Doctor Who #625: Resurrection of the Daleks Part 4

"Brave heart, Tegan. Doctor, I will miss you."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Feb.15 1984. It originally aired as part of a double-length "Part 2".

IN THIS ONE... The Doctor confronts Davros, a lot of people die, and Tegan makes her goodbyes.

REVIEW: Part 3's many threads make the start of Part 4 more than a little abrupt because we're missing recap information for all of them, one way in which the 2-part version is undoubtedly superior. But the initial confusion is quickly dispelled by one of the crown jewels of Resurrection, the confrontation between the Doctor and Davros. As the Doctor contemplates finishing the job his fourth self wasn't able to back in Genesis, the creator of the Daleks seems entirely confident that the man pointing a gun at his head won't pull the trigger. To him, the Time Lords are cowardly watchers, not a people of action, and though the Doctor is a renegade, he shares their squeamishness. He actually makes the Doctor swallow hard as he describes war as a universal way of life and the Doctor as a man who denies reality. And the universe Saward draws around him proves Davros right. Everyone is trying to kill everyone else! Davros wants the Daleks dead, and they want to kill HIM. A "good guy" like Mercer almost shoots Tegan because she might scream, and even the Doctor is thinking of murder. And almost everyone obliges, apparently given the direction to over-act their death-throes as much as possible, culminating in Stien's slow-motion, drawn-out, over-the-top death as the station goes up in the flames. We don't know if the Doctor would have finally pulled the trigger because he gets locked out of the room, but there's some indication he didn't plan on returning to his companions. The Doctor who kills is no longer the Doctor, to use a recent saying, and he may have planned to distance himself from his companions after such an act, setting the TARDIS on automatic (see also The Parting of the Ways).

In this era, I can't exactly feign surprise at the level of carnage, but it's still pretty extreme. The Movellan virus, once deployed, has the Daleks pissing shaving cream from their grills, just like old school Cybermen, and the thought of what's happening to the mutant in there is pretty horrific. For some reason, Davros falls prey to the virus too, or at least his chair does. Is it because his Kaled DNA is close enough to the Daleks', or because the virus actually attacks some vital fluid in their "travel machines"? It's an odd fake-out. Davros will survive to make good on his new and more emotional breed of Dalek. Another strange loose end is the Daleks' threat of duplicates infiltrating 1980s Earth, which the Doctor waves away with a few glib lines. Are they all going to do that cheesy "I can't stand the confusion in my mind!" and live normal lives, or are we supposed to understand Lytton recruited them all to his mercenary cause?

And then there's Tegan's touching departure. It stopped being fun, she says. And yet, she has to force herself not to stay, running off before she changes her mind, and even coming back to watch the TARDIS vanish. It's a wonder she didn't make this choice before, between Mara possession and creepy Turlough checking her out all the time and her best friend's departure, but maybe the break between Time-Flight and Arc of Infinity had recharged her batteries. For the Doctor, this is his second crisis of conscience in a row. Davros told him some disturbing truths, and now Tegan has too. He respects her decision because it's not unlike the one he made to give up the Time Lord lifestyle, but says he must mend his ways as well. Don't blame yourself, Doctor. It's Eric Saward who ran Tegan off with all this death and violence. Regardless, Tegan's last moment on the series gets me every time. Her use of the Doctor's own encouragement and the episode ending on her tears.

THEORIES: Still tracking Time War elements, I noted the Dalek Supreme's insistence that Davros be killed  so the Daleks could fulfill their "true destiny". So could these Daleks be aware of the changes wrought by the Doctor's visit in Genesis of the Daleks? And is this proof that Davros' survival changed Dalek history somehow and interrupted what these Daleks see as their ultimate victory? Or might they be from the future, where Davros has created his second breed of Daleks and caused a civil war? With time travel in play, and the Daleks ruthless enough to cross their own timeline, anything's possible.

VERSIONS: Scenes deleted from the broadcast program featured a sequence in which Turlough tries to abandon the Doctor by walking into the time corridor, and would you believe it, more extended Dalek deaths. Resurrection of the Daleks was not novelized by Target Books.

REWATCHABILITY: High - The Doctor vs. Davros and Tegan's farewell are too of the strongest moments in the 5th Doctor's era.

- It's certainly not a subtle story and the violence is way over-done (all-time on-screen death record at 74). However, Terry Molloy as the new Davros is tops and Tegan's final moments may just make you tear up.


Calamity Jon said...

I rewatched the Davison episodes about a year ago, and I recall that scene between Davros and the Doctor put me in the mind of the Judge's speech on the inexorability of war in the human condition from Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian.

But then all that leads me to is a final scene where Davros opens the TARDIS door and the Doctor is pressed "against his immense and terrible flesh" ...


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