“Dalek” for me is one of the most definitive episodes in Series 1, as it deals with well, the Daleks—mortal enemies of Time Lords like the Doctor. This would technically be our first experience with the Dalek (a single one, for now), and I believe it was a strategic tactic for the show’s producers and directors to release this episode halfway through the season, as an introduction, recollection, and a teaser all rolled into one.

At first, we don’t understand why the Doctor would be so alarmed by the presence of this inanimate robot-thing, but once the Dalek automatically identifies the Doctor and initiates contact, we witness that whatever sadness or solitude we saw from the Doctor from the “End of the World” episode, is now completely wiped out and countered by vengeance, and more so, anger. Again, this episode certainly connects to the “End of the World” because of the mention of the Time War, though now more explicitly, plus the audience is now presented with the face of the villain. In the last-man-standing stand-off between the Doctor and the last Dalek, we can just how merciless and cruel the Doctor could be, and at the same time, his struggle to keep his emotions in check but eventually getting the better of him, which we see in their initial confrontation. This is when we see the “human side” to the Doctor—that he is susceptible to these kinds of feelings and prejudices–and it is also kind of apt that it is revealed that the Doctor has two hearts.

The Doctor’s brutality especially shines after he believes that Rose has already been killed by the Dalek, revealing his attachment for his companion. When later on they realize that by absorbing Rose’s DNA, the Dalek has indadvertedly capacitated itself to feel, he wanted to die. This is our first encounter with a machine deprived of feeling then suddenly being blatantly exposed to it, therefore causing its demise. The extremities of non-feeling and over-feeling are keys theme in Doctor Who though, as also exhibited in “The Empty Child” and it’s follow-up episode, “The Doctor Dances.”

Just like in “End of the World”, the audience is yet again faced with some moral detours, as presented by the characters of the Dalek, Henry van Statten, and Adam. The Dalek’s annihilation of over 200 people certainly alludes to racial cleansing, and Henry van Statten, with his American ideals of capitalism. Adam will be of aid in this episode, which is why he was allowed to tag along, but he will prove to be guilty of greed in “The Long Game”. This is really when science fiction diffuses into practical and 100% human issues, and also a great exhibition of mundane objects as being capable of bringing terror.

 

 

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