Or possibly particularly for those who’re a Dalek.
“Revolution of the Daleks” does, effectively, precisely what it says on the TARDIS-shaped tin. It’s a narrative of revolution, giving us a model new type of Dalek — Earth-grown due to a disconcerting mixture of the fallout of holding final yr’s New Yr particular hush-hush and the return of Chris Noth’s seedy Trumpian analogue Jack Robertson from 2018’s “Arachnids within the UK.” It’s additionally a Dalek story by and thru, and simply as writer-showrunner Chris Chibnall proved in “Decision,” he is aware of how you can write a stable, by-the-book a type of: there’s no actual interrogation of who the Daleks are and their relationship to the Physician right here; that’s by and enormous out of the way in which now that Jodie Whittaker has already discovered how you can stare down a sinister eyestalk. They’re right here, they’re offended house bigots, and so they’re gonna hover round and shoot demise beams and yell “EX-TER-MIN-AAATE.”
Within the practically 14 years Physician Who has been again on TV, the Daleks have been constructed up as probably the most fearsome military in Time and Area, after which damaged all the way down to a Dalek represents. However Physician Who’s New Yr’s particular introduced them proper again to 2005’s “Dalek” — and eventually nailed…
Which is sweet! One among the most important struggles Chibnall’s period of Physician Who has confronted has been how a lot it desires to be the type of totally different, commentary-heavy, sci-fi-as-parallel present that his and Whittaker’s first season leaned on, and the extra historically Physician Who-y journey storytelling (and self-referential) angles that got here to the fore of their second and most up-to-date season. “Revolution” strikes the steadiness between these selves effectively, for probably the most half.
Robertson’s return, and the way in which he worms himself into the UK’s political standing — through Expertise Secretary turned Prime Minister Jo Patterson (Harriet Walter) — feels very a lot within the vein of Chibnall commenting on the present Conservative authorities, in its penchant for company greed and backdoor influences the place coverage favours the non-public wealth of its cupboard members. Patterson’s eventual and full incapacity to deal with the disaster of a new Dalek civil conflict — when Robertson’s neo-Dalek safety drones go rogue and vogue themselves a brand new faction the Physician promptly sics the remainder of Dalek-kind on — studying like a thinly veiled have a look at Boris Johnson’s personal bumbling by the continuing coronavirus pandemic.
However then there’s these Daleks! And there’s Captain Jack (the returning, but once more, John Barrowman) again to rescue the Physician out of the jail she was trapped in on the climax of final season, itself full of outdated Physician Who monsters! There’s a dodgy time/house bubble escape! References to outdated companions! Explosions, and TARDISes, and Dalek ships, and Daleks flying out of these ships and into these TARDISes, and all that whizzbang journey enjoyable. Regardless that huge issues do occur in “Revolution” that play off issues from the final season, and may have huge ramifications going into the subsequent, it’s the type of episode that’s good for these one-off vacation specials pitched at a bigger viewers that’s not following alongside. Everybody, no matter which strategy they like, will get a little bit of what they need, and it seems a little bit of what they need is definitely Jodie Whittaker cackling with delight as her Physician blows a ton of Daleks up with a last-minute arse-pull of a plan.
That mentioned, what makes “Revolution” actually work is that beneath these two totally different faculties of Who that Chibnall is enjoying with right here, it’s really an episode about one of the vital Physician Who issues of all: how all of us react to the very concept of change itself.
On the large image stage, you’ve gotten the Daleks themselves reacting to this in a suitably Dalek approach, in that they hate it. The one motive the Physician’s plan in drawing a Dalek demise squad to Earth works is that she is aware of their blind hate will solely see the brand new Daleks inadvertently created by Robertson’s drone program — clones from the DNA remnants of the Recon Dalek from “Decision” — as a genetic impurity that should be purged. If the Daleks had rolled with their new, sleek-looking gunmetal selves and embraced that change, they might’ve accomplished a bang-up job of subjugating the Earth, contemplating the “Drone” Daleks have been doing fairly all proper murdering individuals in every single place. On the “villains” aspect you even have Robertson, who completely adapts to vary in flip, worming his approach out of scandal after scandal to not simply survive, however make out together with his fame intact once more, and possibly able to create extra issues for the Physician going ahead.
However then there’s Staff TARDIS, who’re all pressured to confront and adapt to nice change over the course of the episode. The Physician herself remains to be reeling from the revelations of her true origins — having placed on the large entrance for the Grasp after studying the reality of simply how she is linked to the foundational construction of Time Lord civilisation, she’s now had time (being imprisoned for untold years earlier than Jack rescues her) to essentially ponder the trauma of getting a lot of who they’re and have been hidden from themselves for thus lengthy.
That in flip is a trauma impacted by the temporal mistake that she and Jack return to Yaz, Ryan, and Graham nearly a yr since they have been final collectively, fairly than days, hours, and even weeks, forcing the Physician to not simply confront the ache such a traumatic separation has allowed to linger — particularly in Yaz’s case — but in addition the truth that that point has allowed her closest buddies to bear adjustments themselves.
Ryan particularly is the main target of that grand change, having not simply rebonded with the family and friends he had left behind to journey with the Physician, however been given the time to replicate on his journey and the way that has made him a greater buddy and particular person himself. We see it in small methods even earlier than “Revolution” reaches the inevitable, emotional climax of Ryan and Graham’s departure from Staff TARDIS, particularly with how he approaches the Physician and will get her to confide in him. There may be now, having had 10 months to course of and are available to phrases with the potential for the Physician to not be in his life any extra, an emotional and private confidence that Ryan has developed: his time with the Physician has modified him for the higher, and he now understands and accepts that, and will solely accomplish that faraway from the present second of time-and-space monster preventing adventures. Graham has too, on the same stage; his travels with the Physician have already allowed him to heal his relationship with Ryan, however time away from the TARDIS has additionally taught him the worth in watching his grandson develop as an individual outdoors of it.
Yaz then, the one companion for who the absence of the Physician made her coronary heart develop ever fonder, stands in an fascinating distinction, as a result of she just isn’t but fairly so prepared to simply accept change if it means not being with the Physician any extra. She is the one most overtly damage by the Physician’s “late” return, the one who, in contrast to Ryan and Graham, stayed rooted within the Alt-TARDIS, trying to hold on the Physician’s safety of Earth in her stead. She, for probably the most half, is paired well with Jack for a lot of “Revolution,” a personality who has already lengthy been established as understanding each the ache — actually and emotionally — of getting misplaced the Physician, but in addition the deep love that comes from being a wanderer within the fourth dimension by their aspect.
Jack is not only right here in “Revolution” because the catalyst of nice change (in spite of everything it’s he that reunites the Physician together with her buddies, after which helps set into movement the plan to lure the Daleks into infighting, on prime of being an emotional anchor for Yaz and the others), however an instance of its biggest lesson: that change is, actually and figuratively, a rebirth. The Daleks can not see that, to their very own undoing. However for the Physician and her buddies, Jack is symbolic of latest alternatives, variations, and development — and most crucially a bridge between the particular person you have been and the particular person you change into going by that course of.
That lesson offers for Ryan and Graham a minimum of, the drive to make their selection and keep behind on Earth as soon as the day is saved. That lesson would possibly even be one for Jack to re-learn somewhat approach too, not simply himself changing into at peace with the concept the Physician can enter and exit his life (in bizarre, usually explosively dire methods) now as an alternative of being so hung up on chasing the excessive of travelling in Time and Area once more, however reuniting himself with Torchwood’s Gwen Cooper. That lesson is there for the Physician to deal with herself now, as effectively, and the way she is going to course of the revelations of “The Timeless Youngsters” will little question be an enormous a part of her arc coming into the subsequent season of the present.
Nevertheless it’s additionally there for Yaz, and one which she’s seemingly not fairly so prepared to handle simply but. The haste at which she confirms her to want to remain aboard the TARDIS as Ryan and Graham reveal their exit, her emotional willingness to allow them to go and provides the Physician house to grieve within the episode’s closing moments, even that preliminary anger she felt when the Physician realises simply how lengthy she’s been away. After the final season gave Yaz a way of the hazard that may come as a part of the Physician’s life, it appears solely to have hardened her resolve and want to stay part of it. A change, sure, however one which takes a really fascinating and totally different path to the examples of it elsewhere in “Revolution.”
However that’s Physician Who, in the long run, isn’t it? It’s a present that’s, essentially, concerning the concept and energy of change: a brand new time and place each journey, a brand new face for the Physician each few years, new buddies and new foes and new encounters with acquainted variations of each. How all of us course of that change, whether or not it’s the heroes of the present or we as its viewers, is a dialog that’s all the time ongoing, a by line woven all through Physician Who’s very cloth. As a lot as “Revolution” reveals us the concept of change because the catalyst of journeys ending, it reveals us that additionally it is an ongoing course of too: one that would take the Physician, Yaz, and us alike to some very fascinating locations going ahead.
- Whereas the sight of a whole bunch of Daleks swarming into the very tight doorways of a TARDIS made for an unimaginable visible, it nearly looks as if a little bit of a waste of a whole TARDIS to casually destroy what may be one of many final surviving time machines of Gallifreyan society at this level simply to honeypot a single Dalek ship. The Physician did say it was a nuclear possibility too, however given her reflection elsewhere on this episode it might’ve been fascinating to see her battle with the concept of utilizing one among her final connections to Gallifrey to cease her biggest foes once more.
- Gwen Cooper references, on TV, within the yr of our lord 2021! You like to see it. As a lot as I’d’ve appreciated to have seen Jack reunite with Gwen, a minimum of we’ve Large End’s Torchwood audio dramas to hear that unfold.
- Talking of: With Ryan and Graham getting their very own psychic papers and a want to do some good within the Physician’s stead on Earth, when are they getting their very own audio spinoff?
- Airing on the finish of the episode however not half of it was the announcement that comic and actor John Bishop can be becoming a member of the present as Dan, a brand new companion to the Physician. It’s fascinating: Dan appears each acquainted and but totally different to the sorts of companion determine we’ve seen in trendy Physician Who, with comparisons to Graham in filling in that older, working-class male determine. But in addition, man, it might’ve been so fascinating to see Yaz and the Physician within the TARDIS alone…collectively. You know what I imply.
In 2021, Physician Who lastly returns with “Revolution of the Daleks,” and from what we all know of it thus far, looks as if it’s going to present us a model new faction of human-made Daleks…that the precise Daleks are none too happy with. However that is removed from the primary time…