After a fantastic palette cleansing first series for Jodie’s wonderful Doctor her first special feels suitably epic and knowing we get to see a Dalek feels earned. I can’t remember which actor said they didn’t feel like The Doctor until they faced The Daleks but as a fan it always feels right to see that meeting.
The story opens with no title sequence and straight into a epic feeling sequence of the Dalek being split into three, it works so well to get the interest in the story and helps blend into the archeological dig. What this era does well is give us good characters straight away, Mitch and Lin feel real and the opening scenes sketches put their dynamic and characters so you genuinely feel worried for them as the story progresses especially in the creepy scenes at the start with the dalek mutant which looks suitably impressive in these scenes and its possession of Lin gives us something slightly different for the Daleks which after 50odd years is impressive.
This character work carries over to the regulars as ever, Those opening scenes with the four of them enjoying 19 New Years Eves feels so natural and its lovely to see them all so at ease with each other. Jodie gets to have her moments with the Dalek too conveying fear, horror and disgust well as she realises what shes up against. The confrontation scenes first with the possessed Lin then the Dalek machine are great, they give Jodie plenty to sink her teeth into and give her some real Doctorish moments.
Having Ryan’s father turn up is good to see and gives a nice bookend to Series 11 and it shows how far Ryan has come in his relationship with Graham and how he’s grown up as he comes to terms with his relationship with his Dad, it makes a good counterpoint to the main Dalek story. It’s been good to see the grief from Grace’s death treated in a very real way and not just as a throwaway plotline in Episode 1
There are good action scenes too, the police chase is quite good and I can only imagine after the end of the story Lin is going to have some explaining to do! The army massacre is done well too as was the teams confrontation GCHQ. I know a lot of people weren’t keen on the Dalek design but it’s meant to look rough and homemade and not 100% right, I like it and certainly prefer it to the multi-coloured design of 2010. The weaving together of Aaron’s story with the Daleks defeat while predictable was done well though at least they resisted the cliche of him sacrificing himself.
This was such a fantastic story and my favourite Dalek story in a long time. This definitely feels more like the Season 11 finale than Battle did and as it aired only a few weeks later I think that’s how most viewers would’ve felt too.