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Recap / Doctor Who 2022 NYS "Eve of the Daleks"

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Eve of the Daleks
♫ Should auld acquaintance be forgot? ♫
Written by Chris Chibnall
Directed by Annetta Laufer
Air date: 1 January 2022

"Anyone else got a proper déjà vu?"

The one that's Groundhog Day... of the Daleks.

"Eve of the Daleks" is the 2022 Doctor Who holiday special, serving as the first in a trilogy of specials set after Series 13 that act as the home stretch of Jodie Whittaker's tenure. It is the final New Year's Day special for Doctor Who.

On New Year's Eve, it's business as usual for Nick and Sarah. The former is conducting his yearly visit at his personal unit at ELF storage, which is run by the latter. However, the two are interrupted by something unexpected... a time loop. As if to make things worse than it already is, it's a time loop that constantly repeats whenever they encounter and perish at the newly updated Gatling Good gunsticks of the Fell Saltshakers. Eventually, the Doctor, Yaz, and Dan also get caught in the loop, which means that the five must work together to break this cycle of repeated extermination, lest one loop be the last loop.

Previews: Trailer.


  • Absolute Xenophobe: The Doctor describes the Daleks as these.
    The Doctor: It will kill everything not within its own image!
  • Action Insurance Gag: When the Doctor proposes a plan that involves escaping the storage unit and blowing it up with the Daleks still inside, Sarah gets concerned about how the insurance company will feel about it.
  • Anger Born of Worry: The Doctor snaps at Yaz to carry out her orders shortly after Yaz has just acknowledged her feelings for the Doctor. Realising she's hurt her, the Doctor explains that she has No Time to Explain because they really are running out of time.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love:
    • Nick confesses his crush on Sarah as the two are being hunted by Daleks through the storage facility's basement.
    • Yaz... tries to have one, but...
  • Arbitrary Scepticism: Nick lampshades it; he has an easier time believing in killer robots than three building control employees working on New Year's Eve.
  • Artistic Licence – Gun Safety: Two Daleks who have trapped Nick both make the rookie error of firing on him despite the fact that the three of them are in a straight line, causing them to kill each other when he drops to the ground at the last second.
  • The Atoner: After her harsh words cause Nick to sacrifice himself in one loop, Sarah becomes dedicated in future loops to try to keep him from being killed, or at least postponing it until after the time that the next loop would start.
  • Beehive Barrier: The Dalek forcefield is comprised of translucent hexagons that appear whenever someone gets close.
  • Black Dude Dies First: ZigZagged. Nick is the first character killed by the Daleks in the pre-titles sequence. However, after everyone else in the warehouse is killed before the opening titles start, they all come back to life, including Nick. In almost all the subsequent time loops, Nick is the first to die, so much so that Sarah notes that he is always dead by 23:55 and is worried that he won't come back if he dies before that time on the last time the time loop starts that early. However, he does ultimately come back to life each time and survive the story to go travelling round the world with Sarah.
  • "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word: Nick denies that he's stalkery, preferring unrequited or shy.
  • Bottle Episode: The story takes place almost entirely within a self storage warehouse, the only major special effect is the fireworks display at the end, and the cast consists of the Doctor, her companions, three other people (one of whom only shows up on video call), and a few Daleks. This episode definitely has the feel of a restrained budget, especially coming right after the six-part epic that is Flux.note 
  • Call-Back: The Daleks tracked the TARDIS's faulty presence on Earth and are looking for revenge for what the Doctor did to them in "The Vanquishers". The Doctor protests that she only hijacked a plan that the Sontarans enacted, but to no avail.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Dan tries to encourage Yaz to confess her feelings for the Doctor. Yaz responds that she's never told anyone, not even herself.
  • Change the Uncomfortable Subject: Every time Yaz or Dan try to get the Doctor to open up, she deflects and changes the topic, or doesn't answer at all.
  • Closed Circle: If the time loop wasn't bad enough, the cast are confined to the storage unit by a Beehive Barrier.
  • The Comically Serious: The Daleks are usually this trope, but they take it up to eleven here, with hilarious lines such as:
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The Doctor, while examining the stockpiled fireworks in the basement of the storage unit, quips that she hasn't seen so much gunpowder since 1605, referencing "The Gunpowder Plot".
    • Karl, the construction worker first seen in "The Woman Who Fell to Earth", makes a return appearance to enjoy the fireworks at episode's end. He quips that the fireworks must just be for him, referencing the self-esteem tapes he was listening to.
    • Yaz has met Daleks before, referencing the last two New Year's specials, "Resolution" and "Revolution of the Daleks".
    • The Doctor again claims to be the Rapid Response Unit, this time for the local council rather than the police as in "Village of the Angels".
    • Yaz asks if they are ever going to get the chance for the Doctor to have the time to tell her everything that happened, as she promised to do at the end of the Flux.
    • This isn't the first time the Doctor has been caught in a time-loop.
  • Darkness Equals Death: The Daleks cut the power to give themselves the advantage with their Electronic Eyes. The Doctor sonic-scrambles their image enough so they don't realise they are about to fire upon a pile of gas cylinders and illegal fireworks.
  • Deadly Dodging: In one loop, Nick gets pincered by two Daleks, but baits them into shooting him and ducks at the last second, causing them to blow each other up. Unfortunately, the Daleks learn from this, as the next loop has them send only one Dalek after Nick, and that the two that shoot Yaz and Dan are slightly offset to avoid making the same error.
  • Dénouement Episode: This episode works as a coda for Flux, wrapping up the TARDIS's sickness plot that wasn't solved in "The Vanquishers".
  • Dramatic Irony: The Daleks announce they are exterminating the Doctor for her crimes against the Dalek race. Turns out the crime is using the Flux to destroy them, which was actually a Sontaran plot. Although, admittedly, it's not really like the Daleks need a reason to go after the Doctor.
  • Dutch Angle: Done to Sarah and Nick after their first time loop, to convey their sense of weirdness at the situation.
  • Elevator Floor Announcement: Sarah does one when the Daleks corner her in the lift, possibly a Shout-Out to Are You Being Served?
  • Equipment Upgrade: The Daleks have updated their weapons for rapid-fire, as well as protecting them against sonic interference.
  • Evil Gloating: In the second loop, Sarah is horrified to find the Dalek has anticipated her, and it waits while she rambles on about it, noting that her fear levels are rising before killing her.
  • Fireworks of Victory: In this case, the fireworks actually cause the victory, as setting them off all at once causes the storage facility to collapse on the Daleks and allow the group to escape the "Groundhog Day" Loop.
  • Foreshadowing: The Daleks note early on that they're adapting to the loop and it will eventually collapse, which hints that they didn't engineer it. The Doctor only learns this herself after asking them directly.
  • Gatling Good: The Daleks' changed gunsticks, which now resemble gatling guns.
  • The Ghost: Jeff, the absent ELF Storage employee who's storing all kinds of forbidden materials in various storage units.
  • Give Geeks a Chance: Even though he's a stalker who hoards stuff left behind by his ex-girlfriends, Nick ends up with Sarah, who seems to think that a goodhearted weirdo is worth keeping.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: Every time that the heroes are shot by the Daleks, the entire night repeats itself, beginning with the moment that Nick and Sarah meet at ELF storage, but with one minute being lost each loop. Namedropped by Dan, in spectacular fashion!
    Doctor and Yaz: Time loop.
    Dan: Groundhog Day. [Beat] Same difference.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Multiple times, either some or all of the TARDIS crew, Nick and Sarah will place themselves between someone that they care about and a Dalek weapon, or will distract the Daleks to waste their time.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: When Sarah asks why Dan is even talking, Yaz says that nobody talks like that to her mate, as that's her job. She then immediately tells Dan to shush when he goes to thank her.
  • I Know You Know I Know: The cast remembers each loop, but so do the Daleks. As the heroes make plans and try to hide, the Daleks anticipate their actions and adapt, including sending in more Daleks. The Doctor's final plan involves deliberately acting contrary to the plan in the second-to-last loop and make the Daleks think that they're trying to pull something else entirely, so that they re-tread false steps, and then pull off the real plan.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The Daleks can't manage to hit a moving target to save their lives, quite literally in one case, particularly when they're only a few feet apart in areas with little to no cover.
  • It Only Works Once: The Doctor tries to jam the Dalek's weapon with her sonic screwdriver, only for it to explain that they've adapted before jamming her sonic screwdriver in turn. This serves as their introduction to the loop.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Sarah is very short-tempered and annoyed to be working on New Year's Eve, is extremely blunt when she hears the explanation as to why Nick has a bunch of stuff from previous ex-girlfriends in his storage unit, and screws over the Doctor in one loop to try to get herself (and Nick) to safety. That said, she is also devastated when Nick pulls a Heroic Sacrifice in one loop because she blamed him for getting her into this situation, and is very insistent in later loops to try to save his life. She also loves her mom, despite also finding her phone calls exasperating.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: When Nick is taking refuge behind a wall of his ex-girlfriends' belongings:
    Dalek: EX-TER-MI-NATE!
    [Stuff Blowing Up])
    Nick: Woo! Thanks for the therapy!
    Dalek: [visibly confused]
    Nick: Ex... Terminate?
It seems that even the Dalek found that one painful, since not only does it immediately shoot him, but it doesn't even say anything while doing so!
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Sarah expects Nick to emerge from the lift, only for a Dalek to appear and say, "I am not Nick." This is ironic considering that the actor saying the line is Nicholas Briggs.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang!: Justified as they are running out of time on each loop. Though the Doctor seems to zigzag between this and a desire to protect others while she does the running off.
  • Let the Past Burn: Sarah is only running the storage unit out of a sense of duty to her family, since it was founded by her late uncle. The Doctor blowing it up at the end of the episode frees her of her responsibility to it, allows her to pursue her dream of travelling, and, as a bonus, destroys the memorabilia of all of Nick's exes.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: The Doctor flirts with her TARDIS again, calling her beautiful when she's been reset and thanking her for saving them from the Daleks.
  • More Dakka: These Daleks have repeating blasters... for a weapon that is almost universally lethal with just a single hit. However, they do allow them to kill multiple targets much quicker than they would usually be capable of doing.
  • Mythology Gag: Sarah says, "No time to explain!", to Nick and briefly pulls him along by the hand like the Doctor with a companion.
  • Non-Residential Residence: One of the containers that Jeff has commandeered is done up like a bedsit, and the Doctor speculates that he may actually be living in a storage unit.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Dan uses this as a delaying tactic by pretending to be a customer for the storage unit, though the Dalek eventually realises what he's up to when its scan reveals Artron energy, exposing Dan as the Doctor's companion.
  • Oblivious to Love: Dan explains to the Doctor that Yaz likes her... and the Doctor doesn't understand what Dan's getting at. Although Dan thinks that she does understand, she just pretends that she doesn't to avoid dealing with it.
  • Oh, Crap!: The Doctor's face when she discovers that the Daleks have sonic-proofed their weapons systems.
  • Out of the Frying Pan: Just when it seems like they've got a handle on one Dalek, a second signal is detected. This means that defeating the Daleks inside the loop is useless, as they can just send reinforcements.
  • Puny Earthlings:
    Dan: Oi! Who are you calling inferior?
    Yasmin: Pretty smart, Daleks.
  • Reset Button: The Doctor uses the TARDIS's own reset button to repair the internal damage done by the Flux. Turns out that it works a little too well, since the Daleks eventually reveal that the TARDIS's reset button is what's creating the unstable time loop that they're all trapped in.
  • The Reveal: After much teasing of the matter from both the show and the creators, this episode finally comes right out and confirms that, yes, Yaz is indeed in love with the Doctor.
  • Rousing Speech: The Doctor says that Humans Are Special because they make mistakes, but learn from them and carry on.
  • Rule of Three: This episode, the third and final New Year's special of the Whittaker era, is also the third one in a row to feature the Daleks as the main antagonists note .
  • Running Gag: Jeff, one of Sarah's employees, seems to be trying to violate as many of the rules of the unit as possible with his use of the space, to the point that one of them appears to function as his living quarters.
  • Shipper on Deck: Dan, for Yaz and the Doctor.
  • Shout-Out: When the Doctor figures out why she's experiencing so much déjà vu, she and Yaz declare "time loop", while Dan quips "Groundhog Day."
  • Signs of Disrepair: The reason that the business is called "ELF Storage"; It used to be called "SELF Storage", but the first "S" fell off the sign and Sarah never cared enough to fix it.
  • Some Kind of Force Field: A Beehive Barrier blocks the front doors; it glows brighter and gets more visible when touched, and apparently that hurts a lot. It's what keep everyone from simply leaving once the time loop begins; fortunately, it doesn't cover the basement door.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: "Auld Lang Syne" plays over scenes of the heroes being hunted and exterminated by the Daleks in the trailer.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: When Nick asks Sarah to define "hazardous", she says, "Well, I suppose I'd ask myself 'If I set fire to this item, will it have potentially explosive or devastating consequences?'" When the Doctor sees the hazardous stuff that Jeff has been hoarding, she says, "This is the sort of stuff about which you would ask yourself 'If I set fire to this, will it have explosive and potentially devastating consequences?'"
  • Stuff Blowing Up: And once again, the day is saved, by blowing up the building to destroy the Daleks inside.
  • The Teaser: This episode holds the record for the longest teaser in the entire series, clocking in at over nine minutes and covering the entirety of the first time loop.
  • Time Loop Trap: The Doctor thinks that the Daleks are employing one against them, but it turns out to be a subversion: it's the TARDIS, in reset mode, saving them from the Daleks by creating a decaying time loop. It's left ambiguous whether this is a deliberate ploy by the TARDIS or a side effect of the reset.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Dan at one point is able to evade a Dalek simply by circling it faster than it can turn to shoot him. He does eventually stop and let himself get shot, and it wasn't a sustainable tactic for the long haul in any case.
  • Wrong Line of Work: Sarah feels so little sense of investment in the storage business that she'd rather change the name from "Self Storage" to "Elf Storage" than fix the damaged sign out front. She actually gets a new lease of life out of the Doctor blowing up the premises at the end of the episode.
  • X-Ray Sparks: Played straight and subverted as bipeds and Daleks are both hit with death rays, showing glowing bones and the internal workings of travel machines, respectively.

"Anyone else got a proper déjà vu?"