Doctor Who’s New Year’s Day special was full of explosive action, deadly dangers and emotional head-to-heads, and ended up being the perfect way to wave goodbye to Jodie Whittaker’s Tardis team until 2020.
Oh, and there was also a Dalek in it, in case you didn’t notice.
Still, as much as this episode did live up to its title Resolution, there were one or two points that weren’t quite resolved, as well as some parts of the story that we thought could stand a little more explaining now that the dust has settled.
Where were the opening credits?
Well-spotted – if you can call NOT seeing something “spotting” it.
Yep, like Jodie Whittaker’s debut episode The Woman Who Fell to Earth, Resolution left off the traditional Doctor Who theme music and title sequence, in a decision the BBC tells us was basically for dramatic reasons.
To be fair, it’s unlikely that anyone’s going to be unsure what programme they’re watching once that blue box turns up…
Well, the Dalek featured in this special was revealed by the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) to be a rather special breed called a recon Dalek, created on Dalek homeworld Skaro specifically for the purpose of seeking out new planets to enslave.
This means that it had a few new abilities we’ve not seen in the series before (see below) – and when back in its shell the Dalek also had a slightly different design to the one we’ve grown used to in recent years.
We’ve gone into the aesthetic changes to the Dalek design in more detail elsewhere – it still looks roughly the same, just differently proportioned – but as for the in-universe reasons for the change, well, it may be an older design (the Doctor speculates this could have been one of the first Daleks to leave Skaro in the 9th century) that was also created from old parts and scrap metal.
In other words, within the show this Dalek looks different because it built its own shell out of rusty metal and from memory after centuries asleep – while in real life it’s because the production team fancied a change and to put their own stamp on a classic Doctor Who villain.
Have Daleks always been able to control people?
Not as far as we know. The ability of the Dalek in this episode to tap into Lin’s (Charlotte Ritchie) body with complete control is implied to be a fairly rare skill among Daleks such as the Recon Scouts, which is why it hasn’t been featured in the series before.
Presumably the Dalek’s ability to teleport its missing body parts and regenerate itself using ultraviolet light is also a specific Recon Scout gift.
What happened to UNIT?
Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor and Nicholas Courteney’s Brigadier in Doctor Who (BBC)
Alas, poor UNIT. At a crucial moment in the special the Doctor tries to get hold of Earth’s premier military defence against extra-terrestrial attacks, only to be informed that it’s been closed down in the midst of funding issues and a difficult political climate abroad.
“UNIT operations have been suspended pending a review of funding,” the Doctor is told, so after decades of protecting the Earth it looks like UNIT won’t be able to help the Time Lord in future adventures.
We’ve gone into a bit more depth about UNIT, its history and its possible future in the Whoniverse here.
Wait, did they use a microwave to kill a Dalek?
Well, as Aaron (Daniel Adegboyega) kept explaining it was also an oven – but yes, essentially the Tardis team were able to take down one of the deadliest creatures in the universe with a bit of kit you could pick up in an electrical shop down the road.
As far as we could tell, the Doctor and Aaron were able to use their expertise to cannibalise parts of the microwave oven to overheat the Dalek’s armour, which was of poorer make than most Daleks due to its age and mixture with old Earth scrap metal.
After that, the newly-made shell collapsed on itself – and then all it took to finish off the squid inside was a quick trip to a supernova, a vacuum corrisor and a bit of father-son reconciliation. Simple.
How did the Custodians destroy and trap the Dalek in the past?
Well they may not have had microwaves, but the ragtag band of humans managed to take down the Dalek in the Dark Ages by capturing it, burning its shell and then tearing apart the mutant within, before burying the bits at opposite ends of the globe, specifically Russian Siberia, the Anuta Islands in the South Pacific and in Yorkshire, England.
Following that, special guards called Custodians were tasked to watch over the Dalek remains for generation after generation – but because the Yorkshire Custodian was killed before he could properly dispose of his Dalek piece, an archaeological dig ended up making all their efforts pointless. Oh well.
Will the Daleks be back again?
Daleks and Jodie Whittaker (with Bradley Walsh) in Doctor Who (BBC)
We’re guessing the one from this episode won’t after being thrown in a supernova, but we’d be surprised if we didn’t see the tinpot terrors again soon, maybe even in Doctor Who’s next 2020 series.
Speaking at a question and answer session after the New Year’s special, Who boss Chris Chibnall seemed to suggest that anyway, hinting that we could see multiple Daleks in future episodes.
“I definitely think that’s not going to be any rapprochement,” he said of the Doctor and the Daleks in any future meetings. “They’re not gonna come to any mutual agreements, or mutual understandings.
“I think [there’ll be] further hatred intensifying with more Daleks, probably,” he concluded, later adding after another query that “some of these questions may be answered in the forthcoming season.”
He did – but it’s not the same year that he said those words any more, so technically he wasn’t lying. Apparently, this was all a big part of his plan.
“When you see the Dalek, it’s hopefully exciting, it feels rare, and fresh, and thrilling,” Chibnall said.
“And also the first encounter for Jodie with that iconic monster. We knew we wanted to do that as the kind of climax of the series.
“We knew we wanted something big for the end of series special, and knowing that we would have no old monsters in the series was really a build-up for the special.”
Will we meet Ryan’s dad in the future?
Who knows? Still, after finally finding some common ground with Ryan (Tosin Cole), we’d be surprised not to see Daniel Adegboyega’s Aaron in future episodes, perhaps in stories that return the gang to Sheffield. Maybe he could even join Yaz’s family for some tea…
Still, it might not be so bad. Speaking at the screening for Resolution, BBC director general Tony Hall said that the series would come “very early” in 2020, suggesting it might still be a winter debut for series 12.
Surprisingly, we do already have a couple of hints for the next run, with series showrunner Chris Chibnall suggesting that we could see a return for yet more classic monsters alongside the Daleks as well as a storyline dealing with companion Yaz Khan’s (Mandip Gill) rarely-mentioned police career.
“Did you like it that we brought back the Dalek in that [episode]?” Chibnall asked the crowd at the Resolution screening when asked about the return of more classic foes like the Cybermen, Ice Warriors, Weeping Angels or others.
“Well, maybe we’ll do some more then… I’ll have a think.”
Later, when asked about Yaz’s return to her police career he said: “I think that some of these questions may be answered in the forthcoming season.”
Following excited “ooooos” from the crowd, he added: “First teaser of the series!”
The hype train for series 12 starts here!
Doctor Who returns to BBC1 in 2020
This article was originally published on 2 January 2019