Doctor Who: Victory of the Daleks
(1 episode, s05e03, 2010)
Subversively, this story is literally what it says on the tin.
The time is World War II. Winston Churchill enters the Cabinet War Rooms and asks about the status of incoming enemy planes. When advised that they are out of conventional range, he decides to roll out his secret weapon. He pushes a miniature Dalek forward on the map board.
The TARDIS materializes soon afterward and is immediately surrounded by soldiers. The Doctor and Amy are greeted by Churchill, responding to his summons. The TARDIS is a month late, but that’s okay even though the time capsule is a bit inaccurate.
Churchill is amazed that the Doctor has changed faces again (even though we’ve never met him before). Amy is amazed at being in the nerve center of London’s war effort. They go to the roof and gaze upon the city, stunned by the sight of history and appalled at the revelation that Churchill is using Daleks to fight the Germans. The Doctor is brought face-to-face with an Army-green, Union Jack-sporting, obedient Dalek, known here as an Ironside.
The Doctor tries to convince Churchill to back down from employing the weapons, but Churchill is convinced that the machines will win the war. Churchill believes that they were invented by Professor Edwin Bracewell, and when the Doctor asks Amy to recall the events of the 2009 Dalek invasion, she tells the Doctor that she has no idea what he’s talking about.
Churchill is not swayed – “If Hitler invaded Hell, I would give a favorable reference to the Devil. These machines are our salvation.” – so, when the all-clear alarm sounds, the Doctor decides to visit Bracewell. He asks Bracewell how he developed them, and the professor explains that the ideas just come to him. A Dalek serves tea, spurring the Doctor into anger. He tries to provoke the Dalek into attacking him, channeling his anger and fury into the effort, but is unsuccessful at first. When he reveals himself as the Doctor, the Daleks finally drop the charade.
They transmit the Doctor’s identity to a saucer on the far side of the Moon. Two soldiers attempt to stop the Daleks but are promptly exterminated. Bracewell tries to reason with them but has his hand shot off, revealing that the professor is an android that they created. The Daleks declare victory and transmat to their ship. The Doctor’s testimony is now powering some kind of progenitor.
The Doctor leaves Amy with Churchill and takes the TARDIS to the Dalek ship, claiming to have a self-destruct sequence on a dead man’s switch. It’s really a Jammy Dodger, but it fools the Daleks for the time being. The Daleks reveal that one ship survived their last encounter with the Doctor and the ship located a progenitor device containing pure Dalek DNA. The three Daleks on the ship were created from Davros’ cells, so the progenitor would not recognize them since they are not pure Daleks. As a backup, however, if it detected the Doctor nearby, it would activate.
Forcing a stalemate, the Daleks remotely switch on the lights in London, turning it into a giant target for the German air forces. They all watch as a new Dalek paradigm is born with multi-color Daleks born from pure DNA. Soon after birth, the new Daleks use maximum extermination against the inferior Daleks. When they turn on the Doctor, he brandishes his Jammy Dodger again.
Amy and Churchill realize that they have a way to help. They visit Bracewell, who is threatening suicide since he believes that his entire life is a lie. Amy talks him out of it and convinces him to help save London. Bracewell theorizes that he could send a weapon into space with his gravity bubble technology. Churchill scrambles three Spitfires – Jubilee, Flintlock, and Danny Boy – to assist just as the Daleks figure out the Jammy Dodger ruse.
The Daleks take out Jubilee and Flintlock. The Doctor is forced back into the TARDIS, which proves advantageous as he is able to disrupt the Dalek ship’s shields long enough for the Spitfire to destroy the transmission dish. With London safe, the Doctor dispatches Danny Boy to destroy the ship, but the Daleks reveal that Bracewell is a bomb ready to destroy the planet if the Doctor does not let them survive.
The Doctor reluctantly lets them leave, but they activate the bomb’s timer on their way out. The Doctor returns to Earth and reveals the bomb. The Doctor realizes that the professor’s human memories, particularly the emotions behind them, have the power to stop the countdown. Unfortunately, it fails.
Amy tries another tactic: She asks if he’s ever fancied someone that he shouldn’t. She asks him to remember the pain of a woman named Dorabella and how beautiful she was. The emotion disables the oblivion continuum bomb, but the Doctor is too late to stop the Daleks from leaving.
The Doctor is distraught even in victory. Meanwhile, Bracewell has lost his access to new futuristic ideas and the Doctor has stripped it out of the headquarters. The Doctor hugs Churchill and Amy bids him farewell, but demands the TARDIS key back before they go. Churchill, it seems, has sticky fingers.
Before they leave, the Doctor and Amy visit Bracewell. The professor is certain that they’ve come to deactivate him, but they have no intention of doing so. They recommend that he go find Dorabella or some of the places in his memories, and as they leave, Bracewell starts packing.
Off to the TARDIS go the Doctor and Pond, but the Doctor is still perplexed at how Amy cannot recall the Battle of Canary Wharf or the War in the Medusa Cascade. Regardless, they board the TARDIS and depart, leaving behind the menacing crack in the wall.
I really appreciate the double meaning of this story’s title. On the one hand, it plays well off the allied propaganda from World War II, but on the other hand, the title is quite literal: In a rare move for the franchise, the Daleks actually win by achieving a major goal.
These new Daleks, which will become known as the Paradigm Daleks, are vastly different than the Skaro Daleks (1963-1975), the Renegade-Imperial Civil War Daleks (1975-2005), and the Time War Daleks (2005-2010). They also (at this point) also retcon (establish a retroactive continuity) about the Daleks, effectively erasing the Daleks from the Time War forward except for the Doctor’s memories. What’s not entirely clear is where the Ironsides Daleks come from. Are they part of the army from the human-Dalek hybrids (which tie back to the Imperial Daleks, and therefore, Davros), or are they survivors of the New Dalek Empire? It is implied that they were part of the War in the Medusa Cascade, but it’s not definitive.
The effect is quite literal as Steven Moffat destroys the Dalek legacy created by Russell T Davies. I know that many fans despise the redesign, but I don’t mind them that much. They are definitely more chunky than every other previous Dalek design, but the most garish design factor is the rainbow coloring. In the classic era, Daleks stuck to the standards of grays, blacks, whites, golds, and light blues. In the first five years of the modern era, they went to grays, blacks, and bronzes.
The Skittles variety is a major culture shock.
It’s also worth noting here that this is not the first time that the Doctor has considered exchanging the Earth for the complete destruction of his worst enemy (The Parting of the Ways), which also links to the Doctor’s fury at the first time the Ninth Doctor encountered one of them (Dalek).
Lastly, the Daleks didn’t seem to recognize the Doctor with his eleventh face. In The Power of the Daleks, the Doctor mentioned that they always manage to recognize him. The recognition files seem to not work in certain cases, like the Renegade Daleks being dumbfounded over the Sixth Doctor (Revelation of the Daleks) and the Cult of Skaro not recognizing the Tenth Doctor (Doomsday). So, this matches with previous events, but the connection is not entirely clear.
Moving to the more humorous, the absurdity of Royal Air Force Spitfires engaged in space combat made me laugh. I also loved how dedicated the Ironside Daleks were to the ruse, from serving tea to waiting so very long for the Doctor to arrive. Quite frankly, they deserve their victory despite the ramifications for the universe going forward.
One thing is certainly clear: The Daleks just got less scrappy and a whole lot more menacing again.
(Thanks to The Doctor Who Site for their visual reference guide to the different Dalek types.)
Rating: 4/5 – “Would you care for a jelly baby?”
The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.