Dalek controlling Lin forces her to drive at high speeds into oncoming traffic, which she near-miraculously survives. One police car manages to pull her over, but the Dalek simply strangles both officers to death and steals their uniforms in order to break into its next objective.
  • Enemy Mine: It says something about how dangerous a single Dalek is that three warring factions — in the ninth century, no less — were willing to work together to fight and imprison it.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: The Doctor examines the site where the (as yet unidentified) Dalek was sitting on the wall, and from a slime trail down the wall and across the floor, assumes that it just escaped into the water-filled sewer channel. In fact, the trail was probably laid the other way around, as the Dalek has already pulled an escape from the wall by climbing onto Lin's back and assuming a position as a Puppeteer Parasite.
  • Evil Gloating: The Dalek, as it happily informs Lin of her new Meat Puppet status.
  • Evil Laugh: This episode presents the first-ever instance of a Dalek engaging in the trope.
  • Facepalm: The Doctor gives a very exasperated one in response to finding out that UNIT has been rendered defunct due to budgeting concerns.
  • Fighting from the Inside: Lin does this through much of the episode, attempting to throw off the Dalek scout's Mind Control. Unfortunately, she has little success after some early resistance, until she takes advantage of the Dalek's growing weakness after the forging of its new casing to try and escape its control. It's unclear whether or not she actually managed to shake off the Dalek, or if it just left her voluntarily once its mechanical body was complete and ready for operation.
  • Five Rounds Rapid: The army attempt to use small-arms fire against the Dalek, with the usual lack of success. They then escalate to a tank, which doesn't work any better.
  • Foreshadowing: The terrible security at the place where the Dalek controlling Lin finds the weapons and parts it needs to start rebuilding its casing hints at UNIT's budget problems.
  • Forging Scene: Lin gets one while constructing the new Dalek casing, including pounding a red hot metal bar on an anvil with a hammer.
  • Forgiveness: To save his father from the Dalek's control to escape certain death, Ryan tells Aaron he forgives him.
  • For Want of a Nail:
    • The plan of the ancient warriors to split the Dalek's body into 3 pieces and bury them far away from each other fails because one of the custodians is killed by bandits while transporting a piece through Yorkshire. When modern-day archaeologists find its remains 1200 years later, they leave the piece of flesh under a UV light, giving it enough energy to summon its other pieces and regrow into a new Dalek...
    • Also, the Doctor and company would have a much easier time dealing with the Dalek had UNIT not been defunded.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • Lin mentions rather offhandedly that she texted Mitch after the party where they had their Big Damn Kiss, inviting him over to her place, but he was so Oblivious to Love that he didn't go along.
    • Security guard Richard, explaining that his fingerprints are required to access the archive, mentions that his boyfriend says he has the securest fingers in Yorkshire and then adds that maybe he shouldn't have mentioned that.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Thirteen has been strongly dedicated to her principle of Thou Shall Not Kill, but she doesn't play any games when it comes to dealing with a Dalek, although she does confirm with her companions that she gave her hated foe every reasonable opportunity to surrender before she set to work killing it.
  • Handshake Refusal: Aaron attempts a handshake when first meeting the Doctor, only to withdraw it when she calls him out for missing his mother's funeral.
  • Heroic Willpower: Lin uses this to attempt to fight off the Dalek's influence while forging a new casing for it.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: This episode is set on its airdate, New Year's Day 2019, and involves a Dalek being released from its can and going on a rampage.
  • Hurl It into the Sun: Taken Up to Eleven as the Doctor sends the Dalek mutant into a supernova to dispose of it.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Sure, Lin, go wandering off by yourself in the dark sewer and feel free to touch the sinister alien octopus. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
    • Apparently the U.K. government had a big bowl of stupid for breakfast as they didn't think keeping UNIT operating was important, meaning the Doctor and companions are all that stands between Earth and the Daleks. Not to mention that nobody from UNIT thought it was important to let the Doctor, the President of Earth, know about any of this. As it's a potshot at Brexit, the UK government having a big bowl of stupid for breakfast is essentially what happened.
  • Improvised Armour: Using Lin, the Dalek builds itself a new casing out of local materials. It's fully functional, but is definitely rather more scavenged-looking and cobbled-together than normal Dalek armour. The Doctor calls it "junkyard chic".
  • Insistent Terminology: Aaron is insistent that the fancy microwave he's trying to sell isn't merely a microwave but a microwave oven.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: The Doctor appears to accept a bargain with the Dalek — deliver it to the Dalek fleet in exchange for it not hurting Aaron — but instead kicks it off the TARDIS into the core of a supernova.
  • It Only Works Once: The Dalek escapes the Doctor and friends' attempt to roast it inside its own casing, likely because it's aware that's how the ninth century armies beat it the first time.
  • It's Personal: The Doctor explicitly says this about fighting the Dalek.
    "Me and the Dalek, it's personal."
  • I Will Fight Some More Forever: Averted. As soon as the commander of the soldiers realizes that the "unknown drone" is heavily armed and their weapons are useless, he orders his troops to run. It doesn't do them much good, but credit for making the right call under the circumstances. Not to mention he seemed willing to stay behind and provide covering fire for his troops (raising the rifle to fire while everyone else fell back), despite knowing that his rifle would do sod-all to the Dalek.
  • Kill It with Fire: The Dalek is defeated in this fashion three times:
    • First, it's revealed that the medieval armies were able to defeat it the first time by immobilizing it and setting a bonfire around it to roast it inside its casing, severely harming the mutant.
    • The Doctor and her friends manage to somewhat replicate this to destroy the creature's second casing via repurposed microwave parts, although this time the mutant escapes.
    • The Doctor then straight-up dumps the Dalek in a supernova to finally get rid of it.
  • Meat Puppet: Lin and later Ryan's father Aaron serve as this to the Dalek via its Mind Control powers, during the periods when the Dalek is deprived of its usual mechanical body. Fortunately, both Lin and Aaron survive the experience.
  • Mugged for Disguise: The Dalek, while controlling Lin, kills two police officers who pull over her car, then steals the female officer's uniform and their patrol car to get around unhindered.
  • Mundane Utility: The Doctor uses the TARDIS to take her companions to nineteen different New Year's celebrations. It would have been an even twenty if not for the Dalek.
  • Mythology Gag: The last three Dalek stories in the classic series all had titles of the form "[Vaguely Religious Noun Beginning With R] of the Daleks" ("Resurrection", "Revelation", "Remembrance"). This story would have restarted the pattern if the Dalek had been mentioned in the title.
  • Near-Villain Victory: The Doctor and her companions manage to destroy the Dalek's mechanical body seconds before it would have put out an interstellar signal to summon the rest of its invasion fleet to Earth. Later, the Dalek would have succeeded in a pulling a Taking You with Me on Aaron, if not for Ryan's intervention.
  • New Media Are Evil: When the Dalek commandeers all of the UK's communications bandwidth to contact the fleet, shutting down the Internet, we get a brief scene of a family shocked to find the Internet and Netflix do not work on New Year's Day; the family come to the conclusion that they'll have to actually talk to each other and the two children especially seem positively mortified.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Subverted; while the Dalek demonstrates a whole bunch of abilities that no other Dalek has ever been seen to have, it's established to be a rare (and much more dangerous) Dalek sub-type, which is outfitted with these abilities specifically to make it more capable of going onto unknown worlds by itself and paving the way for full-scale Dalek invasions.
  • New Year Has Come: Naturally, since it's a New Year's special set on its airdate.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: In so far as the UK government is on the side of the protagonists, the offscreen decision to shut down UNIT leaves the regular military and local law enforcement completely out of their depth in trying to stop the Dalek scout, which they consider an "unidentified drone" and which is, in the absence of similarly advanced weaponry (or the Doctor), effectively The Juggernaut.
  • Noodle Incident: The Doctor gives Lin medicine to help her recover from being controlled by the Dalek, but warns that she mustn't take them with alcohol, or she'll grow an extra head. She then adds, "That was an embarrassing party."
  • No-Sell:
    • The Dalek scout, once it has reconstituted a metal shell for itself, has no trouble shrugging off small arms fire from dozens of soldiers and promptly exterminating them all. It's not actually revealed whether or not the tank's fire would have been effective, as the Dalek pulls a Shoot the Bullet and destroys the tank and its crew with a single missile.
    • The TARDIS' shield proves impervious to the Dalek's laser weapon when it pulls an Attack Hello the moment the Doctor steps out of the TARDIS in the communications hub.
  • Oblivious to Love: Mitch and Lin have feelings for each other, and only realize that their New Year's kiss meant something more to both of them while talking about it at their job later. Apparently, Mitch left the party and misunderstood Lin's text asking him to follow her.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The woman the Doctor speaks to on the phone when she tries to call UNIT, who doesn't understand that there is a real situation and is no help whatsoever.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The Doctor, when she finds out what kind of DNA she's picked up in the sewer.
    • The Dalek backs away from the Doctor after scanning her and detecting two hearts, and then tries to kill her after she introduces herself.
    • The leader of the soldiers sent to fight the "unidentified drone", first when the Dalek shrugs off all of the bullets, and second when it reveals it has rockets, prompting him to order everyone to run.
  • One-Word Title: "Resolution".
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • Lin is visibly tense and quiet after she returns from the site where the Dalek was sitting near the sewer wall. Unfortunately, not even Mitch notices until she has escaped the area and it is too late to find her again to get the Dalek off of her.
    • Yaz quickly figures out they are about to face a grim situation early on in the episode when she notices the Doctor has gone quiet.
      Yaz: [alarmed] Doctor... I don't like it when you go quiet.
  • Outside-Context Problem: Since the army soldiers, police and security guards are not UNIT, they have no idea that the so-called "unidentified drone" is really a Dalek, and either fail to realize it is a threat until it is too late, or suffer an utter Curb-Stomp Battle when they try to destroy it by conventional means.
  • Pulling Themselves Together: The part of the Dalek re-energized under the UV light teleports the two other parts to itself across thousands of kilometres to reconstitute its body.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: The Dalek attaches itself to Lin and makes her find the remains of its original casing, even calling her its puppet. Later on, it does the same to Ryan's father after said casing is destroyed.
  • Put on a Bus to Hell: Kate Stewart and UNIT. The Doctor tries to call Kate, only to be informed that UNIT's operations have been disabled pending review because of funding problems caused by the UK's traditional partners pulling their support — and lack of any recent alien invasion to justify their existence (which, in the Whoniverse, is a laughable claim).
  • Reality Ensues: In our current political climate where tensions in both the US and UK governments are threatening the foundations of traditional alliances with other nations, it unfortunately makes too much sense that UNIT would never thrive in the midst of it. And said lack of recent alien invasions is largely down to the fact that they usually cover up said incidents to keep them out of the public eye, which does no favours for their show of being an essential organization.
  • Red Shirt:
    • Played straight by the numerous security guards, police, and soldiers that the Dalek scout kills or exterminates over the course of the episode. When it invades the communications hub, distant screaming and weapons fire heralds an entire Inferred Holocaust of the building's staff before the Dalek bursts through the ceiling to access the computer mainframe.
    • Subverted by Lin, who initially appears to be this, as she does the classic Too Dumb to Live move of wandering off in a dark area and touching the sinister alien octopus-like being. Rather than a prompt death, she gets commandeered by a Puppeteer Parasite, and eventually turns out to be an Action Survivor.
  • Rock Beats Laser: Three 9th century armies managed to take out a Super Prototype Dalek, although with considerable losses. Specifically, they managed to immobilize it and effectively roast the mutant inside its casing.
  • Rule of Three: The Dalek was split into three pieces, divided among three custodians.
  • Run or Die: The commander of the soldiers sent to confront the "drone" ends up ordering his troops to run when he realizes they're seriously outmatched.
  • Sealed Evil in a Six Pack: The Dalek's body was cut into three pieces, each of which was buried in a distant corner of the Earth.
  • Shoot the Bullet: The Dalek uses one of its missiles to deflect a tank shell fired at it, destroying the tank with that missile in the process.
  • Slasher Smile: Lin gives a few of these while being controlled by the Dalek.
  • Super Prototype: The Dalek featured in this episode is a recon scout, one of the first wave of Daleks to leave Skaro in search of worlds to conquer, and has capabilities not seen in standard Dalek soldiers. Due to it being from Skaro's early days, however, it lacks many of the modern capabilities of Daleks, especially the Time War era Daleks, such as shielding technology. This results in its imobilisation and the subsequent destruction of its casing twice.
  • Take That!:
    • UNIT being suspended due to “budgeting issues” seems to be a major one against Brexit and the Skewed Priorities of the UK government’s budgeting.
    • The Obstructive Bureaucrat at the call centre seems to be one against call centres in general, treating with almost complete unconcern the pending alien invasion of Earth.
  • Taking You with Me: The Dalek tries to do this with Aaron, but Ryan manages to save his dad in time.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: The Doctor jettisons the Dalek into the core of a star that's going supernova in order to destroy it.
  • Time Skip: By Word of Godinvoked, this special picks up "some time" after the events of "The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos", during which time the Doctor has picked up a new scarf.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Subverted by Lin, who takes the usual Red Shirt-esque course of action of wandering off on her own and touching the sinister alien thing — and then turns up seemingly fine, though acting visibly shocked. Then it turns out that she's under the control of a Puppeteer Parasite.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The fact that the episode's enemy would be a Dalek was spoiled by the Christmas Day teaser. This is treated as a reveal in the actual episode and was kept a secret prior.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Likely due to the lengthy period it's spent out of commission, the Dalek, although clearly having heard of the Doctor as an enemy of the Daleks, doesn't regard her as seriously as Daleks usually do, which plays a factor in its defeat.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Had the bandits not attacked the third custodian, there's a good chance Mitch and Lin would not have inadvertently brought a Dalek back to life.
  • Wham Line: The Doctor revealing the identity of "the most dangerous creature in the universe".
    Graham: Does it have a name?
    The Doctor: A Dalek.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: The Doctor announces that she has "skillz. With a Z."
  • You Can Talk?: When the Dalek demands the surrender of the soldiers that have confronted it, one of the soldiers is heard expressing surprise that the "unknown drone" just spoke.
  • You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: The Doctor's near word-for-word reaction to UNIT being shut down.


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