A Dalek is discovered that has been buried for centuries after it was defeated by humans. I have a lot of trouble believing that non-advanced humans with primitive weapons could defeat a Dalek, but the episode just kind of glosses over the details of that, so I will move on, too. It attaches itself to a woman and uses her to rebuild its armor and mount an attack against the Doctor.
The episode does a good job of setting up the reveal that the creature is a Dalek. The problem is, what would have been a fun surprise was completely spoiled by the promos for the episode. The ads for the episode undermined the buildup of tension within the episode. You can either promote the return of a monster or make the return a surprise; you cannot do both.
I really like the MacGyvered steampunk redesign, but Chibnall’s depiction felt uncharacteristic for a Dalek. Bonding with a human is not the typical modus operandi for a Dalek. Sure, the Cult of Skaro did it, but they were a secret order designed to be different. The reason given for why this particular Dalek is different is that it is one of the early scouts who first left Skaro. The problem is that we have seen Daleks from this era in their first appearance and “Genesis of the Daleks,” and this does not really fit in there.
It feels like the script was originally written to be some other creature and then later changed to be a Dalek. Attaching to a person and slowly reconstructing itself seems like a story perfectly suited for a Cyberman or even a completely new creature. It is not necessarily a bad depiction of a Dalek, but it is out of the ordinary and is a strange introduction to them for viewers who started watching Doctor Who with Jodie Whittaker.
As for the vastly superior B plot, Ryan’s estranged father makes his first appearance, and it pushed the companions in some interesting, new directions. As soon as Graham and Ryan resolve their relationship issues, Ryan’s father returns to shake things up. Bradley Walsh’s performance is quickly making Graham one of my favorite companions. He does a great job conveying his fondness for his grandson and sternness to his step-son. Tosin Cole is also great as Ryan showing his frustration and pain while confronting his absent father.
A strange thing that occurred in the episode is mentioning that UNIT (the Earth’s protection against alien threats) has been defunded and shutdown. This is a major change to the show, and it is odd for it to happen offscreen. Hopefully, this is to set up next season, where Kate Lethbridge-Stewart can return to bring back UNIT. Unfortunately, we are in for a long wait, as Series 12 is scheduled to come out in 2020.