Eve Of The Daleks
Happy new Year! With 2022 now upon us, it wouldn’t be a New Year without a special Doctor Who episode, even if it is written by Chris Chibnall. With three episodes left before Russel T. Davies takes over and (hopefully) rights this sinking ship, we pick up with another Dalek episode, of course.
We begin with an introduction to Nick and Sarah, our two new characters we’ll be following. We’re at a storage unit facility, and with rivals squeezing her profits dry and only one customer (Nick), Sarah’s business is not doing so well. This isn’t exactly a passion project either, given she inherited this from her uncle Benny.
When Nick heads to his unit, a rogue Dalek shows up and exterminates him. It next heads down to the reception, confirming the place is under Dalek control, and shows off a brand new minigun.
Meanwhile, The Doctor works to clear Flux debris out of the TARDIS, scrambling out the doors to unwind on a beach paradise. Only, its not. It’s actually Manchester in 2021. It doesn’t take long for the Doctor to find Nick, and subsequently Sarah. When the Daleek appears again, it quickly exterminates them all.
When we pick up again with our characters, it seems we’re stuck in a time-loop. Only, this time the characters are self-aware of what’s happening and try to change things… until they die again. We’re doing a Groundhog Dog meets Edge of Tomorrow meets Happy Death Day, and so far so formulaic.
The plan is a simple one though – stop the Dalek, dodge its questionable shooting skills and save time before they run out of…well… time. The Doctor quickly deduces that each time loop appears to be decreasing by a minute. With the last time set at 8 minutes before midnight, there aren’t many loops to get this right.
It appears that the time loop is only contained within this building too. Dan decides to sacrifice himself and keep the Dalek at bay while Yaz and the Doc try to figure out what’s happening.
Despite being the most deadly killing machine in the universe, Dan manages to dodge a fair amount of shots before eventually being exterminating.
Meanwhile, Doctor and Yaz find Nick’s weird stash of gear, including all those creepy memorabilia pieces from ex girlfriends. Somehow this doesn’t deter Sarah though, especially when she learns that Nick really likes her. Sarah meanwhile, admits that she wants to get out the storage business and has plans to travel. Unfortunately those plans are dashed when they’re exterminated again.
As many may have figured out by now, the TARDIS is responsible for this time loop. With the Doctor and Yaz cornered by two Daleks, they point out that the Doctor using the Flux to destroy the Dalek war fleet (wait, weren’t the entire race destroyed in this?) is the reason for their revenge. Anyway, they’re quickly exterminated for their troubles as the time loop kicks in again.
As the loops continue and Nick avoids certain death by *checks notes* ducking, the golden moment of this entire special comes from a chat between Dan annd Yaz. As they talk, the latter opens up about her feelings toward the Doctor. This is probably the first time these two have actually had a proper conversation and it’s a good one; a bright spot in what’s otherwise a formulaic episode.
Anyway, as predicted the team manage to save the day, stopping the time loop by destroying the entire building and setting off a whole bunch of fireworks in the process. Thee Daleks are defeated and the TARDIS returns to its original state. Everyone ends up with their happy ending, with Nick and Sarah traveling together, while the Doctor continues to run from her inevitable end.
The Episode Review
So The Doctor does Groundhog Dog, in a pretty formulaic and flat-lined special. Sure, the story has its moments but it’s also already been done a million times before across so many different mediums. This really isn’t anything original and the fact Doctor Who has pedaled this idea as a “special”, is pretty questionable.
For all of its faults, Americans may remember a sci-fi series called Debris. Released last year, it actually had a really smart time loop episode, with little things changing each time. It was original and exciting, a creative spin on an overplayed idea. Here though, Doctor Who does absolutely nothing different, using all the same tropes while adding a countdown for dramatic effect.
That’s to say nothing of the final nail in the coffin, which comes in the form of the Dalek threat. I say threat but really these creatures have been overused to the point of saturation. The new guns are interesting but somehow make their aim worse than it’s ever been. With single rays I could understand if the Daleks constantly missed but in a straight tunnel with nowhere else to run, the Daleks manage to miss every single one of their shots. It’s sloppy writing, which is synonymous with Chris Chibnall I guess.
The moments between Yaz and the Doctor are probably the highlight of the whole hour but without any prior development, beyond a few snippets in the disastrous season 13, it all feels shoehorned in and contrived.
We are two specials away from Russell T. Davies returning though and judging by this episode, it can’t come soon enough!