Sooner or later, every incarnation of the Doctor has to run into the Daleks. For the Matt Smith’s eleventh Doctor, it was sooner. Just three episodes in, and he’s already having to deal with his oldest and most persistent foes. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course. This episode was written by Mark Gatiss, who also wrote The Idiot’s Lantern and appeared in The Lazarus Experiment.
The pre-titles bit sets the scene nicely, in what’s supposed to be Churchill’s Cabinet War Rooms, only with added RAF base bits like the table with models showing aircraft positions. Yet another Luftwaffe raid is imminent, and Winston Churchill declares that it’s time to roll out “the secret weapon”. And so a new model is pushed onto the board – a small, but perfectly nastily formed Dalek.
The Doctor and Amy arrive, in response to the call they got last time, to be greeted first by a bunch of soldiers and then by Churchill. It’s quickly established that the Doctor and the Prime Minister are old friends, a nice hint to previous adventures that we’ve never seen. After some banter over the TARDIS key, Churchill takes the Doctor and Amy up onto the roof for a demonstration. Approaching German bombers are blasted by an energy weapon – not only well in advance of Earth in 1940, but distinctly alien. And sure enough, it turns out that Professor Bracewell’s “Ironsides” are indeed Daleks. Admittedly, they’re painted in army dark green rather than their more usual bronze, but definitely Daleks.
The Doctor demands to know what the Daleks are up to, but they plead ignorance. They are soldiers, here to help win the war, carry files around, and uttering perhaps the most disturbing phrases ever heard to come from a Dalek:
Would you care for some tea?
I mean, really. Having a Dalek screaming at you and telling you you’re going to be exterminated is one thing, but being offered tea is somehow really creepy. Having established that there’s something a bit odd about the alleged inventor, the Doctor has a word with one of the Daleks. He gets a bit cross, in fact. Why don’t they recognise their old enemy? A little regeneration here and there doesn’t normally stop them. He yells that he is the Doctor and they are the Daleks. Which seems to do the trick, as the Dalek says “Correct” and “Transmitting testimony”, which is still a bit odd, but better than the tea thing.
The Professor is a bit annoyed to find that his creations are misbehaving, but they let him know that in fact, they created him, and prove it by blasting off one of his hands, showing that he’s actually a robot of some kind.
The Doctor realises that the plan must have been to draw his attention – the war is just a sideshow to the Daleks. And so, leaving Amy with Churchill, he takes a quick TARDIS trip to the orbiting Dalek ship that’s just popped out from behind the Moon. Of course, this once again raises the question of how controllable the TARDIS really is. The Doctor can manage an instant trip to a precise location when he really needs to, but otherwise tends to miss his target by months or years. Most odd.
The Doctor arrives on the Dalek ship, which turns out to be the sole survivor of the last encounter with the Doctor, a battered near-wreck with just a small group of Daleks on board, that fell back through time. The Daleks have something on board that they called the Progenitor – “our past and our future”, but as they were modernised Daleks, messed around with by Davros, it refused to recognise them as sufficiently pure, and wouldn’t do its thing. Well, not until it processed the report from the Doctor, identifying the Daleks as, err, Daleks.
The Doctor tells the Daleks to leave, or he will use the TARDIS self-destruct device to destroy their ship, and himself with it. He holds up the menacing device, which looks suspiciously like a Jammie Dodger, but is convincing enough to worry the Daleks a bit. They tell him to leave, or they will destroy London. He points out that their ship doesn’t have the power to destroy anything, but they’ve got another trick up their plungers – a device comes out of the bottom of the ship, which transmits a beam down to Earth, which by means quite beyond any reasonable explanation, turns on every light in London, making unmissable targets for the incoming bombers.
And as if that wasn’t enough to worry about, the Progenitor has been doing its thing, and has, err, progenitied some new Daleks. Bigger Daleks. Bigger, brightly coloured, heavier, scarier, more exterminaty Daleks. Having destroyed the inferior old Daleks, they show that they’re cleverer too. They don’t fall for the self destruct ploy at all…
Back on Earth, Amy is trying to help. She persuades Bracewell to be as human as the false memories the Daleks implanted in him, and use one of his crazy ideas to try to get the lights turned off. And so he does. He uses alien gravity bubble technology to allow a small group of Spitfires to fly into space and attack the Dalek ship. Yes. Spitfires. In space. Attacking Daleks. Utterly bonkers, but also quite wonderful. The Doctor manages to disable the Dalek’s shields long enough for the RAF to destroy the beam emitter thingy, and so turn off the lights in London.
The sole surviving RAF pilot is about to come in for another attack which will destroy the Dalek ship, when they call the Doctor. They have a contingency plan. Bracewell is a bomb. He contains an “oblivion continuum”, which if triggered, would ensure that
The Earth will die screaming
Faced with the choice between defeating the Daleks and saving the Earth, the Doctor calls of the attack. The Daleks prepare to leave through a time jump, but trigger the Bracewell bomb first, just for the fun of it, presumably.
Bracewell is just about to detonate when Amy persuades him to believe his human memories, which somehow gives him enough control to deactivate the bomb. And then it’s all over, apart from the tidying up. Amy makes sure Churchill doesn’t succeed in pinching the TARDIS key, and the Doctor and Amy persuade Bracewell to do a runner rather than deactivating him.
But there’s still a question remaining. Why has Amy no memory of the previous Dalek attacks on Earth? The planets in the sky thingy should be hard to forget, so has something been having fun with the time lines? No doubt more will be revealed in the coming weeks. Oh, and as the TARDIS dematerialises, that crack in space appears in the wall behind it…
So, there you have it: new Daleks, who are nicely colour-coded into castes: the white Supreme Dalek, the red Drone, the blue Strategist, the orange Scientist and the yellow Eternal. The what? Good question. What an Eternal Dalek might be for is currently unknown by anyone, including Steven Moffat who made up the name!
The new series continues to be what it’s meant to be – enormous fun. Next week we have the return of River Song and the Weeping Angels, so expect some more wibbly wobbly timey wimey games!
 New word of the day
 Seriously more impressive zap power
 We’re getting some high-class technobabble these days