In the previous blog episodes, 1 and 2 were discussed regarding the levels of violence in Resurrection of the Daleks, this blog picks up with episode 3, and will cover Resurrection of the Daleks until the end of part four.
The Doctor is quickly apprehended and taken prisoner by The Daleks. Taken away for the duplication process (a plot point which will be later discussed), The Doctor parts company with Lytton and Stein. Lytton comments, ‘They'd kill anybody, even if they need them,’, to which Stein says, ‘Now much longer before it's your turn?’. A grim statement by Stein, loyalty of course means nothing to the Daleks, and Lytton doesn’t dignify Stein’s comment with a response; rather he stares o him out, knowing full well that his time might be numbered. Venturing into the duplication room, The Doctor finds out what has become of the men he parted company with on Earth. The floor is littered with corpses of the innocent members of the bomb disposal squad, left to rot with the passing of time, dumped on the floor, and denied a peaceful burial.
Inside the duplication room, The Doctor, as his usual self, begins to examine the Dalek equipment, one Dalek threatens The Doctor, ‘You must not touch the equipment’, but The Doctor is clever, and rebuts, ‘Without the threat of death, you're quite powerless, aren't you? The Doctor knows that as long as they have use for him, they are literally powerless to do anything which would compromise his existence. The Daleks, although levelly matched by The Doctors intelligence and wit, are creatures who have no morals, as Stein puts it, ‘The Daleks are very capable of devising painful and undignified ways of dying’, the words painful and undignified do not flatter the imagination. The Daleks have always a repertoire of killing people in the most heinous ways, often using creatures of their own genetic experiments to deal with their enemies, the Slyther in The Dalek Invasion of Earth (1964), the Varga Plants in Mission to the Unknown (1965) and a giant clam creature seen in Genesis of the Daleks (1975). The Doctor must tread carefully because who knows what The Daleks have in mind for him.
Elsewhere, Mercer, Styles, and the two Crewmembers begin putting their plans in action to destroy the space station, but Turlough whom Styles’ party met earlier has another idea – The Time Corridor. Frantically trying to get his new-found ‘companions’ to escape to Earth is futile at best. The characters have no reason to doubt Turlough, or his claims that he comes from a planet where the time corridor ends. There’s a reason for this, the characters are all destined to die, they have no purpose but to add numbers to the body count. Styles instructs Mercer to check it out, which he does, narrowly escaping certain death that is sure to rain down on the others. It’s obvious that no one thus far is going to make it out alive, characters have ample opportunities and means to escape from their demise, so why don’t they? Again, the characters are only here to die.
As expected it’s not long until Styles’ party have been spotted. The Dalek Troopers, marching in two neat rows, consisting of tall, towering men (like the Cybermen from Earthshock) begin a frontal attack to dispose of Styles’ party. The Troopers themselves are the epitome of a small powerful army, ready to complete their orders, and take any necessary violent actions to complete their tasks. One of these troopers involves a Trooper taking out a monitor, plunging the desperate humans into a situation, where all communication with the outside world has been severed: a situation that can only be resolved through excessive force, and violence, and can only end in one thing – death. And it does – as the Troopers blow the surrounding walls to pieces, Styles was but a second away from blowing everyone (and Davros) away, but a straight shot from a Trooper’s gun makes quick work of her. Her other comrades are quickly disposed of, the male Crewmember falling after her, and the Female Crewmember (Zena) being attacked from the side. It’s a no-hoper of a situation, where Mercer can only watch on. Speaking of Mercer…
Mercer is strangely rash in his decision making, often using the threat of violence whilst interrogating Turlough, and threatening him with the prospect of being killed, to get his own way. It’s nothing new for Doctor Who characters to be threatened with a gun, but the levels of violence rampaging their way through Resurrection of the Daleks at times, is too much to take. Turlough knows that the only way of surviving is to go along with Mercer.
Tegan also faces troubles of her own, fearful that the Dalek duplicates know that she and Professor Laird know something is up, has forced her to take matters into her own hands. Fleeing the warehouse with the prospect of finding help, he forces her into the wide-open streets of the docklands. She’s an easy target for preying eyes which could lurk in the darkest of shadows, the high rises staring down upon her, or hidden side streets where anything could lurk in waiting. Her presence is noticed by the Two Policemen who arm themselves, ready to use their weapons if necessary. Tegan, approaching the familiar image of a Policeman, is horror struck when she notices them arming themselves. Fleeing down the front of the docks brings her to a dead end. A flight of stairs and an open beach gives her an ideal opportunity to get away, until she notices a Metal Detector Man (Pat Judge) his back turned to her, and a far distance away from hearing her desperate cries. The Policemen catch up with her, and notice the innocent bystander, surely he’s going to live? Alas the Policemen are not done yet, one casual takes aim and shots. The Man falling to the beach, none the wiser about what just became of him, his life cut short in an instant. A scene which arguably needed cutting, and has no bearing or relevance on the plot. Tegan holding back the tears can only exclaim ‘No!’ a look of disgust in her eyes, for it’s her actions that led to this situation.
Taken back to the warehouse, Tegan, exhausted from her attempts, can do nothing but brace for her journey to the Dalek Ship. Professor Laird frantically makes a break for it, but is shot down, in what is the third scene in three episodes where characters are shot in the back. At this point the death toll has lost total control, apart from the series regulars, only 5 speaking characters remain (this includes 3 antagonists and excludes the duplicates of the bomb disposal squad), the only question remains, will anyone reach the end credits of part four to tell the tale?
Strapped to the duplication process equipment, The Doctor is left defenceless as memories of past incarnations and companions are stripped from his mind. Grimacing in pain, The Doctor lets out a shriek of discomfort, in unison with Stein, who knows has broken free from Dalek control, at least for now. The Doctor is often powerless in seemingly impossible situations which he cannot get out of, and the opening to part four is no different.
With Stein now free from Dalek control, The Doctor, Tegan, Turlough, Mercer, and Stein ban together in the Tardis, where The Doctor makes a bold statement; he plans to kill Davros. Contemplating on his failure to wipe The Daleks from existence back in Genesis of the Daleks, The Doctor appears to have no other choice, branding his past failure as a ‘mistake’. Will this decision turn The Doctor into a cold-hearted killer? Can The Doctor actually take up arms, look Davros in the eye, and ‘pull the trigger’? Or is The Doctor so much better than this? It seems Davros himself is destined to die, with Stein commenting that he would like to get a taste of revenge; a word The Doctor dislikes intensely.
Finally, the big scene arrives, Davros believing that The Doctor is his prisoner, Stein and Mercer, having previously disguised themselves in Dalek Trooper uniforms. The Doctor and Davros descend into a cliched superhero vs. archnemesis conversation; each trying to outdo the other. The Doctor, reluctantly turns to Mercer, who gives him a weapon, Davros immediately recognises the danger he’s in. The Doctor informs Davros that he so wished he’d changed enough for him not to use the weapon. As The Doctor takes aim, he gladly announces that he’s here as Davros’ prisoner, but rather his executioner. Davros, devious as he is, tells The Doctor that he plans to change the Daleks entirely for the better; but again there’s a catch. The Daleks will still be utilised for destruction, but in a more positive force, a factor which greatly displeases The Doctor. Davros justifies his position by pointing out that ‘ambition for empire’ is a way of life for the Universe, something which The Doctor renounces. Davros disappointed at this, offers The Doctor one more ultimatum, to be head of a Dalek Army. The Doctor rejects stating, ‘To be honest, I wouldn't know what to do with an army’, once again positioning himself to execute Davros, an action which The Doctor can’t seem to bring himself to complete. Davros taunting The Doctor for his cowardice and lack of action has brought Davros to the conclusion that all Time Lords are ‘soft’. Powerful begins who prefer to stand and watch and observe and never taking any action.
This is where the duplication process comes into the plot, Davros plans to send duplicates of The Doctor, Tegan and Turlough to Gallifrey, where they will murder members of the High Council, and plunge the Universe into chaos. A scandalous act which led to more destruction and chaos.
Outside Mercer and Stein have their own troubles to deal with, Dalek Troopers have arrived on the scene. The Troopers are instantly killed unnecessary by the trigger happy Mercer. On top of this, Stein’s Dalek conditioning is coming back, which is the direct cause of Mercer losing his life, as well as other Dalek Troopers, leaving Stein alone to contemplate on his mistakes. The Doctor joins Stein, and brands himself an imbecile for believing he could actually have killed Davros. If it weren’t for his bold attempts, Mercer would still be alive
Now that all major speaking characters are out of the way (except Stein, Lytton and the Daleks), the story soon descends into a civil war narrative. Two Dalek factions heading to the Earth warehouse, one faction loyal to the Supreme Dalek, the other loyal to Davros. The battle sequence depicting massive death scenes with Troopers, the Dalek duplicates of the bomb disposal squad all being exterminated in over the top death scenes. The goal of part four is simple, write every character out of the way so the focus of the story can centre on The Doctor and his plans to defeat The Daleks. The Doctor escaping from the space station comes armed with explosives expertly navigating his way through the carnage and taking out a couple of Daleks. The Doctor is a man of two halves; able to contemplate taking out a Dalek, but unable to kill the destroyer. Is it an inferiority complex The Doctor suffers from? Does he secretly admire Davros, a brilliant but mad scientist, that The Doctor sometimes claims to be? Or is it something much deeper, and complex than one can think of? The Doctor finding The Tardis, is grateful that Tegan and Turlough have got their hands on a canister holding the Movellan virus, The Doctor arming himself one more time, compares the Daleks to ‘lunch’ for the virus. In what is a not-so-pleasant metaphor shows The Doctor in a negative light. He knows exactly what he is doing, although he himself hasn’t seen the effects of the virus, he can probably fathom that the results will be both excruciating and horrendous for The Daleks, as they take their final few breaths of life. Bracing himself for the dangerous world unravelling outside The Tardis, The Doctor walks out, ready to carry out his acts.
On the space station, Davros also arms himself, ready to use the Movellan virus as a weapon. The sanctuary of his laboratory is jeopardised when two Daleks blow open the door, poised to exterminate their creator. It’s a reversal of fortune the child has turned against their master, the Daleks are willing to destroy their only chance of universal conquest. Davros has laid a trap, the Movellan virus begins to take effect and the two Daleks begin foaming at the middle section of their armour. Swaying back and forth as their systems begin to shut down, Davros gladly announces ‘Your lives are over’ as he watches on as his ‘children’ die in front of his eyes, not even a tear shed as his beautiful creations decay mere metres from him.
On Earth the virus has also taken effect, Daleks everywhere begin to die as they are left helpless to overcome their demisers. The floor littered with endless corpses and a major chance for the mercenary Lytton to get his escape. Observing that The Daleks are dying, he points his weapon at the final surviving Trooper and shoots him dead on the spot, yet another cowardice act on his hands. Taking his Police Inspector’s cap, he polishes it, and looks out on the warehouse, seemingly proud of his achievements before walking away, to live another day. In the Tardis, The Doctor seems nonchalant at what has unravelled before him, but Tegan can’t bear to look, only listening to the dying breaths of The Daleks. The long day has been too much for her, and a ‘rash’ decision is not too far away.
Back on the space station, Davros has fallen victim to the Movellan virus, as foam sprouts from his Dalek lower section, he declares himself as ‘not a Dalek’ as the virus seemingly makes short work of him. Davros supposedly dead, has spared The Doctor the misfortune of having to kill him. Elsewhere Stein has rigged the self-destruct device on the space station but he’s cornered by two Daleks. One Dalek takes swift action and kills Stein, but not before, in an OTT death sequence, Stein lands on the device, and the Dalek ship and space station are totally destroyed, Davros included, or so we’re led to believe.
At the concluding moments of part four, all characters are dead apart from Lytton. Everyone has been disposed of, the multiple storylines have intertwined each other, leaving a sour state in the mouth. In what is a much more trigger-happy narrative compared to the far superior; but majorly flawed Earthshock, Resurrection of the Daleks does not do 80s Doctor Who any service. The violence has been insurmountable and the callous acts of the antagonists almost too much too take, and Tegan can’t bear travelling with The Doctor anymore.
Exiting the Tardis, The Doctor, Turlough and Tegan stand amongst the corpses of the Dalek Troopers, but Tegan has had enough, she wants to stay on Earth. In Tegan’s own words, ‘A lot of good people have died today. I think I'm sick of it.’ Tegan has had a fair share of misfortunes whilst travelling with The Doctor; losing her Aunt Vanessa (Dolores Whiteman) at the hands of The Master (Anthony Ainley) in Logopolis (1981), almost losing her cousin Colin Frazer (Alastair Cumming) in Arc of Infinity (1983), her grandfather Andrew Verney (Frederick Hall) being imprisoned in The Awakening (1984), and witnessing the death of Adric in Earthshock. Its been a hard time for Tegan and her ordeal with The Daleks has pushed her over the edge; anyone would feel the same. Parting company with The Doctor with a simple hand shake, she rushes out of the warehouse, almost in tears, almost unable to look at The Doctor in the eye anymore. But Tegan has second thoughts, rushing back she misses The Doctor, and calls out to a silent warehouse, ‘Brave heart, Tegan. Doctor, I will miss you’, a comment The Doctor will never hear.
So, then Resurrection of the Daleks, what can you say about it? Well the violence is a chock-a-block and seeps out of every nook and cranny throughout all four episodes. A lot of time the violence is needless to say the least, arguably it tries to be edgy and reminiscent of popular Hollywood sci-fi and horror movies, where a cast of characters are plunged into a situation where there is only one survivor. But could it have worked? Absolutely, there’s nothing wrong with having a narrative where a sole person gets to live to tell the tale. However deaths have to have meaning, they need to have a purpose, deaths should have an impact, a moment where the audience are shocked or dismayed, and not thinking ‘all well that’s ‘them’ out of the way’.
Resurrection of the Daleks has sparked a lot of discussion over the years, with both critics and even Eric Saward, denouncing his scripts as the worst he ever wrote for the show. It surprising that Saward didn’t seem to learn his lesson, and recycled a lot of ideas for both Attack of the Cybermen and Revelation of the Daleks the following year. Whilst his latter two scripts are incredibly violent, nothing compares to the blatant violent nature of Resurrection of the Daleks. Violence has always been a part of human nature, it’s in our blood and DNA, there’s no denying it, but if a certain serial is the epitome of violence within a certain show, that’s not a medal of honour it should be proud of.