The Doctor gets rescued by an old friend in time to confront an old enemy.
After the Scout Dalek was destroyed on New Year’s Day 2019, it was intercepted by agents of Jack Robertson (Chris Noth), the shady businessman from “Arachnids in the UK.” Robertson has the Dalek analyzed and repurposed into defense drones used to suppress riots along as part of a scheme with politician Jo Patterson (Harriet Waller). The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) is in prison since being caught by the Judoon, waiting for decades while trying to figure out who she really is. She is rescued by Jack Harkness (John f*cking Barrowman!) and returned to Earth, only to find out that it’s 10 months past when she left. In the interim, the Tardis Trio (Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole, Mandip Gill) have gotten upset at being left behind. They discover the Dalek threat just before the Doctor returns. At the same time, Robertson’s scientist Leo Rugazzi (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) grows a Dalek from the cells in the shell, only for it to take over his body and grow dozens of other Daleks. As the Doctor, Jack, and the Trio confront Robertson, they find out that the Daleks have taken over the defense drones and are taking over the UK. Hatching a plan, the Doctor summons another Dalek ship which destroys all of the cloned Daleks for being “impure.” The group then manages to destroy the Dalek ship and trap the Daleks in a spare imploding TARDIS. With the Earth safe, Ryan and Graham decide to stay behind and the Doctor and Yaz set off back into the stars.
This special was a bit of a surprise on a lot of levels, including both the presence of John Barrowman and the fact that it signaled the departure of Walsh and Cole from the series. Walsh was one of the better parts of the last two years of Doctor Who, so I’m curious how, or if, they’ll be able to replace him. It was also a surprise that they were able to finish filming it during Covid-19, but apparently part of it is that at least some of the shoot occurred before quarantine. Still, I’m impressed they got it out.
As far as the special goes, I actually thought it was well done. It managed to balance the Doctor’s more gentle philosophy over the last two series with the fact that Daleks generally cannot be reasoned with. As the Doctor is trying to figure out who she is following the events of the last season finale, she can focus on doing the thing that the Doctor does better than anyone in the universe: Beat the hell out of a shallow allegory for Nazism. This episode doesn’t really have the monologues that the previous Chibnail episodes relied on, but I think that is a helpful respite for both the characters and the audience. This episode comes at the end of an absolutely crap year and, frankly, I didn’t need a long morality speech. I wanted to see the Doctor trick a bunch of Daleks into being folded into a singularity and banished from reality. Chris Noth returning as the seemingly unkillable douchebag billionaire was just a nice bonus.
Overall, it didn’t do much to move the canon along, but it was a fairly entertaining hour and change. That’s all I wanted and that’ll do for now.
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