Image Credit: BBC (Fair Use)
Image Description: The Daleks! promo image
By John Salway
Name: Daleks! Episode 5: Day of Reckoning
Current TLV investment: £204.48
Over the previous four episodes, we have seen the mighty Dalek empire brought low by a terrifying Entity from another dimension, and forced to turn to their greatest enemies, the Mechanoids, to subdue it. Now, with only two Daleks remaining, how can they possibly emerge victorious after the Mechanoids have turned on them?
I had been looking forward to this finale, to seeing how the Daleks could turn the tables on their foes. What kind of audacious scheme could see them back on top? Unfortunately, the solution is far more prosaic than anything I had imagined – it turns out there are simply a lot more Daleks hidden away than the audience were made aware of. This not only feels like a total cheat, but it’s the most boring and easy solution for the Daleks, with the Emperor and Strategist barely having to strain an eyestalk to see the Mechanoids off.
Speaking of our tetrahedral antagonists, this episode sees them at their very stupidest, seemingly unable to learn from their mistakes. Having just learned that they have been royally duped by the Dalek Strategist, and placed into a deadly trap, they then decide to try to enlist his aid against the Emperor! He readily agrees, and I suspect this was supposed to be a moment of suspense for the audience. Will the cunning Strategist take the opportunity to claim the Dalek throne? But Episode Two already gave him such an opportunity, which he didn’t take, so why should we expect him to behave any differently this time? It’s painfully obvious he’s playing the Mechanoids for fools, and if they remained as intelligent here as in their previous appearances they should have been able to see that.
The rest of the episode is lots of Daleks and Mechanoids shooting each other, which is fine, I suppose, but no longer a novelty after three episodes of similar content. Furthermore, there are still a few loose ends which the series shows no interest in tying up, such as:
- What actually was the Entity, and why did it hate the Daleks so much?
- What’s to stop the Entity from coming back into our dimension and trying again?
- Will the Daleks ever get back to raiding the Archive of Islos, which was their initial objective, but they now seem to have entirely forgotten about?
Intriguingly, the final shot of the episode opens the possibility for a continuation in the future, with the mysterious Entity giving the Daleks a dire warning, but I must admit I doubt if this will ever come to fruition. I hope I’m wrong!
So, what are my thoughts on the series as a whole? It’s a shame this final episode was quite disappointing, as the whole structure of the program was building to a triumphant finale which this certainly wasn’t. But there was still a lot done right. The animation style, while divisive, got the job done with a certain retro flavour, allowing for plenty of colourful backdrops and epic battles despite a (presumably) low budget. By the second episode I wasn’t thinking about the art style at all, just enjoying the story, which is probably the best compliment I can give. The characterisation of the Daleks themselves was also spot-on across the board, with the Emperor and Strategist both showing distinct, consistent, and most importantly, entertaining personalities – though what a shame the Executioner didn’t last very long.
For a series that was, and it bears repeating, totally free, I very much enjoyed Daleks! and think it’s worth a watch for any Doctor Who fan, whether they’re interested in Time Lord Victorious or not.