Timestamp #293: Resolution

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Doctor Who: Resolution
(1 episode, New Year Special, 2019)

Timestamp 293 Resolution

Conquest in 9376 rels. However long that is.

In the 9th century, three tribes of people came together to destroy a creature beyond their nightmares. Victorious, three Custodians split the creature into three pieces and hid them in distant places: Anuta Island, Siberia, and Yorkshire. Unfortunately, the Custodian in England was killed by thieves in Sheffield. His fragment remained unguarded for over 1000 years.

On New Year’s Day, 2019, archaeologists Lin and Mitch excavate a site in Sheffield. They discuss their kiss at a party the night before, eventually leading to a promise to make plans later. They discover a mysterious object near a skeleton’s hand and are excited that this may be the key to unlocking the mysteries behind the supposed Battle of Hope Valley.

They pair chat, and while they’re distracted the bag begins to move. Meanwhile, on Anuta Island and in Siberia, the current Custodians watch as their shrines begin to act strangely. Once uncovered, the remaining two packages teleport away.

In the TARDIS, the fam is making the rounds through time and space to different New Year’s Eve celebrations. With nineteen down and a twentieth to go, the TARDIS warns the Doctor that an extraterrestrial threat is descending on Sheffield.

Time to go to work!

The TARDIS materializes as a tentacled being escapes from the archaeological sample bags. Lin finds the creature – a Dalek mutant! – but it disappears before the newly arrived Doctor can see it. She analyzes the slime that it left behind and quarantines the site. Lin and Mitch make plans to meet up later, but Lin starts to act funny once she reaches her car.

The Doctor takes team TARDIS to Graham and Ryan’s house. After breaking Graham’s chair, the Doctor scrounges up kitchen supplies to sequence the slime proteins. Ryan’s father arrives, but the reception is quite frosty. Ryan gives Aaron the benefit of the doubt and takes his father for coffee, but not before Graham takes him aside for some choice words about his failings.

Lin returns home and we find out that she’s been taken over by the Dalek. It gloats about being able to control her body and brain, and it forces her to access UNIT archives to learn about Earth’s capabilities and defenses. Lin tries to fight back, but the Dalek is too strong. Meanwhile, the Doctor figures out what they’re dealing with and explains the threat to Graham and Yaz.

The Dalek takes Lin for a joyride. While driving her car at over 100 miles per hour, they are pulled over by the police, but the Dalek easily dispatches the police officers. Lin steals a uniform and the police car, leaving the officers on the road.

In the café, Aaron reveals his new profession to his son as he tries to sell a microwave oven to the owner. Unfortunately, Aaron’s not good at sales and is considering oil rig work again. Ryan gets angry and explains how lonely, abandoned, and lost he has felt without Aaron’s presence in his life. Aaron realizes that he’s made a lot of bad choices but he promises not to hide from the truth anymore.

Yaz calls Mitch as she tries to track down Lin. The Doctor traces the phone call, materializes the TARDIS right next to him, and welcomes him aboard. After a brief “bigger on the inside” moment, Mitch explains the Three Custodians and the ancient battle with the Dalek. Once the Doctor makes the connection between the Dalek and Lin, she locates them in the same place. Ryan returns to the TARDIS and stows the microwave in the corner. The Doctor tries to get a read on the Dalek, but it jams the scans and shorts the system. The Doctor realizes that this is a reconnaissance scout, one of the first to leave Skaro and reach Earth.

Lin and the Dalek reach the MDZ Research security archives in Yorkshire and kill the security guard. There they find a Dalek gunstick and try to leave, but the Doctor connects with the Dalek and speaks to it, confirming that it is a recon scout. When the Dalek laughs at the Doctor’s message, she summons a hologram of Lin so they can see face-to-face. She uses Mitch as a lifeline to Lin, reboots the navigation systems, and speeds off to meet the intruder.

Of course, this leaves Aaron and Graham alone in the latter’s living room. Graham takes advantage of the situation by having a more civil discussion with Aaron. Grace was proud of him, and she kept a large box of things about him, including artifacts from his childhood.

The Dalek stymies the navigation trace, so the Doctor tries to use traffic cameras and CCTV to track it. When that doesn’t work, she tries to call Kate Stewart at UNIT, but budget cuts have resulted in UNIT being temporarily shut down.

Lin and the Dalek end up at a farm workshop where they kill the owner and start welding parts together. As Lin begins to tire, she fights back against the Dalek, opening the door for the Doctor to find her. When the TARDIS arrives, the Dalek has separated from Lin, leaving her weak but alive. The Doctor sends her companions back to the TARDIS while she confronts the Dalek, now encased in a custom mobile casing. It’s not perfect by any means, sporting a claw arm and recycled Earth metal, and this provides a chance for the Doctor to jam the gunstick signals and talk. When the Doctor identifies herself, it overrides the block and shoots at her. It misses but declares that it has everything it needs to conquer Earth before launching out of the warehouse and into the sky.

The Doctor fires up the TARDIS again, making a quick detour to pick up Aaron and Graham while Lin recovers. Aaron is beside himself, but he gets a chance to contribute when the Doctor uses his microwave oven to build a defense.

The Dalek lands in an open area and encounters the British Army. It makes short work of them with the gunstick and missiles under the casing’s domes. It then launches for GCHQ, the center of all British communications. Once there, it wreaks havoc before diverting all possible power toward Skaro, including Wi-Fi, phone signals, and internet. The Doctor arrives with the TARDIS shields on full, offering an ultimatum to the Dalek. When the Dalek refuses, the Doctor springs their plan into action, attaching the microwave pieces to the shell and explosively melting it down.

The reconnaissance signal wasn’t sent, but the Dalek isn’t done yet. It has attached itself to Aaron and forces the Doctor to take it to the Dalek fleet. Everyone boards the TARDIS and the Doctor sets course for the fleet, but she has instead taken them to a supernova. When she opens the doors, she creates a vacuum corridor and tries to send the Dalek into the star. Ryan rushes for his father, risking everything to save him while telling him that he loves him. The Dalek loses control and falls into the supernova. Everyone is now safe.

Later on, the TARDIS returns to the underground dig site in Sheffield. Lin and Mitch return to their lives, and Aaron turns down a trip in the TARDIS. Ryan promises to call him when he gets back.

The TARDIS and her crew set sail once again… destination everywhere.

This story did what the previous one did not: Provided a good season finale. It has a lot of good family details, closing the loop on Ryan and his father along with showing the healing relationship between Ryan and Graham.

The TARDIS console room is a bit brighter, even though it’s the same set that we’ve seen all season. It primes us a little bit for the slightly more fleshed-out set we’ll see next time. The Doctor also gets a new accessory with her winter scarf, a real-world design that sold out pretty quickly after this episode aired, but clever fans have interpreted it on Etsy and Ravelry. It’s a great choice for Thirteen’s bubbly personality.

This episode moves fast – too fast in some places – and wraps up far too quickly. The latter is a Chibnall trademark when it comes to episodic work. That ending also includes a statement that “The Doctor will return”. With the power of hindsight, we could say that it was setting the stage for Spyfall‘s James Bond-inspired homage, but it’s more likely that this was setting audience expectations.

After all, the next Doctor Who adventure wouldn’t arrive for a full year.

Rating: 4/5 – “Would you care for a jelly baby?”

UP NEXT – Series Eleven 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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