Timestamp #302: Revolution of the Daleks

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Doctor Who: Revolution of the Daleks
(1 episode, New Year Special, 2021)

Timestamp 302 Revolution of the Daleks

A little bit of cloning and a little bit of open warfare.

It’s been 367 minutes since the Doctor and her team destroyed the Reconnaissance Dalek in GCHQ. An ill-fated truck driver takes the empty casing to Depository 23, but he is assassinated en route with some bad roadside tea. The woman who served the tea stashes his corpse in the truck and drives it away.

Jo Patterson, the Technology Secretary for the United Kingdom, meets with Leo Rugazzi and Jack Robertson to see the engineer’s new defense drones. The demonstration includes a mock riot which is broken up by a drone that looks like a Dalek but uses water cannons and tear gas. The drone is solar-powered and driven by artificial intelligence. Patterson buys into the idea because they will help her win the upcoming election.

Some 79 billion light years away, the Doctor wakes up in her asteroid cell and scratches another tally mark on the wall. She goes through her daily routine, including a walk with restrained Weeping Angels, Ood, Silence, and Pting, before getting ready for bed. She hears four knocks through her wall and knocks four times in reply, but there is no further answer.

Back on Earth, Ryan, Graham, and Yaz meet in the TARDIS disguised as a house. Yaz is working on a method to find the Doctor, but Ryan and Graham urge her to move on. Graham also shows her footage of the new security drone and the companions decide to investigate.

Patterson convinces Robertson to expedite a national rollout of the security drones at no cost to the taxpayers. Later, the companions confront Robertson about his drones but are forced to leave when armed security arrives.

In the prison, the Doctor finds Jack Harkness during her daily constitutional. He shows her a temporal-freezing gateway disinhibitor bubble which they use to escape by treating it like a hamster ball. Using a vortex manipulator, the pair vanishes.

Patterson wins her election as Prime Minister and party leader. Rugazzi shows Robertson the organic remnants he found in the original casing, which he has cloned and grown into a Dalek mutant. Robertson tells Leo to destroy it, but it eventually takes control of the engineer.

The vortex manipulator drops Jack and the Doctor inside the Doctor’s TARDIS. Jack likes the new interior design. They discuss the Cyberium and Ashad, as well as the Doctor’s imprisonment for being herself while she was trying to figure out who she was. She tells the TARDIS to find her fam.

That fam is discussing the Dalek threat when the TARDIS materializes in the living room. It’s been ten months since the companions and the Doctor were separated, and after she apologizes, the companions tell her about the Dalek.

The Dalek controlling Leo takes him to Osaka, Japan, where he finds a clone farm that has somehow sprung to life in the time since it was cloned. As the companions board the TARDIS, Jack gives them a crash course on his history with the Doctor. They split up, sending Yaz and Jack to find the Dalek DNA in Osaka while Ryan and Graham accompany the Doctor to Robertson’s office.

Robertson shows off his 3D printing operation, but the Doctor warns him he’s messing with something he doesn’t understand. He also denies having a facility in Osaka, which Yaz and Jack find listed as an agricultural park but containing the clone farm. Jack also warns Yaz that she should enjoy her journey with the Doctor because it will end, but is worth the pain in the end.

PM Patterson announces the defense drones in an address outside 10 Downing Street. While she promises a new secure age for the UK, the Doctor, Graham, and Ryan take Robertson to Osaka. The Doctor and Ryan have a heart-to-heart talk during which she promises to find out about herself. Meanwhile, Yaz and Jack set explosives and are besieged by the cloned Daleks. They get some relief when the TARDIS arrives.

The Doctor asks about the farm and Dalek-Leo admits that he infiltrated Earth’s networks and diverted resources to remotely direct its construction. He even fed his clones with the workers just to keep things clean. The Dalek intends to use the planet as a base to conquer this sector of the universe. Yaz and the Doctor note that the light is changing in the facility, gradually becoming ultraviolet to allow the clones to teleport into the shells that Robertson built.

With thousands of shells at their command, the Daleks begin their assault on Earth, including the assassination of PM Patterson. The Dalek controlling Leo kills the engineer and teleports away. The Doctor finally figures out who she is… she’s the one who stops the Daleks. Opting for the nuclear option, she sends the Reconnaissance Scout’s signal through the time vortex and summons the Death Squad Daleks – the SAS of Daleks – who will ignore humans in favor of exterminating the impure clones. They mustn’t realize, however, that the Doctor is on Earth.

As the cloned Daleks wreak havoc in the streets, the bronze-colored Death Squad begin exterminating Robertson’s army. As the Doctor prepares to move on, Robertson approaches the Death Squad and joins them with information about who sent the signal.

The Doctor continues her plan: Once all of the defense drones are destroyed, Jack will destroy the Death Squad ship. Graham and Ryan join him and start planting charges. Jack finds Robertson as the businessman tells the Dalek leader about the Doctor. As the final defense drone is destroyed, Jack calls the Doctor with what he learned and she enacts a backup plan with Yaz.

The Daleks detect the TARDIS hovering over the city and swarm around it. She emerges and baits them into entering the TARDIS as the explosives tear the command ship apart. The Doctor appears as a hologram and reveals that the Daleks are trapped in the “house” TARDIS. Further, she has programmed it to fold in on itself and emerge in the heart of the Void where it will self-destruct.

With the threat eliminated, Graham and Ryan watch the news as Robertson takes credit for saving everyone. Disgusted, the pair joins the Doctor and Yaz on the TARDIS where Jack sends regards from Gwen Cooper. It is then that Ryan declares that he’s done traveling with her because he knows what he wants to do with his life.

The Doctor hugs him farewell. Yaz wants to keep traveling, but Graham doesn’t want to miss his grandson growing up. The fam shares one last hug and the Doctor gives each of the men a piece of psychic paper. The Doctor and Yaz are sad, but they know that it’s okay.

Sometime later, Graham and Ryan are back on the hillside as the latter practices with a bicycle. They discuss strange occurrences like a troll invasion in Finland and gravel creatures in Korea. They decide to make plans, but first, they finish cycling practice.

And a vision of Grace watches over them as they work.

The companions really steal this show as the Doctor struggles with the Timeless Child revelation. It makes sense, given that this is the swan song for Ryan and Graham. We also get a good story where three companions seem to work well together. Unfortunately, that formula still doesn’t include Yaz as she gets very little to do with this otherwise explosive plot.

There are some hiccups along the way. No one addresses the murder that kicks off the defense drone program, and the timing’s a bit suspect when it comes to building the farm. The Dalek wasn’t in charge of Leo long enough to make that work, but the story needed a way to mass-produce Daleks.

On the plus side, the subtle references to Doctor Who history are pretty clever. The Death Squad Daleks are the bronze versions that have popped up throughout the revival era, and the defense drones are voiced similarly to the Imperial Daleks last seen during the Dalek Civil War. It makes sense that they would fight one another.

I enjoyed the crash course on Jack’s history with the new companions. It plays well with the running thread of the companions and their questions about traveling in the TARDIS. I also dug the running gag of not telling Robertson how the TARDIS works while he traveled in it.

Finally, I’m glad that the creative team is embracing the changes they made by way of the Timeless Child. The Doctor has to rediscover who they are while facing a large, looming threat. It’s good drama.

Note that this is the final appearance of Captain Jack Harkness (as of early 2024) due to allegations of sexual misconduct leading to John Barrowman’s blacklisting by the BBC.

Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”

UP NEXT – Series Twelve Summary


The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

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