You know, I did not remember this episode at all. The only bit I could recall ahead of viewing was that Rose touched the Dalek and that’s when all hell broke loose. Otherwise, the rest was a blank. Sometimes those are the best ones! Sometimes.
The concept of an alien museum is so good. I wish we had one of those. Actually, if the Doctor ever gave up his time-travelling ways, he could make a killing in the museum business. I can’t imagine the stuff he’s got hidden away in that TARDIS.
Clearly the American guy is not at all nice, and was bound to get his comeuppance in the end, but is it wrong that I liked him just a little bit? When banishing someone he said to drop him by the road “somewhere beginning with M.” As we have seen with my Life in the Fast Lane characters, M is my favourite letter! That is pretty much the extent of the like, actually. Other than that he was pretty evil, tortured things just because he felt like it, and even scanned the Doctor with the idea of selling on the concept of two hearts. Or, at least, that’s what I understood from that little sequence.
Anyway, this episode is not really about that man. It’s all about the Doctor coming face to face with a Dalek for the first time since the Great Time War. When he sees it, the range of emotions he runs through is quite incredible. First you can tell he is terrified, then a bit baffled at the possibility of a Dalek existing, and then when the Dalek can’t exterminate him, he goes a bit mental with happiness. One Doctor, one Dalek, they’re both alone in the universe. There’s symmetry there, but the Doctor is having none of it.
Meanwhile, Rose is cosying up to Todd from Coronation Street, who is really just playing at the alien stuff. He believes in it all, but doesn’t know the full extent. When he shows her the video of the Dalek being tortured, she immediately goes down there to sort it out. Even though the Doctor shows no compassion for the creature, she does. I always think it’s silly that Rose touches the Dalek, but that’s only because it goes wrong. In any other situation, it would be the appropriate thing to do. In this case, she soon learns her lesson.
I like the torturer guy saying “What are you gonna do? Sucker me to death?” If the Dalek was more human, it would say “Erm, yes actually.”
It’s good that the stairs thing was debunked straight away. In this modern era of Doctor Who, it would be hard to construct good stories if all you had to do was run up stairs to get away from the enemy. I’m sure that Rose and Todd were poking fun at the old stories a little, but it seemed odd to me that you would immediately think stairs were the answer. She’s seen quite a lot in her short time with the Doctor, and if I’m running away from a great big alien machine with a sucker on, I would probably assume it had a method of getting up the stairs. In either case, I wouldn’t wait to find out! (As an aside, the CGI was pretty poor when the Dalek started hovering. As the big mythbusting moment, it lost some of its edge.)
There are two important things the Dalek does. Firstly, it really ups the creepiness factor, when it just sits/stands(?) there in the midst of a shower of bullets. The best horror stories have enemies that are not rushed, that take their time and calmly make their way to you. They don’t even have to hide, they are happy to just stare you down.
Equally, they tell the Doctor that he would make a good Dalek. Like the moment when Donna tells him he can stop in that giant spider episode, it’s a moment where the Doctor learns something. He takes it on board, he’s put back in check, he’s a good guy again.
It all got a bit philosophical after that. The Dalek started feeling emotions, even recognising that the Doctor loves Rose far before he acknowledges something like that. It doesn’t kill Rose, which was quite obvious because of all the “it knows me” stuff. It has an identity crisis and just wants to see the sun, at which point it starts leaking gloopy stuff. I didn’t really like that bit.
In the end, the Dalek is gone, the museum is going to shut down, and Todd from Corrie gets an invite onto the TARDIS because he is pretty. An important episode to reintroduce the Doctor’s biggest nemesis, but certainly not the best.