shivver13 (shivver13) wrote,

"Revolution of the Daleks" (review)

New Year's special come and gone. Review, with spoilers, of course.

First off, I really like the title of the episode, calling back to the usual format of Dalek episode titles. On the other hand, it doesn't make sense to me. What revolution is it referring to? The Dalek from "Resolution" got reconstituted and played it cool until it could launch its army of clones to take over the Earth. That isn't really a revolution - that's more of an invasion or possibly an infiltration. There was no revolt against the pure Daleks that showed up to exterminate them. So I'm confused. Or is it "revolution" in relation to the word "revolve", so perhaps a reference to the fact that it's been one revolution since "Resolution"? Hahaha I kill myself.

But I digress.

I'm of two minds on this episode. I enjoyed it, and it was a great adventure, with the Doctor having to break out of jail (yeah, yeah, she didn't really) and then the Dalek plotline culminating in the Doctor calling the pure Daleks to Earth to wipe out the infected Daleks and then having to defeat them as well. In a way, it felt like a callback to "Remembrance of the Daleks", in which the Doctor engineered it so that the Daleks fought each other. And, of course, there's the return of Captain Jack. I also enjoyed the return of Robertson. He's certainly not a character that's meant to be liked, but he's well-drawn as an over-confident businessman who's used to being surrounded by yes-men and thinks he can bully his way through any situation. Not that there's anyone real that that character might have drawn inspiration from.

The thing is, the episode didn't do anything well. It tried to focus on Yaz's problems, so the main story about the Daleks was sidelined in favor of heart-to-heart discussions between pairs of characters. It's been consistent in Chibnall's run that character development comes in the form of discussions and monologues that halt the momentum of the episode, rather than from the story itself. Compare this episode to "School Reunion", which handled Yaz's issues in the form of Sarah Jane. Sarah Jane had the same heart-to-heart with the Doctor that Yaz did, but hers occurred while the Doctor was trying to repair K-9 to analyze the Krillitane oil, rather than in an aside with no other purpose than to talk, and as soon as she had said her piece, the episode picked right back up as K-9 woke up. In this episode, all of the discussions were in bubbles, destroying the pacing and any sense of urgency. Moreover, Sarah Jane learned that she needed to get on with her own life not because the Doctor told her so (and in fact, he did say so and she dismissed it), but because she realized that what the Krillitanes were trying to do was wrong. Yaz didn't learn this lesson - which is fine; she wasn't supposed to - but I'm sure if/when she does, it'll be the Doctor telling her so rather than her experiences showing her so.

I think the episode spent too much time setting up aspiring Prime Minister and the robot police force, and thus didn't have any time to show us what Ryan and Graham had been doing during the ten months that the Doctor had been gone. Thus, at the end of the episode, Ryan's reasons for leaving the TARDIS felt hollow. Why did his mates need him? We've only seen his mates once in two seasons, when he returned home and his friend complained he hadn't been answering his calls. Ryan said he knew what he wanted to do with this life, but what was it? Maybe I missed all of that in the dialogue, but again, it should have been shown, not told. (Note: I liked Ryan's reasons. He really grew up over the past two seasons, and taking control (and responsibility) for his life is the correct direction for him. This just wasn't well-demonstrated here.)

Then there was Captain Jack, cheeky as usual but otherwise missing the traits that made him him. Sure, the TARDIS crew met him before - very briefly, during which he speeched at them then returned them, which was appropriate for the situation - but where was the charm and the resultant blushing, and especially the "Stop it!" from the Doctor? The real coup would have been having Robertson be disconcerted by Jack for a moment. Then Jack dumps his history on the companions, an interesting choice as Jack has, through DW and Torchwood, always endeavored to keep his secrets close. It would have been far more effective (and awesome) if, on the Dalek ship, he'd given the manipulator to Ryan to get them away and detonated the bombs himself, then, after the companions mourned him (and the Doctor telling them it's not a big deal), he came waltzing back in. He's got very specific powers. Let him use them, and shock the companions a bit in the process.

I will say that I'm disappointed that Yaz is the one staying with the Doctor. So far, through two series, she's been rather personality-less, showing very little of the competence and confidence she demonstrated in Thirteen's first episode, until she started showing the late-Season-Nine-Clara recklessness in the last few episodes of Season 12. Unfortunately, this episode had her obsessing about the Doctor, to the exclusion of her family, friends, career, everything, which I suppose, is in the grand tradition of Clara, Missy, River, Amy, Rose... At least Martha always intended to return to her family and career, and knew she had to get out.

And just a couple of things that really bugged me. First, doesn't anyone have any sympathy for the Doctor being in prison for nineteen years? "Yeah, yeah, space prison, blah blah. How DARE you abandon us for ten months?" Second, why does the human race - the entire race - never remember the robots that transported the planet among the other 25 planets and massacred people all over the globe? Yes, I realize that Missy said "humans don't remember anything" when trying to explain why they wouldn't remember Cybermen (even though those big stompy robots appeared in everyone's homes and murdered/upgraded people), but seriously... not a single person among Earth's six billion had a mobile with a camera? I spent a large portion of this episode yelling at the TV, "You people should KNOW what these things are!" and it kind of ruined the immersion.

So yeah. It was a fun episode and it was great to see new DW, but on the other hand... I'll just leave it at that.
Tags: review

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