Doctor Who Review: “Resolution”

You say you want a resolution? Well, you know, this “New Years Special” provides more of one than the official season finale, while bringing back the villain we know each Doctor will face.

Title: “Resolution”

Directed by Jamie Childs, Wayne Yip
Written by Chris Chibnall

Cast
Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor
Tosin Cole as Ryan Sinclair
Mandip Gill as Yasmin Khan
Bradley Walsh as Graham O’Brien
Daniel Adegboyega as Aaron
Nikesh Patel as Mitch
Charlotte Ritchie as Lin
Nicholas Briggs as voice of the Dalek
Michael Ballard as Sergeant
Darryl Clark as Police Officer Will
Sophie Duval as Mum
Laura Evelyn as Call Centre Polly
Hugh Holman as Zak
Guillaume Rivaud as Siberian Warrior

Premise

Centuries ago, a collection of armies defeated a reconnaissance Dalek and buried the parts in separate locations. At the dawn of 2019, the Doctor must deal with the resurrected creature—and without experienced help, since UNIT’s budget has been cut, due to the withdrawal of support from “major international partners” (An anti-Brexit jab that has met with mixed responses in the UK).

High Point

The double prologue gives the episode an epic, cinematic feel, and the “Doctor vs a Dalek” plot gets played off a family drama that answers some questions left lingering from earlier in the Season.

Low Point

We accept many handwaves when watching Doctor Who, but this would have been a stronger episode with a few less. The reconstructed Dalek looks great—but how, with only portions of its original casing and some junkyard parts, did it make itself indestructible? And the ending has an incredibly cobbled-together feel, with a resolution that relies heavily on the Dalek behaving rather stupidly. They could have resolved both problems by having the Doctor play off the weaknesses inherent in the reconstruction, and other options suggest themselves, apart from just writing, “something something conclusion.”

The Scores

Originality: 2/6 Doctor Who, aided by her associates, must defeat a Dalek!

Did you see that coming? Bet you didn’t see that coming.

Effects: 5/6 This episode has a higher budget than most, and the opening creates a cinematic feel that has been missing from this season of Doctor Who (and, to be honest, most seasons).

Heck, I wanted to see that backstory more than this episode.

Story: 4/6

Acting: 5/6

Emotional Response: 4+1/6 The Daleks have been the butt of many fannish jokes over the years, but this episode makes them suitably creepy and incredibly dangerous.

The other plot gets a special bonus for the things in the box.

Production: 5/6

Overall: 4/6 “Resolution” feels less like a holiday special and more like a season finale.

In total, “Resolution” receives 30/42

9 replies on “Doctor Who Review: “Resolution””

  1. Jethro says:

    I liked this episode. As much as I keep saying that I wish they’d get rid of the Daleks for good, it IS nice to see them come up with original stuff to do with them.

    Yes, Chekhov’s Microwave was a bit off, and we definitely didn’t build enough emotional connection to Ryan’s dad, but hey. Well made episode, Jodie has absolutely crushed it, etc.

    I particularly liked the parallel between The Doctor building a sonic screwdriver and the Dalek reconstructing itself.

    • zocalo says:

      Not so much for me. The sheer number of handwaves this season reached new levels in the special, and while the idea of Whittaker as the Doctor is a non-issue for me I’ve not really clicked with the mannerisms and other traits she and the writers are bringing to this specific regeneration. Definitely one of the weakest seasons since the revival on that front for me, and that I found it a mixed bag on the stories as well isn’t helping, despite probably the best FX production to date. Hopefully things will improve now everyone has had a chance to find their feet.

      I also noticed Chekhov’s Microwave straight away since it was such a random thing to introduce there wasn’t much else it could be. They might have done better to have gone with “Chekhov” as the brand on the box and at least got a few laughs from those who got the reference and Trekkies who didn’t thinking it was a nod to Pavel.

      Another couple of minor niggles I had: They mentioned Kaleds, then they said the DNA belonged to a Dalek which struck me as a bit of a goof that would probably have been caught under Moffat. Also, the cuts between the Aaron and Lin plots never really seemed to flow smoothly to me, almost to the point I felt like I was hopping between Doctor Who and a random soap opera until everyone ended up in the same place.

      • JD DeLuzio says:

        While I definitely found this hand-wavey to an extreme, even for the Doctor, I’m not clear on the issue with the DNA. The Kaleds were the immediate ancestors of the Daleks, so wouldn’t the DNA be confusingly similar? I don’t recall the specifics, however, of how the DNA was mentioned in this ep, so there could be some error I’m missing.

        • As far as I understand it, a Dalek is a Kaled inside a MK3 Travel Unit. To that end, if you tested a Dalek for DNA, you’d get a Kaled DNA.

          That said, I suspect the distinction is moot, as all Kaleds (or all that show up in DNA test specifically like this one did) are Daleks, and nobody cares that it’s a “Kaled, the kind that is always inside an Mk3 Travel Unit, commonly known as a Dalek.”

          • lost says:

            If I recall the events of Genesis correctly, it’s a bit more subtle than the creature inside the Dalek just being a Kaled. Davros actually mad scienced the mutation sequence to it’s “logical conclusion” (according to Davros, anyway. Who knows how trustworthy his statement was given the context it was made in). So logically, the actual Dalek creatures would have some measurably distinct markers compared to the humanoid Kaleds.

        • zocalo says:

          Pretty much what Lex said, it’s a minor point, but why even bother mentioning the Kaleds if you’re not going to take that to its conclusion or try and keep up the suspense for those that don’t know the connection? (The latter being all but impossible anyway if the UK’s “Exterminate” trailer was used everywhere). It just came across as being akin to the Doctor testing blood recovered from a traffic accident and saying she’d identified some General Motors DNA.

  2. Foeclan says:

    In recent years, we’ve seen the Doctor as an advisor for the UK and UNIT, and more recently as President of Earth with his own jet and world leaders deferring to his authority on anything alien. It may just have been a jab at Brexit as noted in the summary, but the bit with UNIT almost felt like it was saying ‘That’s not the sort of story we’re going to tell with this Doctor’. This season’s stories have felt smaller and more personal, and it honestly would’ve felt a little out of place.

    That said, I’d love to see this Doctor and Kate Stewart together in a story, with or without UNIT. :)

    I did wonder why the soldiers didn’t recognize the Dalek. They’re bound to have seem a lot of them over the years. But then, they’ve often talked about humanity’s collective amnesia with respect to those sorts of things.

  3. AveryRegier says:

    I saw this in pain and tired from pain meds, and without the benefit of having seen the rest of the season, so I guess take it for what its worth, which isn’t much.

    What I saw was the Doctor having trouble dealing with one old and broken Dalek, and being rather blunt (which is Doctor-like at least) with a man she just met. Maybe he had it coming. I really don’t know. And the final solution with somehow the Dalek getting tossed into the star but the Dad coming out just fine with all the same forces working against him, seemed rather lazy in the story telling department.

    And the Tardis seemed rather crowded. Maybe it would have been better to have the son and father dieing in the same accident after having come to terms would have been a better way to de-crowd the Tardis a bit.

    • She does mention a vacuum corridor (akin to the air corridors River Song loved) that was shaped specially for the Kaled, so the Kaled had space sucking it out of the Tardis, the dad only had a Kaled’s grip to overcome.

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