RECAP & REVIEW: Doctor Who – ‘Resolution’ (New Year’s Special)

So What Happened?

On New Year’s Day 2019, two archaeologists called Lin and Mitch unwittingly unearth one third of an alien being; the product of warring human factions coming together to fight  in the 9th Century against a seemingly insurmountable foe and chopping the creature into three pieces. Whilst two of the said pieces were successfully taken to far-flung corners of the Earth to be watched over by guardians and their ancestors, the last piece was left to be uncovered in modern day Sheffield when it’s own overseer was killed. When the archaeologists leave the ‘artefact’ under UV light, the mysterious creature summons the other two pieces of itself from their burial sites around the globe and makes itself whole again.

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Thirteen (Jodie Whittaker), Ryan (Tosin Cole), Mitch (Nikesh Patel) and Lin (Charlotte Ritchie) searching for the whereabouts of the mysterious creature.

It’s whilst The Doctor and her friends are watching firework displays from various eras and planets that she’s alerted to this threatening alien presence by the TARDIS. They then travel to the underground dig site and meet with Lin and Mitch, the former of whom has just seen a squid-like creature on the wall of the underground site. When Thirteen goes to investigate, she only finds a blob of slime there, and unbeknown to the rest of the group, the creature has attached itself to Lin and taken control of her mind and body.

Heading back to Graham’s home, The Doctor and her companions’ discussions about how to proceed are interrupted when Aaron, Ryan’s father, turns up at the house wishing to make amends for not being there for his son, particularly after Grace’s death. As the father and son go to a local cafe to talk, Yaz and Thirteen track and follow the alien which has coerced Lin into attacking police officers and stealing a uniform and their car; coming to realise after tests that the creature is in fact a scout Dalek. It uses Lin to take it to an archive base where it kills a security guard and scans his fingerprints to access the vault where a ray gun is stored, soon after travelling to a rural warehouse where it forcibly accesses the scrap metal there to construct a makeshift Dalek casing. Afterwards, a freed Lin is found by The Doctor, but the newly retooled Dalek had fled to GCHQ to access it’s communication systems to summon the rest of its species in order to attack and conquer Earth, decimating a military patrol and murdering staff members in the process.

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The Scout Dalek taking control of Aaron (Daniel Adegboyega), Ryan’s father.

The Doctor, her friends, Aaron and the two archaeologists confront the creature, and scupper its chances of making contact with the Dalek fleet, at the same time as destroying the newly crafted casing. In retaliation, it attaches itself to Aaron and states it will kill him unless Thirteen takes him to his home planet, Skaro. She appears to agree, but instead uses the TARDIS to transport them to a supernova. Just in the nick of time, Ryan saves his Dad as the Dalek is pulled into the exploding star.

 

Monster of the Week

Danielle: More powerful and more streamlined than your bog-standard Dalek, ‘Resolution’ introduced to us the ‘Scout Dalek’, a squid-like alien from Skaros whose mission it was over a thousand years ago to infiltrate Earth, before sending for the main fleet. Human determination and co-operation prevented that at the time, but it was still able to reanimate itself hundreds of years later. Impressive!

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The Scout Dalek in its more recognisable form.

 

Marieke: EX-TER-MI-NAAAAAAAAAATE. There truly isn’t a more recognisable Who villain catchphrase, is there? The rumours online were true and the Daleks were missing from the episode title, because the fact they were going to be part of this series had to be kept quiet. We see only one trying to recreate itself. The dormant Dalek octo-jellyfish hybrid thing did need very specific light to wake up, but let’s not get hung up on that detail. It was a nice new way to introduce Daleks as the Earth and human destroying creatures they are. Also, who knew they were so excellent at DIY? The Doc is not the only one who can build things from scratch! (Nice parallel, by the way!)

 

Creep Factor

Danielle: There is something pretty damn creepy about a giant squid jumping on your back and taking control of your mind and body. It’s funny how that creepiness melts away when it encases itself in a glorified tin can, even if it does house a deadly ray gun and missiles.

Marieke: Seriously, WHY would you want to touch something slimy on the wall??? WHY? The shell-less Dalek looked enormously creepy and the idea of being able to control and take over bodies added to that. If it hadn’t been clear it would become a fully-formed Dalek eventually, it would have been a lot creepier. Also, why do they need their Dalek costumes… Just multiply and take over important humans and have mankind destroy each other… Although the Dalek ego probably prevents them from not doing it themselves. Come to think of it, has anyone checked Trump’s back lately?

 

Mystery

Danielle: The main mystery was of course the identity of the body snatching, mutant Dalek, apparently unrecognisable to The Doctor. (Is it really feasible that she’d be so clueless after so many encounters with her archenemies?) We also finally got to meet Ryan’s father, Aaron, after his conspicuous absence throughout Series 11.

Marieke: The ‘EXTERMINATE’ at the end of the trailer gave it away already, so the giant booger with limbs being a Dalek was not that much of a surprise. Perhaps the bigger question was why Ryan’s Dad had to be dragged into this episode? (Hint: dramatic conclusion which was not that dramatic). Maybe the mystery was that the Dalek was so rusty (har har) that it did not immediately picked up on the Doctor’s two hearts. That took it a few seconds too long!

 

Scene of the Episode

Danielle: I must admit, I did enjoy the scene where Ryan re-acquainted himself with his Dad in the cafe. Tosin Cole played the young man’s ambivalence at his father’s unexpected return really well. I also rather liked the historical montage that set up the presence of the mutated Dalek on the planet. It added some gravitas to the urgency of the alien threat.

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The Doctor facing down her nemesis. 

Marieke: It should have been the Dalek reveal, but since that was a given, it did not have the impact it could have had. I guess The Doctor finally meeting the Dalek in its true form and the mutual recognition was important, as it seemed to have a big effect on The Doctor. She needed her nemesis to truly become herself it seems.

 

The Verdict

Danielle: As a rule, when the decision is made to cut out the title sequence from the show you’re watching, you can almost guarantee that it’s going to be a ‘big’ episode. That was certainly the case with this special, which opted to bring back the definitive Who villain after a run of uninspired monsters and a lacklustre series finale. That said, this Dalek return wasn’t without issues. Although this parasitic iteration of the species was suitably introduced and entertainingly sinister, ironically, things really fell apart when it rebuilt its metal outer casing. It’s hard to see something as a real threat when, thanks to rusty bodywork, you suspect you could defeat it with a well-placed kick or a tin opener, in spite of the military grade weapons. The decision to feature such a ramshackle specimen was just as silly in its own way as Moffat’s introducing the Disco Daleks at the start of his own tenure. It added little to show’s mythology regarding The Doctor’s greatest enemy, and in all honesty, the creature was more effective as an antagonist in its squid form than it was when it cobbled together the appearance that we know all too well. In short, did the return of a familiar foe add much to the episode? Not really. Neither did the frankly baffling presence of that toe-curlingly awkward family who were forced to interact after all their technology went down. (What the hell was that?!)

In terms of where we stand with Thirteen and her companions, it was a nice touch to see things come full circle after Ryan’s loss of his grandmother at the start of Series 11, only for him to reconcile with his absent father here. However, Yaz continues to be effectively missing in action as she slides behind Graham and Ryan’s family drama. Even Jodie Whittaker is failing to make her Doctor shine under the weight of fairly pedestrian material. What ‘Resolution’ serves to prove is that even if all the necessary pieces of the puzzle are there, it doesn’t always mean it’ll make a pretty, or wholly engaging, picture.

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Yasmin (Mandip Gill) continues to fade into the background.

Marieke: This worked a lot better as the series finale than the actual last episode of the series. It is a little poor that the Daleks were needed, at the same time it shows the impact they have on the show and the Doctor. The whole waiting on Earth to be revived bit was a nice Trojan change from the usual ‘let’s conquer and destroy Earth’ story line. However, it is a shame that squishy Dalek was eventually so much more scarier than the metallic version, even though the latter is supposed to be deadlier. There is nothing more terrifying than the idea of losing control over yourself though, right?

The episode was not the strongest, but it was exactly what The Doctor needed. I felt Ryan’s long lost dad was dragged on a bit, with his microwave solution tacked on to have a purpose within Team TARDIS. I was convinced he would redeem himself through death, but I guess that was too dark for a New Year’s Day special. Graham still outshines the most of the team, although Ryan’s speech to his Dad was heartfelt and memorable as well. Oh and Yaz was there too. She took the archaeologists to safety I think, missing out on the new backpack Lin was wearing. Gonna need a keener eye as a policewoman, Yaz! (AKA still underused as a character, FFS!). It was a very watchable episode, just without any real surprises. Nevertheless, it was a bit of a fresh take on Dalek threats, which was nice to see. I guess it could have been better, and in a way that notion is fitting to this series as a whole: it could have been better.

Our Fezzy Score:  rsz_fuzzy_fezrsz_fuzzy_fezrsz_fuzzy_fez

What did you think of ‘Resolution’? Let us know in the comments…

 

 

 

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