Well, it’s just been on of those days, you know? By which I mean, it’s Monday. And I’ve spent the last fifteen minutes distracting a restless Nick with shiny things, which led to this monologue:
ME: Honey, why don’t you have some brandy? Oh. Is that the only soft drink we have? Don’t we have any lemonade? Well, what’s that? Citrus flavour? Well, it’s brandy—how bad can it be?
Then we started singing, “Brandy, brandy, brandy, I can’t let you go.”
Then we had the following conversation:
NICK: What’s wrong?!
ME: It’s all right. It’s not an insect.
ME: No. It’s a Ferrero Rocher wrapper.
NICK: Oh. Well, they are quite similar. They’re both brown.
ME: Yes. And . . . crunchy.
Actually, maybe there’s more to this than it simply being Monday. It has been rather warm and muggy the last couple of days, so I’ve barely slept. That might be it.
Perhaps I should just wait until the actual episode starts, shall I?
Okay, I’m back and being more sensible now. I have finished my brandy, though, and I didn’t care much for this episode last time around, so we’ll see how long I can continue to behave myself.
We begin with a recap of last week’s episode, complete with hysterical Daleks with a deadline, and the disturbing/improbable human-Dalek hybrid.
We come straight back into the episode with the human Dalek saying that all the intelligent humans (as they were divided last week) will all be hybridised. But then the Doctor leaps out and taunts the Daleks a little: it seems they managed an “emergency temporal shift” to the 1930s, which, as the Doctor points out, must have burned up their power cells. As he says, at one time, four Daleks could have taken over the world.
(But, just quietly, that’s mainly because the props are so extremely expensive in the pre-CGI days.)
The Doctor asks Dalek Sek, the human Dalek, what he thinks of humanity, but becomes frustrated by Sek’s insistence that humanity is, at its heart, quite Dalek. So he makes his radio—remember he was carrying a radio?—make a hideous noise, and they all leg it.
They’re pursued by Daleks and pig slaves, but, though they meet up with Tallulah as they flee, there’s no sign of Laszlo.
The humans escape via the ladders, which the Daleks cannot ascend.
Then two Daleks discuss their doubts about Dalek Sek, and this scene has my favourite bit in the entire series—when the first Dalek asks if the second Dalek has doubts, the second Dalek carefully swivels his head to check his boss isn’t behind him, before saying, “Affirmative.”
Love it. It’s so . . . human.
Back in Hooverville, the Doctor tells everyone they have to flee, because they’re basically breeding stock. But it’s too late: the Daleks and their pig slaves are already coming.
Thank goodness for the Second Amendment, because this is one well-armed camp of extremely impoverished people. You’d think that those rifles might have been worth selling, wouldn’t you?
Still, the rifles won’t do any good against Daleks, and that’s what we’re facing now: first pig slaves, herding everyone back into the camp, and then the flying Daleks.
Solomon steps forward to talk to the Daleks, despite the Doctor telling him to stop. Oh, this never goes well.
Dalek Sek admires Solomon’s courage, as Solomon says that, underneath, they’re all kin: they’re all outcasts. He speaks to them about his new knowledge about the breadth of the universe, and how it gives him hope for a better tomorrow. And he begs them, if they have any compassion, to meet with him, and stop this fight.
Of course, they exterminate him.
The Doctor then steps forward, demanding that the Daleks kill him, if it will stop them killing these people. And one of the Daleks is absolutely willing to exterminate the Doctor—which, from a Dalek perspective, makes perfect sense—but Sek steps in and says no: he wants the Doctor alive.
Behind Sek, all the other Daleks are swivelling their heads towards him, as though to say, “You what?”
The Doctor convinces the Daleks to spare the humans, and Sek tells them to obey the Doctor. We don’t see it, but I imagine that there are some “You what?” head swivels behind him at that point.
And, indeed, the other Daleks are getting a little stroppy with Sek: his argument that the Doctor is a “genius” and they can use him sounds a little thin, even to me.
Before he leaves, the Doctor gives Martha the psychic paper (with what sounds like an Elvis impersonation, but I might be wrong about that), but she doesn’t know what to do with it.
Back at Dalek HQ, the Doctor attacks the Daleks for killing people—and Nick points out that it’s odd that the Doctor is always so affronted when the Daleks kill people. I mean, sure: he doesn’t like killing, but these are Daleks. That’s what they do. And he knows that. And he’s committed genocide against them once (well, once at this stage), and attempted it on at least three other occasions, so why is he always so bewildered?
Sek is explaining to the Doctor that humans are the greatest resource on this planet—and he flips the lights to show dozens, maybe hundreds or thousands, of “empty” humans, ready to be filled with new Dalek ideas.
(As Sek explains his ideas to the Doctor, we see some more “You what?” head swivels from the rest of the Cult of Skaro.)
Back at Hooverville, Martha remembers that the Daleks were talking about the energy conductor, and she wonders where it might possibly be? So she asks poor young Frank from Tennessee, who has been hit pretty hard by Solomon’s death, and he points out that most of them were working on the Empire State Building.
Ah, technobabble! How I have missed thee! Let’s leave what they’re saying at this: what the Daleks are planning is especially impossible. And involves a giant solar flare. And the Empire State Building.
Dalek Sek questions Davros’s original plan for the supremacy of the Daleks—and we’re well past the “You what?” head gestures here, as the rest of the Cult of Skaro leap forward and say, no: Daleks are supreme.
But Sek says no: he wants them to evolve and change. Think, he says, of where they are now: skulking in the sewers, only four of them left in the universe. He says that if they don’t change now, they deserve to become extinct.
The Doctor taunts the Cult of Skaro, and they say, yes: they’ll support Sek, because Daleks must follow orders. The Doctor tries to argue, but Sek says he can take the new race of Daleks to a new planet, where they can start over. And the Doctor agrees, since he already knows that the “empty” humans can’t be brought back to their humanity.
Martha, Frank, and Tallulah are up on the top floor of the Empire State Building, trying to figure out what the Daleks are planning on doing with the building. Tallulah wanders off and rhapsodises about New York City.
Back in Dalek HQ, the Doctor, helping the Daleks, learns that the pig slaves only have a life span of a few weeks, and he tells Laszlo that he can’t reverse what’s been done to him.
Ah, there’s the obligatory “the Doctor is a medical doctor” joke.
Tallulah chats about what a great partnership the Doctor and Martha would be, and how the Doctor is different. Martha tells her that she has no idea how different he is, and Tallulah says, “He’s a man, honey. That’s different enough.”
In context, that makes absolutely no sense. “You’d be a great partnership, if only he weren’t so different, but then he’d always be different, because he’s a man.” Nope: still can’t figure that out.
Tallulah also rants against the Daleks for taking Laszlo away from her.
The Doctor helps the Daleks, while Martha and Tallulah figure out that the Daleks have added the Dalek bumps to the Empire State Building tower.
But finally, finally, the Daleks turn against Dalek Sek. That’s what happens, sadly, when you attempt to make yourself a hybrid creature and retain control over a psychotically xenophobic species.
Nevertheless, the Daleks have over-ridden the “gene feed”—meaning, in terms of the technobabble, that the new “empty” humans will not be brought to life with Sek’s blend of human and Dalek genes, but with pure Dalek genes.
With the help of Laszlo, the Doctor legs it, and heads up to Martha.
SEK: You have betrayed me.
OTHER DALEK: You told us to imagine. And we imagined your irrelevance.
It’s almost impossible to write bad dialogue for Daleks, isn’t it?
The Doctor, telling Martha that she needs to stay and fight, climbs up to the mast of the building to remove the Dalek bumps.
Apparently, the pig slaves are trained to “slit your throats with their bare teeth.” “Bare teeth”? Is that even a thing?
The pig slaves are heading up in the elevator, bopping quietly along to the elevator music, as Martha figures out that they can use the lightning as a weapon, if they create a metal pathway between the lightning—how can they predict where it’s going to strike?—and the elevator.
Meanwhile, the Doctor dropped his sonic screwdriver. He is remarkably careless with that thing, you know. So in the absence of any practical tools, he wraps himself around the mast, while Martha et. al. brutally slaughter some hapless pig slaves.
The Daleks’ human (well, humanish) army wakes up.
Martha, having brutally slaughtered some pig slaves, experiences a crisis of conscience, but it doesn’t last long, and she dashes outside to find the Doctor.
The remaining Daleks are checking that their army really think they’re Daleks, and then arming them, and sending them out to take over Manhattan.
Martha wakes the Doctor up—wow, two hearts come in handy—and gives him back his sonic screwdriver. But he didn’t manage to get all the Dalek bumps off, so I wonder what that will mean for the Daleks’ master plan?
Sek is chained up against the wall. I wonder—not that it’s highly relevant—whether the Daleks brought their own manacles with them, just in case, or whether they just found some lying around in the sewers?
The Daleks, the Doctor points out, are on a war footing, and using the sewer system to spread their foot soldiers around the city. But, he says, the “gamma strike” went through him first. Martha asks what that means, and Nick tells her it’s gibberish. I don’t think she heard him, though.
The Doctor activates his sonic screwdriver, telling the Daleks where he is, which is in Tallulah’s theatre. And the human foot soldiers come in first, followed by the Daleks, who have Dalek Sek crawling in chains before them.
Nick and I have long considered writing a joint paper on the theatricality of Doctor Who, and this is yet another example of this: the two Daleks on stage with Sek between them, as the Doctor stands on the red-velvet seats and talks to them across the footlights.
The Doctor taunts the Daleks with their humiliation of Dalek Sek, and they threaten to exterminate the Doctor—but Sek leaps in front of them and is killed.
The Doctor maneuvers the Daleks to the point where they agree to let the human Daleks kill the Doctor, but they revolt. When the Daleks give orders, the human Daleks say, “But why? But why?”, which freaks me out a little, because that’s what I always say to my students when I want them to give me the reasoning or rule behind something that they say.
But the human Daleks exterminate the two Daleks on stage—and, oddly, it never occurred to the Doctor that the Daleks might have built a destruct switch into their human Daleks, so he’s horrified and surprised when they all die.
He start ranting about genocide, but I ignore him, because—well, see my comments above about the Doctor and genocide.
All that’s left is Dalek Khan, down in the basement, controlling the battle. He tells the Doctor that he will be exterminated, but the Doctor says Khan should let him, the Doctor, show some compassion and help Khan.
But Khan’s having none of it, and he activates an “emergency temporal shift.”
Now here come Martha and Tallulah, carrying Laszlo with them. He’s dying, but Tallulah asks the Doctor if he can’t help. And the Doctor says “Just you watch me.” This is the tenth Doctor’s equivalent of the ninth Doctor’s “just this once, Rose, everybody lives!” speech at the end of “The Doctor Dances” in season one—though I preferred that one.
And Laszlo finds a home in Hooverville, despite the fact that he’s a pig-slave-mutant-Dalek-hybrid, to use the Doctor’s term.
And Martha and the Doctor leave, with the Doctor’s insistence that, yes, he’ll see the Dalek again. One day.
Next week, we’re back in London with Martha’s family.
[Tonight’s interesting live-blogging trivia: despite fewer typing errors than usual—and no, that’s not a challenge, so stop looking for them!—I must have typed “Doctor” as “Dalek” at least fifteen times while blogging this, though I caught it all but once. I’m assuming that’s a Freudian slip.]