Aired 17 April 2010
Any Doctor’s first battle against his most infamous foes is a monumental moment for the programme; however, rather than re-hashing another variation of the same plot with the Daleks firmly in control, writer Mark Gatiss wisely chooses to place Matt Smith into a rather unique take on the Daleks.
The Doctor and Amy arrive in London during the Blitz and, picking up the plot thread from the end of ‘The Beast Below,’ quickly meet up with Winston Churchill who proudly reveals his new secret weapon, an Ironside created by the Scottish scientist Bracewell. Of course, the Ironside is a Dalek, albeit one seemingly devoted to the British cause as it startlingly even offers to serve tea. It’s at this time, when nobody except the Doctor understands the intrinsic threat of the Daleks, that Matt Smith really lets loose and delivers a stirringly raw and angry performance that easily gets to the heart of his ages-old battle.
Bracewell quickly becomes vital to the central plot, though, initially defensive about his creations and eventually revealed to actually be a part of the Daleks’ plan for conquest. However, the Doctor becomes even more important to their plan, and it is through his rage that they attain the testimony they need in order to begin their resurrection, a resurrection that takes the form of a startlingly multicoloured array of Daleks not seen before. It’s quickly apparent that their trademark rage and unilateral thinking is absolutely unchanged, though. Time will tell if the different colours become important, but for now it’s a new motivation for the Daleks that does exactly what the title says as the Doctor unwittingly hands them a victory. With the chance to destroy the Daleks with Earth as a casualty, that victory is assured as there is no chance the Doctor could ever make that sacrifice.
Despite some rather impressive visuals with the space dogfight, however, the remainder of the episode doesn’t fully live up to the drama of those important scenes. However, for the second episode in a row, it falls to Amy to provide a crucial insight and choice to resolve an important issue, in this case the time bomb that Bracewell becomes. She’s quickly proving to be one of the most intelligent and proactive companions in Doctor Who history, and hopefully that trend continues going forward. While there is another obvious reference to the crack in the wall here as well, the more interesting plot revelation here is going to be understanding just why Amy doesn’t remember the Daleks. As established during the Tenth Doctor’s reign, everyone on Earth should be all too aware of the Daleks and the threat that they pose. Has something happened to Earth as a whole or is it just Amy who uniquely can’t remember?
Although the episode chooses not to deliver what seems like an obvious story in the Daleks against (or allied with) the Nazis, ‘Victory of the Daleks’ is nonetheless a very confident and entertaining story that gets through a lot of business in a short period of time. It regenerates the Dalek threat, allows Matt Smith to explore the darker side of his character, and continues to lay clues for the future of this run of episodes.