D is for Dalek

While the creatures themselves could well have their own post, this is going to be about the episode titled “Dalek” in the first series which was my first proper introduction to one of the biggest baddies in Doctor Who.

“Dalek” is such a good introduction to this classic Doctor Who foe and the fact it’s no longer beaten by stairs meaning it’s even more terrifying and relentless.

The thing that really sells how dangerous a Dalek is, even one so alone and broken as this one is to begin with, is the Doctor’s reaction to it. Christopher Eccleston is fantastic throughout this episode but when he first encounters the Dalek it’s on another level. Seeing the Doctor so scared, pounding on the door and screaming to be let out is such a shock to the system as so far we’ve not really seen him get scared before, or at least not so vocally. Then how that fear turns into rage as he’s yelling in the Dalek’s face, even going so far as to torture it as he lets all his grief and rage for what he did in the Time War come to the surface. It’s such an intense and powerful scene.

Then there’s the moment where the Doctor believes his actions have led to Rose being exterminated. The guilt, grief, and regret on Eccleston’s face is so strong and I do think “Dalek” is a defining moment in the Doctor and Rose’s relationship as the Doctor had to deal with the emotional fallout of Rose’s death being on his hands. He’d never been able to say to Rose’s mum that she’d be safe with him and then he practically kills her, there’s no wonder that when they were facing a battalion of Daleks later on that he sent Rose home. In his mind he’d already lost her once and he wasn’t going to let that happen again.

Having Rose showing compassion towards a Dalek and unwittingly teaching it how to feel is brilliant. It directly contradicts both what the Dalek feels about itself and how the Doctor sees it and leads to a great standoff when the Doctor is the one pointing a gun at Rose and the Dalek. How Rose helped the Dalek was a similar way to how she was helping the Doctor; asking questions and being ready to listen with no judgement.

On my Doctor Who rewatch I found that the more character-focused episode of the first series were the ones that ended up being my favourites and “Dalek” was one of them. It did so much at showing who the Doctor is post-Time War and how he is slowly starting to change too. It’s a great episode and Eccleston’s performance sells everything about the Doctor’s trauma and guilt.

As a sidenote, I love that when they designed and built the Daleks for the new series, they made it so the Dalek’s eyestalk was exactly at Billie Piper’s eyeline. It makes all the scenes between the Dalek and Rose so good as they are one a level – the Dalek may be the more deadly of the two but it shows how they become connected and reach a level of understanding neither would’ve expected.


    1. It’s not for everyone and because of the different Doctors and showrunners it can feel like a very different thing from series to series which is both a pro and a con. I wouldn’t even really know where to suggest you start! 😀 Or maybe wait till Ncuti Gatwa’s run as the Doctor starts next year as that’s going to be a new series and a revamped show?

  1. I have have never watched Dr. Who, and I can’t say why that is. I’m familiar with the Dr. Who concept, though. I’m off to see what I can do to remedy this oversight. haha

    1. haha! It’s a British institution but because of that it can be quite overwhelming. I think getting into the show when it was revived in 2005 was a good entry point for me.

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