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Recap / Doctor Who S29 E4 "Daleks in Manhattan"

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Foreman: These new bosses, who are they?
Diagoras: I think you can say they're from outta town.
Foreman: Italians?
Diagoras: Bit further than that.
Foreman: How far?
Diagoras: Beyond your imagination.
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The one with an uppity showgirl whose boyfriend is a literal pig. Not to be confused with a Spiderpig.

Written by Helen Raynor.


The episode begins with an aerial shot of 1930 New York City that zooms in on a local revue. Showgirls prepare for a performance while the star, Tallulah, makes out in her dressing room with her boyfriend Laszlo, one of the stagehands. As she heads out to the stage, Laszlo hears oinking noises from down the corridor, luring him into a dark storeroom. He's ambushed by a pigman and the opening title rolls.

The TARDIS materialises beneath the Statue of Liberty. The Doctor and Martha walk out and take in the view of Manhattan, and Martha notes that the Empire State Building is still a work in progress. They find a newspaper and identify the date as November 1st, 1930. The front cover also describes people going missing in the local Hooverville, leading the Doctor to investigate. Arriving in Central Park's Hooverville, the Doctor and Martha come across two people fighting over a loaf of bread. The fight is broken up by Solomon, the leader of the village. As if the symbolism wasn't obvious enough, he breaks the loaf in half and divides it among the two people. The Doctor and Martha introduce themselves to Solomon, who describes the plight of the people there in Hooverville.

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On the Empire State Building, construction is being managed by Mr. Diagoras, a harsh and unforgiving boss who demands that his workers go faster per the wishes of his new masters, despite the fact that they're on schedule and utterly exhausted. After a foreman protests that the men won't be able to meet his unrealistic deadlines and threatens a work stoppage, Diagoras directs him toward his masters from "out of town": Dalek Caan, flanked by two pig-slaves. Diagoras explains how the worker is refusing to work any faster, causing Caan to order him taken away for "the Final Experiment" by the pigs.

As the worker is taken downstairs by the pigs, Dalek Caan speaks with Diagoras and tells him that the Empire State Building must be completed in time for the "Gamma Strike".

In Hooverville, the Doctor asks Solomon about the disappearing people mentioned in the newspaper; he explains how people disappear during the night and that the police aren't interested as it's just homeless people. Mr. Diagoras arrives in the village and offers $1 a day for a job that involves clearing out a collapsed tunnel in the sewers. The Doctor, suspecting something is up, volunteers, causing Martha, Solomon and a kid named Frank to do so as well.

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Whilst exploring the sewers, Solomon explains to the Doctor how Diagoras was just another foreman until a couple of months ago, when he suddenly went from Rags to Riches overnight. As they speak, the Doctor comes across a green blob on the ground. He takes a look, and Martha, asked for her opinion, notes that it isn't human in origin. The Doctor then realises that the group has gone more than a mile into the sewer already and there's no sign of any collapsed tunnel.

The scene cuts back to the construction site in the Empire State Building, where Mr. Diagoras tells his workers that they are to attach three panels, pieces of Dalek casing, to the mast of the building. Again, he demands that they work unreasonably fast. The workers say that they can't work at night for fear of losing their grip from the cold and falling to their deaths, but Diagoras simply threatens to fire and replace them if they refuse. After the workers have climbed up to fasten the panels to the mast, Dalek Caan returns to speak with Diagoras. Diagoras reassures Dalek Caan that the mast will be finished on schedule. As the two look out at Manhattan, Dalek Caan muses that, despite its perceived weakness, humanity has succeeded in building so much. After Dalek Caan mentions losing its planet in a great war, Diagoras says he is a war veteran himself, how he swore he would survive, no matter what, and that he would claim the city no matter what it takes.

"You think like a Dalek!" is the response of Dalek Caan. The scene cuts down to a laboratory in the basement, attended by pig-slaves working for the Cult of Skaro, who have arrived in 1930s New York after escaping via Emergency Temporal Shift during the Battle of Canary Wharf. Dalek Sec orders Dalek Caan to bring Diagoras down to the basement. There, Diagoras attempts to thank Dalek Sec, but Sec orders him to cease talking and has the pig-slaves take him away as he protests that he's on their side.

The Doctor, Martha, Solomon and Frank continue their search until they find a pigman sitting in a corner sadly. The Doctor promises to help him, but more violent pig-slaves chase them to the surface, all but Frank making it. They emerge from a manhole in the revue theatre, where Tallulah holds them at gunpoint. But surprise, it's just a prop, and after she explains that Laszlo is one of the people who've disappeared. The Doctor rigs a DNA scanner for the green blob, Solomon goes back to Hooverville to organize a militia and Tallulah and Martha engage in girl talk. Martha reveals that she's attracted to the Doctor, while Tallulah holds out hope that Laszlo is still alive, since he left a rose for her on her dressing table every night, and the roses are continuing to show up.

Finally we get back to the Daleks. Dalek Sec wants to combine his and Diagoras' DNA as part of the Final Experiment. The others protest this since humans are impure, but Sec points out that for all their impurity, there are millions of humans and only four Daleks left in existence. Dalek Sec's metal exterior opens up, and he absorbs a screaming Diagoras.

To his horror, the Doctor finds that the DNA from the blob is Dalek. As Tallulah goes on stage, Martha sees a pig-slave watching the performance from the shadows. She chases after it, but a different pig-slave captures her, so the Doctor and Tallulah chase her into the sewers. They find the pig-slave who was watching Tallulah. It's Laszlo, horribly mutilated but still of his right mind, having managed to escape before the Daleks could finish converting him. Doctor and friends spy on the Daleks, who separate Martha and the other prisoners: the less intelligent ones become pig-slaves, smart ones are sent to the lab. Laszlo, concerned for her safety, tells Tallulah to go home, then he and the Doctor slip in line behind Martha unnoticed. Once in the lab, they witness the results of the Final Experiment: Dalek Sec has become a Dalek-Human hybrid. A new life form is born. To Be Continued...


Tropes:

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The Daleks hide their operations in a sewer. They're easily big enough for four people to walk abreast while standing up straight.
  • Aliens Are Bastards:
    Martha: You can't just experiment on people! It's insane! It's inhuman!
    Dalek: We are not human.
  • All for Nothing: Upon seeing that the Daleks have survived their encounter at Torchwood, the Doctor is seething with hatred because it means that Rose was taken away from him for nothing.
  • All Gays Love Theatre: Tallulah uses "into musical theatre" as a euphemism. A bit of a weird euphemism for someone whose own boyfriend actually is into musical theatre.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Tallulah drops "Schmuck" and "Oy" in her chatter. Granted, it's New York City and she's in theatre.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Dalekanium. Specifically, three plates of armour donated from the Daleks themselves, welded onto the spire.
  • Armour-Piercing Question: The other members of the cult are reluctant to fuse their DNA with humans, insisting that they must remain pure. Sec points out that despite being superior to humans, there are still billions of humans, and only four Daleks. "If we are supreme, then why are we not victorious?" The others can't come up with an answer.
  • Asshole Victim: Diagoras is a cruel boss to the construction workers, but being absorbed into a Dalek is a horrible way to go for anyone.
  • Bad Boss: Diagoras, who keeps ordering the workmen constructing the Empire State Building to work harder and faster on completing the building, not caring about the working conditions or those of the workmen at all. This line sums it up best:
    Diagoras: I don't care how cold it is, how tired you are, just get out there AND FINISH THE JOB!
  • Big Applesauce: New York, New York in the Great Depression.
  • Big "NO!": From the Doctor, when Frank is taken by the pig-men.
  • Call-Back: Daleks in the Empire State Building. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
  • Captain Obvious:
    Martha: They're following you.
    The Doctor: Yeah, I'd noticed, thanks.
  • Chorus Girls: Tallulah sings for a living in skimpy clothing.
  • Close-Knit Community: The Hooverville is this because Solomon invokes it. He gives this speech about everyone sticking together so they can survive.
  • Disposable Vagrant: The Daleks restrict their abductions to Hooverville residents, although by the time the episode begins it's gotten bad enough to make it onto the front of the newspaper.
  • Dumb Blonde: Subverted. Tallulah both looks and sounds the part, but she's far from naïve.
    The Doctor: Tallulah, you're not safe down here.
    Tallulah: Then that's my problem.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Daleks working their latest Evil Plan in Manhattan.
  • Fetal Position Rebirth: Dalek Sec emerging from his casing as a half-human hybrid.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Dalek Caan's quite un-Dalek-like thoughtful musings to Diagoras that humans are prospering while Daleks were almost wiped out. While it doesn't pay off in this story, it hints at what will happen with the character next series.
    • The lyrics of Tallulah's song anticipate the relationship between the Master, Lucy and the Doctor towards the end of the season. "Bad, bad angel... you put the devil in me."
    • Tallulah's line, "I know some guys are just pigs, but not my Laszlo." As it turns out, Laszlo was captured and was being turned into a pig-slave, but he managed to escape partway through.
  • Half-Human Hybrid:
    • In the ending, Dalek Sec, having assimilated himself into Mr. Diagoras' body.
    • Laszlo, having managed to escape being converted into a pig slave halfway through the process.
  • Hand Gagging: The Doctor does this to Tallulah to keep her quiet as they hide from a Dalek on patrol in the tunnels, so it doesn't hear her.
  • He Is Not My Boyfriend:
    Martha: He's not... we're not... together.
    Tallulah: Oh, come on! I've seen the way you look at him, it's obvious!
    Martha: Not to him.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: This is how Dalek Sec sees his fusing with Diagoras - sacrificing his so-called "purity" to ensure the survival of the Daleks.
    Dalek Sec: You have all made sacrifices. And now, I will sacrifice myself. For the greater cause. for the future of Dalek-kind. Now, bring me the human!
  • Homemade Inventions: The Doctor's DNA scanner is jerry-rigged from stuff he finds in the theatre stock room.
  • I'll Take That as a Compliment:
    Dalek Caan: You think like a Dalek.
    Diagoras: I'll take that as a compliment.
  • Judgment of Solomon: Literally, which is definitely on purpose, given that Solomon is the leader of the Hooverville residents. Except here, Solomon actually goes through the "breaking in half" thing, thus awarding the thief 50% of what he stole.
  • Juggling Loaded Guns: Tallulah threatens Martha, the Doctor and Solomon with a gun, and handles it in an appallingly cavalier way, waving it around and even briefly pointing it at her own head. The Doctor suggests she should maybe put it down, and she shrugs and tosses it aside. The Doctor and Martha both flinch–
    Tallulah: Hunh? [realizes she has the gun] Oh, sure. [tosses the gun on a chair] Oh, c'mon. It's not real. It's just a prop. It was either that or a spear.
  • King of the Homeless: Solomon is the de facto leader of Hooverville.
  • Landmarking the Hidden Base: Who's building the Empire State Building? The Daleks. Hey, don't say Daleks didn't do anything good for us.
  • Matchlight Danger Revelation: Subverted; in the teaser, the pig-slave doesn't attack Laszlo until after the match he lit goes out.
  • Meaningful Name: Solomon, community leader of Hooverville.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Homeless people being abducted from Hooverville → Daleks active in Manhattan.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Tallulah assumes the Doctor's "into musical theatre".
  • My Nayme Is: "Tallulah, three Ls and an H."
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Tallulah was originally seen in the preview pulling out a gun and demanding someone hold their hands up. It's not a real gun, and she turns out to be neither as violent or as badass as that shot suggested.
  • Newspaper Dating: The Doctor is working out the date from local cues like the Empire State building's near completion. Martha picks up a newspaper.
  • No Peripheral Vision: One Dalek goes straight past the alcove where the Doctor and Tallulah are hiding and completely fails to notice them. Guess that's a downside to eyestalks.
  • Oh, Crap!: The Doctor, when he figures out that the blob in the sewer's planet of origin from its DNA: Skaro.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: "This is the form of Daleks!"
  • Only One Name: Tallulah, Laszlo, Frank, Solomon and Diagoras.
  • Pig Man: One of them attacks Laszlo in the intro. They turn out to be working for Daleks.
  • Police Are Useless: Enough people have gone missing that it's on the front page of the newspapers, yet the police are nowhere to be seen. According to Solomon, they went to the police, but the cops don't care if "another deadbeat goes missing".
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Solomon can't condone thievery, but he acknowledges that it was motivated by hunger, not greed or malice. Thus, the thief gets to keep half of what he stole and he also gets a tongue-lashing and public shaming.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: For his help in betraying his planet, Mr. Diagoras gets to become Dalek Sec's body.
  • Standard Snippet: As per legal obligations, there's a snippet of "Rhapsody in Blue" when the Doctor and Martha arrive in New York. "Puttin' on the Ritz" also plays when we're transitioning to the Doctor and Martha in Central Park.
  • Stealth Pun: Daleks on an elevator. What do they say before flying?
  • Suddenly SHOUTING!: Diagoras in the line that cements his status as a Bad Boss: "I don't care how cold it is, how tired you are, just get out there AND FINISH THE JOB!"
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Just so you are aware, Tallulah definitely had nothing to do with the previous performer breaking her ankle.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Infamously, the ending was spoiled by featuring the Dalek-human hybrid prominently on the cover of Radio Times, apparently because it was just too awesome to pass up as a cover image.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Tallulah uses "into musical theatre" to mean "gay".
  • Villainous Widow's Peak: Dalek-helping Diagoras sports one.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: A foreman threatens a work stoppage to Mr. Diagoras because of the speed he demands they work at and the dangerous working conditions. For his trouble, Mr. Diagoras turns him over to the Daleks and is presumably converted into one of the human Daleks or a pig-slave.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Averted; Diagoras is one of the few people who takes "You think like a Dalek!" as a compliment.


Alternative Title(s): Doctor Who NSS 3 E 4 Daleks In Manhattan

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