Series 11 was a great introduction to the Thirteenth Doctor, with a focus on ‘back to basics’ after the over-complicated Moffat era from 2010-2017, the show featured more of an emphasis on the real-life relationships of the companions, more particularly Graham (Bradley Walsh) and Ryan (Tosin Cole). However, the series lacked a bit of ‘oomph’ in terms of storytelling – not that every story has to be the most important/over the top event but it definitely helps to get audiences hooked. On New Years Day, fans were treated to an extra special episode which featured the return of the Doctor’s greatest enemy – the Daleks, in Doctor Who: Resolution. It also ended Jodie Whittaker’s first run in the role with a bang and demonstrated how Series 12 can improve on the previous year’s series.
Much like the episode ‘Rosa’, Resolution follows the typical Russell T. Davies structure of combining both a powerful emotional arc with a serious threat. We’re drawn into Ryan’s relationship with his father and granddad while also being drawn in by the awe-inspiring threat of the Reconnaissance Dalek.
We’ve been seeing the Daleks over and over again since the show’s rebirth in 2005, but in the last couple of episodes dedicated to them, the element of fear was gone for fans. These monstrous evil beings don’t actually pose a threat. What Chris Chibnall, Doctor Who’s showrunner, understands correctly is that the Daleks need to be a visible threat. Resolution does extremely well at demonstrating the raw power of just one of these evil creatures by themselves – blowing up tanks, destroying the wifi and murdering dozens of soldiers.
In addition to that, we also get to focus on the Dalek mutant itself. In general pop culture, Daleks are often referred to as “those robots on Doctor Who” when really, it’s much worse than that. Daleks are real physical creatures with an intense and inbuilt biological need to be superior. By using the term ‘robot’, you’re almost dismissing the Daleks as just machines with no emotions but that’s absolutely not the case.
Daleks are living beings with the belief that they are the purest beings and that all others must be exterminated. This cruel and evil creature is just what we get to see for most of the episode. Nicholas Briggs doing a tremendous job with the non-modulated Dalek voice performance helps to reiterate how cruel these beings are.
While the Thirteenth Doctor was played incredibly well by Jodie Whittaker, there was something missing in the finale episode ‘The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos’ which Resolution thankfully manages to correct. There are particular beats that we as viewers have begun to expect by now with each new incarnation: New TARDIS? Check. New Outfit? Check. New Companions? Check. But what the series was really missing was a meeting between two old enemies.
Every time a new incarnation of the Doctor meets the Daleks, it’s such a momentous occasion and provides for some interesting concepts. Obviously, while other series’ have featured original monsters and Series 11 had a bunch of interesting new designs – there’s something about having a popular/classic creature involved that helps solidify each new incarnation of the Doctor.
What made the moment even more satisfying was that the Dalek, upon realizing this Doctor had once again regenerated, immediately accepted her as its most feared enemy. A really wonderful moment, in which both Whittaker and Briggs shine.
As for the companions in this story, Ryan and Graham are given a great bit of story to work with when Ryan’s neglectful father shows up out of the blue trying to reconnect. Much like Series 11, the relationship between these two characters has been a joy to watch unfold and delves a bit further into why Ryan’s father never turned up for his mother’s funeral in a touching conversational scene.
Unfortunately, one of Series 11’s biggest complaints is still unresolved, as Yasmin (played by the incredible Mandip Gill) is not given much to do in terms of her own character development. While it was nice to see a little more of her police background being used in the early part of the episode, that’s pretty much all we got. As we see Ryan and Graham’s main arc come to a close with this episode, I’m hoping that this leaves Series 12 open to explore more of Yasmin’s character, particularly because the episode that focused on her family the most ‘Demons of the Punjab’ was one of the highlights of the season.
At its core, Resolution demonstrates that by implementing some of the show’s traditional villains and highlighting what made them so popular in the first place for Series 12. It adds a bit more gravity to the show. It also balances out some of the other episodes where we can meet new creatures and aliens. Series 12 should use this New Year’s special as a starting point, balancing out the fantastic dramatic sequences with frightening creatures both new and old.
Doctor Who Resolution will be released on BluRay on February 18th.