TARDIS Thoughts: NaBloPoMo: Series 1, Episode 6, "Dalek"

2.06.2013

NaBloPoMo: Series 1, Episode 6, "Dalek"

WARNING: THIS ANALYSIS MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOT WATCHED DOCTOR WHO OR AT THE VERY LEAST HAVE NOT SEEN THIS EPISODE. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. 

It's Day 6 of my NaBloPoMo challenge! Today's episode: Series 1, Episode 6, "Dalek."


And, as the title suggests, it features the return of the Doctor's mortal enemy, that smarter-than-it-seems squid-in-a-metal-box race known as the Daleks.

Basically, the TARDIS - en route to somewhere unknown - gets diverted to an underground bunker in Utah in the year 2012 by some signal. The Doctor and Rose exit the TARDIS to find themselves in the middle of a big museum full of alien artifacts, including a piece of the Roswell spaceship, moon dust, and the head of a Cyberman (specifically the design from "The Invasion"), which the Doctor tells Rose is an old enemy of his but does not identify by name.

And then, well, the Doctor gets a little too close to some display case, alarms go off, and he and Rose get taken prisoner.

The bulk of the episode is about this egotistical collector, Henry Van Statten, the owner of the museum, who has one living specimen in his collection: a strange metal alien that he's been trying to get to talk for some time. When they let the Doctor in to try to talk to it, he realizes -- to his horror -- that it's a Dalek. As far as he knew, the entire Dalek race perished in the Time War, along with all the other Time Lords except him. So he's pretty surprised to see it, as is the Dalek to see him when it realizes who the Doctor is. He realizes, however, that at the moment it can't "exterminate" (to use the Daleks' favorite word) anyone, because its gun doesn't work, and scoffs at his enemy's powerlessness. He then attempts to destroy it, but is stopped by Van Slatten, who wants his prized piece alive.

That should have been the end of that...well, except that Rose, who'd been left with this guy named Adam, happens to see footage of one of Van Slatten's men torturing the Dalek (to try to make it talk again like it did with the Doctor) and gets angry. She and Adam go down to see the Dalek, and when she speaks to it, it responds, saying that it is in pain and is happy to have met a human who was not afraid of it before it dies. Out of pity, Rose touches its head, and the Dalek regenerates itself. And because of that simple move of pity...all hell breaks loose. As usually happens when the Daleks are around, seeing how much they like to destroy things.

The Dalek goes and kills all the soldiers Van Statten throws at it, finally chasing Adam and Rose to the end of the multi-floor vault in which it was originally held. Van Statten and the Doctor decide to seal the vault to contain the Dalek, but at the risk of putting Adam and Rose in danger. Adam and Rose get toward the final bulkhead door with seconds to spare, and Adam manages to barrel-roll under the nearly-closed door. Rose, on the other hand, isn't so lucky and is trapped in the room with the Dalek. The video feed cuts right after the Dalek gets close to Rose, basically making the Doctor believe she's dead. The Dalek, however, spares Rose's life - a rare show of pity for a Dalek, which normally does not have any emotions other than hatred. Turns out that when she touched it, it absorbed some of her DNA and some of the time energy she'd absorbed from her travels with the Doctor, and when doing so developed some emotions as well. After a moment, the Dalek turns the video feed back on and offers Rose's life in exchange for the vault being unsealed. Though it would be dangerous to let the Dalek out of the vault, the Doctor puts Rose's life first and unseals the vault.

Rose and the Dalek end up in Van Statten's office, after the Doctor has left, armed with an alien gun Adam hung onto (the rest of the alien weapons are in the vault), to pursue the Dalek. The Dalek attempts to kill Van Statten out of revenge for the torture Van Statten subjected it to, but Rose stops it, saying it must want something more than killing. The Dalek admits that what it wants is freedom. They then leave the office and head for an empty hallway, where the Dalek blasts a hole in the roof, letting the sunlight in. Just then, the Dalek opens up its casing to reveal the squid-like being within. The Doctor then arrives, ready to kill the Dalek, but Rose refuses to let him, still feeling pity for it. Gradually, it becomes obvious to them all that the Dalek is mutating into something that no Dalek ever wants to become, and the Dalek begs Rose to order it to die. Rose, after some hesitation, does so, and the Dalek elevates itself into the air, forming a force field around it with those metal balls from its armor, in which it self-destructs.

In the end, Van Statten gets arrested by his own men, and the Doctor reflects on having possibly won the Time War. Just then, Adam shows up and informs them that Van Statten has been deposed and that the underground museum is going to get filled in with cement, meaning they all need to get out. Rose manages to talk the Doctor into bringing Adam along with them, since Adam had said earlier he always wanted to see the stars. The Doctor doesn't much like the idea, but Adam creeps in after them anyway.

We got to see a very different side of the Doctor in this episode. A very angry Doctor. I suppose it makes sense considering he's being faced with the possibility of his mortal enemy still being alive, not to mention that the Ninth Doctor is still emotionally unstable from the Time War, with survivor guilt and clear PTSD hanging on him. This is epotimized in the scene where the Doctor tries to kill the Dalek after first meeting it:


DALEK: You are an enemy of the Daleks! You must be destroyed!
(Its gun arm twitches but nothing happens.)
DOCTOR: It's not working.
(The Doctor laughs as the Dalek looks at its impotent weapon.)
DOCTOR: Fantastic! Oh, fantastic! Powerless! Look at you. The great space dustbin. How does it feel?
DALEK: Keep back!
(The Doctor stands inches away, staring into its eyepiece.)
DOCTOR: What for? What're you going to do to me? If you can't kill, then what are you good for, Dalek? What's the point of you? You're nothing.

[Outside the Cage]
DOCTOR [on monitor]: What the hell are you here for?
DALEK [on monitor]: I am waiting for orders.

[Cage]
DOCTOR: What does that mean?
DALEK: I am a soldier. I was bred to receive orders.
DOCTOR: Well you're never going to get any. Not ever.
DALEK: I demand orders!
DOCTOR: They're never going to come! Your race is dead! You all burnt, all of you. Ten million ships on fire. The entire Dalek race wiped out in one second.
DALEK: You lie!
DOCTOR: I watched it happen. I made it happen.
DALEK: You destroyed us?
DOCTOR: I had no choice.
DALEK: And what of the Time Lords?
DOCTOR: Dead. They burnt with you. The end of the last great Time War. Everyone lost.
DALEK: And the coward survived.
DOCTOR: Oh, and I caught your little signal. Help me. Poor little thing. But there's no one else coming 'cause there's no one else left.
DALEK: I am alone in the universe.
DOCTOR: Yep.
DALEK: So are you. We are the same.
DOCTOR: We're not the same! I'm not (pause) No, wait. Maybe we are. You're right. Yeah, okay. You've got a point. 'Cause I know what to do. I know what should happen. I know what you deserve. Exterminate.
(The Doctor pulls a lever on a nearby console and the Dalek is lit up with electricity.)
DALEK: Have pity!
DOCTOR: Why should I? You never did.

The kicker though, is when the Doctor gets mad at the Dalek after it takes down a whole bunch of men in what appears to be a storage room of some sort. 

DOCTOR: And?
DALEK [on screen]: Nothing. Where shall I get my orders now?
DOCTOR: You're just a soldier without commands.
DALEK [on screen]: Then I shall follow the Primary Order, the Dalek instinct to destroy, to conquer.
DOCTOR: What for? What's the point? Don't you see it's all gone? Everything you were, everything you stood for.
[Loading bay]
DALEK: Then what should I do?
[Office]
DOCTOR: All right, then. If you want orders, follow this one. Kill yourself.
[Loading bay]
DALEK: The Daleks must survive!
[Office]
DOCTOR: The Daleks have failed! Why don't you finish the job and make the Daleks extinct. Rid the Universe of your filth. Why don't you just die?
[Loading bay]
DALEK: You would make a good Dalek. 
That last line was the one that got me. It's very appropriate that the video feed of the Dalek cuts out right then, because it really is a whammy line worth a pause. Think about it. All Daleks feel is hate. And in that scene, that is really all the Doctor is exhibiting - hatred. He's turning into exactly what the Daleks are - hatred-filled machines devoted to exterminating all other races. And yet, he feels no remorse for it at this moment (his next line is "Seal the vault"). It's not until the later scene where Rose tells him not to kill the Dalek that he breaks down:

DOCTOR: Get out of the way. Rose, get out of the way now!
ROSE: No. I won't let you do this.
DOCTOR: That thing killed hundreds of people.
ROSE: It's not the one pointing the gun at me.
DOCTOR: I've got to do this. I've got to end it. The Daleks destroyed my home, my people. I've got nothing left.
ROSE: Look at it.
DOCTOR: What's it doing?
ROSE: It's the sunlight, that's all it wants.
DOCTOR: But it can't
ROSE: It couldn't kill Van Statten, it couldn't kill me. It's changing. What about you, Doctor? What the hell are you changing into?
DOCTOR: I couldn't. I wasn't. Oh, Rose. They're all dead.
DALEK: Why do we survive?
DOCTOR: I don't know. 

It's actually a lot like the Doctor of Series 7 - he's becoming a person he shouldn't be, but he's so blinded he can't see it until his Companion points it out. Compare what Amy Pond says to the Eleventh Doctor in "A Town Called Mercy" to what Rose says:

ROSE: It couldn't kill Van Statten, it couldn't kill me. It's changing. What about you, Doctor? What the hell are you changing into? 

AMY: This is not how we roll, and you know it. What happened to you, Doctor? When did killing someone become an option?...And what then? Are you going to hunt down everyone who's made a gun or a bullet or a bomb?...You see, this is what happens when you travel alone for too long. Well, listen to me, Doctor. We can't be like him. We have to be better than him.
I found a very good article today from Tor on the Doctor's regenerations, and in it, the author points out that both the Ninth and the Eleventh Doctors had the guilt of what happened during the Time War:

The Ninth Doctor clearly suffered through Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and was a man frightened of himself and what he could do, who still tried his best to carry on because he couldn't think of anything else to do with himself....

...The Tenth Doctor didn't want to stop being himself, and so there was a lot of hold over to the Eleventh. He got even younger looking, kept a pretty snazzy dress sense, and maintained that ability to posture his way out of a lot of situations. But the guilt from the Time War needed to be set aside, and he needed to stop filling his companions in on the whole story....So the Doctor started to lie again, and buried some things deep down.
So it makes sense that in this sort of situation they would react very similarly, huh?

The Bad Wolf reference here is more explicit: Van Slatten's helicopter is called "Bad Wolf One."

Well, that's all I really have to say about that. In the next episode, the Doctor, Rose, and Adam go to the year 200,000, in which *spoiler* Adam does something stupid and gets kicked off the team.

***

NaBloPoMo Special:
The Love of the Doctor and Rose Tyler
Part Six: Save the Woman You Love

Since the theme of NaBloPoMo this month is "Love and Sex" (probably because of Valentine's Day), I feel compelled to write something about love in my posts. Hence, since I am exploring Series 1 and 2 in this challenge, I am going to write a little special essay throughout the month about the growing love between the Doctor and Rose. Please note I am in no way an expert on relationships.

DALEK [on screen]: Open the bulkhead or Rose Tyler dies.
DOCTOR: You're alive!
ROSE [on screen]: Can't get rid of me.
DOCTOR: I thought you were dead.
DALEK [on screen]: Open the bulkhead!
ROSE [on screen]: Don't do it! 
DALEK [on screen]: What use are emotions if you will not save the woman you love?
DOCTOR: I killed her once. I can't do it again.

Who would've thought that a Dalek would help "define the relationship" between the Doctor and Rose?

The Doctor and Rose are separated for almost the entire episode, much like the Series 2 two-part finale. But his feelings for her are put to the test in this episode when she not only objects to everything he says, but when he is also faced with the fact that he may have killed her. He had that problem in the last episode, when he didn't think Rose would survive the missile hitting 10 Downing Street, but here he has to face a much worse prospect: Rose is trapped in a room, alone, with a Dalek. And Daleks don't spare lives. 

And strangely, it is not Rose or the Doctor who recognizes the growing love between the two in this episode, but a DALEK. A being who feels no love to begin with, usually (this Dalek is an unusual one because it developed emotions from absorbing Rose's DNA). That's got to be Doctor Who history there. Either that or the Doctor and Rose are both so oblivious to the feelings that it takes a freakin' Dalek mentioning it to make them notice.

So, even though it doesn't show much in this episode, things are clearly developing between Rose and the Doctor. We'll see what ensues!

***

Tune in tomorrow for Day 7 of the NaBloPoMo challenge! 

Doctor Who quotes (from this episode) from The Doctor Who Transcripts. Amy Pond quote from this transcript (same site). Quote from Tor article from original article.

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