The Golden Emperor and his Dalek army go on the run in an episode of DALEKS! that forces them to face their failure
The Time Lord Victorious animated series DALEKS! continues with the Doctor Who monster we most love to hate abandoning their usual “CONQUER AND DESTROY!” mantra for a more Monty Pythonesque “RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY!” Last week the Dalek Golden Emperor and his entourage laid siege to the Archive of Islos, only to be denied their prize at the last moment. However second episode Sentinel of the Fifth Galaxy doesn’t follow their further attempts to discover where the Archive was sent. Rather it’s an extended chase sequence as the mysterious entity summoned by Islos (dubbed, with typical Dalek imagination ‘The Entity’) wipes out every Dalek in its path.
Sentinel of the Fifth Galaxy is at its strongest as a surprising Dalekcentric character piece
Placing the Daleks so firmly on the back foot (rear anti-grav generator?) is a unique spin. It’s one which helps make Sentinel of the Fifth Galaxy distinct from Dalek stories in Doctor Who. And it opens an interesting window into the personalities of these new Daleks. Each has their own distinct reactions to this turn of events. Most surprisingly, it exposes the Emperor itself as a bit of an empty suit. For all its bombast and arrogance, maybe even because of its bombast and arrogance, it’s almost incapable of understanding, much less dealing with, this turn of events. At one point it’s effectively paralyzed by terror and indecision in front of its bridge crew. The Strategist eventually stepping to rescue it by issuing orders in its stead.
And the Strategist also has an unexpected side to its character revealed by the retreat from the Entity. Its loyalty and devotion to the Emperor is so absolute as to be unconditional. Faced with the choice between saving the Daleks from the Entity and remaining loyal to the Emperor, it refuses to betray its shiny leader. It’s almost… suspicious.
The battle sequences of vast Dalek armies engaging the Entity, and each other, remain the animation’s Achilles’ Heel
Apart from this insight into the Dalek mindset Sentinel of the Fifth Galaxy leans into the weaknesses of the format. The serialized format of ten minute chunks means that not an awful lot actually happens this week. The Daleks run away, pause for breath, run away again, try to come up with some sort of plan, and instead run away some more. Indeed, most of the episode is little more than an extended pitched battle with the Entity. This also means many more of the action sequences that were the sole weak spot in the first episode.
One sequence of two rival Dalek armies turning the skies neon with their exchange of firepower is particularly bewildering. While also suggesting the Daleks may be the one force in the universe that can make Star Wars’ stormtroopers feel good about themselves, as neither Dalek force seems to hit a damn thing. And while we can’t lose sight of the fact that this is a free animation heroically created on a tiny budget, it’s clearly at its strongest when concentrating on the machinations of the Daleks themselves.
Feeling distinctly like a ten minute slice out of a longer episode, Sentinel of the Fifth Galaxy is less satisfying in its own right than The Archive of Islos. That said, it only increases Blogtor Who’s eagerness to see the entire fifty minute DALEKS! adventure again in a few weeks. And, as the plot progresses, more of the trademark deviousness of the iconic Doctor Who baddies should emerge to balance the action.
More Dalek action is coming our way next week, as Doctor Who: Time Lord Victorious continues…
Episode Three of DALEKS! will be out on YouTube next week. But subscribers to the official Doctor Who newsletter will get access early. Can the Entity be defeated? Will the Dalek Emperor succeed in leading its troops to victory?
Meanwhile, you can keep track of everything tying into Time Lord Victorious, what’s out next, and all of Blogtor Who’s reviews of the adventure so far on our Time Lord Victorious Master List page.