The Case for… Victory of the Daleks
Guest contributor Simon Roberts defends the divisive Series 5 episode, Victory of the Daleks.
On the 17th April 2010, the next story of the Dalek saga was aired, almost 2 years after their last full appearance in The Stolen Earth and Journey’s End. Due to the events that unfolded there, a lot of fans were left wondering how the Daleks managed to survive. It would be an understatement to say that Victory of the Daleks was highly anticipated. However, it would also be fair to say that it did not live up to the expectations of some fans, mainly due the redesign of the Daleks, and some unrealistic scenes. When it comes to debating the episode, fans are usually split down the middle, so I’m hoping to perhaps answer any questions you’ve had about the episode, and maybe even change your opinion over it.
Once again, the familiar territory of London in World War II was explored for the first time since The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances. This time, however, the Doctor is inside the Cabinet War Rooms, a much nicer alternative to bombsites and abandoned hospitals. This episode gave us an insight into what life would have been like in the Cabinet War Rooms during WWII, and also introduced us to the character we’d been demanding to make an appearance for a long time. Yes, I’m talking about Winston Churchill, and it sounded like a dream come true when we found out we’d get Churchill and the Daleks in the same episode. Mark Gatiss truly spoilt us when he wrote this episode.
Then there’s the original bronze Daleks. For them, this was set straight after Journey’s End so they were obviously weak, their ship was almost destroyed and they had almost no power at all. However, the Daleks were deadlier than we would’ve thought, and over the course of the episode, they managed to change the universe forever.
Then of course, we come to the major twist in the episode – the redesign of the Daleks. At the time, I was unfamiliar to Doctor Who fan sites and spoilers, so this twist came as a genuine shock to me. As soon as the words “Observe, Doctor, a new Dalek Paradigm!” were spoken by the Bronze Dalek, my heart was in my mouth right up until the moment where the white Dalek emerged from the smoke.
However, the Dalek redesign hasn’t really come across as a ‘victory’, and a lot of fans have nicknamed them ‘The Jelly Baby Daleks’ and other variations. However, if you look a bit deeper, their actual design and structure is more advanced than the bronze Daleks. They actually look like the superior race, with them now being able to stare directly at their victims, and not have to stare up to them.
They also seem to be more intelligent and powerful than their predecessors. One shot from a Paradigm gun was all it took to completely disintegrate a bronze Dalek. The Paradigm also appear to play a key part in trapping the Doctor in the Pandorica. Of course, no matter how much evidence I give, there will always be some inevitable faults with these Paradigms. For example, they have an irritating hunchback, and the garish colour ranking system can’t really be ignored. But if you focus on their intelligence and power, these new Daleks do indeed seem to be far superior to the bronze Daleks.
Now then, we come to the point of the unrealistic scenes and situations. I will admit that some scenes in this are questionable, but a lot of these scenarios do indeed have rather reasonable answers. Concerning the spitfires in space, I remember writer Mark Gatiss saying on Doctor Who Confidential that he added this detail because he knew that kids would appreciate it, and that “he would’ve loved to have seen spitfires in space when he was a kid”.
The idea of Bracewell fitting the spitfires with gravity bubbles and laser’s has had some fans questioning whether it would have been possible to get them into space within a matter of minutes, it all seems a bit unrealistic, even in the Whoniverse. In the same category, we have Professor Edwin Bracewell, the human bomb. Many fans were aggravated when Bracewell was deactivated simply by feeling emotions, a lot of Whovians think of this scene as ‘unrealistic’ and ‘a disappointment’, whilst other fans argue that it was a perfectly reasonable deactivation.
In short, all of these unrealistic scenarios depend on your imagination. My advice to you all would be, if you’re prepared to stretch your imagination to the point where all of this actually makes sense, then stretch it! The episode is in fact very enjoyable if you forget the plot holes!
So, in my opinion, Victory of the Daleks is a great episode, with a good setting, great characters, and, obviously, an amazing enemy. Yes, there are some flaws in the storyline, but most of them are forgivable and not damaging to the Whoniverse.
I hope I may have swayed your opinion of the episode in this article, feel free to leave your opinion of the episode in the comments section. Thank you for reading!