Revolution of the Daleks
Cast: Jodie Whittaker, Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill, Tosin Cole, Harriet Walter, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, with Chris Noth, and John Barrowman
Writer: Chris Chibnall
Producers: Chris Chibnall, Matt Strevens, Alex Mercer, and Nikki Wilson
Composer: Segun Akinola
Director: Lee Haven Jones
Doctor Who was created by Sydney Newman, and follows the adventures of the time-traveling alien known as the Doctor, along with their companions, as they explore and help the universe.
After the events of The Timeless Children, the Doctor has been trapped in a supermax intergalactic prison, serving her sentence for being the fugitive of the Judoon. In her absence, the fam has been trying to move on from the knowledge that she has seemingly been left behind, with some doing well, and others…not so well. However, they’ll need to recuperate and band together again, as the Daleks have seemingly returned under the guise of being government-run defense drones, and somehow Jack Robertson is at the center of it all. With help from a returning Captain Jack Harkness, the fam sets out to stop whatever it is the Daleks and Robertson are up to before things get even worse. Can they succeed and stay in one piece? And can the Doctor get out of prison and reach them before it’s too late?
With the dumpster fire of a year 2020 was, it feels so good to start off the new year back with the show that left off right before the pandemic hit. It’s no secret at all that Doctor Who has been relatively controversial as of late, with the last episode being the tipping point. The revelation of the Doctor having many more lives pre-Hartnell definitely left many rattled, and many more angry, and while I understand many of the concerns, I — for one — am completely on board with this new expansion of the lore, and can’t wait to find out more. When we were left with the cliffhanger of the Doctor in prison, as well as the reveal of the next special being Dalek-centered again, I was more than excited for the holidays to arrive. Captain Jack’s return only further excited me, and while I was disappointed about it not being a Christmas special, I’ve made peace with the idea of New Year’s Day being the new big slot for the show a while ago, and now I even greatly anticipate it. With all that being said, despite some criticisms, I really enjoyed this special, and I think it’s a fantastic way to ring in the new year!
While it hasn’t been as long as the gap between Resolution and Spyfall, I’ve really missed this show a lot, and — of course — Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor. Series 12 really had her completely come into her own and showed what she was truly capable of, and this special carries her strength on in flying colors. There are some moments that are genuinely incredible with her, and she’s definitely become one of my favorite Doctors as of now. Two scenes in particular with her had my heartstrings firmly tugged, and showed just how vulnerable the Doctor has become. She has such a big heart (well, hearts) and she wears it on her sleeve with pride, and I think that’s what truly sets her apart from many of the past incarnations. Her vulnerability is her biggest strength, and while I can’t say more without spoiling since most of her scenes were left out of the trailers, Jodie continues to own this role, and I’m incredibly excited to see how Thirteen evolves in Series 13.
I’m not even gonna lie, I think this episode might be the fam at their absolute best and most emotional. Yaz especially had some incredibly fascinating character work in this episode, showing just how deep-rooted her attachment to the Doctor has become. Graham and Ryan continue to be fantastic and a whole lot of fun as well, with the latter genuinely surprising me in this episode. A certain scene he had in the middle really got to me, and it really went to show just how far he’s come since The Woman Who Fell to Earth. Additionally, it’s no secret that the latter two are leaving the show, as it’s been advertised in the commercials and talked about in official interviews and articles weeks ago. While I won’t give any spoilers as to what exactly happened, I will say I’m very satisfied with what they’ve brought to the show up to now, and their final scenes definitely got to me. Bradley Walsh and Tosin Cole have been absolutely brilliant, and Graham will always remain one of my favorite companions.
As if the title and posters didn’t make it obvious, the Daleks are back yet again, and have continued being as creepy and terrifying as they were in Resolution. If there’s anything that the Chibnall era has done in flying colors, it’s making the Daleks and absolute force to be reckoned with again. While I really did love The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar as a Davros story and spiritual sequel to Genesis of the Daleks, the aliens themselves never felt like a genuine threat. However, this era has absolutely made them scary again, and I’m very grateful for that. Despite it, however, it kinda felt like they were unfocused within the story, for reasons that I can’t really spoil, but one of them has to do with Jack Robertson. A while ago when I reviewed Arachnids in the UK, I had the sentiment that while Chris Noth does really well with what he is given, the character himself is very paper-thin and an unenjoyable allegory towards an obvious person and group of people. When it was revealed that he was returning for this special, I was unenthused, but ultimately hoping that they’d make him more interesting. Unfortunately, however, he remains the exact same as he was, if not worse than when we last saw him, and none of it is really entertaining or satisfying. He takes up time that could’ve been used for more of the Daleks, or more of any of the other characters, and he honestly shouldn’t have even been in this story. He’s not a compelling human threat to the main characters, and if they have to bring him back again, then they better at least try to make him more of one.
Fugitive of the Judoon had many, many surprises, but one that pleased a lot of long-time fans was the return of Captain Jack Harkness, the immortal time-traveler and leader of Torchwood. While it wasn’t a very long scene, he did promise a future return, with many speculating either the finale or this special. It’s been nearly thirteen years since the last Doctor Who story he was a major player in, so it’s no secret that many fans were excited to see his huge comeback. In that department, it didn’t disappoint in the least, as he plays a huge part in this story, one played in flying colors. It was so good to see the character slip right back into the mix organically, and seeing him interact with a new Doctor was so exciting to see. It definitely seems like we’ll be seeing more of him, as well, and without spoiling, I greatly anticipate his next appearance. It definitely begs the question as to who else will show up from the Doctor’s past. I dunno about all of you, but I’d very much like to see the return of Jenny, Vastra, and Strax, especially since they never showed up in Capaldi’s era after Deep Breath. Regardless, I’m insanely excited about the future of this show.
Overall. this special was a whole lot of fun, despite some of the criticisms I’ve had. I love that the Daleks are being reserved the way they are, as it makes them feel incredibly important, as they should be since they’re the most iconic enemies of the Doctor. More than anything, though, I’m incredibly excited about where things are gonna go from here. At this rate, I have full confidence that Jodie is gonna finally break the three-series rule that the past three Doctors have been cursed with, and if that stays true, I can definitely see her ending being the inevitable 60th anniversary special, which I hope to god brings all the Doctors from the revival together. But outside of speculation, I’m genuinely happy and excited with how this era is shaping up to be, as it feels so special and unique compared to others. With Series 13 on the horizon for later this year, I greatly await the next chapters of the Thirteenth Doctor and her fam.