Happy New Year….or is it?
For the third straight New Year’s Day, the Doctor battles the Daleks. First, a Dalek causes destruction over several centuries, then a squad learns how to clone themselves.
No wonder in 2022, the Doctor and some Daleks have some unfinished business from the Flux series, but are also in a time loop.
What’s stranger is where it all happens. At least it leads to romance, and hidden feelings finally revealed
At a storage building in Manchester, a woman named Sarah (Aisling Bea) really doesn’t want to spend New Year’s Eve there. Her boyfriend Jeff has decided not to show. Her only customer, a guy named Nick (Adjani Salmon), asks to go into his unit to put in an old Monopoly game. It’s later revealed he takes stuff from his ex-girlfriends and puts them in storage. That’s rather odd.
Sarah, meanwhile, has to deal with getting New Year’s texts from friends and her mom calling just before the New Year. Then it gets worse.
Meanwhile, the TARDIS needs a place to repair itself. It’ll do a reboot, while the Doctor, Yaz and Dan spend some time in an alien beach.
Of course, they wind up elsewhere. They land at Sarah’s storage building, and see the TARDIS cracking.
Nick reaches his unit, then the power goes out. He then faces a Dalek, and gets killed. Sarah also finds the Dalek, and gets killed.
It finds the Doctor and her companions, and they also die.
The end? No, it’s a variation on Groundhog Day. The cracked TARDIS has created a time loop, and it has to be broken somehow.
Everyone clearly remembers getting killed, but wonders what just happened. The building is locked in a time loop, and the Dalek keeps killing, but learns to anticipate changes. Also, the loop shortens by one minute. Thus, the Dalek expects to eventually kill the Doctor (since she’s blamed for killing a lot of them being killed in the Flux finale, even if the Sontarans did the same), her friends, Nick and Sarah. It’s quite the situation.
What’s best about this episode is how the time loop affects everyone, but also reveals information they never knew before. This is especially true for Sarah, who learns Jeff stored a lot of stuff that’s forbidden, from old canned beans to stuffed animals. She also blames the Doctor at one point for bringing the Daleks to her door. Actually, the Doctor would agree with that, but not explain why. All she knows is that no one has to die because of her past.
Dan also does a great job, and should stick around for a long time. It is a hoot seeing him with a Dalek pretending to be looking for a place to store is stuff. This leads to one of the most embarrassing statements said by a Dalek: “Daleks do not store stuff”
He even mocks its voice and design, but it’s done for a purpose because he knows more Daleks are coming. He also knows he’ll just be alive again, and can hopefully outlast them.
It’s also interesting Yaz keeps protesting every time the Doctor tells her to stay while she tries to distract the Daleks away. Is there some hidden meanings? More on this later.
Everyone has to figure out a way to escape the Daleks, and the only way is to leave the building. At one point, Nick is surrounded by two daleks, but he ducks as they shoot at him. That eventually leads to the idea of destroying the storage building Sarah didn’t want.
It’s a good thing Jeff stores explosives and a lot of fireworks.
Sarah still has her doubts and blames the Doctor again, but this leads to one of those pep talks a certain Time Lord can make: “We help each other. We get it wrong again…We improve together and ultimately succeed. Because this is part of being alive, and it’s better than the alternative.”
Back to Yaz, and her getting upset the Doctor is pushing her away, Dan can see it. He asks her why Yaz never told the Doctor has she really feels about her.
A Companion falling for a Doctor? There have been hints, but it never got this far.
Eventually Yaz admits her feelings, seen in a teardrop or two. This is a big surprise to herself, if not to Dan.
Some fans have speculated this, and this is a big step for the show to make.
Dan even tries to get the Doctor to know, but she won’t hear of it. She’s got other things to worry about. That subject will come up if and when Yaz confesses her feelings.
Anyway, the Doctor does stop the Daleks through some misdirection and a lot of explosions. It destroys the building, the time loop and the Daleks. The TARDIS is almost good as new, though. Before they leave, Yaz tries to ask the Doctor what she meant by time “catching up” with her. She quickly changes the subject, and suggests a search for lost treasures. Again, the Doctor is putting off the inevitable.
As for Nick and Sarah, they’re on a long trip of their own.
The start of Jodie Whittaker’s final season as the Doctor was clearly better than the end of Flux. It wasn’t just another battle against the Daleks, but suggests an uncertain future. She thinks she has to worry about a major reckoning about her past (including her redacted days in Division) and her existence. She has no idea it’ll be much more than that.
Two more Doctor Who specials are scheduled for the coming Spring and Fall, while the 14th Doctor will arrive sometime in 2023. Filming for those episodes will start in a few months.