“I always think I’m rid of them. Never am.”
That’s what the Doctor thinks of her oldest enemy, the Daleks….and maybe what they think of her.
After a season where new enemies challenged the Doctor, it makes sense the Daleks would return in a New Year’s Day story.
However, it’s more than stopping an invasion. It’s also about a man trying to set things right with a son.
That’s why the episode is called “Resolution”. It’s a season finale that will make fans already waiting for next year.
It begins with a story of a battle in the ninth century, where British troops united to stop a formidable enemy. They even split it in three pieces and buried it in the South Pacific somehow, along with Siberia and Yorkshire. One of those pieces is eventually found by two archeology students named Lin (Charlotte Ritchie) and Mitch (Nikesh Patel). When they’re not talking about a sudden New Year’s kiss, they talk about the remains of a long-ago battle and wonder if they’ll find Alfred the Great in Sheffield.
They also wonder about an unusual object. Under ultra-violet lights, it turns out to be a piece of the long-vanquished enemy…and it’s alive. Somehow it’s able to unite with the two other parts buried miles away.
Meanwhile, the Doctor, Graham, Yaz and Ryan talk about the 19 different New Years’ celebrations they just saw…not from Earth or the same year. Then they get a distress signal and wind up at the burial site. Mitch and Lin are surprised to see them and the TARDIS, and they tell the Doctor about a squid-like thing on the wall that’s suddenly gone. The goo it left behind is enough for the Doctor to find out the weird thing is a Dalek without its metal casing.
So where did it go? It wrapped itself around Lin, who is forced to do its bidding. That fact is actually revealed when she describes the being (listen closely), and it’s not shown until she gets home. Seeing the Dalek take over her body is almost as chilling as seeing it in its true form.
When they arrive at Graham’s house, they get an unexpected visitor: Ryan’s dad Aaron (Daniel Adegboyega). They’re still upset that he didn’t attend Grace’s funeral, but Aaron seems to be repentant. He wants to make things right with Ryan, even trying to sell microwave ovens. Ryan isn’t convinced, and almost tells his dad what he should be telling him. Aaron does admit he has made mistakes, but since it’s a new year he wants a new beginning. He later tells Graham he just couldn’t attend Grace’s funeral because he couldn’t face the fact that she was gone.
The Doctor and her crew, meanwhile, figure out Lin was attacked by the Dalek, and use her cell phone and other gizmos to find her. However, the Dalek on her is determined to get a new body and conquer the Earth. They also find out from Mitch that the burial site was actually funded by the Order of the Guardians, the group who was tasked to guard the Dalek pieces before it was revived.
Lin is eventually forced to take over an ironworks factory and make a new Dalek body. She tries to get it off her back, but it resists. Eventually, it becomes this form, which isn’t exactly the classic form but still very deadly. It could almost be a “Phoenix” model because it literally came back from the dead, and makes it even more frightening.
When it finally meets the Doctor, it has declared victory, and says nothing will stop it from bringing other Daleks to Earth. After all, it came back after it was defeated more than eleven hundred years ago. However, the Doctor isn’t intimidated, and says she will stop him as she has stopped its kind before.
Soon the Dalek is in full combat mode, attacking the Doctor and eventually making quick work of an Army battalion.
The Doctor is wondering how she’s going to stop the Dalek from contacting its battle fleet, and so are her friends and Aaron, who is now aboard the TARDIS and wondering where he is. She also notices the microwave oven, while Mitch revealed the Dalek was beaten the first time by being burned. Aaron thinks parts from his microwave may do the same thing, thanks to his engineering skills.
The battle moves to a major communications center (which strangely looks like AT&T Stadium near Dallas), where the Dalek is set to use all communication signals to call the fleet. It winds up knocking the internet and cell phones out, forcing a family to talk to each other (which is actually pretty funny).
The Doctor arrives and keeps the Dalek occupied while Graham, Yaz and Ryan install the microwave pieces on it. The Dalek’s casing is burned to a cinder…but not the creature inside. It quickly takes over Aaron’s body, and demands it to be taken to the fleet or else.
She does…then decides to send it to an exploding sun instead. However, it won’t let go of Aaron. Ryan begs his dad to hold on, but that vacuum is getting stronger. Finally, Ryan grabs his dad, and says he’ll give him another chance. That’s enough to get Aaron to overcome the Dalek, and it’s sent off like Harrison Ford dumped the Russian terrorist in Air Force One.
That final twist may have been a way to get Aaron and Ryan to reconcile, but it worked fine because Aaron also came up with the way to destroy the Dalek casing, too.
What’s next for the Doctor and her friends? Well, more journeys and sights to see. There’s also a hope Lin and Mitch might wind up together, too.
Making a New Year’s episode was a good idea because it is about new beginnings, good and bad. It could have been the start of a nightmare for Earth if the Doctor hadn’t stopped the Dalek. Instead, the New Year was a new beginning for Ryan and those archaeology students.
If there’s one scene that should have been cut, it’s the Doctor’s attempt to call Kate Stewart and UNIT for help. She’s told UNIT is out of business for a while because of financial disputes (supposedly related to Brexit). Couldn’t the Two Osgoods done something to stop this? Hopefully this will be settled soon.
Looking back, Jodie Whittaker has been very successful taking over the TARDIS. Her portrayal as the Doctor is a successful one, and the season was a good mix of sci-fi and history lessons that are quite relevant. Having a Dalek resurrecting itself was a great finish.
If there is a problem, it’s juggling three Companions in the same story. Fans may suspect someone may leave the TARDIS soon.
Still, let’s hope we’ll see other past enemies like the Cybermen and maybe the Weeping Angels or the Stenza.
For now, fans will be spending the year re-watching this past season, and hoping for more exciting travels early in 2020.