Saturday, July 04, 2009

My Review of Doctor Who's 3x05: "Evolution Of The Daleks"

Written by Helen Raynor
Directed by James Strong

Dalek Sec: I am Dalek in human form.”
The Doctor: “Tell me what it feels like.”

With a hook as pretty unconventional as the one for “Daleks In Manhattan” the follow up on things was going to have to be something pretty spectacular and in a lot of ways, the second part of our Dalek story is. We have had better episodes in this series revolving around our Pepperpot Nazis but this one doesn’t lose points for ambition.

Not wanting to wait any longer for Human/Dalek Sec to keep going on about his desire to make more of his kind, The Doctor made his presence known by basically doing all the shouty in your face antics that Number Ten so fondly loves to do and does so well.

Naturally enough when faced with the great enemy Daleks Thay, Jast and Caan have the first instinct to exterminate him but it’s somewhat in touch with it’s humanity Sec who wants to hear The Doctor out. While The Doctor is curious to challenge Sec on his newfound humanity, the annoyance of sound waves provides enough of a distraction for everyone else to get the hell out of Daleks sight and back to Hooverville.

The funny dynamic between the Daleks kicks in as the Pig Slaves give chase is that quite predictably with Sec now using logic and thinking about his action, his fellow Cult Of Skaro members want to ostracise him. To them Daleks are supreme and humanity well and truly sucks and no form of new age thinking is going to sway their long rooted opinion.

In fairness with not many places to go, Hooverville was never gonna be a safe location for The Doctor and Martha to try and rest before thinking of a new plan, so while Soloman may have not wanted to leave the only place he thought everyone would be safe, even I felt bad for him when the Pig Slaves came to wreck more havoc.

Although an improvement on the Pig alien creature from Season One, these slaves didn’t look entirely threatening and it turns out that they are only surplus when two of the Daleks showed up and started their usual bout of destruction but once again, there was that nagging feeling of something not being entirely right with this picture.

That feeling certainly wasn’t there when poor Soloman was getting exterminated when his attempts of reasoning in a moving speech saw one of the Cult Of Skaro happily wiping out the reluctant leader. I liked Soloman but it made sense that least one other main guest star in this two parter died as three others ended up surviving this bloodbath.

No the feeling was with Dalek Sec who began the episode still going on about the human desire to destroy and cause pain but also then turned around during the invasion on Hooverville and insisted on The Doctor living. Call me cynical but even as a hybrid, I was still surprised that Sec would really want to learn anything from The Doctor.

When he promised to let everyone else live as long as The Doctor surrendered himself, I was assuming that Sec would try to convert The Doctor to a Human/Dalek hybrid or force his hand in creating more of them for destructive reasons. I was right with the latter assumption but not for the reasons I had expected.

Nope, in a surprising twist instead of wanting to create Human/Dalek hybrid for destructive purposes, Sec wanted more of his kind for not only survival but also to improve on the original way Daleks were created. He wanted his kind to feel and embrace emotions due to the fact that emotion not only weaken species but also gives them strength.

So then it poses absolutely no surprises whatsoever that the rest of Skaro weren’t especially thrilled that particular idea and while we may have had two of them doubt Sec’s intention before the Hooverville raid, the remaining three Daleks were not only happy in collaborating with The Doctor but were also pretty pissed off at the idea of emotions.

With The Doctor weirdly helping Sec in his plan to use Gamma radiation along with parts of Sec’s designs himself, I’m glad the still smart Laszlo openly questions Sec’s motives. New found humanity or not, I still wouldn’t trust Sec either. It was his order to invade Hooverville and while he may have felt guilt over Soloman getting killed, what was there to say that his new creation of species would turn around and just kill humanity for power purposes? You don’t exactly have to have the makings of a Dalek to pose a threat to humanity.

While the jury may have still been out on Sec, the other three just went ahead and showed their hatred for change by sabotaging their leader’s plan by messing with the formula being pumped into humans. Might be predictable to say “I saw that coming” but I doubt there was anyone watching this episode who didn’t think that at one point. Even Sec should’ve realised that Jast, Caan and Thay wouldn’t adhere to any form of change. If they can’t hate, then Daleks aren’t Daleks.

Elsewhere with The Doctor at the hands of Daleks, Martha has been shoved in the role of second in command in Hooverville and in fairness, I’m glad she hadn’t been taken with The Doctor even though I knew she would’ve found a way to him anyway. The psychic paper came in handy while she and Tallulah were brainstorming with the help of Frank.

All the builders and people who were unfortunate enough to work for Mr Diagoras not only disappeared in sewers but all of them were working on the Empire State Building and with the work not yet completed it was the only other place Martha could go to get her answers and The Doctor back.

The teaming of these three characters is a pretty effective tool as Tallulah provides some much needed humour while Frank has more than proven in this episode he’s a dab hand at thinking in dire situations. As for Martha, she wanted to be more useful than bandaging people and now here’s her chance to do so.

In between the franticness of trying to figure the differences in all the sketches for the Empire State Building, there’s a great moment between Tallulah and Martha where once again, the former is quick to wonder about how Martha and The Doctor operate on a relationship basis and while we have may gotten this last two episodes, you have to admit that Martha’s feelings are better expressed here.

By what The Doctor hasn’t told her of his and Rose’s relationship and Rose’s departure from his life, in some ways Martha is confused by The Doctor. One minute he does want her there while the next he doesn’t really notice her. It’s a nice moment with a subtle performance between Freema Agyeman and Miranda Raison and even when Tallulah downplays Martha’s dilemma by talking of Laszlo’s misfortune the scene still stands up well.

Speaking of Laszlo, not only he beginning to start feelings effects from his transformation but he’s also quick to help The Doctor escape for the second time while the remaining Daleks dethrone Sec and use the humans to create their own army of terrorists. Once again, Sec should’ve seen this particular event coming and even his Dalek righteousness isn’t enough for his comrades to put Dalek Caan in position of leader and reduce him to chains.

While Martha and company figured out some form of a Dalekanium within the Empire State Building and The Doctor decides to go up to the very top to stop the Gamma radiation while the Pig Slaves try to stop them all. This is one of the quickest scenes in the episode but not one of the strongest.

Again the Pig Slaves are easily dispatched when lightening and the use of lining metal objects in their direction more or less puts them out of business, so the only real moment of interest in this part is The Doctor getting electrocuted severely and Martha wondering whether or not she’s lost him yet again. Remember dear he’s got two hearts and the exchange between them when she realises his survival is sweet. Tallulah, Laszlo and Frank didn’t look as worried.

However the best material of this entire Dalek tale came in the last ten minutes of the episode when The Doctor, Martha, Laszlo, Tallulah and Frank all went back to the theatre with the intent purpose of drawing the Daleks into a trap of their own. You wouldn’t think it if it hadn’t been for the smug way The Doctor used the sonic screwdriver as a means of drawing attention but hey seeing Daleks getting duped is nothing short of great.

With the human Daleks lined up as soldiers ready to kill and Sec dragged around like a slave as Thay and Jast ordered The Doctor to finally get killed, the great pro of it all was for The Doctor’s ability to stop the human soldiers from killing as the Daleks themselves were not only determined to kill The Doctor but even killed their former leader Sec without a flicker of emotion.

Throughout this entire episode, the notion of a Dalek having emotions has given us a questionable creature like Sec but at the end of the day, Human Daleks regardless of emotions removed are still human and when they were able to challenge Jast and Thay and not want to kill The Doctor we got our best battle yet.

As Thay and Jast were finally destroyed, Caan pulled the lowest move ever by killing all the hybrid and while The Doctor was angry, Caan still more or less won the day by escaping whatever punishment The Doctor could’ve inflicted on him. At the end of the days, Daleks are not to be reasons and should their DNA come within any proximity of anything else. With one Dalek left in existence, you can only wonder how the writers will devise more trouble for The Doctor with them. Suffice to say to we’ll find out next season.

Meanwhile we at least got one positive from this episode as The Doctor was able to help Laszlo survive, even if that meant he had to live in Hooverville with Frank but at least he still has Tallulah and with an ominous moment between The Doctor and Martha as they head to their next destination, who knows what else to expect.

Also in “Evolution Of The Daleks”

This is the first episode of the season to get a Previously On but the second to jump straight into the Opening Credits.

The Doctor (to Soloman): “Daleks are bad enough at any time but right they’re vulnerable and that makes them worse than ever.”

With Rose getting a big mention, I’m a little disappointed that the Cult Of Skaro didn’t question or taunt The Doctor about her not being there.

Soloman: “What do you say?”
Dalek Thay: “Exterminate.”

The Doctor: “Is it me or are you sounding a bit more human?”
Sec: “You are the last of your kind and I’m the first of mine.”

Was it me or did anyone else think Martha was unintentionally channelling Nine when she said that to Tallulah?

Martha: “We’re a hundred feet up, don’t go wandering off”
Tallulah: “I just wanna see.”

The Doctor: “That’s high, blimey that’s high.”
Martha: “And we have to go even higher.”

The Doctor also said “Allonsy” in “Army Of Ghosts”. Nice little throw in line there!

Martha (re Pig Slaves): “It’s not looking good, Frank.”
Frank: “No.”
Martha: “We’re gonna get slaughtered.”

We learned this week that the Pig Slaves only live for a few weeks and can rip people’s throats out with their teeth. How exactly did The Doctor prevent Laszlo from dying?

Tallulah: “Oh my God that could actually work.”
Frank: “Then give us a hand.”

The Doctor: “Hi! You survived then?”
Martha: “You too, just about.”

I noticed with the human Daleks there were women as well. Its just last week only men were mentioned as being missing.

Human Dalek: “Why?”
Dalek Jast: “Dalek humans do not question.”

The Doctor (to Dalek Caan): “I’ve just seen one genocide, I won’t cause another.”

Surely that has to be a bit of a lie with The Doctor witnessing nearly all of his people being killed? Nine wouldn’t have had a problem with killing Dalek Caan.

Martha (re Tallulah/Laszlo): “Just proves it, there’s someone for everyone.”
The Doctor: “Maybe.”

Chronology: As it was a two-parter, just a few seconds between this and “Daleks In Manhattan”.

Well that was exhausting! “Evolution Of The Daleks” proved to be a non-stop, action filled, emotionally charged and thought provoking episode on the nature of change or in the Daleks’ case, the refusal to do so even if by not changing they risked their own doom as a species. This may be the weakest of the Dalek episodes we’ve had on the series and while Part 1 was better, there was still a lot to enjoy here.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

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