"The Daleks shall become Lords of Time! We shall become all--" "Powerful. Crush the lesser races. Conquer the galaxy. Unimaginable power. Unlimited rice pudding, et cetera, et cetera."
IN THIS ONE... Davros has taken the Hand of Omega, but the Doctor programmed it to destroy Skaro's sun and the mother ship.
REVIEW: I won't call Part 4 disappointing, because it's really not, but it does have an awful lot of sequences with Daleks shooting at each other, which I find a lot less interesting than flesh and blood characters doing and saying things, despite the participation of the special weapons Dalek, a roving tank that's more turret than Dalek. The little girl getting into the fray in fact creates better "battle moments" as she zaps Ratcliffe and Mike, the latter with so much force it destroys the stairs' bannister in his mum's B&B. And when the Doctor talks the Black Dalek into self-destructing (a weaker moment because it comes off as slightly absurd, with the Dalek dancing on its heels on the uneven pavement), that little girl FREAKS OUT like something out of a possession film. It's incredible effective.
So let's talk about these characters. The Doctor is in excellent form, of course, facing off against a less-human-than-ever Davros, mocking his power lust with one of his most iconic speeches (above; the trick to a good 7th Doctor speech is ending your list with a mundane, every day element), but also playing on the despot's incredible ego. It's just reverse-psychology, but Davros is so convinced of his own superiority, it works believably. He uses the Hand of Omega to, he thinks, turn Skaro's sun into a power source (à la the Eye of Harmony), but it instead destroys the system the Daleks had just reclaimed (uh-oh, see Theories). That sounds incredibly harsh - what about the Thals?! (see Versions for one answer) - and by the ending, a funeral not a celebration despite the story's Anniversary stylings, you'll have forgotten this Doctor was ever a spoon-playing clown. (And yet, there's a fun bit of business with his umbrella stuck in the shuttle door, but you can't take the McCoy out of the Doctor completely.)
Ace boils the Dalek civil war down to a case of racist blobs, which is pretty amusing, but is otherwise relegated to feeling betrayed by Mike and exclaiming "wicked" at the perfect time for the editor to cut to something that is. The guest cast tends to disappear in all the action, especially Gilmore, though Rachel and Allison are in the background thinking about retirement or wondering how all of this works. Mike could have escaped to seek redemption, but sadly, that would be too simple and cartoony. He rallies back to Ratcliffe's cause and is killed while threatening Ace at gunpoint. That's perhaps a more fitting end for him, and thus endeth the comparison to Mike Yates.
THEORIES: It's not clear when the destruction of Skaro occurs, since it's specifically said to be in a time zone different from 1963. The presumption is that it's in Davros' time, although he's undergone a lot of body mods since last we saw him, so that could be a long time after Revelation of the Daleks. Then again, the Dalek civil war is still going on. We should remember the Dalek/Movellan stalemate though, which implies two Dalek factions would have similar trouble out-thinking each other, so this conflict too could have been going on for ages. The reason I'm even trying to figure this out is that Evil of the Daleks, the so-called "final end" of the Daleks occurred on Skaro in an unspecified future. How can it be destroyed before then? There are various possible answers. The simplest is that it was not the final end and that some Daleks escaped to fight another day. Mission to the Unknown does mention that Daleks have been inactive for a thousand years or more, which could indicate the need to rebuild before The Daleks' Master Plan happens in the 41st century. Alternately, it WAS the final end, and Davros is using time travel to reclaim Skaro after Dalek civilization was destroyed in Evil. Or, and in light of the new series, this theory has gained momentum, Skaro's destruction is part of the Time War, so not only planetary Armageddon, but also a corruption of the Daleks' timeline. My evidence? Davros talks about wanting to attack Gallifrey, and Daleks in Manhattan mentions Skaro was a casualty of the War. The only question that remains is whether the War was already ongoing (from Genesis of the Daleks on) or if the Doctor just then declared it.
VERSIONS: The original Region 1 release replaced the period songs with generic music, but the Special Edition restores them. Both versions of the DVD include deleted scenes, among which one finds the Doctor paying for his tea with a 1991 coin, Rachel showing silent distaste for Mike's casual prejudice (I love this moment from Pamela Salem), the Doctor healing Ace using pressure points, Dalek voices in the Headmaster's ear, and the Doctor suggesting he's more than a simple Time Lord. The Target novelization includes a prologue featuring the first Doctor, and a lot more backstory for each of the characters. The Doctor has flashbacks about Omega and Rassilon, and hypnotizes Rachel into forgetting the future tech she's seen. Rachel was romantically involved with Gilmore when they were young, and is Jewish. Mike remembers serving in Malaya and being a child in bombed-out London where he was indoctrinated by Ratcliffe. Gilmore's group is specifically named as UNIT's precursor. The Daleks have lots of little servo robots working for them and name their ships. They believe they've finally exterminated the Thals in their "present", and think of the special weapons Dalek as an "Abomination". Ratcliffe impressed Mike with foreknowledge of the Kennedy assassination. The Hand of Omega is semi-sentient and even gets POV scenes. The priest, Rev. Parkinson, was blinded at Verdun, another reference to the war.
REWATCHABILITY: High - Daleks shouting and firing at each other may be fun for the kids, but the episode is best when it sticks to its human(ish) characters.
STORY REWATCHABILITY: High - Wow. A total reinvention of the 7th Doctor, references to the show's history that don't sink to the level of fanwank, and great lines, bits of business, guest characters and revelations in every episode. One of Who's best.