Doctor Who: Revisiting RESOLUTION - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Doctor Who: Revisiting RESOLUTION

Moo has a conversation.
There is a strong case to be made that Doctor Who’s lead actor never really feels like the Doctor until they’ve faced a Dalek on screen. To an extent there’s some truth to that, going right back to Patrick Troughton facing them in his debut story to the point where accepting a new Doctor for the first time is down entirely to the Daleks working so very well with him. On the other hand, look at the likes of Jon Pertwee or Peter Davison taking multiple years for the opportunity. Paul McGann never got them on screen and had to settle for the Master. But despite this, it is true that a Dalek story is what can make or break a good Doctor.

In the case of Jodie Whittaker, it felt especially pivotal after her debut season had no returning monsters or villains. I really like the Thirteenth Doctor but her first run of episodes were (for the most part) not exactly a crowning achievement of this show at its best. It had its moments of course. Rosa, Demons of the Punjab, and It Takes You Away all stand among the show’s best modern era offerings. It’s just that as a whole, series eleven never fully connected.

Luckily Resolution was just around the corner. The New Year’s Day special was to be the last episode for a full year, so the pressure was on for it to be good. Watching it live I was really pleased to discover that it was, and it holds up just as well on repeat viewing.
That’s not to say Resolution is perfect, because there are a few moments in there worthy of criticism. The storyline surrounding Ryan’s dad seeking forgiveness is well-intended, but comes off muddled. The throwaway line from a security guard about him being gay just before he dies feels extremely mean-spirited, following a bizarre trend that series eleven had established of introducing such characters just in time to kill them. I’m still not sure what the UNIT call centre bit was supposed to be. And the less said about the wi-fi family the better, I think we can all agree to just pretend that cutaway gag never made it to air.

But with that out of the way, the rest of the episode is a glorious experience that proves once and for all that Chris Chibnall’s strengths as a writer come when he’s just trying to have fun. You get the sense that his best episodes are the ones he’s writing for himself as a kid – when he’s having fun so are we. Resolution is the epitome of that.
The story is a simple enough one. A Dalek arrives on Earth, lies dormant for a while, then wakes up just as the Doctor arrives, and it’s up to her to stop its rampage. You know roughly all the beats you expect this kind of story to hit, and that’s not a bad thing. “If it ain’t broke” and all that. So along goes the plot. The Dalek, outside its casing, picks a host and we get a series of horror-movie-style sequences of its deep voice controlling its puppet, the tentacles wriggling out from behind someone, and an ill-fated attempt to take back control.

It all comes to a head when the Doctor tracks down the Dalek to some old junkshed. In a scene that beautifully parallels the Doctor making her sonic screwdriver in her own first episode, the loose Dalek makes itself a new casing. Finally after ten episodes we get to see the Thirteenth Doctor face a familiar threat. Jodie Whittaker acts opposite the familiar prop with superb conviction, really selling it that she is the same person who has done this countless times before.

Chibnall seems to know however that seeing a woman do this is different. As such the Dalek casing isn’t quite right, but it’s close enough to be unmistakable. So then this scene is notably different to previous iterations of the same thing, and yet it is that. This is the Doctor facing a Dalek. It’s slightly different to how we’re used to seeing it, and yet it feels so damn right.

After that we go through a series of set pieces to round out the episode. The highlight is the Dalek successfully wiping out an entire military unit in a matter of seconds, in one of the finest Dalek attack scenes ever broadcast, with Wayne Yip’s direction going a long way to pull it off.
Overall then, Resolution is a very strong showing for the Thirteenth Doctor, for the Daleks, and for Chris Chibnall’s writing ability. It’s definitely flawed in places, but the positives far outweigh the issues, making for a tremendous viewing experience. This is Doctor Who done as an action movie, so while it’s not what I’d want the show to do every time it works really well here.

“Moo” is the pseudonym used by this Doctor Who fan. He can usually be found procrastinating by thinking about Doctor Who. Follow him on Twitter @z_p_moo for more of his unusual takes, but do so at your own risk.

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