Doctor Who's Revolution of the Daleks - All About Character - Comic Years
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Review: The Revolution of the Daleks Is All About The Doctor Who Companions

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BY January 2, 2021

Welcome to a new year everyone. Whovians around the world got to celebrate with a brand new episode of Doctor Who. The New Year’s Day special featured the return of Captain Jack Harkness; a fun prison break, the departure of two companions, and a whole lot of Daleks. But above all, this was a character-driven episode that examined what it really means to travel with the Doctor. Let’s dive into “The Revolution of the Daleks” and see what the Doctor Who New Year’s Day special episode had in store for us.

The Doctor Gets Out Of Space Jail

Doctor Who Revolution of the Daleks Image via BBC

When we catch up with the Doctor in “Revolution of the Daleks,” she has clearly been imprisoned for some time. The walls are filled with marks counting her days. She has been there long enough that she has named the cameras following her. She also chats with former enemies that are locked up with her. The Weeping Angel cameo was a fun one, along with a few Oods and other aliens from Chibnall’s tenure.

Before long the Doctor finds another familiar face imprisoned alongside her. That’s right, Captain Jack is back to break the Doctor out of space jail. This is a delightful reunion, one that fans have been waiting for years to see. And it does not disappoint. The chemistry between Jodie Whittaker and John Barrowman is electric. Their witty banter – even as they are running full speed for their lives – is classic Doctor Who.

It has been a long time since the Doctor and Captain Jack were together. And it is clear that they have both changed in the years since they last saw one another. There is a new depth to their relationship, shaded with all of the grief and emotional maturity they have both experienced.

The Companions Learn To Live Without The Doctor

Doctor Who Companions Image via BBC

Soon the Doctor and Captain Jack return to Earth to reunite with her companions. But the TARDIS doesn’t deliver her at the moment she was hoping for. And she finds herself returning to them almost a full year since they last saw her. In that time Ryan has seemingly moved on. He has reconciled with his father (thanks in part to the Doctor) and his old friends. Graham is still hopeful that the Doctor will return to them. But he also seems content to return to his old life as well.

It is Yaz who is the standout companion in this episode. She has not given up on the Doctor, and has spent the last 10 months holed up in the spare TARDIS that returned the companions to Earth last season. Yaz has not moved on, nor returned to her old life the way Ryan and Graham have done. She is desperate to find the Doctor, and it is she who first hears the whirr of the Tardis phasing into existence when the Doctor returns to them. The sheer emotion on Yaz’s face, full of hope and wonder at this moment was incredibly compelling. And it stood in stark contrast to the skepticism on the face of Ryan, who was clearly resigned to never seeing the Doctor again.

Character Drives The Arc Of The Story

Doctor Who Ryan Image via BBC

When the Doctor returns to her companions, it is immediately clear that the dynamic of the group has shifted. Yaz is angry with her for leaving them alone for so long. But she is also ready to immediately jump into the next adventure, and put the past behind her. Ryan is slower to come along, and his hesitance throughout the episode inevitably leads up to reveal that his days as a companion are done.

Despite his obvious reluctance to rejoin the Doctor on this final adventure, Ryan still obviously cares deeply for his friend. They have a heart to heart in the TARDIS where he demands to know the truth of what happened with The Master. He can see through the Doctor’s facade and deflections, and isn’t having any of it. In the end he gets some version of the truth out of the Doctor, that she doesn’t know who she really is or where she came from. The mystery of the Timeless Child and its greater repercussions on Doctor Who lore still haunts her.

Doctor Who Jodie Whittaker Image via BBC

This is a nice moment because not only does it remind us of the lore-changing revelations of last season, but it also allows the Doctor to drop her guard and be honest with one of her companions. Since we knew that Ryan had one foot out of the door all episode, it is good to see this heartfelt moment between the two of them. It reminds us of the role that Ryan played for the Doctor, asking the hard questions and keeping her honest. And it also shows how much he has grown and matured since she first dropped into his life.

Yaz Learns Important Life Lessons From Captain Jack

Doctor Who Yaz Image via BBC

Yaz has a lot of great character moments in “Revolution of the Daleks” that reveal a lot about her and her relationship to the Doctor. In one of them, she has a lovely little walk with Captain Jack (unsurprisingly the two of them also have great chemistry) who talks to her about what it means to travel with the Doctor. “You don’t get to choose when you leave her, or when she leaves you,” Jack tells Yaz. “Enjoy the journey while you’re on it. Because the joy is worth the pain.”

There is a lot of emotion in Jack’s voice during this scene. And you’ve got to give it up to John Barrowman who imbues this moment with both humor and heart. It is easy to forget how much Captain Jack has gone through for the Doctor. But this moment is a good reminder of how closely he has been trailing her all this time they have been apart.

Doctor Who Captain Jack Is Back Revolution of the Daleks Image via BBC

Yaz also needed to hear this from someone who has gone through it themselves. Jack was a temporary companion in the past, but his love for the Doctor has always been evident. And in this episode it is the love that Yaz has for the Doctor that becomes increasingly clear. There have been many companions over the course of Doctor Who that have clearly fallen in love with the Doctor. Rarely have these feelings been reciprocated, or physically acted upon. It looks like Yaz is another in the long line of companions with unrequited love for the Doctor. But with Yaz sticking around for another season, it is possible that we will see this develop further.

Oh Yeah, There Were Also Daleks

Doctor Who Revolution of the Daleks Image via BBC

An odd thing about “Revolution of the Daleks” is that the alien invasion storyline felt unimportant against the more compelling storyline about the core Doctor Who characters. So yes, there were Daleks. Lots of Daleks. But honestly it could have been Cybermen, or any other hostile alien race trying to take over Earth. The main plot felt a bit like a rehash of stories we have seen before.

We have the return of Chris Noth as Jack Robertson, and Harriet Walter as newly elected Prime Minister Jo Patterson. The two of them have teamed up to create ‘drones’ based on the shell of an empty Dalek that was left behind on Earth. Of course their scientist is too clever, and clones the alien DNA he found inside the Dalek. This leads to an army of cloned Daleks floating in tanks, and their empty shells just waiting for them to teleport inside and start wreaking havoc. Which inevitably happens of course, one of the first casualties being Harriet herself. Unfortunately Jack Robertson survives and attempts to bargain with the Daleks, but somehow comes out looking like the hero at the end.

The trick that the Doctor pulls off is calling in an army of Daleks to exterminate the new variety on Earth. This leads to a cool visual of the ‘classic’ Daleks with their gold shells facing off the new human-made ‘mutated’ Daleks in their sleek black shells. But in the end all of the new Daleks are destroyed, along with the enforcement team brought in by the Doctor. The are a couple of satisfying classic Doctor Who twists, but the plot as a whole never really came together for me.

Saying Goodbye To Companions With Very Little Drama

Doctor Who Ryan Graham Revolution of the Daleks Image via BBC

In the end this very character-driven episode says goodbye to much of the episode’s cast. First we have Captain Jack dropping out rather abruptly. He leaves a message for the Doctor indicating that he is going to hang out on Earth for awhile and catch up with Torchwood‘s Gwen Cooper. The mention of Gwen also has some fans clamoring for a Torchwood reboot, or reunion onscreen next season. Only time will tell if we get those things.

Next up is the inevitable departure of both Ryan and Graham. It was clear over the course of the episode that Ryan just wasn’t feeling it the way he used to. When faced with a fun adventure to a meringue themed restaurant (where even the chairs are made out of meringue!) Ryan chooses to stay home. Before he met the Doctor, Ryan didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life. But now he knows that he wants to stay on Earth and try to fix the problems plaguing society. Although his grandfather Graham is obviously keen to embark on new adventures with the Doctor, he also decides to leave and spend more time with Ryan.

Yaz is the lone companion who chooses to stay with the Doctor. There was never really a question for her about whether or not she would. Only now she knows that traveling with the Doctor can have dangerous ramifications for any companion. Ryan and Graham are the first companions to willingly depart the Doctor in a long time. There was little drama over their departure. No one got trapped in an alternate universe (nice shoutout to Rose by Captain Jack in the beginning though). No one had their memories wiped, or got turned into puddle of water. Instead, Ryan and Graham simply made an adult decision to walk away and the Doctor let them go.

A New Companion Is Coming Next Season

Doctor Who John Bishop Revolution of the Daleks Image via BBC

The emotional farewell for the Doctor and the companions is the culmination of yearslong character arcs. Admittedly, I always found Yaz to be the most interesting of the three, so I’m glad that she is the one staying on. But it was still sad to see Tosin Cole and Bradley Walsh depart. They were part of the original ‘fam’ and they will always have a special place in the Doctor’s hearts (one for sorrow, one for joy).

In the lead up to “Revolution of the Daleks” we knew that Ryan and Graham would be leaving Doctor Who. I thought that the show might return to the one companion format. It would be wild if we had a female Doctor and companion, a first in the show’s history. I would have also accepted Captain Jack sticking around as a temporary companion for awhile.

So I was surprised to get the introduction of a new companion in a post-credits scene. Next season comedian John Bishop will be joining the TARDIS as a character named Dan. We know nothing about him yet other than the fact that he works as a fisherman and is apparently into astrology. How Dan will fit into the Doctor and Yaz’s dynamic remains to be seen in the next season of Doctor Who.

doctor who new year's day special Image via BBC

As of now we don’t have a premiere date for the next season of Doctor Who, but we know they are currently filming a shortened season. We will keep you up to date as we learn more, so be sure to follow Comic Years on Facebook and Twitter today for all of your genre news.

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Emily O'Donnell is a writer and photographer with roots in some of the earliest online fandoms. She cut her genre teeth on the Wizard of Oz books at the tender age of 6 years old, and was reading epic adult fantasy novels by the age of 10. Decades later, she still consumes genre fiction like there is no tomorrow. She is delighted to be living through the golden age of sci-fi and fantasy popularity. She is unashamed of the amount of fanfiction that still lingers online under her name.

BBCCompanionsDoctor WhoHoliday SpecialJodie WhittakerJohn BarrowmanRevolution of the Daleks

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