It is fair to that series 11 was a mixed bag with many high points and some low ones. But perhaps one of the more disappointing episodes was The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos. It didn’t match the grandeur that fans had come to expect from a series finale. Thankfully, Doctor Who: Resolution is different. It was something, we all have been waiting for – the Doctor in battle with her fiercest enemy, the Daleks. And battle she did in this 60-minute epic event that should rightly be considered the actual finale of the Thirteenth’s Doctor first series.
The episode started without open credits and while their absence permitted the production team to extend the story to fill the full hour, the beautiful vortex scenes and Segun Akinola’s variation of the Doctor Who have been one of the delights of this series. Resolution immediately jumped into the tale of a great battle from 9th century Earth when all of humanity banned together to defeat an unbeatable foe. How a band of humans carrying swords and shields with ne’er a Time Lord in sight, beat the most dangerous creature in the universe isn’t apparent, but we’ll let that that go for story sake. Needless to say, the medieval humans were intelligent enough to scatter the Dalek’s body across Earth to prevent its return. All the pieces were buried and protected except for one section that was lost in the North-East of England.
Fast forward 11 centuries and cue the archaeologists, Mitch (Nikesh Patel) and Lin (Charlotte Ritchie) o are excavating the sewers of Sheffield and of course, uncover the Dalek. A portion of the organic body of a Dalek to be entirely accurate. Meanwhile, the Doctor and her fam are jolted out of their New Year’s Eve celebrations by the TARDIS warning system indicate that the ancient enemy has reconstituted itself.
And so the chase begins.
The Dalek’s Puppet
A Dalek is deadly, regardless of its state. And in the most masterful stroke of the episode, Chibnall unclad the Doctor’s most feared enemy leaving it able to take possession of the archaeologists. Never does Skaro’s soldier invoke more fear and dread than in the combined performance of Charlotte Ritchie and Nicholas Briggs as Lin/Dalek. Malevolence and evil drip off Briggs’ voice as Ritchie executes a stellar performance conveying Lin’s terror and desperation. The scene where she glances in the bathroom mirror at the tentacles and body attached to her back is pure horror.
The Daleks are the ultimate test for the Doctor. It can be said that it is only after the Doctor has to face her greatest enemy can she indeed be considered the Doctor. This has undoubtedly even valid since with reboot due to the Doctor’s experiences in the Time War. Hence it is only fitting that Chris Chinball closes out the Thirteenth’s Doctor first series with the Doctor’s most feared foe. The episode created a much-needed action story for Jodie Whittaker.
After the first shock, there was a new Doctor in town, determined to chase down the Dalek complete with the hero jumps, rolls and slides. Her declarations of “I’m coming for you, Dalek” and “You’re not getting away from me, now” rang echoes of Eccleston’s Doctor chasing down the fleet during The Parting of Ways.
What was missing from Jodie Whittaker’s performance was the fear, loathing and hatred that the Doctor has Daleks. On the surface, a monster created with a toilet plunger and a few plastic balls stuck to a metal pepper-pot is not that frightening, but it has always been the Doctor’s reaction that made the audience believe they are the ultimate foe. Just recall, the Ninth Doctor’s frantic attempts to exit the bunker room in Dalek and Matt Smith’s pounding of his enemy with the spare. Whittaker’s response the Daleks did not carry the impact of her predecessors.
The Gags – UNIT and the Internet
Chibnall’s series has delivered social commentary on everything from Trump to pollution. That’s been standard fare for Doctor Who since its start. So should have been no surprise that there was the Brexit joke in disguise of UNIT disbandment. It was a somewhat poorly executed joke to lighten the mood, put a dig in at Brexit and explain that the Doctor was on her own. In no way do I believe that Kate Stewart, Osgood and UNIT are gone. I’m more likely to think the defeat of the Armed Forces by a “talking drone” is more likely than not to result in UNIT’s return in Series 12. Finger crossed.
As for the WiFi family / Internet joke – it was just bad and I have promptly forgotten that I ever saw it.
Many negative comments about have been made about the new Dalek configuration. Personally, I thought it was appropriate for the episode – ugly, but it made sense to the story. I am hoping and assuming that the suitcases stolen from MDZ had a few more bells and whistles along with a couple of heat-sinking missiles to complete the pictures of the reconstruction of the Dalek, but I will let that plot query escape. I did have a question about how much Chris Chibnall was influenced by Flashdance. He has now featured two women welding metal. It did make me wonder.
Resolution was yet another episode this season where the guest stars took on a more compelling and vital role than the companions. The companion’s reaction was atypical for a Dalek episode. Graham, Ryan and Yaz seemed totally unfazed by peril they were in and did not grasp the devastation that Davros’ creation would cause. They were over-confident expecting the Doctor to solve the problem with little effort. It was only through the Mitch and in particular Lin that abhorrence of the Dalek was felt by the audience.
As much as Charlotte Ritchie (Lin) was outstanding in this episode, I am confused as to why her role existed when the part could have been easily portrayed by Mandip Gill. It would have certainly added to the tension and fear the Doctor’s fam would have over the most dangerous creature in the universe. Instead, Yaz was once again a spare part, even with Graham side-lined for much of the episode.
The relationship between Ryan and his father did not really work. We didn’t come to care about the relationship between the two characters and the scene in the café didn’t ring true especially with the microwave sales pitch. The chase of the Dalek was interrupted, and it detracted from the pace.
One of the Best Episodes of Series
There have been numerous comments about the rating of the special and clearly, the New Year’s Day move didn’t help. The special aired an awkward time for the Blogtor team as most of us team were unavailable and watched Doctor Who: Resolution much later on iPlayer. Given a large number of catch-up viewers, it seems we weren’t the only ones.
Despite its flaws, Resolution was an action-packed adventure between the Doctor and her fiercest foe and gave Whittaker a chance to deliver her best and most “Doctory” performance to date. And while it won’t end up as the fan’s top Dalek-based episode, it was one of the best episodes of the series 11. And was clearly, what the series needed to close on.
Doctor Who now goes on hiatus for another year and won’t be back until 2020 when it promises to return with Whittaker, Walsh, Cole and Gill.