The first new episode of Doctor Who this year!
The only new episode of Doctor Who this year…
I won’t kick off and rant about the BBC’s decision to not have a new series until 2020. Being British I will just repress my anger and ignore it until the day I die of a stress-induced heart attack.
Ahem. Resolution, the aptly titled episode. Why apt? Because of the day it was released, innit?
We start off with the Battle of Hope Valley in the ninth century. Tribes have joined forces to fight off a monster.They beat it but only after some shocking casualties.
The creature is chopped up into three separate pieces and a three people are nominated from the collected armies to take these pieces and bury them in distant corners of the world. They are called Custodians and are sent on their way. The first buries his bit on Anuta Island in the South Pacific which seems a tad implausible, I mean, would one man really be able to travel that far in the ninth century?. The second takes his to Siberia where he buries it in the snow where he marks the grave with his sword. The third is shot in the back as he crosses Yorkshire which is pretty much textbook Yorkshire.
But what about Team TARDIS? They have been to nineteen New Year’s Eves in a row. Like you do. The ones that are mentioned are:
Mesopotamia, Graham’s favourite, which was apparently the first New Year’s Eve. This is true although technically true-ish. It is the earliest recorded celebration, 4,000 years ago, but I imagine that it had been celebrated for hundreds of years before that. But it wasn’t a one day event. No. The festivities took place over eleven days and, the event is called Atiku by the way, was also a celebration of the sky god Marduk over some ocean dwelling hussy called Tiamat. Were our heroes there for the whole eleven days?
Yaz liked the one that they spent in 1801 where they helped Giuseppe Piazzi.to discover a dwarf planet. Which is, again, true-ish. He discovered the planet Ceres but it wasn’t classified a dwarf planet until 2006 so why does Yaz call it a dwarf planet? Did the Doctor tell her about the reclassification?
Ryan enjoyed the one they spent in Sydney in 2000. Did he and the rest of Team TARDIS notice the events of The TV Movie effecting the celebrations? “Oh, just ignore the timey-wimey stuff, Ryan, it will be sorted by me earlier, yeah? Graham, stop walking through that window!”
But you don’t want to see them faffing about, right? So let us head back to the site of the third Custodian who was shot. You never guess what happens to him. He only has Sheffield Town Hall built over his remains, and his grave incorporated into the sewer system. I wonder if his ghost attends council meetings?
We have Lin and Mitch, archeologists (well, Lin is. I am not sure about Mitch) and secretly in love with one another. The shared a drunken kiss over the festive period – Ooooooooooh! – and are now sheepish around one another. Oh, and it is New Year’s Day 2019 which is a bit coincidental considering what Team TARDIS have been up to.
“Did our kiss mean anything to you?”
“Um, yes. Why do you think I invited you here, silly!”
“Oh! Right! Great! Yabba-dabba doo! Ah, yeah…”
Lin has invited a potential mate to have a look at some ancient remains that have been found? Hmmm, sounds like every first date that I have been on.
“Do you know who this chap was?”
“Sorry, was that out of character? The idiot writing this unreview clearly doesn’t have a handle on how I speak.”
“Yeah… Anyway, no, not a clue.”
“Richard III was dug up under that car park in Leicester, weren’t he?”
“Sure, but it is unlikely to be anyone important. Probably Bernald the Berk. Although we did think it was Alfred the Great at one point.”
“Because we found something looking like burnt cakes. They are over there under that ultraviolet light…”
But the burnt cakes have gone! Has someone eaten them? The ultraviolet light has given life to the chunk of monster (*looks to camera and shrugs*) and has summoned the other parts of itself from across the world to become whole.
This isn’t the unlikely thing. The descendants of the Custodians, that is what is unlikely. How did they get descendents in the first place? One of them is on a tiny island in the middle of the ocean, did women wash up on shore like driftwood? The other is in the middle of a tundra. Did they slope off for a quick bit of fumbling with the instruction to their partner that any offspring must be sent to where the father is, so that they can also be Custodians?
Anyway. The monster’s spatial shifting has alerted the Doctor who happened to be scanning for that sort of thing. Every girl needs a hobby, right? She postpones the twentieth New Year’s Eve trip to Earthsea when she locates the source. They are now going to Sheffield.
Back under Sheffield Town Hall, Lin has found her burnt cakes on a wall. Only it now looks more like a squid than confectionary that has been singed by errant kings. I have to say, I loved the way it was clinging to the wall. It looks like the type of wall art that H.P. Lovecraft would have.
The TARDIS arrives causing shock and awe as usual. By the way, it looks beautiful on this set, doesn’t it? Mitch tells the Doctor what has been going on, as you would do if a big blue box full of strangers appeared, and they wander over to where Lin saw the squid.
The squid is gone. Of course it is gone, it probably has things to do. All that is left are globs of oozy slime on the wall. The Doctor takes a sample to analyse and another in case she needs something to spread on a piece of bread.
Lin leaves, and yes I am conflating events as usual, with the squid which is attached to her back. She gets home and immediately it talks in her mind. “Show me the interweb! I must look at pictures of kittens and other various fluffy baby animals!” After it has slaked the need for looking at cute things, it gets Lin to start hacking the internet for information but also for locations of alien spare parts. We see the sites of UNIT’s Black Archive, Torchwood, LINDA, and the Boy Scout Association before the possessed Lin finds what she is looking for…
The TARDIS, with Mitch in tow (I think), arrives in Graham’s house, neatly flattening his chair. That was his favourite chair that was, a proper heirloom passed down from father to son for the last thousand years. The seat has been worn down by generation of Graham’s ancestors, their buttocks creating the type of patina that you only get from centuries of lazy sods who can’t be bothered to get up. He loved that chair he did. Poor innocent chair. Rest in piece, brave chair, we salute you!
Apparently they must have stopped off at Mitch’s place because he now has lots of paperwork and a big book about the Custodians. In the Whoniverse the legend of the Custodians is as big as the legend of Atlantis. Big enough to allow a coffeetable book to be published about it.
There is a knock at the door – rat-a-tat-tat – and Graham answers it. He slams the door shut sharpish. There is another knock at the door and Ryan joins his gramps and opens it. It is his father. Ryan’s father not Graham’s dad.
“Hiya, Ryan, it is me. Aaron, your father.”
“Yeah, I know…”
“I have come to make amends for being absent from your life, yeah?”
“Can’t you invite me onto The Jeremy Kyle Show like other normal deadbeat dads?”
Aaron and Ryan go to a cafe to talk. I think it is the same cafe that was used for the promo adverts for series 11. The Sheffield Advertiser, from the promo, is in the cafe still. It is the exact same newspaper I think. There are no signs of The Beano.
Aaron is now making and selling Matsoki combination microwave and ovens. Ryan isn’t impressed. “You can order them online, yeah?” What we learn here is that Aaron is a bit of an amateur engineering expert. They also talk about his not being there for Ryan.
“Why weren’t you here for me?”
“Because I was an ass. We all make mistakes in our youth that we don’t realise were mistakes until it is too late to rectify the mistake. It isn’t like I have a time machine, is it?”
“Um… I meant a watch! See, look, Mickey’s hands point at the numbers so you can tell the time.. Erm…”
“Wow, what an age we live in!”
The Doctor and Yaz are in the TARDIS. They are examining the goop. I say “and Yaz” but she is just holding test tubes and going “hmmm” whenever the Doctor says anything. She knows what kind of creature they are dealing with. Sadly not a Monoid, nope, it is a Dalek. And was anyone who watched this surprised? The most evil creature ever? If it hadn’t been a Dalek, people would have probably lynched the Doctor Who production team. Given the lack of a series this year, they still might.
Our Dalek buddy isn’t your common Kaled mutant, oh no, he is a reconnaissance scout. What this means is that he is more on the ball than his hapless cousins who are bumpkins in comparison.
Our possessed archaeologist has stolen a car, a boat, a unicycle, a cherry-red 1966 Schwinn Sting-Ray ,a police car, and is driving like she has pooped herself. All this because the Doctor is trying to follow her.
Dalek Lin, clad in police clothes, stops off at MDZ Research, a weapons research company that groups such as UNIT, Torchwood and the BPRD use to save money on their budget. Outsourcing the study of alien tech is a big business I would imagine. But not having proper alien savvy guards can have its own problems…
“Stop! Who goes there? Friend or foe?”
“Hello, human scum, I am here to make a trolley dash. Move out of the way or I will exterminate you!”
“You can’t kill me! I am the only gay character in this episode! If you kill me, people will get all angry and say that the writer is homophobic! Just think of the young children who are watching this. What would they think if they see a gay man killed? It may, if they are gay themselves, scar them for life! I am this episode’s only chance of fostering an inclusive attitude to homosexuality! I am the Martin Luther King of gayness, I must be a beacon of hope to my fellow…”
“How do you know that you are the only gay character?”
“Erm, because I mention a male partner…”
“Not all gay characters mention the fact that they are gay. For all you know every other character, unless stated otherwise, might be gay.”
“I didn’t think of that…”
“What is your name?”
“I don’t have one…”
“You are not a character, you are a walk-on part. Fair game. EXTERMINATE!”
“Tabloid press, avenge my death…”
This more or less happened. The newspapers had a field day. He did have a name by the way, Richard I think.
Lin the Dalek is then seen wheeling out a stolen shopping trolley full of mysterious alien artefacts in pelican cases. Is she going to a bring-and-buy sale? One of the cases contains a Dalek gun. This does not bode well…
..as is proven when she arrives at a farm, shoots a possibly homosexual farmer who may or may not be secure enough in his sexuality to not need to mention the fact that he is gay, and gets her blacksmithing on.
The ghost of the farmer drifts over and looks at his remains. “Aw, that ain’t fair. I didn’t even get a chance to tell my murderer about the torrid love affair I was having with Humberto the local greengrocer. Oh well, better get myself up to Heaven…”
The TARDIS along with Mitch, Aaron, his microwave oven and everyone else arrives. They find Lin who has been stripped of vehicle status. The Dalek has a new body, one that looks more like what it would normally be seen in of a Friday night down the Skarosian nightclub, Bumpers.
Whoa! Wait a rel! Dalek Lin manages to build a Dalek case within hours? Even an expert blacksmith wouldn’t be able to do this. Would a Dalek be any better at blacksmithing? I don’t think so. Even with parts salvaged from previous Dalek wrecks, it would be impossible to knock up a Mark III Travel Machine in the time that she did. Although the hasty speed of the manufacture does explain how it will be easily defeated by Aaron’s microwave oven later on. Um, spoilers, sorry!
The Dalek looks, um, alright. Smaller maybe than normal, less bumps, more rusty than the usual bronze body. Sounds exactly like a Dalek, so Lin must have pinched a Moog as well when stealing parts. Not sure what I think of the way it looks. It is a one-off so it, for the purposes of this story, is perfectly fine. I guess.
The Doctor and the Dalek have a confrontation.
“Get off this planet!”
“No, you get off this planet!”
This is exactly what was said. Almost.
The Dalek, who can’t be faffed to deal with the Doctor, flies off to Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) where it crashes through the roof…
“Oh, crap! The roof has caved in!”
“What is it? Can you hear people screaming in fear?”
“Is it Edward Snowden?”
Using the vast powers of GCHQ, the Dalek is going to use their facilities to send a Skype to whatever Dalek fleets that may be passing with the message: “Come here, boys! The living is easy!” To do this, it will siphon all the power from the rest of the UK. A side effect of this is a terrible scene featuring a family who are forced to talk to one another instead of going online.
Please note that the entire family might be gay, the parents suppressing their homosexuality in order to have a family. None of them die.
The TARDIS arrives – “Not you guys again!” – with our heroes, Aaron, Aaron’s microwave, Mitch, Lin and a force field.
“Ay up, chuck! Stop your fiendish plans or we will be forced to stop you!”
“Why would I do that?”
“Because we have a microwave oven! Hah!”
“No, not a microwave oven! The traditional enemy of the Dalek race!”
“Eh? I thought I was your traditional enemy?”
“We do have lives outside of our encounters with you, you know?”
Using the fantastic powers of a microwave oven, the Doctor makes the Dalek explode. She cracks it open like a rotten egg! If only Lin hadn’t done such a shoddy job making the body.
The Dalek isn’t out of the game though. The squiddy body leaps up and attaches itself to Aaron. “Bang and the dirt is gone,” crows Dalek Aaron! “Now take me to Skaro or I will kill this sorry excuse for a father!”
The Doctor has no other choice. Well she does but she doesn’t want to upset Ryan. So they all clamber into the TARDIS – “Ooh, nice ship, I think I will take this too!” – and the Doctor sets the TARDIS engines going. They vworp away into space, heading towards…
…Skaro? No. It is a supernova. The Doctor opens the doors, everyone grabs on to something as the supernova threatens to suck them out. Aaron skids across the console room and grabs the doors of the TARDIS. The Doctor has opened the doors by a vacuum corridor just big enough to suck the Dalek off into space but it widens enough so that Aaron might be sucked off as well. We wouldn’t want that, would we, boys and girls?
Ryan has a secret plan. Using familial guilt and all that, he convinces his father to regain control of his mind enough to loosen the Dalek’s grip. It works! The Dalek is sent spinning off into the supernova screaming.
Please note that the Dalek may have also been gay. It doesn’t make Chris Chibnall homophobic though.
And that is that. Almost. We see our fam going off for further adventures. The story never ends. Although you won’t be seeing any of it this year…
So! Thoughts on the episode!
In Mitch’s Bumper Book of Obscure Legends, there is a picture of a classic-era Dalek. A very nice touch I thought. It ties both eras together. That is if it was a classic Dalek…
After being possessed by the Dalek, did Lin develop a fetish for sink plungers and egg whisks? Is so, did it put the kibosh on her relationship with Mitch or does he now dress up in a skirt and kitchen utensils to satisfy her sexually? Do we really want that mental picture?
As well as the whole ‘gay character killed off’ kerfuffle, there was another because of a Brexit joke involving UNIT who have been suspended, pending review, because of financial and funding disputes after Osgood spent all the cash on jelly babies and Jammy Dodgers. Gammon-faced Whovians did not find this funny; they wrote many letters to the Daily Mail.
What about the actors?
Charlotte Ritchie, as Lin, played the role expertly. There was two performances really, as Lin and as Dalek Lin, and the two were distinct. Did you note that Lin was right-handed and Dalek Lin was left-handed? Or was that the other way around? Hmmm. In any case, Ritchie was great. Loved her scenes with Mitch and her bad ass police car hijacking possessed by a Dalek squid stuff. Very good.
Nikesh Patel as Mitch. Meh. No, not really but he wasn’t much to write home about. A solid performance and that is all I can really say. This is probably a disservice but what the hell. He played Mitch excellently.
Daniel Adegboyega and Tosin Cole as Aaron and Ryan I have to mention as one. They worked well together. Not sure they convinced as father and son but they were both a much-needed bit of familial down-to-Earthness that we probably needed with all the body-possessing space squids and turbo blacksmithing. Loved every scene that they shared together.
Mandip Gill, our Yaz, was alright. My indifference to her continues even though she is a superb actor. She is good but I just can’t bring myself to care too much. Perhaps because her character is not as developed, in my eyes, as the others.
Bradley Walsh is fantastic as usual. Subtle here in his approach to Aaron and not subtle at all with how he slams the door on Aaron. Loved Graham, loved Bradley. He is the character.companion that we always needed on the show but didn’t know until we got him. Along with Donna Noble, Graham is one of my favourite companions.
Special mention for Laura Evelyn who played Polly. Yes, her of the Brexit gag. Loved that scene.
Jodie Whittaker, last but not least, finally gets her Dalek episode and what a stonker it is! Loved her in this. She always impresses as the Doctor. Well, she impresses me and I am hard to impress…ahem. For me she does nothing wrong. Loved the confrontation scene, loved her interactions with everyone else. I just plain love her.
Should you watch Resolution? Yes, of course and not just because there is naff all to watch for the rest of the year. It is a great episode and worth many rewatchings. Chris Chibnall’s finest script this series. Possibly.