Doctor Who: Death to the Daleks

Doctor Who: Death to the Daleks August 7, 2014

The episode Death to the Daleks reminded me of the unmade episode The Masters of Luxor, inasmuch as it begins with the TARDIS completely losing power, with a mysterious city with a beacon on it being responsible. But there the similarities end.

As in other episodes, we encounter primitive beings who offer sacrifice, because of their perception of things that are remnants of an advanced civilization from an earlier era. The city itself turns out to be sentient. The Exilons were once the most advanced race in the universe, and spread their influence everywhere (the Doctor saw the same markings he finds there on a temple in Peru). Their crowning achievement was to make this perfect sentient city. But the city itself then conquered them.

Some of the Exilons who are friendly towards the outsiders fear but do not worship the city as others do. The latter treat the city as their god.

In the episode, we also have a reference to the TARDIS as a “living thing.”

Death to the Daleks cityThe Daleks, as well as a ship of humans, plus the Doctor and Sarah Jane, all find themselves marooned until the source of the power drain can be found. The Daleks’ energy weapons fail to work, and although they eventually make projectile weapons, one striking aspect of the story is that it gives a chance to see the Daleks as characters, however briefly, who are not able to exterminate all opposition instantaneously.

The Daleks (as so often) are ready and willing to use biological weapons. And so in addition to the religious elements, there are also ethical aspects to the episode that can continue to lead to discussions of relevant issues in our time.

The episode is viewable on DailyMotion, along with many other classic Doctor Who episodes.


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  • Tony

    Death to the Daleks is a classic. Well, apart from the horrible score. I especially love how Pertwee’s Exxilon buddy, Bellal, is the most expressive of the guest cast, despite not being able to move his face… at all. What really elevates the story, though, is how multifaceted the city is. It’s almost a character in itself, and just like a god (or the religion surrounding a god), it means different things to different people: friend, enemy, salvation, trap, etc. There’s a thesis waiting to be written about this one. Thanks for the write-up!