Director: Wayne Yip
Screenplay: Chris Chibnall
Starring: Jodie Whittaker, Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole, Mandip Gill, Charlotte Ritchie, Nikesh Patel, Daniel Adegboyega
Runtime: 60 Minutes
The greatest strength of the recent series of Doctor Who has been showrunner Chris Chibnall’s intention to bring as much new blood to the show as possible at the expense of some of the more familiar components of the show’s image in popular culture. New writers, directors, storylines focused on more intimate family dramas and personal issues, and little mention or reference to major events of the past, the mythology and villains. There was always the danger that it was going to push fans a little too far away from the reasons why they continued to tune into the show beyond the central character and her wonderful time machine.
But what may have been lacking in those respects is certainly made up for here in Resolution; that isn’t just a great and crowd-pleasing episode in its own right, marking the glorious return of one of the Doctor’s oldest foes, but also the first episode of the new run to feel some of the popcorn thrill of the show’s golden years.
Although the best was tried by the cast and crew to keep the identity of the predicted antagonist a secret, the BBC couldn’t help but tease people enough to guess the revelation; the Daleks have returned to Doctor Who.
The reveal of which is parsed out slowly but effectively, as we see an archaeological excavation in modern day Sheffield unearth the remains of a Dalek recon scout that was defeated and scattered across the earth in the 9th century by waring fractions, with The Doctor and her friends racing to stop the monster from reassembling itself and taking Earth as its prisoner.
What they do with the creature feels as fresh and inventive as anything in the recent series. Attaching itself in its squid-like form to Charlotte Ritchie’s Lin and using her as its own personal vehicle to get itself around and reassemble its own form whilst also holding her hostage. It’s a different spin on the creature, but all of which is building up the return of that famous peppershaker silhouette with a Homebase makeover that looks every bit as delightfully silly and bombastic as it should do.
But until then, it’s the characters that fill in where the pace is otherwise pushing the action, and the return of Ryan’s estranged dad Aaron (Daniel Adegboyega) certainly throws a spanner in the works for the now mended relationship between Ryan and Graham. Adegboyega is equal parts sympathetic and world-weary, but when asking for guidance as a father is a conclusion he comes to when having an overdue discussion with his son, you know that’s never a good sign.
It’s great to give Ryan and chance to vent, and the look of disappointment and sadness in Walsh’s eyes at points say more than words ever could as to his frustration. Sadly, this means that Yasmin is once again sidelined in a narrative with too much to juggle – they really need to find a way to sort out this issue going forward.
There’s also some stumbling blocks in the way that the gradual build to the Dalek reassembly isn’t quite as engaging in the in-between spaces, with Lin and love interest Mitch (Nikesh Patel) given little in the way of real character, an oddball aside to a random family at one point when the countries Wi-Fi goes down, and Chibnall’s addressing of the absence of U.N.I.T. to proceedings certainly won't win many people over even if it does offer one hell of a punchline about Brexit Britain.
But it’s hard to care as much about the shortcomings when it hits its stride in the final stretch, with a blowout of a climax seeing Whittaker come face to face with her oldest foe for the first time and Whittaker owning the moment so well, with a great returning vocal turn from Nick Briggs. There’s explosions, chaos and pressure galore in the race to the finish and an intense final twist that almost turns nasty before coming back to the core drama of Ryan and his dad.
Resolution is about as imperfect as many of series 11’s best episodes, but it’s the most outwardly entertaining outing yet for Jodie’s Doctor and a welcome return for everyone’s favourite dustbin exterminators. It’s just a shame we’ll have to wait so long for the next one of these.