Doctor Who: Three Good Moments In 'Revolution Of The Daleks', And Three That Could Have Been Better
There's room for improvement.
The Thirteenth Doctor is back in Doctor Who's New Year's special, Revolution Of The Daleks. The special, which saw the departure of companions Ryan and Graham, has been earning mixed reviews from fans.
Here's three good moments from 'Revolution Of The Daleks', and three things that could have been done better.
The Good Moments
Easter Eggs galore!
For many fans, the best moments in the episode came early on, during scenes of The Doctor in jail after being apprehended by the Judoon at the conclusion of Series 12. The scene was packed full of Easter Eggs related to past episodes, in the form of The Doctor's fellow inmates. She shares her incarceration with a Weeping Angel, an Ood, a Pting, and in a later scene, a member of the Silence. In a reference to past episodes in which they appeared, The Doctor claims that she'd forgotten the Silent was there.
The Easter Eggs continued in the sequence in which Jack Harkness breaks The Doctor out of Prison, with the duo using a Vortex Manipulator, the favoured time-travel method of both Jack and River Song, to make their getaway. These references were much needed references to the show's past which have been seriously lacking through most of the Chibnall era.
Jack and Yaz's conversation about Travelling with The Doctor.
As many fans had already gathered from the earlier teaser for the special, Yaz is the companion that suffered the most from The Doctor's absence. While Graham and Ryan had both attempted to move on with their lives, Yaz was spending most of her time in the extra Tardis, hoping to find a way to reach The Doctor. Her deeper emotional investment in the situation also makes Yaz more upset with The Doctor when she finally returns, ten months after she had sent them away.
This leads to a meaningful conversation between Yaz and Jack Harkness later in the episode, in which Jack shares some of his own experiences with The Doctor. While travelling with The Doctor can be difficult, as most likely, they will have no control over when their time with her will end, they are still the lucky ones, part of a very special few that get to experience life with The Doctor. This conversation likely influences Yaz's decision to remain with The Doctor at the episode's conclusion.
Ryan comes full circle
Despite Jack's statement that a companion doesn't choose to end their time with The Doctor, at the end of the episode, Ryan does just that. In doing so, he has become only the second companion of NuWho who chooses to leave The Doctor of their own volition, following Martha Jones back in series three.
While the writers attempt to frame the moment more as The Doctor 'missing' the time with him by returning too late, it is clearly Ryan's own decision. The episode ends with him trying to learn to ride a bike, just as he was doing in his first appearance. only this time, he is able to handle his failure much better.
Things That Could Have Been Done Better..
While the teaser had led some fans to assume that 'Revolution Of The Daleks' would be a Doctor-Lite episode. However, this was proven false when The Doctor is freed from her imprisonment in the first few minutes. The Doctor's jail time is hardly mentioned for the rest of the special, apart from a quick throwaway line, and it's effect on The Doctor, as well as the fallout it causes, are not explored nearly as deeply as it could have been. The Doctor is rescued so quickly, and with so little impact on the story that series 12's biggest cliffhanger is rendered almost pointless.
There also wasn't nearly enough interaction between The Doctor and Yaz. The Doctor seems to ignore Yaz on the multiple occasions on which she raises valid concerns about travelling her. It would have been nice to see The Doctor talk things through with Yaz at least a little, to strengthen her relationship with the one companion who will be staying on.
Show, don't tell
So far, one of the biggest enduring issues of the Chibnall era is that too much happens off-screen, to be explained later in long, often boring chunks of expositional dialogue. The biggest examples in 'Revolution' are Leo's initial cloning of the Dalek, much of The Dalek's plans, and finally, The Doctor's own plan to get rid of the Dalek Death Squad. In earlier seasons of Doctor Who, we would have at least seen Leo discovering the Dalek remains he used to create his clone, or some hint of The Doctor's plan, even if it didn't entirely make sense until the moment of the big reveal.
Chibnall, and many of the writers on his team, need to put more effort into showing viewers what is happening, rather than explaining it all after the fact.
While Ryan's departure felt somewhat fitting, Graham's left some viewers cold. Graham would have been happy to continue travelling with The Doctor, and in fact, had already expressed his excitement about the planned trip to the Meringue Galaxy, until Ryan announces that he is staying on Earth. Graham only ends his travels with The Doctor because Ryan does.
The show attempts to frame this as a sweet family moment, but it doesn't really work. Instead, it only succeeds in making a moment that should have been Graham's all about Ryan, and that doesn't seem fair for the departure of a popular character.
Hopefully Chibnall can correct these issues before season 13 begins, or else Doctor Who could be in trouble.