The Doctor Who New Year's Day special, "Resolution", brought Jodie Whittaker's Doctor face-to-face with her oldest and most infamous enemy, a Dalek, complete with a redesign that was perfect for the current era. Of course, the Daleks have attempted to invade Earth on numerous occasions throughout Doctor Who history, and this latest episode revealed that a lone reconnaissance scout from Skaro had been defeated by a dream-team of 9th century Earth warriors, split into three parts and scattered across the planet.
Thanks to the meddling of some unwitting archaeologists, however, the Dalek was revived on New Year's Day 2019 in Sheffield, a city rapidly overtaking Cardiff as the U.K.'s hive of alien activity. Deprived of its usual casing, the exposed Dalek was forced to commandeer a human host until it could find a weapon and enough spare parts to build itself a makeshift new body.
Naturally, this spontaneous rebuild led to a striking new appearance for Doctor Who's most notorious villain - one that was a rough, disheveled mutation of what came before. While some viewers have mocked this new amateurish look, many have responded favorably to both the episode itself and to this latest reimagining of the Daleks. Although the new design is unlikely to be a permanent getup for Skaro's finest, here's why it was the ideal style for integrating these iconic characters into the Jodie Whittaker era.
- This Page: Why The New Dalek Design Was Good For Jodie Whittaker's Era
- Page 2: Why The New Dalek Design Is Good For Doctor Who's Future
The Dalek's New Design Mirrors The Doctor's Sonic Screwdriver
"Resolution" created a symmetry within Jodie Whittaker's first season as the Doctor. The idea of a Dalek being forced to recreate their outer body in a Sheffield warehouse, using whatever materials they could gather, shared a clear connection to the Thirteenth Doctor's debut episode, in which the newly-regenerated Time Lord was forced to construct a brand new sonic screwdriver from steel spoons.
Parallels between the Doctor and the Daleks have arguably been present in Doctor Who since the 1970s but the theme has been far more prevalent in the series' post-Time War landscape. Episodes such as "Dalek", "Into The Dalek" and "The Magician's Apprentice" have highlighted how these two sworn foes perhaps have more in common than either would like to admit. By revisiting this idea, "Resolution" creates a very personal battle between Doctor and Dalek, despite this being Whittaker's first encounter with the creatures, and the episode's dialogue further pressed home the concept of a bitter one-on-one duel of wits between two mortal enemies.
Since Doctor Who season 11 noticeably didn't include any classic villains, this simple, back-to-basics approach is exactly what was needed to re-introduce the Daleks. By stripping things back to the Doctor, armed with a hand-made sonic screwdriver, versus a Dalek, armed with a hand-made outer shell, "Resolution" immediately creates an intense, personal battle for the Thirteenth Doctor.
The Rough Dalek Design Distances Doctor Who From Its Past
In modern Doctor Who, the Daleks have naturally become sleeker in design and the hastily-assembled scrap metal specimen seen in "Resolution" was about as far removed from the stylish and efficient designs of recent years as it's possible to get without reverting back to the "plunger-and-whisk" days of yore. Many fans would likely argue that this drastic change was necessary since one of the biggest criticisms of Doctor Who's recent past has been an overuse of classic enemies to the point where they're presence no longer felt like a big deal, with the Daleks perhaps suffering from this phenomenon more than anyone.
It is partly for this reason that Doctor Who season 11 has not featured any familiar baddies and instead focused on self-contained characters and stories. However, there was only so long the show could avoid revisiting former foes and it was important that when a classic enemy did finally arrive, viewers didn't feel like they were watching "just another episode" and that the sense of peril and excitement created by these iconic characters was restored.
"Resolution" achieved exactly that, and the drastic new Dalek design must take some of the credit. If the impact of seeing a fleet of elite Daleks decimating an enemy force had been lost during the Moffat era, witnessing a single scrappy Dalek effortlessly take down the British Armed Forces hammered home exactly why the Doctor considers these creatures her most dangerous adversaries.