Victory of the Daleks was easily the biggest target of fan venom last year, mainly down to the divisive new technicolor Dalek design. Does the rest of the story hold up nearly a year on?
Upon rewatch, I was reminded of my main gripe with this episode the first time around: it’s a real waste of potential. The first 10 minutes of this episode, setting up a the dramatic irony of Churchill and the Brits using Daleks (or ‘Ironsides’) as part of the war effort, is very good, but it feels functional, like it has had the life cut and pasted out of it, and could have perhaps worked better given more time to breath, to build up the tension and the frustration because we all KNOW this isn’t going to end well. I understand the need for the 40-odd minute running length, but the pacing of this episode just feels off.
It is genuinely both creepy and funny to watch the Daleks as innocent soldiers. The “WOULD YOU LIKE SOME TEEEEAA” line is inspired, and their eagerness to serve rightly frustrates and frightens The Doctor, who thought they had been wiped out for good. It turns out, of course, that the Daleks had a plan, and were actually luring The Doctor in oder to get his ‘testament’, his voice telling them they are Daleks so that the Progenitor Device they have found will recognise them as Dalek. If a machine sees them as gentically impure, I’m not sure how the word of their enemy really helps, but I guess it’ll do as an explanation. Matt Smith really sells The Doctor’s frustration and anger at the Daleks’ deception. He does quiet anger very very well as well. It is so obvious to The Doctor, and clearly annoying that noone believes him, most worryingly Amy, who seems not to remember The Daleks despite their recent invasion in The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End, the season’s mystery beginning to weave its way into the storylines more overtly now. Again, I would have liked to have seen this tension play out for a little longer in this episode, building up to The Doctor accidentally giving the Daleks what they want, but I suppose it is kind of in character (and easier to fit into the schedule) if The Doctor goes head on into the argument and blows their cover quickly.
From here on we get a lot of posturing and exposition, and the story does feel somewhat lacking. The Doctor threatens the Daleks with a Jammy Dodger, they transform and stand around resplendant in their new robes. Why not just shoot him? Its all a bit convenient but at least these new Daleks get to introduce themselves before NOT MOVING AT ALL.
As a note on these new Daleks, I don’t really see why it matters. The Daleks haven’t been scary since Christopher Ecclestone’s era anyway, so a few bright colours is not going to tarnish too much in that department. A new design at least freshens them up and the idea of a ranking system could return some interesting developments further down the line.
In the end, they run away, fresh from a silly, but fun for the kids, Anti-Gravity Spitfire attack. The Dcotor decides, again, to save the humans, and the Daleks ‘victory’ in this episode is escaping, an intellectualy victory of knowing The Doctor would try and save the Earth.
But he doesn’t, not really. Once again, Amy steps in, exactly as in the last episode, and offers that bit of humanity The Doctor was lacking, to convince the android Bracewell that he is human. Again, quite how this stops the nuclear bomb inside him detonating is a little fuzzy. It is all Amy really does in this episode, and repeating the trick of The Beast Below is not particularly interesting.
All in all, this episode is a nice idea, but unlike Amy Pond, I remember Journey’s End and all the other modern Dalek stories, and it just seems too soon for them to be back, even in a cameo like this. I’d like to see them rested for a couple of years at least now, even with this new design.
FEZ SEZ: “A promising premise tarnished by a lack of action and pacing issues, but certainly not as bad as everyone says”
- Amy cannot remember the Dalek invasion, presumably as a result of the cracks erasing time
- We see another crack at the end of the episode