DOCTOR WHO Dalek Week - DALEK - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Christopher Morley takes a look at the first Dalek story of the revived series. It's back to 2005 for Dalek.

Episode six of Series One of the reborn Doctor Who was noteworthy for three good reasons. Firstly it introduced a new companion for the first time since Charlie Higson's The Beast Of Babylon short story for the Eleven Doctors, Eleven Stories anthology (which takes place in that brief moment Nine leaves Rose Tyler behind following the defeat of the Nestene Conciousness in Rose).

Secondly, the Daleks were back. Or rather one of them was!

And to complete our hat-trick, we got a first real hint of the Time War's massive scale.

We don't even have to go too far into the future to see it all happen - the leap from 2005 into 2012 a relatively short hop for the machine Nine's probably too busy brooding over the War to call 'Sexy'. Imagine his surprise when he finds that Gallifrey didn't really perish at his hands (The Day Of The Doctor). Thanks to a little time-line technicality the War Doctor won't remember what really happened until three incarnations later, leaving Nine with a tendency towards a certain survivors guilt.....

Answering a distress signal, he & Rose find that they've materialised in a mysterious vault in Utah - Henry Van Statten's museum of alien artefacts! Musing over pieces including a Cyberman's head of the type last seen in The Invasion, his latest self might be forgiven a look over & a laugh at the old times -when he was naïve & liked nothing better than throwing himself into adventures with Jamie & Zoe.

If you can find the animated reconstruction of Isobel Watkins writing notes on that wall you might also spot two very familiar words amidst the graffiti.

Touching the Cyber-head's display case triggers an alarm, which means they're marched down to see Van Statten himself. He's a man who claims to own the internet, & his hours in front of computers have earned him fortune enough to indulge in what for him is a bit of a hobby. The Doctor's knowledge of the exhibits impresses Henry, who invites him to have a look at the only living item in his catalogue. A little something he calls a 'Metaltron!'

It might disturb you to learn that its been locked in an area called simply ' The Cage' & has done nothing but scream, refusing to talk even under torture. Think of it as Guantanamo Bay for aliens & you're not far off.

Once the Ninth enters though, things start changing. You really get the idea that his War service damaged him, & not just because his previous incarnation didn't get his wish for his ears to be less conspicuous. Proof positive, boys & girls, that regeneration is indeed a lottery...

Bigger ears he may have but he's not to be trifled with! Trying to be nice & telling it he's here to help doesn't work, and telling the one survivor of the Dalek fleet his name only serves to provoke Skaro's last soldier into fits of rage...

Chillingly, this is undoubtedly as close as the Doctor gets to thinking alongside the same lines as his foe - the two old soldiers now equals away from the field of battle, both the last of their respective races.

Only Van Statten's guards stop Nine from inflicting quite some pain upon the prized 'Metaltron'. According to an assistant of Henry's, Diana Goddard, the by now rather angry Dalek was found fifty years ago having crashed to Earth on the Ascension Islands (by way of a quick geography lesson, they're Canadian territory, part of the Kivalliq Region of Nunavut). 

It was acquired at auction having lain burning in a crater for three days. After helping things along by theorising that it must have come flying through time to land where it was found, the Doctor is rewarded with a scan which reveals his own alien origins.

The business instinct of Van Statten, not to mention more than a little greed, leads him to work out that he could patent a version of the Time Lord binary vascular system. He's no mere collector! He's a scavenger, selling his best finds on for profit in a sort of extreme Bargain Hunt. (While we're on that subject, the campaign to make Tim Wonnacott the Thirteenth Doctor starts here - dresses like Seven, acts like Two/Eleven).

Before he can contemplate a future in which he knows more about antiques than all of his past selves combined, though, he's got to do something to stop himself meeting a rather undignified end....

His lady companion is completely oblivious, bit like him when it comes to her growing romantic attachment to him. Another skivvy, Adam Mitchell, is giving her a tour of the facilities when he shows her something on a monitor. Its that Dalek! And its being tortured again. Someone really should give these people a What Not To Do To Very Nasty Robots spotters guide. Nine might want to give one to Rose as well- she wants to reason with it. Big mistake. Just how big a whoopsie it is will quickly become all too clear.

During the course of her chat with it, the clever shrew appeals to her human touch by pretending to be a bit lost & helpless. That human touch enables it to absorb some of her DNA- her travels in the Time Vortex have somehow strengthened her to a point where one touch allows the rampant rustbucket to break from its confinement, kill the hapless technician given the job of torturing it & promptly do whatever the Dalek equivalent to legging it is. The Doctor's case for release from his own imprisonment is now concrete!

It really is a case of let him go or die. The final son of Skaro in existence quickly absorbs massive amounts of power, as well as a hell of a lot of information (& possibly pornography) from the Internet. Guards catch up with it & open fire, but with a cry of ' SO...MUCH...PORN!' it eventually makes killing every last one of them look easy.

Seems as if Rose & Adam have had the right idea climbing the stairs to escape- the ability to go up them, & indeed having legs, seems to have been the basis of every one of their previous defeats.

The slyboots they're on the run from has a trick up its sleeve though. If you rrememberr Remembrance Of The Daleks, you'll most likely guess what comes next...

Nice to see any survivors of that particular Dalek Civil War might have passed on their knowledge & skills to the new generation! 

Despite what he's just seen, Henry still believes somewhat naively that his former ' Metaltron' can be persuaded to ' negotiate!' as opposed to ' exterminate!'. The Doctor knows better though, & simply tells him the thing will knock off everyone in its path who isn't of the same species.

With no orders though, its a lost soldier- the metallic answer to Hiroo Onoda, the Japanese lieutenant who was never told that his country had surrendered during the Second World War & so kept fighting for another 29 years after the official cessation of hostilities. 

The Doctor, perhaps remembering Emperor Hirohito, tells it that if it really needs an order it should obey his & destroy itself- with a yell of ' BANZAI!' or ' KAMIKAZE!' just for effect. If it hadn't had all emotion removed, the object of the rant would most definitely be more than a little shocked.

Maybe the battle-scarred last of the Time Lords really does care for Rose, though. He seems agonised by her apparent ' death' down in the vaults, poor lamb. But she's not dead- a little of her humanity has seeped through that impenetrable travel casing, rendering its occupant a little hesitant to do as it does best. 

All it wants is to go free once more, & after taking a ride in the lift the Human-ish Dalek simply blows a great big hole into the roof of the building, letting in sunlight. Opening its casing, it savours the most beautiful thing it will ever feel.

Lots of new thoughts, most of which are very unlike its species, flood its head. Unable to cope with even the idea of these sensations, it asks that it be ordered to self-destruct. Its new ' general' reluctantly gives the order, & it explodes- leaving Nine the sole survivor of the War between his own people & the former Kaleds. 

Which he takes as a victory. A sad one but a victory nonetheless. And remember that promised ' new companion'? Its Adam! Off the trio go to play The Long Game.

But should you want more of the same, you might want to check out the Jubilee audio drama ( from which writer Robert Shearman adapted this, another of his own stories). The Sixth Doctor & Evelyn Smythe find themselves deep in the heart of the English Empire of an alternate 2003, stopping a planned Dalek invasion of 1903 in the process. Edward VII will be pleased the Time Lord & his companion have done their duty for King & country before time!

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