The latest Doctor Who holiday special “Revolution of the Daleks” will be a big one for fans.
The third New Year’s Day special for Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor features the return of Captain Jack Harkness and the Daleks. Plus, as previously announced, it sees the exit of companions Ryan (Tosin Cole) and Graham (Bradley Walsh).
Check out our spoiler-free review below.
“Revolution of the Daleks” Review
Let’s take this one from bad to good, shall we?
“Revolution of the Daleks” brings back Jack Robertson, a one-off villain from the season 11 episode “Arachnids in the UK.” If you feel like that’s a weird choice… Yeah, it kind of is. To me Robertson didn’t really warrant a reappearance, and the setup required for “Revolution of the Daleks” gives him more screentime than I’d like. Every time he appeared on screen I found myself wishing I was watching literally any of the other characters.
But with Robertson comes the Daleks, and everyone loves a Dalek story, right?
The Dalek plotline is pretty much equal parts “fun and inventive” and “saw it coming from a mile away.” So…much like every Dalek story, really. If you like seeing the Daleks on screen, you’ll probably enjoy this story. If you don’t, well…you already knew what you were getting into.
The other big appearance fans knew they could expect? The return of Captain Jack Harkness. I don’t want to spoil any details about his appearance, but I can confirm it’s a real treat for fans. If you were worried Jack would only pop up in a short cameo or not share screen time with Whittaker’s Doctor – stop worrying. I loved everything about Jack’s presence in the special. And Jack contributed to the best part of the episode: a strong emotional throughline.
Essentially, the plot of “Revolution of the Daleks” is decent – not extremely good, but not bad either. Where this special really shines though is through its emotion and character development. The Thirteenth Doctor shares some very powerful moments with her companions in this special. We’ve been waiting to see her process the life-changing revelations in “The Timeless Children,” and we get the first taste of how the Doctor’s coping with everything. Plus, Cole and Walsh’s departures are allowed the space they need to have a strong impact. (I bet the tie-in to their first appearance will leave you tearing up.)
“Revolution” is also a sort of tribute to other Doctor Who eras – you can catch quite a few references sprinkled throughout the special. (Including name-dropping a fan-favorite former companion!)
How Does “Revolution” Compare To The Other Whittaker Specials?
If you’re a long-time Doctor Who fan, you’re probably wondering… How does “Revolution of the Daleks” stack up against the Thirteenth Doctor’s previous two specials?
On the basis of simple plot alone, I would say “Revolution of the Daleks” surpasses 2019’s “Resolution.” It probably falls below the twisty Master reveal of “Spyfall” though. But in terms of character development and emotional resonance, “Revolution of the Daleks” is really unmatched.
The Bottom Line
Robertson isn’t my favorite villain, and the premise behind the special awards him a bit too much screen time. But Captain Jack’s reunion with the Doctor and the exit of Ryan and Graham give “Revolution of the Daleks” a powerful emotional throughline that makes the episode one to watch. And hey, we all like a Dalek story, right?