Arabian (arabian) wrote,

Doctor Who 1x06 "Dalek" rewatch-review

As I've stated elsewhere, once I finished season two of New Who, I was going to rewatch and review what I call my "Her Name was Rose" collection (click here for the full list of episodes).

Wow, this was one was actually a LOT better than I had remembered it, quite amazing actually. In fact, it was so damn good that I'm unreasonably upset with the three things (one, admittedly, from a Doctor/Rose shipper point of view) that were not done well because if it hadn't been for those slight issues, this might be the best damn episode of new Who ever. Sigh, still there are those three issues and I want to deal with them first and get them out of the way.

First off, most of the episode was so powerful that the final scene between Goddard and Van Statten was just wrong. Terribly, terribly wrong. Especially as it was on the heels of arguably the most powerful scene in "Dalek" -- the Rose/Doctor/Dalek confrontation.) There has been so much death and destruction, and unlike Van Statten, Goddard actually appeared to be affected by it, and yet we have this final scene with her, grinning, quipping, throwing a cheap shot back at Van Statten (replacing his "M" cities for "S" cities) and it was just that: from the writer, Robert Shearman. (Actually, it was a cheap shot from Russell T. Davies as directed by BBC because they felt that Van Statten got off too easily. I stand corrected.) Unnecessary and it was quite an abrupt emotional switch. Of course, that scene did then segue into the final Doctor/Rose and Adam scene with its lighter tone, but just because that scene made the last one play out more smoothly does not detract from the quicksilver change in the emotional flow. It just didn't work for me.

I was also slightly bothered by the Rose/Doctor interaction through most of the episode. I do admit freely that it mostly comes from my own shipper bias. As of the last episode, it makes perfect sense that Rose would quickly and easily dismiss any romantic connection between she and the Doctor. As I wrote in my "World War Three" rewatch-review:
[Rose is] still in denial mode overall. She enjoys the fact that she clearly DOES mean something special to him ... but I don't think she quite realizes how reciprocal it is. Others do. Mickey obviously sees something there despite her denials; he just knows that there *is* something there. Her mother calmly mentions that she has to accept the Doctor now since Rose is infatuated with him. Of course, Rose denies it, but Jackie just ignores that denial because it's as obvious to her as it is to Mickey ...
And, we see that here as well. Rose flirts with Adam, standing a little too close to him, denying anything like that between her and the Doctor, and while it's not fun to watch (and really, it's not), it's perfectly in character and does follow the flow of the episodes preceding it.

And, I will add that I could see (possibly, could be my overactive shipper imagination) that it was more Rose trying to slip into that 'cute boy/I'm nineteen, I should flirt' mode. She seems to be trying too hard to be impressed by him, and, she calls him on his lack of concern over nearly causing World War Three so it can be shipper-wanked (ooh, I just made that up!) that she was pushing those feelings for the Doctor she simply won't acknowledge deep, deep down by concentrating on the cute boy genius. Could be. Either way, what we saw and the shipper-wanked perspective flow nicely from "World War Three."

The Doctor's point of view does so as well. We get a a flash of a look at the idea of Rose spending time with Adam, and, of course, his devastation at the idea of losing Rose ... and being responsible for making that call.

Then there's the biggie: The Dalek calling Rose the woman that the Doctor loved and his reaction to that statement is practically an acknowledgement. So, it was there, the flow of where they should be emotionally, but for the most part, it just felt ... off. I remember thinking back when I first watched this (and even my second watch a few months ago), that I didn't get how on earth the Dalek would have the slightest clue how the Doctor feels about Rose.

In retrospect, I feel like the 'duh' bell went off inside my head. I also wrote in the "World War Three" write-up, that while Rose was unaware of her own feelings for the Doctor, she was pretty aware that he was into her. The Dalek, no doubt, got more from Rose than just her DNA if he was getting her emotions, etc. So it likely was aware of thoughts in Rose's mind and since she'd been talking of the Doctor, was thinking of the Doctor, her knowledge of his feelings for her were close enough to the surface that the Dalek got that memo. So that makes sense, but I should have gotten that from the first watch. I dunno, maybe others easily did and I was just slow on the uptake.

The point is that while we have moments and things that SHOULD fit in the flow of the Doctor/Rose relationship as established thus far, the emotional, organic flow simply isn't there. The early part of the episode with just the flash of a reaction to Adam "canoodling" with Rose and the latter, almost "eh" reaction to the pretty-boy coming along with them is a little too removed from the reveal of the depth of his feelings in "World War Three." And the last scene -- the response to Adam coming along -- is a definite downshift from the whole devastation at losing the woman he loves bit. I just don't think that Shearman quite got the Doctor/Rose relationship, or if he did, he didn't hit the right notes to sell it. But, hey, maybe that's just my shipper self wanting more, so I can let this one slide. After all, I'm quite sure that the non-shippers didn't have too much of an issue with the fact that Rose and the Doctor weren't as into each other all around as shippers would love to squee about.

Taking my shipper bias out of the equation, it still remains that I did find it frustrating that the first and third things interrupted by total enjoyment of the episode because the rest of the episode was so very good. Seriously, I was brought near tears during five scenes, and one of them involved the stretching of a Dalek tentacle towards the sunlight. Overall, there was such emotion, and such strength of character of both the Doctor and Rose was revealed, how these two at heart are so very good; how they will always try to think of the bigger picture and do what's best. As someone who loves both characters, it was beautiful to watch.

Rose has such an incredible heart, so full of compassion and love. In "The End of the World," she was thrown by the alien-ness of the aliens, and despite the evil plans of the Gelth and the Slitheen, she's now accepted that aliens are just another race and to judge each individually on their own merits. For me, I had no knowledge of the Daleks and their background when I first watched this, thus I had no clue just how evil the Daleks were other than the Doctor's spiel on them, but hearing three minutes worth of a recap doesn't really tell the whole story. And, of course, Rose didn't hear any of that recap, so she just approached the Dalek as a suffering alien, one in need of her and the Doctor's help.

What blows me away is that even after knowing what I do now about the Daleks, the writing and vocal acting by Nicholas Briggs (as the Dalek), I still felt sympathy for this "mutated" one, and could completely understand why Rose felt empathy at the end for it despite its path of destruction. Her final scene when it's begging as much as a Dalek can for orders -- as she was the one who gave it new life, begging her to allow it to exterminate itself, my goodness, it was just amazing. The writing, the directing (by Joe Ahearne) were just exquisite. I was actually tearing up for a Dalek begging for death. How did they do that? I don't know, but this scene wouldn't have worked without Billie Piper's exceptional performance.

She sells Rose's compassion in the first scene with the Dalek and then her empathy in the latter so beautifully. In my opinion, this episode features Piper's finest work to date thus far. She's just brilliant. For the Doctor, we saw him fully reveal so much of himself, his devastation at the Time War when he saw the Dalek for the first time and in the scene where the creature tells the Doctor that he would make a good Dalek. I know I raved about Christopher Eccleston's acting last week (and, really I've raved about him in all five of the preceding rewatch-reviews), but honestly, throw those all together and as good as his highs in those five are, none of them compare to the power and just sheer jaw-dropping acting on display throughout "Dalek," but especially in these two scenes. I could try and use words to do them justice, but I don't think I'd come close to succeeding, so if you haven't watched them in a while, do yourself a favor and rewatch whenever you get the chance.

So we see Eccleston flexing his acting muscles the like of which we haven't seen to such a degree thus far on this series and it's astounding to behold. Through the dialogue, the situation and (MYGOD!!) his acting, we get more insight into the Doctor; we see again just how deeply he's been affected by the Time War and his role in it. When confronting the Dalek, we also see how fine a line he's walking to the edge of insanity. It shows even more how important Rose is to the Doctor and what she's done for him, lightened his load, his guilt and is saving his soul.

And how she gets that. She SO gets that. She's trapped with a creature that she just witnessed kill lots of people, she's gonna die by the hand/laser-thingie? of that same creature and what's important to her is reassuring the Doctor. Like in "The Unquiet Dead," in a moment of near-death, she seeks to absolve him of his guilt. As I wrote in that rewatch-review ...
She wanted to be there, it was her choice. Another one of those small moments, simple ways in which Rose made him better by at least allowing him to grasp that now and then.
And she does it again, even as her voice is breaking. She pleads with him to accept that it wasn't his fault, that she wouldn't have missed traveling with him for the world. Oh, Rose. And yet, judging from his expression, the look in his eyes, we all know that if she had died, her words wouldn't have done a bit of good. I mean, we DO know that for sure because when he thinks she was exterminated, he's already blaming himself. Oh, Doctor.

Relive the angst yourself ... oh, you two.

Which brings us to the final bit of Doctor/Rose in the episode: The final scene where Rose asks and the Doctor allows Adam to come along with them. Finally, the whole issue of Adam coming along with them. I didn't remark on this in my original write-up last night (and I'm not sure why), but it's been brought up a few times in comments and so I'm editing my thoughts in to address it. Why would the Doctor allow Adam to come with them? Aside from the no-doubt production-driven need to have him there for a Doctor-lite episode next, there's actually a character-driven reason behind it.

As I wrote about in length in my "World War Three" review -- the Doctor is constantly looking for a buffer between he and Rose in those early months (of both Nine and Ten) when the emotional waters begin to make waves.
Like in "School Reunion," the Doctor asks Mickey to join he and Rose on their adventuring and it was quite clear to me that his intention was to put a buffer between he and Rose and their growing closeness after their "humans wither and die" conversation. The same, I do believe, can be said about this invitation. The Doctor had revealed his strong feelings for Rose on two separate occasions in the last couple of hours. The first could be excused and dismissed in the heat of battle, but the latter -- a blatant plea disguised as temptation to keep her with him -- had no such excuse, and coupled with the earlier reveal made it quite clear to the Doctor *and* Rose that something was there.

So, Mickey showed that he wasn't quite the idiot that the Doctor had assumed, and here he was, a handy way to widen that ever-growing closeness between the Doctor and Rose before he did something stupid like choose her over the many. So, he asked Mickey to join them, good buffer. Again, I could be wrong, but I don't think I am. After all, it's very similar in situation to why the Doctor asked him in "School Reunion."

And if you take the whole comparison further, remember that he'd asked Sarah Jane first, and then Mickey ... and then Reinette (we'll just ignore Moffat's out-of-character take on the Doctor asking, and stick with how it *should* have flowed within canon) in the following episode, looking for someone, anyone to create that buffer between them. Here, when Mickey declines, the Doctor -- as in the series two episodes, doesn't stop there -- he agrees to let Adam join them in the very next episode, and a few episodes later (after doing an *incredibly* stupid thing for Rose), he asks Jack ... yet another attempt at a buffer.
So here we have that pattern begin to show: 'I reveal too much to Rose, oh noes. But, look, I can ask this fellow to join us, cause a distraction. That works!' It completely makes sense that that is where the Doctor is coming from. As for Rose ... why does she entreat the Doctor to let him join them after what the Doctor's been through? Two reasons: First off, she's quite grateful for what the Doctor had shown her, and her earlier conversation with Adam made her believe that he would appreciate that wonder as well. Why wouldn't she want to share that kind of experience? She has no one to really talk to about it, who's in the same position she is ... newly experiencing it.

Secondly, perhaps it's not as consciously done as the Doctor, but I think that Rose is beginning to really become aware of those shifting emotional waters herself. This is the second person who's called her on having a "relationship" with the Doctor (third if you count Van Statten's crude comments), and she might just be thinking somewhere under conscious thought that maybe there's something to the supposition. So, she sees Adam as a distraction as well to create a buffer between whatever is happening between her and the Doctor.

Okay, moving on ... the plot itself is very strong, all-around with no holes or moments that make you go 'huh?' other than those I've already mentioned. That leaves my final thoughts on the acting, there were three other main cast members in this episode aside from the Doctor and Rose: Adam, Van Statten, and Goddard (and, of course, Briggs as the voice of the Dalek). Other than Briggs, none were up to par with Eccleston and Piper -- but, really, those two are regularly fabulous, their work in this episode was nothing short of magnificent, that's not an insult to the other actors.

Bruno Langley as Adam was good; he played the pretty boy genius, nothing outstanding and not terribly charismatic, but he played the role as called for. On the other hand, I really liked Anna-Louise Plowman's Goddard. She had a nice bite and spark, showing a lovely sympathy for the Doctor and those slaughtered. Great job. Which leaves Van Statten as played by Corey Johnson; I'm sorry, but for me, he just did not cut it. I didn't buy him as this powerful man, this computer genius, this heartless bastard. I just didn't buy him, period. A rare case of a miscasting goof. Ah well. He was just the catalyst for the good stuff: Mainly the Doctor and the Dalek, and Rose and the Dalek.

Okay, random stuffies ...

- I also really liked the female soldier who was guarding Adam and Rose. I wish I knew the name of the actress because she did an excellent job with her one, big scene.

- Moving onto a shallow note: There were some really gorgeous shots of Billie Piper in this episode.

- Nice foreshadowing for "The Long Game" about Adam and his weaselly ways. First, when he was telling Rose about hacking into the US defense system, he laughed about almost causing World War Three and even when questioned by Rose, he still maintained that it was funny watching them run around dealing with it. Secondly, when the Dalek is at the bottom of the stairs, Rose and the soldier quietly watched and waited to see what will happen; Adam taunted the Dalek. And lastly, the one he's called on, he doesn't stick around to even try and make sure Rose makes it. Dude doesn't even look back, he just skedaddles under that lowering cement and doesn't think twice about Rose. Loser.

- The scene where the Dalek wipes out all of those soldiers/personnel with three well-placed, well-thought out shots (the sprinkler system, the lower and upper levels in order to electrocute them) was pretty dang brilliant. It gives me chills every time I watch it. I love when we are shown why the Doctor is THE DOCTOR, and the like, and not just told ... such as seeing why the Dalek's are so frightening. Look at what they can do: Withstand a hail of machine-gun bullets and then take out a whole group of people with a few simple steps of meticulous, economic actions. Scary.

- I was annoyed with the Doctor appearing like an idiot for talking so freely about his alien-ness to Van Statten. I understand why he did so with the Dalek -- duh!, but I thought that he should have gotten himself under control by then. Ah well. Scratch that. Shearman (below) gave a perfect explanation for why the Doctor spoke so freely in front of Van Statten and I really should have seen that myself, my bad.
"The Doctor has met a Dalek. Everything has changed. The world could end. Even worse, from his point of view, everything he has sacrificed counts for nothing. He doesn't give a stuff about Van Statten. He's too angry for that. He'll do or say anything at this point to get that Dalek destroyed, and he couldn't care less about subtlety. I stand by the scene, actually, though I can understand your difficulties with it."
- I thought it was kinda cool that both the Doctor and Rose were able to get the Dalek to talk. Yes, of course, the Doctor did being the Doctor and all. And yes, of course, Rose did it by mentioning the Doctor, but I do think it was more about the compassion (and lack of fear) that she was showing it as well. It was just cool.

- Not much funny in this episode, but I did love the Doctor's comment (and delivery of said comment): I don't need to make claims, I know how good I am. Oh, yes, you are, Doctor. Yes, you are.

- Finally, DUDES! They so should have kept the deleted hug! Why on earth did they delete that hug? Why?! It makes no frickin' sense whatsoever.

- Finally, handporn! time: Or rather, not. {{sniff, sniff}} No handporn. :( Not even one quick hand-clasp. All we get is Adam (ADAM!?!?) holding onto Rose's hand as they run from the Dalek. Hey, but at least she does pull her hand away. Still. Sigh, no Doctor/Rose handporn. That's just wrong.

  • Previous Doctor Who Rewatch-Reviews
  • Tags: billie piper, christopher eccleston, doctor who, doctor/rose, rewatch-review, tv

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