Does a new Doctor Who Dalek design create a plot hole?

Leaked photos appear to show a new version of the Doctor’s greatest foes – but do they fit into canon?

Jodie Whittaker in Doctor Who (BBC)

When pictures apparently leaked of a new Dalek design for Doctor Who, there was a mixed reaction online. While some fans loved the svelte new look, others preferred the bronze Daleks we’ve had on the show since 2005, and assuming the photo is genuine we’re sure the debate will continue to rage ahead of the design’s official on-screen debut later this year.

Advertisement

However, some fans had gone further and pointed out an interesting quirk of canon related to the new design – because based on what we’ve seen so far, this new Dalek shouldn’t exist.

Confused? Well, let us explain. It’s clear that this “new” Dalek is actually a slightly modified version of the “Recon Dalek” design seen in 2019 New Year’s Special titled Resolution, right down to the cinched”“waist””and unusual bolts around the head.

In that episode, a long-buried Dalek is revived and goes about building itself a new case, looting some of its old weapons and scrap metal to create the Dalek seen below.

Doctor Who New Year's Day (BBC)
Doctor Who New Year’s Day (BBC)

However, in artwork from the episode that depicted this Reconnaissance unit’s capture and destruction by ancient humans, the Dalek looked rather different – specifically, as fans have noted, it was clearly a “bronze” Dalek of the type seen as the default model in Doctor Who since 2005 (give or take a retconned New Paradigm in 2010).

Check the dimensions of both below.

Dalek drawing
Peter Capaldi with a Dalek in Doctor Who (BBC)

The implication at the time seemed to be that this new Dalek approximated its rusted new casing under trying circumstances, which explained why it looked so different – but now, clearly, Daleks do exist that look similar to the 2019 Recon edition.

If this is the case, why did it pick this version? If it had the choice, why not go for something more similar to what it had before? And if a “Recon Dalek” is just an ordinary bronze one, what kind of Dalek is this new design?

Some fans online have expressed confusion over the change, noting that they had assumed the Recon Dalek was a one-off design created from scrap – so how has it lived on?

Well, there are a few possible explanations. The most obvious “real life” reasoning is that during Resolution, Chris Chibnall and the team wanted to hold back the unveiling of their new Dalek design for as long as possible, which meant going for something more familiar in the sketches before the “real” version cropped up later in the episode.

Within the universe of the show, there are also some possibilities for how this all matches up. Maybe the broken, half-dead Dalek created a design that does exist, even if it fulfils a different purpose from the one it once fulfilled. Maybe the drawings were an “artist’s impression” of the Recon Dalek that (conveniently) made it look like the other versions, instead of the design it always had.

Or maybe its half-formed design somehow made its way back to Skaro and quickly inspired the Dalek fashion designers keen to INN-O-VATE and whip up something new for the catwalks. In Doctor Who, anything is possible.

Going forward, the upcoming festive episode where this new Dalek is supposed to appear (Revolution of the Daleks) may muddy the waters even further, with this stylish new “recon”model apparently taking on a horde of older bronze Daleks in a battle for supremacy (or at least, a monopoly on Dalek imagery).

A sign of Dalek civil war? A battle between two rival factions? Or just the Daleks doing us all a favour and systematically hunting down all rogue canon elements ahead of series 13? Only time (and space) will tell.

Advertisement

Doctor Who: Revolution of the Daleks airs on BBC One in late 2020/early 2021