“Revolution of the Daleks” was Another Dalek Episode — But Not a Bad One
When Doctor Who titles an episode “of the Daleks” you know what to expect. It’s one of the show’s standard tropes.
It means Daleks, usually hordes of them. And it most often, but not always, means they’re trying to conquer the Earth again.
Revolution was just another “of the Daleks” episode, but I personally have no complaints. The rest of this article contains spoilers; if you haven’t watched it yet, go do so and then come back. I’ll be waiting.
A Message About Authoritarianism
Honestly, the episode’s biggest flaw was combining the Daleks with the return of the Trump surrogate, Robertson.
Because, well, the Daleks are already about authoritarianism and racial supremacy. That’s the entire reason they exist.
Human quislings are always an amusing trope in Doctor Who, but I felt in this case that it doubled down on “Fascists bad” a little too hard. I suspect Chibnall was worried younger fans would miss the point? Or maybe he was aiming it at actual conservatives.
That said, that character is kind of amusing. And the episode left off with the likelihood that he’ll return.
Humans Are Dumb
Some Doctor Who episodes do love to give the message that humans can be kind of dumb.
Especially the bad guys.
In this case, reverse engineering Dalek casing could only end in one place. I was also amused that the mad scientist, Leo Rugazzi (ably played by Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) was entirely too much of a lookalike for Batwoman’s Luke Fox. Deliberate? I don’t know.
Captain Jack Is Always an Asset
John Barrowman is awesome (although I have told my husband he’s not allowed to hug him. I don’t trust the guy. Barrowman, not my husband) as ever.
The actor’s sexuality showed through a little in his reunion with Thirteen, he still was clearly in love with her in character but there might have been a slight bit of discomfort there. Ahem.
His conversation/confrontation with Yaz brought her to the fore and gave the clearest evidence yet that she is in love with the Doctor. This never ends well. I’ve suspected it for a season or so, but the character is so reserved about her emotions that it took somebody like Jack to get her to admit it.
Never ends well. Jack was trying to protect her heart, but I don’t know that he had much in the way of success.
They did give a throwaway line to explain that Barrowman hasn’t aged well (“Have you had work done?”) which I think didn’t work; we all know the actor’s older and the character isn’t and we’re all capable of suspending our disbelief. (No, they couldn’t use makeup, it’s mostly that he’s put on some weight and some of it’s around the face, which, ya know, happens, and I’d rather that than they tried to force him to excessively slim down).
Chibnall Joins the Moffatt Tradition of the Pilot That Isn’t
The departure of Tosin Cole and Bradley Walsh had already been announced, along with the fact that it would be a soft write out. Walsh had come to the sad but reasonable conclusion that he couldn’t both be on a drama full time, even at British scheduling, and host a game show. The game show won.
Tosin Cole, meanwhile, has taken the lead role in an American crime drama, 61st Street. Possible good news for U.S. cons who would like him to make an appearance, when and if there are cons again.
But the write out was very much like one of Moffatt’s pilots that wasn’t. Knowing that neither Walsh nor Cole was available, we know it’s not in fact a stealth pilot for Torchwood.
But the episode leaves Jack Harkness on Earth looking up Gwen Cooper and Ryan and Graeme taking over as protectors of Earth in the mold of Martha Wells.
Big Finish writers have to be salivating.
Clearly, this is a set up for all three actors to make guest star appearances in the future. Now if we can just get Alex Kingston. (Jack breaking the Doctor out of jail was fun, but isn’t that River’s job?)
Overall, “Revolution of the Daleks” was a solid episode, but probably disappointing to those who don’t appreciate the valid tradition of “of the Daleks” episodes. It wasn’t one of the high flyers, but I will definitely take it.
Series thirteen is in filming. The end of the episode included a reveal of new companion John Bishop, who will be playing a character named Dan. Amusingly, I recognized his face from when he was a Star in a Reasonably Priced Car in Top Gear in 2011. Good memory!
Oh, and before I leave: Most likely Whittaker has not quit the show. The rumor started with the Daily Mirror, which predicts the Doctor’s departure after every season, presumably on the grounds that eventually they’ll be right.
If she has, it’s after the fairly standard three seasons, but it’s not true until it’s in the Radio Times, people.