The first Dalek Universe set was a big hit for myself and many others so Box 2 had a lot to live up to. Thankfully these first two episodes continue both a fun plot and the great cast and throw in a few twists for good measure. Let’s look at the first two thirds of the boxset then, shall we?
Synopsis (of “Cycle of Destruction”):
After Mark starts behaving oddly, the Doctor and Anya find themselves on a strange planet with their friend missing. Searching for him they find their way to an isolated research base. The corridors show signs of animal incursions and the scientists are behaving strangely. But a big surprise is waiting for them.
Because this is where Mark Seven came from. They’re about to find out who he is. But is that information too dangerous to know?
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Is it sexist that I feel The Doctor should be holding Anya’s hand rather than Mark?
Episode 2, “The Trojan Dalek”, was a fun story to follow. The Doctor, Anya and Mark finally arrive at an SSS Space Station where the temporal scientist Arborecc (Barnaby Edwards) was last seen. Sadly for him The Doctor can’t seem to get anywhere as the staff, including head honcho Major McLinn (Blake Ritson) claims Arborecc had already left but some sneaking around proves otherwise. Meanwhile Mark Seven finds an old friend and potential love interest in Fliss (Pippa Bennett-Warner) who is sadly at the facility due to being gravely wounded in conflict. The Doctor eventually finds his way into Arborecc’s lab and meets some Daleks but they don’t quite sound right, and aren’t so quick to kill. Major McLinn arrives and reveals they’re human-made Daleks, the plan being to plant one in the Dalek main fleet and spy and sabotage their enemies from within (hence the title!) The Doctor isn’t outright mad at first, that is until his mention of Arborecc makes one of the Daleks react in an odd way, a way that makes The Doctor connect the dots: Arborecc had been turned into a Dalek…
Yes, it’s a storyline we’ve seen and heard a few times now, but still: McLinn is using wounded and near-death soldiers (as well as one scientist who was injured in his lab) as meat to craft into Daleks. This news goes down about as well as you’d imagine as The Doctor systematically goes about undoing all of McLinn’s plans and nabs some of Arborecc’s equipment while he’s at it. The Arborecc Dalek and others decide to destroy the space station with themselves on it as The Doctor reunites with Anya and Mark, who are running from another Dalek, one soon revealed as Fliss. Going against all logic and his programming Mark tries to reason with the mutant, but she’s too far gone and seemingly kills Mark before going insane. The Doctor and Anya escape at the last moment as The Doctor curses at another lost friend. It was great stuff, and leads to a hell of a finale…
Top work from the cover art team once again in this boxset, though using the likeness of Nina Toussaint-White just makes me think of her role as an earlier River Song in the Eleventh Doctor TV run…
I can’t call “Cycle of Destruction” bad, but it stands out as average in a series that so far has been great. It focuses on Mark Seven and takes us to the planet he was created on, one where androids are made and unmade, their minds wiped every time they gain any sentience and wish for freedom. There are some good ideas here, as The Doctor and Anya explore the ALARK facility they discover that the key scientists involved are all androids as well, and that Mark’s old “friend” Mariah Six (Nina Toussaint-White) and Mark himself were previously stuck in a loop of trying to go for freedom and getting their minds wiped. Mark eventually made it out and left Mariah behind, not that he remembered it, but the cycle continued. It only started unravelling when another android broke free from the facility but had its mind wiped on the way out, leading it to find and imprint itself into a group of bear-like creatures native to the planet. This lead to it attacking the facility and killing key personnel. In the end Mariah Six wishes for her freedom but Mark and The Doctor realise what she’d do with it, so she ends up mind wiped and left behind. It’s not a bad story but the first half at least was extremely slow paced and I never really found myself caring about either Mark’s backstory or Mariah Six in general, as well performed as they both were.
It’s funny how I didn’t really notice how banged up the Daleks are on this cover, a hint as to their only appearance in the boxset…
Obviously there are a fair few continuity nods from the previous box set, but ignoring that there are a few ties, mostly “The Trojan Dalek” using the “person creates Daleks out of human tissue” story, which we’ve seen in many stories from Sixth Doctor TV story “Revelation of the Daleks” to Eighth Doctor audio “Blood of the Daleks”, and even in the Tenth Doctor’s own TV run in “Daleks in Manhattan / Evolution of the Daleks” and more. The Doctor also mentions Davros and how even his own original Daleks ended up turning on him in Fourth Doctor TV classic “Genesis of the Daleks”.
That’s it really, again beyond Dalek Universe 1 and a few nods to Anya’s false human identity during her travels with the Fourth Doctor…
While “Cycle of Destruction” was fine “The Trojan Dalek” was a fun Dalek story with some good twists and some really great scenes from David Tennant, who as I’ve mentioned before in the last year or so, has really found his Tenth Doctor voice again. It all sets up a standout story coming up next…
Cycle of Destruction:
The Trojan Dalek: