"You Do Not Require Tea?"

Victory of the Daleks.

Fair warning: There are spoilers. No tea. No jammie dodgers. No apples. Just spoilers. Feel free to provide your own snacks.

So I don’t have as much to say about Victory as I did about Hour or Beast Below — and sure as hell not as much as I have to say about Time of Angels or Flesh and Stone.

Mostly I think Victory can be summed up as follows: mandatory Dalek episode. A little earlier in the season than most. Nice guest star turns. Standard Dalek fare. Perfectly satisfactory.

The War Room Team. Plus tea lady.

Ok, I do have a few other things I can say about it. (You knew I did, right?)

The Doctor arrives in Blitz London in response to an urgent call — literally, a phone call — from Winston Churchill only to find that the British have decided that Daleks are going to be their secret weapon against the Germans. They’ve just been freshly invented by a helpful scientist named Bracewell. Yeah. Like that’s really going to end well. Events transpire and the Doctor ends up freaking out, pounding on a Dalek who is trying to offer him tea, and shouting, “You are my enemy! And I am yours! You are everything I despise!….I am the Doctor! And you are the Daleks!”

Turns out this is just what the Daleks had in mind — they have a progenitor unit that refuses to recognize the units already in existence as “real” Daleks: they aren’t genetically pure enough after surviving the last Dalek holocaust. The Doctor’s testimony that they are Daleks is enough for the progenitor to spit out a whole new generation of (brightly colored for no apparent reason) Daleks. They immediately zap the impure Daleks out of existence and start the old popular Dalek game of “Exterminating Things.”

There isn’t a lot here that you haven’t seen in….well, pretty much every other Dalek episode ever made. The Daleks show up; yell “Exterminate!” a lot; there is a plan; the Doctor discovers and foils said plan. All the changes are rung quite pleasantly here, but there’s nothing wildly new.

There are some interesting quirks: Bracewell, the inspired scientist who “invented” the Daleks, turns out to be a Dalek creation himself, powered by an internal unit called an “oblivion continuum.” Is that not the most awesome thing you have heard of ever? Bill Paterson, who plays Bracewell with his usual delicacy of touch and enjoyment, gives the character more depth than the episode really calls for, which really helps flesh the last quarter of the show out.

When the Daleks try — as they inevitably do — to destroy the Earth by detonating Bracewell, the Doctor and Amy try to keep him from blowing up by reminding him of the years he has lived as a human, reminding him, essentially, that he doesn’t have to be a tool of the Daleks. What’s interesting here is that the Doctor leaps immediately to bad memories: he asks Bracewell to focus on the memory of the men he saw die during World War I and on the pain and loss he has suffered. Bracewell is still on the verge of exploding when Amy decides to ask him about the girl he never got to be with — Bracewell tells her about a girl named Dorabella and his memories of their relationship — and the oblivion continuum disarms itself.

What I thought was really interesting about this episode was — again — how 11 skips straight to pain and suffering, particularly with Bracewell. It’s also interesting that he starts to whale on the Dalek with a lead pipe, but understandable given his past relationship with the Daleks. I don’t know if there’s a lot more to be said about it other than that it seems like more evidence that 11 is a more solidly dark Doctor than we’ve had for awhile.

The other interesting trick here — other than the reappearance of the crack, of course — is Amy’s memory. She has no memory of the events of The Stolen Earth and Journey’s End. In addition to her other oddities — she could find Prisoner Zero; the crack in her wall — this seems like one more thing that might line Amy up for a Donna-like fate. I really really hope this isn’t the case, I have to say.

But, yeah, that’s about all I got for the first Dalek episode; I’m sure there will be more.

So until next time…