Churchill: Yes, Doctor! Death to our enemies! Death to the forces of darkness, and death to the Third Reich!
The Doctor: Yes, Winston, and death to everyone else too.
Written by Mark Gatiss.
The Doctor and Amy arrive at the Cabinet War Rooms under a Blitz-torn London at the behest of Prime Minister Winston Churchill (albeit one month after Churchill had called the Doctor). As a Luftwaffe squadron approaches London, Churchill takes the Doctor and Amy to the roof to meet Professor Edwin Bracewell, a Scottish scientist who has invented a secret weapon called an "Ironside". These Ironsides obliterate the Nazi fighters, and the Doctor recognises the weaponry used. He demands to be shown the Ironsides, which, if the title and previous episode teaser didn't tip you off, are the most resilient pepperpots in the universe. Yes, the Fell Saltshakers managed to escape the Tenth Doctor's clone's genocide and find their way to WWII, with a group dressed in tank-green paint and claiming to serve the British war effort. Bracewell claims to have invented them, along with many other technologies far beyond the capabilities of World War II-era Britain (or any other country, for that matter). The Doctor becomes more and more agitated by the Daleks' claims of servitude and lashes out at them, calling them by name. Which is exactly what they wanted.
High above, hidden behind the Moon, a battered Dalek saucer records the Doctor's recognisance of the Daleks, activating something called the Progenitor Device. The Daleks on Earth transmat back to their ship, but not before revealing Bracewell as an android created by them. The Doctor gives chase, leaving Amy on Earth. He catches up with the last three surviving Daleks and threatens to blow up their ship with a TARDIS self-destruct remote. The Daleks respond by turning on all the lights in London, making the city a nice, bright target for the German air force. The Daleks reveal that the Progenitor Device contains original Dalek DNA to recreate the Dalek race. But due to the remaining Daleks being born out of Davros' cells, their DNA was not recognised by the machine. Thus, they needed the Doctor's testimony that they were Daleks in order for the machine to work. On Earth, Churchill and Amy stop a grieving Bracewell from committing suicide and get to work on shutting down the Daleks' radio-control dish in order to darken London.
The Progenitor Device opens and churns out five new, brightly-coloured Daleks, who promptly decide to exterminate their inferior predecessors, thus symbolically scrapping the Russell T Davies Dalek props as new Steven Moffat props roll in... or so the Doctor and the audience thought at the time. Said inferior predecessors' response to this? "We are ready."
The new Daleks attempt to exterminate the Doctor (discovering the self-destruct button to be only a biscuit), but are stopped as three space-worthy, laser-spitting Spitfires attack and destroy the radio dish, turning off the lights of London. The Doctor manages to escape to the TARDIS and orders the last remaining upgraded Spitfire to take out the Dalek ship, but is stopped by the Daleks, who reveal that Bracewell is a bomb powered by a contained wormhole. The Daleks threaten to destroy the Earth unless they go free. The Doctor has no choice but to order the Spitfire to call off the attack, and speeds back to Earth anticipating that the Daleks are going to activate the bomb the moment they are out of danger anyway. There, the Doctor and Amy get Bracewell to recognise his own humanity, cutting off the Daleks' control over him and deactivating the bomb. The Daleks time-travel back to the future as the Doctor angsts over losing to his greatest enemy again, a funk shortly ended by Amy's good cheer. The Doctor destroys all alien tech (much to Churchill's displeasure) and leaves, but not before allowing Bracewell to live out a full human life.
Before departing, the Doctor and Amy have a chat. Amy's learned something new about her "raggedy man" that he has old, old enemies who want him dead at all costs. The Doctor is more concerned by how she should remember the Daleks from their invasion of Earth, but doesn't. This disturbs the Doctor greatly, as it can only mean something is wrong with the flow of time. The travellers depart, with another crack revealing itself in the wall behind the TARDIS...
See also "The Power of the Daleks", which has a similar plot.
- Aborted Arc: The New Dalek Paradigm were heavily hyped in the lead to this ep, with Moffat saying that the audience would find out the inner workings of their castes. They've been relegated to cameos ever since, with the bronze Daleks returning to the default model.
- Ace Pilot: Danny Boy is one of three pilots that fly into space to fight the Daleks. He's the only one to survive.
- Affectionate Nickname: Amy calls Professor Bracewell "Paisley" due to his Scottish accent. It allows her to help him remember being human.
- Affectionate Pickpocket: Attempted by Churchill on the Doctor (in order to get the TARDIS key). Amy pulls him up on it.
- Amnesia Danger: Amy should know about the Daleks, but she doesn't. Thus the danger. This is owing to the cracks in the wall...
- Arc Symbol: The cracks show up once more.
- As You Know: Inverted: Amy doesn't know about the Daleks, but she really should, given the events of "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End".
- Author Appeal: Bracewell is from Paisley, Steven Moffat's birthplace.
- Badass Boast:
- An affectionate version when Winston threatens to seize the TARDIS by force, and has the soldiers to back it up. The Doctor just replies, "I'd like to see you try."
- Subverted with "I defeated you time and time again, I defeated you. I sent you back to the Void, I saved the whole of reality from you. I am the Doctor, and you are the Daleks!" The speech itself would be pretty awesome, but the effects of the last line end up being anything but badass for the Doctor.
- The Bad Guy Wins: The Daleks are triumphant. The Allies manage to get London's lights turned off, and Amy manages to disarm Bracewell, but the Daleks only enacted those scenarios in the first place to get the Doctor off their ship. Which worked perfectly, and he was only there in the first place because they wanted him to be.
- Batman Gambit: Why are the Daleks posing as robots created by a human in World War II? Why, for no other reason than to create a situation where the Doctor will come to investigate and end up saying "You are the Daleks!" in a loud, clear voice. It gets deeper: in preparation for their probable defeat, they have equipped Prof. Bracewell with an Oblivion Continuum; he's essentially a walking bomb! They then threaten to set off the Continuum unless the Doctor withdraws back to Earth, essentially making him CHOOOOOOOSE!! between destroying the Daleks once and for all, and saving the Earth. The Doctor retreats, but the Daleks activate the Continuum anyway, potentially both exterminating the human race and killing the Doctor with one stone. The day is saved, of course, but disarming Bracewell provides the necessary distraction for the Daleks to escape.
- Bittersweet Ending: The Doctor fails to prevent the five new Daleks from escaping to rebuild the Dalek race, but Amy manages to save Earth and allow Bracewell the chance to have a normal life free from Dalek control.
- Borrowed Catchphrase: "Exterminate them." (The Daleks)
- Brandishment Bluff: The Doctor convinces the Daleks that a Jammie Dodger (a type of biscuit) is a control for the (nonexistent) TARDIS self-destruct.note
- The concept of Daleks pretending to be servants goes all the way to the Second Doctor's era in "The Power of the Daleks". Specifically, the line "I am your sol-dier." is a direct Shout-Out to the Dalek's sycophantic "I am your ser-vant" in that serial.
- The Progenitor Device itself was first introduced in "The Power of the Daleks", as another one had crashed on Vulcan. This episode clarifies its intended purpose.
- The Doctor declares that this encounter will be "the final end" for the Daleks.
- "The Progenitor has fulfilled our new destiny! Behold, the restoration of the Daleks! The resurrection of the master race!"
- The Doctor beats a Dalek with a long wrench, comparable in length to a baseball bat.
- A Dalek using its toilet plunger to carry a tray full of nibbles for people? Believe it or not, this happened before in their very first episode.
- The Doctor asks Amy to tell Churchill about when "the Daleks invaded [her] world", and is extremely disturbed when she's clueless as to what he's on about.
- This isn't the first time the Doctor's all but dared a Dalek to kill him.
- Changed My Jumper: Amy wears a miniskirt in 1941 without comment. Between the ongoing bombing of London and the Daleks threatening the planet, some woman's bare legs were probably the least of people's concerns.
- Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: The new Dalek Paradigms White Daleks are Supremes, Reds are Soldiers, Blues are Strategists, Oranges are Scientists and Yellows are Eternals.
- Cliffhanger Copout: Sort of; the end of "The Beast Below" has Churchill urgently calling the Doctor while a Dalek looms ominously in front of him, with the suggestion that he's in fairly immediate danger. The resolution? Apparently that call was weeks ago, and Churchill's got used to having the "Ironsides" around. He just wanted the Doctor's opinion on them, but now he's made up his mind.
- Cool Plane: Spitfires with lasers. That can fly in space.
- Cool vs. Awesome: Space Spitfires shooting a Dalek saucer with lasers.
- Comically Missing the Point:
- The Doctor eventually gets so infuriated by the Daleks pretending to be soldiers and servants with tea that he grabs a wrench and starts hitting a Dalek with it. Its response is to play dumb and assume he didn't want tea. "You do not require tea?"
- A more heartwarming example than usual; when the Doctor and Amy go to say goodbye to Bracewell, they find him in his lab, preparing to Face Death with Dignity as he assumes that the Doctor and Amy are planning to deactivate him as a potential threat to the timeline. The Doctor, rather surprised (since they were actually just popping along to say goodbye before leaving), agrees but says that he has to go and do some stuff first, and it'll probably take him a while, hint hint. It takes Bracewell rather longer than it probably should to realise that the Doctor isn't going to be coming back.
- Copied the Morals, Too: Bracewell is an android created by the Daleks simply to be their pawn. However the human qualities they imprinted on him, most notably the love for a wife that never existed, allow him to deactivate the planet destroying bomb in his body.
- Creator Cameo: Episode writer Mark Gatiss as Spitfire pilot "Danny Boy", uncredited.
- Death Seeker: Of a sort. The last three Russell T Davies-era Daleks aren't looking to die per se, but they clearly realise that the resurrection of the pure Daleks would end in their extermination.
- End of an Era: This episode ends the usual revival-era Whos habit of using an Ass Pull to bring the Daleks back from their previous final death. They end the episode escaping to an unknown location to rebuild their forces, with later episodes treating them as less This Cannot Be! and more "Oh no, not again."
- The Enemy of My Enemy: The single remaining Spitfire, a British fighter pilot, uses the callsign "Danny Boy", title of a traditional Irish song.
- Evil Sounds Deep: The Supreme Dalek has a much deeper voice than the others.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Daleks have an important victory here.
- Falsely Reformed Villain: The Daleks pose as dutiful British soldiers as part of their master plan.
- Fantastic Racism: The Daleks' commitment to their own racial purity is demonstrated here. The older, less "pure" Daleks willingly allow themselves to be disintegrated by the newly created Daleks made from the pure DNA in the Progenitor device.
- Freak Out: Amy has a mild version when it sinks in that she really is standing in World War II London during the Blitz.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Inverted, with the Daleks making a Villainous Sacrifice. What else would you call taking a course of action to save your entire race knowing full well it will end in your demise?
- Historical Domain Character: Winston Churchill is a main character here. This became elevated to Hilarious in Hindsight with the revelation that Jon Pertwee (the Third Doctor) was an intelligence officer during World War II and personally reported to Churchill.
- Historical In-Joke: Churchill's comment about allying with the Devil (see I Did What I Had to Do, below), referencing the Daleks in this episode, are very similar to the actual remarks he made about Stalin that if Hitler had invaded Hell instead of Russia, Churchill would have at least make some favourable remarks about Satan.
- I Did What I Had to Do: Churchill repeatedly brushes off the Doctor's warnings with how people are dying every day. If the Doctor says that the Daleks are evil incarnate, Churchill responds that he'd ally with the Devil in order to stop Hitler.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: The Dalek shooting down planes with perfect accuracy.
- I Need to Go Iron My Dog: That super important thing that the Doctor has to go do, but he'll definitely come back and deactivate Bracewell after he does the thing. Gonna take a least half an hour, then Bracewell will be so very deactivated.
- Joker Immunity: Despite Metacrisis Ten's genocide, one ship survived. Daleks always survive.
- Just Plane Wrong: The Spitfires used in the episode were Mk IXs, which were introduced in 1942. They should have been Mk Is or IIs, which flew in the Battle of Britain. Then again, they were IN SPACE!
- The Knights Who Say "Squee!": While they're in the elevator, Amy is barely repressing a grin over the fact that she's actually face-to-face with Winston Churchill.
- Kill 'Em All: Subverted; surprisingly for a Dalek episode, this has a relatively low explicit body-count (two soldiers, about 12 planes shot down and 3 Daleks). Compared to the decimation of Torchwood One, this is very low. The Doctor is surprised that the "Victory" for the Daleks is basically a strategic withdrawal.
- Large Ham:
- Winston Churchill again. The man's presence fills up every room he's in.
- The Doctor has his moment during the climax of the episode:The Doctor: I AM THE DOCTOR, AND YOU ARE THE DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALEKS!
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: There's a minor subplot about a girl named Breen; in the beginning, her boyfriend's squadron engages the Nazis over the Channel. During the wrap-up, Breen gets confirmation that he was shot down, and her sister comforts her. Amy wonders aloud where the Doctor's got to, at which point he walks in from behind the sisters and replies, "Tying up some loose ends!"
- Light Is Not Good: Don't be fooled by the bright, shiny new Skittles colours the Daleks have adapted. They're still total bastards.
- Love Imbues Life: Bracewell's countdown is stopped by remembering a long-held crush. This enables him to escape Dalek control and continue pretending to be human.
- Meaningful Name: Professor Bracewell is a robotic AI created by an alien intelligence to communicate with humans. In other words, a Bracewell probe.
- Metaphorgotten: "There isn't a sincere bone in your body There isn't a bone in your body."
- My Greatest Failure: The Doctor considers his inability to stop the Daleks to be his, lampshading the number of ways in which they always come back, but in a cruel way. This time, they even escaped with a Dalek Creation Machine.
- Mythology Gag:
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:The Doctor: I am the Doctor, and you are the Daleks!
- Noodle Incident: How did the Doctor and Winston Churchill get to know each other so well? Winston knows about the Doctor's "marvelous machine", suggesting that he's been on at least one adventure in time and space. Neither is Winston surprised that the Doctor's appearance has changed, or that aliens are involved.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: The Daleks do this for two reasons. The first is to hide their identity from the British. The second is to so infuriate the Doctor with their obvious lies and pacifism that he will loudly and directly refer to them as Daleks so the progenitor machine will accept them as such despite being genetically impure.
- Old-School Dogfight: Did we mention Spitfires IN SPACE!?
- The Power of Love: It's Bracewell's memory of the woman he loved that enables him to break free of Dalek control and assert his humanity.
- Precision F-Strike: Winston Churchill in the French dub.Amy: What do we do now, Winston?
Churchill: We don't change old habits.
Amy: Which means?
Churchill: We screw with the Fritz. ("On emmerde les Fritz", lit. "We shit on the Fritz".)
- Punctuated Pounding: While the Doctor beats on one of the Daleks with a giant wrench.The Doctor: YOU! ARE! MY! ENEMY!
- Real Life Writes the Plot: One reason for the Dalek redesign was that the RTD Dalek props were built with Billie Piper's height in mind, so the new Daleks were built to match Matt Smith's height. Karen Gillan even says in the Confidential episode that they're taller than her.
- Refuge in Audacity:
- Holding a bunch of Daleks hostage with a biscuit and a line of bull.
- Daleks infiltrating Earth by painting themselves olive green and insisting they don't even know what Daleks are. Their entire plan even hinges on the Doctor inevitably showing up to try and foil their plans.
- Robotic Reveal: Bracewell getting his hand shot off shows his circuitry.
- Rule of Cool:
- Spitfires in space.
- The names of the new Daleks. Originally, Moffat and Gatiss didn't know which Dalek had what name, but dammit they sounded awesome.
- Sadistic Choice: Save the Daleks, save the world. Naturally, after being saved, the Daleks try to detonate their bomb anyway.
- Schizo Tech:
- Remote surveillance of the Dalek ship displayed on a black-and-white monitor, and obviously, 1941 Spitfires that fly in SPACE!
- The Daleks themselves pretend to be this in order to lure in the Doctor.
- Shoo Out the New Guy: The New Paradigm Daleks are reduced to brief appearances and then disappear after this episode. Later episodes would establish that the Daleks are unsealed from their can and have rebuilt their civilization, but the nature of the New Paradigm Daleks are never brought up.
- "Broadsword Calling Danny Boy", a reference to Where Eagles Dare.
- The Doctor says Bracewell's memories and personality was uploaded to a positronic brain.
- Bracewell's bomb could be a callback to "Impostor", a Philip K. Dick story adapted for Doctor Who creator Sydney Newman's sci-fi anthology Out of This World by Dalek creator Terry Nation in 1962.
- Bracewell's black glove? Definitely a shout out to another doctor.
- That whole Spitfires-in-space scene came across more than a little Star Wars to some reviewers... In particular, a scene that was in turn inspired by the movie The Dambusters.
- Also on Star Wars, Robotic Reveal by loss of a hand, later replaced with a classic Red Right Hand. Which makes approximately seven references in the first three episodes of the series.
- The climactic scene of Independence Day, in which a lone human aircraft takes on a large alien saucer-like spaceship.
- "If Hitler invaded Hell, I would make at least a favourable reference to the Devil."
- Amy, near the end of the episode, says to the Doctor: "So you have enemies?" This is part of a famous Churchill quote: "So, you have enemies? Good. That means you stood up for something once in your life."
- The Daleks' cover alias is as "Ironsides", which seems like a name shoutout to Michael Ironside, an actor whose best known roles are in sci-fi films.
- The shot towards the end where a group of British soldiers raise the Union flag is staged to look like an iconic photograph of US Marines raising the Stars and Stripes on Iwo Jima.
- Smoking Is Cool: Played with. Despite there being plenty of smokers in Britain at this time period, the only person we see smoking is Winston Churchill, the penultimate Big Good of the British in WWII. However, this is more to stay true to the character, as Winston was well known for enjoying quite a few cigars (and quite a few glasses of brandy, something not even shown here most likely for the sake of the kids), and it's considered one of the icons of his (especially wartime) visage. A bit of Fridge Brilliance takes place when the Doctor declines a cigar from Churchill after saving the Earth. At first it seems like an aversion of the Smoking Is Cool Trope, and while that is obviously the case, it also doubles as something else entirely. Cigars being shared is usually a sign of celebration, and while the Doctor DID save the Earth, he personally doesn't have much to celebrate considering the Daleks beat him with a Batman Gambit, only doubling the reasons why he'd not accept a cigar in these circumstances.
- Somebody Set Up Us the Bomb: Bracewell turns out to be a bomb, but the Doctor and Amy encourage his burgeoning humanity to deactivate the bomb.
- Space Is Noisy: Laser fire from the Dalek ship and the British Spitfires can be heard.
- Spoiler Title: The Daleks win this round; the title couldn't make this more clear. It's in the running for the worst example in the entire history of Doctor Who, at that.
- Stupid Jetpack Hitler: Inverted. Winston Churchill gets to use advanced alien weaponry against the Nazis.
- Tomato in the Mirror: The scientist, Bracewell, who didn't make the Daleks... the Daleks made him, an android. Another revelation exposes Bracewell to also be a bomb, which the Daleks threaten to detonate (and try anyway) to make the Doctor return to Earth. Turns out they made him too well; his self-awareness and genuine emotions turn out to be the key to stopping them from destroying the planet.
- Trailers Always Spoil:
- With a twist the Radio Times spoils new Daleks on a cover again. Unlike "Daleks in Manhattan", though, the new Daleks' cover appearance was explained away as the cover being themed around the 2010 British Electionsnote rather than them being an important development in the episode.
- Played straighter in a BBC news report which featured behind-the-scenes footage of the filming of the scene where the new Daleks are revealed the day before the episode actually aired.
- Unwitting Pawn: The Doctor falls for the Dalek plan twice throughout the entire episode, first by giving them the testimony they needed and again with the Bracewell bomb.
- It's a Winston Churchill episode... Although it's actually done by the Doctor, and he seems to use it to wave at people.
- Bracewell does it as well in his introduction.
- The War Room: The Cabinet War Rooms really existed during the Second World War, although they weren't used for fighter control (an old emergency bunker in Swansea was used for filming). They're open to the public and are pretty awesome.
- Wearing a Flag on Your Head: Two of the last three RTD Daleks have them in place of their usual identity tags.
- Weirdness Censor: Played with; the Doctor quickly asks Amy to fill Churchill in about the Daleks, only to find she has no memory of them or the whole "planets in the sky" incident. He's very disturbed by this, and at the end of the episode declares that they need to find out what's wrong with her memory. Later episodes imply that the events of that episode fell into a crack in time and got erased, averting this trope.
- Wham Line: The Doctor is preparing to take down the Dalek ship, stopping their genocidal campaign forever... and then the Daleks reveal their trump card:"Bracewell is a bomb!"
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Subverted. Though the Doctor says he's going to deactivate Bracewell, it's clear that it's I Have to Go Iron My Dog and he has no intention of doing so.
- Why Am I Ticking?: Bracewell is powered by an "oblivion continuum", a captured black hole that, if activated, will destroy the entire Earth.
- Worthy Opponent: The Daleks hold the Doctor in such high respect that a progenitor machine will take his word for it that genetically impure creatures are Daleks.
- Wrench Whack: The Doctor goes to town on one of the "Ironsides" with a wrench nearly as long as his leg.
- Wrong Genre Savvy:
- The Doctor initially thinks that Bracewell is a human who partnered with the Daleks. Makes sense, since he's seen humans partner with Daleks more than once.
- Amy assumes that the bomb will contain a Wire Dilemma, but her panicked babble just confuses the Doctor.
- Bracewell assumes the Doctor is there to deactivate him at the end because he's anachronistic. It takes him a while to catch on to the Doctor's mercy.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: The Daleks play an absolute blinder on the Doctor using the Doctor's knowledge of them to make the Progenitor spawn more Daleks. Then, when they're about to lose, they make Bracewell into a walking bomb by equipping him with an Oblivion Continuum; eventually he will go boom and take the Earth with him. They threaten to set him off, the Doctor scarpers off to deal with it, and, in the ensuing chaos, the Daleks decide the smart course of action is too not push their luck any further and get the ever loving hell out of there which is exactly what they do, with the only Dalek casualties being the old "impure" Daleks!
- The X of Y: "Victory of the Daleks".
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Played with. Once the new Daleks are born, their first action is to exterminate the three old Daleks due to not being pure enough. The three Daleks not only are aware this was gonna happen, but are perfectly OK with it.The Doctor: Blimey. What do you do to the ones who mess up?