So far I’ve sung nothing but praise for Series 1. I’m afraid I’m going to have to continue this trend with my latest review, as Robert Shearman’s Dalek is the definition of perfection. It was a flawless way to reintroduce the Dalek’s, probably too perfect as in my opinion no other Dalek story has yet been able to top it. It has beautiful dialogue, a sympathetic villain and a thoroughly compelling plot. And remarkably it manages to do so much within the short space of 45 minutes.
First lets start with the Dalek itself. I think character wise it does the story a lot more justice to focus on one Dalek. This gives it an identity, rather than exploring the plan of the Dalek’s as a species, we explore the journey of this sole Dalek. We can also explore the Doctor’s relationship with this one Dalek. It works so well because we actually pity it from the beginning. We know the creature inside is horrific and evil, but does that justify the pain it is going through? We see a great transformation in the Dalek’s character. At first he is simply a damaged solider, however upon absorbing Rose’s biomass he becomes the unstoppable killing machine that we know so well. We soon learn as he becomes more powerful he also becomes more human. It hates this, it has become an abomination in it’s own eyes. We pity it once more, which is aided by the fact that we get to see the pathetic mutation hiding in the metal case and it’s desire for death. You can’t cover such an emotional transformation with an entire army of Dalek’s, and that’s why this is a story that is supreme above all overs.
The first scene between the Dalek and the Doctor is particularly interesting as it shows how the Doctor and the Dalek both are of the same circumstances, alone in the universe. This only increases our sympathy of the Doctor; he’s now become just as lonely and frightened as his greatest enemy. I also love his pure hatred of the Dalek, gloating over how his entire race is dead as if with pride of his actions. I much prefer Eccleston and Smith’s relationship with the Dalek’s to Tennant’s. It’s a more interesting one as the Doctor will always try and find the peaceful solution, however with the Dalek’s there is no patience, they must be destroyed.
This story is probably the ultimate in terms of exploration of the time war on the Doctor’s character. It covers his rage and sadness brilliantly. The Doctor is enraged, his people are dead but a Dalek get’s to survive. He HATES this. So he strikes out, mimicking the Dalek in a cold way by attempting to ‘Exterminate’ it. The story builds upon effective parallels between the Dalek and The Doctor, evident in The Doctor’s wish for the race to die, and the idea the Doctor is changing in to someone not completely above the Dalek’s in terms of morality. This idea reaches a conclusion when the Doctor attempts to destroy it himself. There’s sorrow about the Doctor during this scene, as he comes to a greater realization than ever that he has lost his race. It’s as if he feels it’s his only way of getting over the grief by killing the Dalek.
Although the Dalek is a character to be pitied in this episode, he is also a character to be feared. This is the best portrayal of the might of the Dalek’s. It effectively portrays the alien as an unstoppable killing force, as he makes his way through the base killing each solider one by one, without so much as a scratch. This goes the back to the idea of the Dalek’s being better portrayed in smaller numbers as we get to see this one Dalek’s conquest. It’s why I’m fond of the Cult of Skaro, they have personalities and it’s far more interesting than watching a mindless army. It also succeeds in showing the high intelligence of the Dalek, as he calculates the most effective methods of killing the soldiers by turning on the water. This represents their horrific nature as it makes killing out to be a task to be done as efficiently as possible.
Overall this is a fantastic story that shows the Dalek’s (or Dalek) in their true might. Not a single flaw, brilliantly paced and great character development.