The 13th Doctor – New Year Special 2019 – “Resolution” – Forgiveness and Family Explored

Watch Doctor Who: Resolution | Prime Video

With the new New Year Special coming out for “Doctor Who” I figured it was a good time to go back to the first New Years Special we got last year and with it a chance to share my thoughts on Chibnall’s run so far. First, this is a good episode and is worth seeing. It does tie up the arc of the 13th Doctor’s first season but you get enough context from the text that you don’t need to have seen it to know what happened prior. For this reason it very much works as a special. Where it doesn’t work is Chibnall’s tendency to add too many characters to his scripts and important ideas getting dropped. I’ll get into what I mean there in the review. This is well worth checking out though if you’re a fan of the show.

“Resolution” was directed by Wayne Yip and written by Chris Chibnall.

The story follows a Dalek being discovered on a digsite as it attempts to gain back it’s power as the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and her companions seek to stop it.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Premise – The idea of a single Dalek being strong enough to take out humanity is pretty cool and it establishes just how powerful they are as a threat. We learn it took 3 armies to defeat and divide the Dalek in the first place, but even then all it took was one part to regenerate the other parts and all it needed for that was light. The stakes are high and the Dalek is good at being one-step ahead and having back-up plans.

The Characters – The characters are one of the stronger parts of “Doctor Who” as a show and that is very much on display here. The characters who get development are compelling and they are the ones I’ll be talking about here.

Lin – Lin is one of the archeologists who discovers the remains of the Dalek on the digsite and her arc is getting back her agency when the Dalek uses her as a weapon to kill people and to rebuild it’s armor shell. She does a good job of capturing the terror of being controlled by a Dalek and saving herself from the Dalek’s control.

Graham – Graham is the glue of the Chibnall run as he is someone both Yaz and Ryan can talk too and he has empathy that we don’t always get from the Doctor. This comes out big time here too as he shows Aaron (Grace’s son and Ryan’s Dad) that his mother kept all his things and that she considered him what she wanted to be remembered for. It is a touching scene with them and showed that even though they may never consider one another family that they can still be potential friends. Bradley Walsh is one of the best parts of the Chibnall years.

Ryan – Ryan has some great development this story as we see him deal with the dad who was never in his life and eventually come to forgive him and accept the regrets that Aaron feels that drive him to be better. Tosin Cole gives so much emotional depths to the scenes he has as we see his anger become empathy for his dad and how they have the chance to grow together during the episode.

Aaron – Aaron is a character driven by regret. He didn’t come to his mother’s funeral and he has been out of his son’s life for a long time. This episode is him doing what he can to try to put his life back in order and heal the bridges burned. “Resolution” handles it well as his mistakes are never dismissed or made okay, but the chance for new starts is the theme and his conversations with Graham and Ryan demonstrate the changed man he is at this point in time.

The Reconnaissance Dalek – The Reconnaissance Dalek is such a fun and scary threat. This is the first time in a long time we see how dangerous a Dalek can be outside of it’s shell and this being is clever and dangerous. We see it take out a military strike force and outsmart the Doctor a few times. It is only defeated in the end by it’s inability to control a human mind and I found that really well done. This is probably the best Dalek threat I’ve seen since “Asylum of the Daleks” as far as the new “Doctor Who” series goes and in the timeline of release dates. It was great seeing that level of threat again.

The Doctor – Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor is great in this. In this we see how personal her vendetta with the Daleks are and her bluntness. She calls out Aaron for not being there for Ryan and is also rooting for people through it all, even bringing up to the Dalek how humans defeated the worst of the humans through history and that is what makes them unstoppable. We also see her cleverness too as each of her wins over the Dalek come from using what information is at hand or her technology to defeat the Dalek in the end.

The Cons:

The Three Custodians Plot – Three different armies from around the world defeated the Dalek in the 9th Century. After they went their separate ways with a part of the Dalek to guard and keep safe. The one in England died before finding his place. We see the guardians who know the story pop up when the Dalek reconfigures from the light but they never show up again. This felt weird to dropped and that it would have been better if they hadn’t shown up at all as they don’t help against the Dalek in any way.

Tell versus Show and Pacing – The first 20 minutes are a bit slow and it takes a while to get going after the Three Custodian Backstory. This I would say goes to Chibnall can often get “Tell over Show” in his scripts and this one is a shining example. The great thing is it picks up once the Dalek is revealed to be controlling Lin and the Doctor’s quest to stop it.

Cluttering of Characters / Little Character Development – We have a bunch of characters so quite a few get no development or scenes this episode. Mandip Gill’s Yaz is there to talk on the phone and help the Doctor pick people up and Mitch who has feelings for Lin that Lin returns is there just to worry about her and reveal that she was alone at one point. I wish there were less characters in these stories sometimes as Chibnall can do a good job at developing characters he focuses on.

I am looking forward to “Revolution of the Daleks” and am curious to see the direction the Chibnall era takes. All his companions are good, it is just there are too many of them in the story that at least one person remains underdeveloped or they just end up being a plot device. I hope the next New Year Special that is upcoming doesn’t have that problem as when he has a cool idea like the Reconnaissance Dalek, it can lead to a lot of cool and interesting ways to show drama and story.

Final Score: 8.4 / 10

Black Mirror – Season 1, Episode 3 – “The Entire History of You” – Of Memories and Obsession

the-entire-history-of-you-black-mirror

    I’m kicking off “Horror Month” with “The Entire History of You,” from Black Mirror. This story is amazing! Black Mirror is a series that likes to take ideas related to technology and shine them on humanity revealing our dark underbelly and how technology can strengthen those already bad tendencies. This episode does an amazing job with this!

   The episode was directed by Brian Welsh and written by Jesse Armstrong.

   The story takes place in the near future, where people can now save memories onto a flash device that is in their head and can put memories up on the screen. The story revolves around Liam (Toby Kebbell) and his relationship that is falling apart as his ability to recall memories plays into his already obsessive tendencies.

The Pros: The Premise – The premise is really cool. The ability to save and recall memories is something that could easily come about in the near future and with that there are so many ways it would make humanity worse. This episode really explores that on the small level of a relationship.

The Writing – The writing is awesome! It is all showing rather than telling and the audience is treated like an adult. Jesse Armstrong really wrote a fantastic screenplay. It is one of the less terrifying Black Mirror episodes but it has a great use of tension.

Liam – Toby Kebbell does a fantastic job as an obsessive whose life is falling apart is beautifully done. He is someone who has major issues as he fixates on things and those things consume them to the point where we see a man who doesn’t trust and it destroys his relationship in the process. The final scene is him recalling his memories of his wife before cutting out the chip and destroying all memory of the relationship.

Ffion –  Ffion is Liam’s wife and does a great job as a woman trying to keep her relationship together while dealing with an unstable partner. It is her connection with a past friend she had a fling with that leads Liam to obsessing but we see why she is trying to get out. Her agency and memories are never respected. Liam makes everything about him which leads to her rightfully leaving him.

The Good in Forgetting –  One of the themes is that memory isn’t solid and that is a good thing. The people who are the most well put together in this are the ones who don’t dwell on memories, they live and it allows them to move on. The memories are still a part of them but unlike Liam they don’t obsess over every detail.

The Danger in Obsession – Memory recall is most dangerous in how it can lead into obsession. It is through Liam’s eyes that we see it all take place. He loses his life because he holds on so hard to details tied to his own insecurities that he loses everything anyway. The technology isn’t the problem it is how it can make those who are obsessed worse. Liam already had issues, but having the chance to analyze the past just made him worse. He stopped living in the moment and lost the moment.

Okay: Minor Characters – Liam’s and Ffion’s friends are okay, they don’t really get the full exploration they deserved though.

  This was another great episode of Black Mirror. I can’t wait to review more and will probably review at least one more episode from the show for “Horror Month.” Until then I highly recommend this episode and this show as a whole.

Final Score: 9.6 / 10