Firstly, a happy New Year to all our readers. This year we were treated to a New Year’s Day special with the Thirteenth Doctor and co. With lots of drama and surprises, Resolution was certainly an interesting episode, but what did our team make of it? Let’s find out…
Before I review the actual episode, I have to admit that the change to New Year’s Day, which I was highly opposed to, did end up making sense. On Christmas day, I was with my family all day and would’ve missed the episode, whereas on New Year’s Day, I was bored and there was very little to watch on TV.
So on to the episode itself. At first I was quite excited, as it looked like we were finally getting an epic pre-titles sequence, but sadly we just had no title sequence at all. It feels odd when the show does this (as with The Woman Who Fell To Earth) as it feels like the show is missing part of its identity, which is especially important in a festive special when more casual viewers will be tuning in. Think of all those families sat around the TV because one of the kids wants to watch the show. They’re missing out on a spectacular title sequence!
The episode didn’t really feel like a special – nor did it even feel like a series finale – but the return of the Daleks (or singular Dalek at least) was definitely a treat. We’ve been deprived of any returning characters this series and the new villains haven’t exactly been memorable.
Whilst the concept of the Dalek mutant taking over a human body was interesting and great to watch, it was a bit annoying having to wait 40 minutes (two thirds of the episode) to see a ‘proper’ Dalek in its shell. Fortunately, the wait paid off. The makeshift Dalek looked awesome! It would’ve been nice to see the redesigned ‘Chibnall’ Daleks that will hopefully appear in future series, but for now this whetted my appetite, and the action really saved the episode. The ruthless killing of several characters was especially impressive.
As well as an old foe returning, we also got to see Ryan’s dad return to make it up to his son. The reunion was a nice addition to the story, adding some emotion and fitting to the theme of a new start for a new year. Sadly, Ryan didn’t exactly sell this for me. I don’t know whether it’s Tosin Cole’s own personality, but I’ve found Ryan to be very dull throughout the series. He’s not been given much to do in most episodes and when he does have things to do, he always comes across as a bit half-hearted about it. Even when he’s excited, or hanging on to the TARDIS to save his falling father in a big epic climax, it still feels a bit lacklustre.
Luckily, there’s Graham to entertain us. Although he misses out on some of the action, his interactions with Ryan’s Dad (he was so uninteresting I can’t even remember his name) are absolute gems. Whether giving him a stern warning or reminiscing with him about Grace, he pitches it perfectly.
Jodie has some great moments as the Doctor in this special. I’ve seen a lot of people complaining about how casual she was in fighting the Dalek, but I think a lot of her attitude is bravado to fool the Dalek, as we do get some moments of genuine panic in the TARDIS. Whilst the Doctor never really feels too scared and deals with the threat quite lightly, I also think that’s a trait of the Thirteenth Doctor, with her optimistic and innocent manner. I also loved her telling off Ryan’s dad with a perfectly delivered burn.
Yaz is… also there. Once again, Chibnall proves that a packed TARDIS team isn’t easy to write. Aside from an actual bit of police work (because Chibnall suddenly remembered she works for the police) looking after Lin and Mitch early on, Yaz doesn’t get a great deal to do, which feels like a shame. Part of me hopes one of the TARDIS team is killed off early in series 12 so that the other two get more chance to shine.
Lin and Mitch were a nice couple, with that sweet romance that you’d expect from a festive adventure. Charlotte Ritchie gave a particularly notable performance, both as the likeable Lin and her possessed counterpart.
Then we come to the main gripe of the episode. Chibnall’s trademark “can’t leave well alone” moment designed, seemingly, just to upset fans. Part way through this episode the Doctor calls UNIT. Like me, many fans probably got really excited at this point, hoping to see a surprise cameo from Kate Stewart or even a few soldiers in familiar red berets. Instead, Chibnall tries for a comedy moment, stating that UNIT has closed due to “financial disputes and subsequent funding withdrawal”. Possibly a not-so-subtle reference to Brexit, this potentially funny exchange has instead sparked worry that we might never see UNIT again. So Chibnall’s Christmas gift to us all is killing off a much loved organisation that’s been in the show for over 50 years. He really shouldn’t have bothered.
Once again most of the action takes place in Sheffield. Whilst this enables the companions to nip home, it’s never explained why this is the new hotspot for alien invasions. At least with Cardiff we had the rift in time and space. Although we do get a few more people around this time. They must be coming out of the woodwork for Christmas.
Overall, Resoultion is a bit of a mixed bag. While the Dalek story was a fresh take on the creatures and a visual treat, the episode didn’t feel quite as special Christmas episodes that have come before it.
It is difficult to think of Resolution as a New Year’s Special. The first end of year event for Jodie as Thirteen, expectations were already astronomical due to the overall mixed reception to Series 11, and so the general feeling was that Chibnall needed to deliver more than ever and offer some kind of resolution to the growing divide in the fanbase.
On many fronts the crew does indeed deliver on this; the music is excellent as ever, although still lacks the grandeur of the Murray Gold era, the visuals better than they have ever been and the return of the Daleks is refreshing after several years of mediocrity.
Yet, once again the era of the 13th Doctor lacks any kind of narrative. Beyond defeating this single Dalek, can we say anything really happened to justify this episode? If the Dalek fleet had been called, the stakes would be upped and some real danger presented, but to no avail.
So, whilst Resolution is visually stunning and is a step up for the 13th Doctor era, that really isn’t saying much when the stakes were already at zero. Looks like this year off till next year is going to feel even longer.
I had very mixed opinions about Resolution, so I thought I’d do my review a little differently. Here’s my opinion on 13 points from the episode:
1. The Dalek using a human as a “puppet” was a great way to reinvent the Dalek with a new concept.
2. Great action scenes, showing that the Dalek was an actual threat. Most notably the vehicle chase (which was a bit on the short side) and the military shooting at the Dalek.
3. As much as I like UNIT, the fact they’ve been suspended due to financial reasons is a bit funny (as it seems almost too real.) Also, the fact we have a reason why UNIT is not operational is a nice touch to clean plots. (For example if there’s an alien invasion in the next series, there’ll be a reason why they don’t show up.) Hopefully, they’ll return though. (Crossing fingers in an epic finale?)
4. Interesting plot that mainly made sense (I’m willing to accept the Dalek had enough of its original casing in those boxes from MDZ.)
5. GCHQ was a nice touch, I like they go to places that exist in real life (similar to CERN in Series 10)
6. The music really helped the action scenes. And the scenes themselves also looked amazing.
7. The Doctor trying numberplate recognition was a nice addition, it shows that she doesn’t always use crazy scientific instruments all the time.
8. MDZ was an interesting touch, I had a bit of Torchwood vibes off of them, I wonder if it’ll be in Series 12?
9. Originally, I didn’t like that they put Ryan’s dad in the episode, as the focus should’ve been on the Dalek. But the whole “New Year’s Resolution” kind of worked. I liked how he was an engineer and he (and the microwave) was part of the resolution to the plot. Pun intended. Saying that, I still think it was a bit rushed though, so I hope we see Ryan’s dad again.
10. What was that font? I have gotten a bit used to it, but I found it a really weird one to use. Saying that, I appreciate that they made it big enough.
11. I liked the cast, like every other cast in series 11, I hope we’ll have an episode where they’ll all be shown (like The Stolen Earth), but I don’t think it’ll actually happen.
12. I’m a bit half and half on the whole battle of the 9th century, while half of me loved the first scene, the other half of me disliked the whole theory about Order of the Custodians
13. I think Yaz needs to do more, why doesn’t she use her skills as a police officer? It would be interesting to see her reporting and securing the scene to the police. And then there could be a subplot with her coworkers suspecting why she’s always at the scene when there’s aliens.