The Trojan Dalek

Posted in Audio by - July 18, 2021
The Trojan Dalek

Released July 2021

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Following a lead on the location of the missing temporal scientist Arborecc, the Doctor, Anya, and Mark head for a remote SSS space station in John Dorney’s ‘The Trojan Dalek.’ However, the officer in charge denies that Arborecc is there and promptly demands that the travelers depart, a suspicious act that causes the group to want to investigate further and to eventually uncover a monstruous plot involving the Doctor’s oldest foes.

At its heart, ‘The Trojan Dalek’ is bolstered by a brutal and morally reprehensible idea that only the depths and carnage of an unending war could bring about, supporting the darkness and despair that at least a portion of humanity is feeling at this point in its conflict with the Daleks. And while typically wartime advances would regard increasing technology and strategy to make efforts more efficient and effective, the scheme uncovered here looks to exploit an entirely different facet of strategy by purposefully mutating sentient beings into Dalek-esque creatures in order to infiltrate their enemy’s ranks and take down that regime from within. The script does well to emphasize the horrific imagery and emotions associated with such a dramatic physiological change, especially given the callous disregard for personal choice shown to those upon whom these experiments are undertaken. However, while there is a discussion about lives being lost without purpose or lives being saved for a greater purpose to begin to offer a glimpse of the rationale behind the decisions being made, there are undoubtedly several missed opportunities to really delve into who these sacrificed people are to deliver maximal emotional investment and impact. This is at least briefly attempted with Mark’s friend, Fliss, and having the search for Arborecc end up being a dead end after so much buildup is fittingly succinct given what is going on here, but putting such focus on the results with little time dedicated to the individuals who become the unwitting cornerstone for this latest scheme only allows for emphasis of half of the genuinely riveting drama in play.

Because there is relatively little time devoted to the beforehand aspect of the horrific change, and despite Joe Sims’s truly incredible performance as Mark Seven throughout this story, the supposedly long-standing relationship between Mark and Fliss never quite resonates during the main part of the story and results in Fliss’s involvement in the plot initially falling a bit flatter than the developments intend. However, the ultimate payoff in which Mark’s sense of humanity truly shows is devastating and superb, and the recent work in the preceding story and here to further expand upon the character, his past, and his undoubted emotional core come full circle to deliver a truly memorable and shocking moment that will resonate with his companions and fans alike for some time.

For the second story in row, Anya is somewhat pushed to the side more than is typical, and although the plot that ultimately brings Mark and Anya back to the Doctor’s side is a variation on what that has been presented several times before as Mark showcases the true strength of the bond of friendship, Jane Slavin gives a fittingly strong performance that emphasizes her character’s viewpoints as well as the inherent drama of every moment she witnesses. However, while Sims delivers the more intimate aspect of this plot, it’s David Tennant who really highlights the overarching terror of what the Doctor uncovers as he delves into the wrath and fury that would become more prominent towards the end of his on-screen era. Major McLinn doesn’t quite come to life as the most vivid supporting character, but the Doctor’s fiery confrontation with this figure at the end is a brilliant highlight for this Doctor who must once more confront and navigate not only the horrors of the Daleks- this time at humanity’s own hands- but also the sheer magnitude of the loss of life- friends, foes, and innocent bystanders alike- his incarnation continues to witness.

With the Doctor resolving the issue all too easily in the end, ‘The Trojan Dalek’ isn’t necessarily one of John Dorney’s strongest scripts for Doctor Who, which itself isn’t too shocking given the incredible amount of stellar material he has delivered over the years. Nonetheless, it allows Tennant and Sims to both showcase their incredible talents while also delving into the potential parallels that remain between humans and Daleks, a path the Doctor is all too familiar with from the Time War and his own people. This is a variation on a plot that has been shown with the Daleks in various mediums before, but the overall impact is still as strong as ever and the end result is one that will assuredly have ramifications as this series continues into its second volume’s concluding act.

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