And we are back with the first Doctor Who review of 2021, the New Year’s special “Revolution of the Daleks”! Spoilers are below, so just be aware.
Despite the title, the Daleks don’t do a whole lot of revolting in this episode. In fact, I’m not even sure what they’re supposed to be revolting against. It starts out with a flashback to the 2019 New Year’s special “Resolution” and the Reconnaissance Dalek. The Dalek itself is dead, but the notorious Jack Robertson from “Arachnids in the UK” decides to scavenge the debris. It isn’t long he gets Dalek-shaped robotic drones working, and the ambitious Jo Patterson, who has her eye on becoming Prime Minister, makes a deal with Robertson to begin rolling out the drones in England.
Footage of the Dalek drones leaks onto the internet, attracting the attention of Ryan, Yaz, and Graham. It’s been ten months since the Doctor disappeared, and while Yaz desperately searches for a way to find the Doctor, Ryan and Graham have more bleak outlooks. However, they all agree that the Doctor would want them to investigate the reappearance of the Daleks.
What about the Doctor? What’s been ten months for her companions has been twenty years for her, and it’s only thanks to Jack’s prison break that she manages to get out. And they’ve arrived just in time; the investigations into Robertson have hit a dead end. But it isn’t long before they discover that there are cloned Daleks specimens lurking in Japan–not of Robertson’s doing; the curious, clever Leo found the Reconnaissance Dalek’s organic remains and grew a clone. The clone then arranged for other clones to be produced that could take over the drone casings.
There are way too many Daleks for the Doctor to tackle on her own, so she does the next best thing–call on the original Daleks to come wipe out the cloned Daleks, knowing they will be outraged by the clones’ perceived impurities. And with the clones out of the way, it’s a simple task for the Doctor to trick the remaining Daleks into the spare TARDIS from the end of “The Timeless Children” and collapse it on itself, trapping the Daleks in the heart of the Void.
This is, of course, the episode where Graham and Ryan say goodbye, and I have to say that I’m surprised they both survived. I was honestly expecting someone to die a heroic death and the other to leave the TARDIS for a quieter life. But Ryan chooses to leave because he wants to help the Earth, and Graham goes with him because it wouldn’t be the same to travel the universe without his grandson. Yaz decides to stay because she isn’t ready to let go of the Doctor yet, and Jack is sticking around Earth and catching up with Gwen Cooper from his Torchwood days. At the end of the episode, they teased the introduction of a new companion, Dan, played by John Bishop, so we can assume he will be joining the Doctor and Yaz sometime during season 13.
This was a better episode than I had expected, but it still had some issues. There were a lot of times when the pacing just felt really slow, like there was too much dialogue and not enough action, and the Doctor seemed weirdly indifferent to Jack. It would seem like Jack was trying to reach out, but the Doctor was just like, “Hm, yeah, whatever.” It was so strange. But it was nice that Jack got more to do in this episode than he did in “Fugitive of the Judoon”.
Supposedly season 13 will air later this year, but that may change with some of the pandemic issues. We already know this season will be shorter because of the filming delays. But it should still be interesting to see what happens next. Allons-y!