The Stolen Earth
Jack: No. Oh, no!
Gwen: What is it? Who are they? Do you know them, Jack?!
Sarah Jane Smith: [whispers.] No.
Episode star rating:***** (out of a possible five)
Russell T. Davies has drawn on the whole forty-five-year history when crafting these past four seasons of Doctor Who. The traditions of humour, horror, wonder, and the strange. Different stories featured these different aspects, but only until this amazing episode do we have these qualities all at the same time.
From the whimsy of the Daleks reacting with an grating electronic Yes-we-know-who-you-are to Harriet Jones’s catchphrase, to the horrific reveal of Davros spawning tiny Dalek mutants within his ribcage, this was a non-stop spectacle, sometimes absurd, sometimes disturbing.
With all the looking back over the past four years and familiar characters returning, it seems RTD still looks even further back as The Medusa Cascade plot is a tribute to the strangeness of 1964’s The Dalek Invasion of Earth where the Daleks had the baffling plan of piloting the Earth around the galaxy, (the Doctor does allude to this event); the stiff formality of the people of the Shadow Proclamation and their gleaming environs would not look out of place in Season 18.
The actual reason given for the reappearance of Davros is maybe not that satisfying (Dalek Caan seems to have overdone his Emergency Temporal Shift and reached the “Timelocked” Time War, though it sent him insane, and thus Davros returns) but the sheer exuberance of the rest of the episode means the enjoyment continues.
Of the returning characters and new-to-Doctor Who characters from the spin-offs, it was especially great to see Torchwood’s Ianto and Gwen in Doctor Who, the highlight being Eve Myles’s expression showing Gwen’s grim determination as she faced the Daleks.
Considering all the times that Rose has appeared on screens over the previous episodes of the season, you can understand her frustration at being excluded from the computer screen. When she did eventually meet the Doctor, this scene continued to the most astonishing cliffhanger of Doctor Who so far. A great episode.