Doctor Who – How Important are the Time Lords?

In the earliest days of Doctor Who back in the 1960s, everything about the Doctor was a complete mystery, from his name to his planet of origin. It is difficult to imagine now that back then people had no idea that the Doctor was even a Time Lord, and they certainly had no idea that they came from Gallifrey. In fact, one could argue that this was one of the main things that made the show so fascinating to viewers, the mystery of who and what the Doctor actually was.

However, over the course of Classic Who the many questions about the Doctor’s origins were answered one by one, to the extent that we not only know that the Doctor is a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, but also that he comes from the Prydonian Chapter, that he attended the Time Lord Academy, and that the TARDIS he stole is a Type 40 with a malfunctioning Chameleon circuit.

It goes without saying that the Time Lords are a powerful race, as they are responsible for assuming the role of custodians of time and space, protecting the established web of time, and maintaining the delicate fabric of the universe. The Time Lords are capable of wiping entire races from existence, retro-engineering the evolution of their enemies to ensure that they do not achieve sentience, and if necessary removing entire empires from history.

In recent years, however, the Time Lords have diminished in importance. Episodes set on Gallifrey, which were once a fascinating insight into the Doctor’s homeworld and history, became tedious slogs through dense lore and bureaucracy by the end of Classic Who. Russell T. Davies wisely side-stepped having to write Gallifrey episodes by destroying the entire Time Lord race in the Time War, which was controversial at the time but is now generally considered to have been a good decision in the long-run as it opened up new narrative opportunities for the show.

This was obviously done to provide some emotinoal weight to the Doctor’s story, but this proves just how disposable the Time Lords are as a plot device, as the entire species was wiped out – presumably for good – just to give the Doctor a tragic backstory for the revived series. This was definitely the right move, as it gave the Doctor a strong character arc the likes of which the series had never seen up until this point, and it meant that there was an aspect of mystery to the Doctor’s character once again.

By the time Steven Moffat took over as showrunner, the Time Lords were in an interesting narrative flux. Although they were essential to Doctor Who lore, with characters like Romana, the Master, the Rani, Rassilon and many others being closely linked to Gallifrey, the Time Lords also presented a massive amount of narrative baggage as they were so closely linked to the Doctor’s past, and with the effects of the Time War added into the mix the writers were backed into a tight corner when it came to expanding the show’s backstory and lore.

When the 50th Anniversary came around, the writers took the opportunity to do something potentially controversial in order to free future writers from the narrative weight of the Time War. Moffat was able to bring Gallifrey back in a way that did not invalidate Russell T. Davies’ earlier work, as the Doctor’s psychological scars from destroying Gallifrey at the end of the Time War remained even though the Time Lords were able to survive the war and hide Gallifrey away at the end of the universe. The fact that the War Doctor cannot retain the memories of saving Gallifrey means that the character development of the Ninth and Tenth Doctors was preserved whilst also restoring Gallifrey to the forefront of the series lore once again.

Nonetheless, it was clear that the Time Lords still presented a narrative problem, as Hell Bent proved that the Doctor held little nostalgia for his lost homeworld, particularly after the horrors that the Time Lords unleashed during the Time War. In fact, the Doctor banished Rassilon and the other members of the High Council and took the role of Lord President before promptly leaving the planet after rescuing Clara, demonstrating just how little attachment he had to Gallifrey at that point.

Chris Chibnall’s decision to once again remove the Time Lords from the equation by destroying Gallifrey and then revealing that the Doctor is actually far more than just another Time Lord restores an aspect of mystery to the character of the Doctor that has arguably been lacking since the 1960s. Though fans now will inevitably complain and cry heresey as the long-established lore of Doctor Who is ‘destroyed’, as we have seen from previous controversial decisions taken by showrunners this change can only be good for the franchise.

In the long run, the show can finally shed the narrative baggage that the Time Lords present after so many years of being tied to the same backstory and lore. Doctor Who has always been about change and this philosophy has kept it alive when so many other shows have finished or been cancelled. There are few shows out there that could theoretically go on forever, and Doctor Who is one of them. But in order to continue, it has to change, and the longer it stays on air, the bigger those changes will have to be. Fans can either accept the change and move on, or reject the change and be left behind.

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Star Wars – How did Padmé Actually Die?

Before the climactic duel between Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi and the newly-christened Sith Lord Darth Vader on Mustafar, Padmé Amidala was choked and knocked unconscious by her husband and would later go on to give birth to twins on Polis Massa before apparently losing the will to live and dying.

Upon the release of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, many fans were rightly frustrated at the ambiguous nature of Padmé’s death, as she was a popular character and a great role model for girls who was seemingly brushed aside and disposed of as soon as her role in the story was completed.

Whilst this happened to several other characters in Revenge of the Sith, including Count Dooku, General Grievous, Mace Windu and the entire cast of Jedi, Padmé’s death was more difficult to accept for fans due to the bizarre excuse that is given for why she died. The medical droid tending to her explains that she is dying because she has lost the will to live.

Several sources in both Star Wars Legends and Canon have either implied or outright stated that Padmé’s death was a direct result of Palpatine’s actions, indicating that he either murdered her through the force or instigated some other scheme to ensure she would die as soon as Anakin accepted his new role as Darth Vader.

Fans have long speculated that Darth Sidious had something to do with Padmé’s sudden death, as he tells Vader that she is dead despite having no confirmation of the fact. This could be the evil Sidious manipulating Vader once again, or perhaps an indication that he knows something we don’t about Padmé’s demise.

Exactly why Palpatine did this is clear, as there were several reasons why he wanted Padmé out of the picture once Anakin had fallen to the dark side. The most obvious reason is that she represents a link to Anakin’s good side, the part of him that is still Anakin Skywalker even after he has become Darth Vader. Palpatine also secretly disliked Padmé because of her strong will and tendency to interfere with his plans. Indeed, if Padmé had not been a critical factor in manipulating Anakin, Palpatine would have likely had her killed long before.

Whatever his motivations, it is clear through implications in the dialogue and expanded universe stories from both Legends and Canon that Darth Sidious killed Padmé. It is unfortunate that many fans seem to take the medical droid’s confused diagnosis as fact when there is likely a much darker and more malevolent explanation lurking in the background.

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Doctor Who – How did the Master Survive?

The Master, the Doctor’s oldest friend and oldest nemesis, has got out of more than a few scrapes over his many appearances in Doctor Who both on TV and in audios. The character has had almost as many appearances as the Daleks, and across all their appearances the Master has often seemingly died but then reappeared in a later story, unharmed, having escaped without even so much as regenerating.

The Master’s unique ability to escape from death is usually explained by the fact that the Master is a supervillain with a near-omnipotent ability to escape from danger so that he can be back to threaten the Doctor again in a later story, but there are some specific examples of the Master cheating death that require some more explanation.

How did the Master survive falling into the Eye of Harmony?

Eric Robert’s incarnation of the Master was trapped in the Eye of Harmony in the TV Movie, but escaped when rooms from the TARDIS were jettisoned. He later explained this to the Eighth Doctor in the Big Finish audio Day of the Master.

This question has become important recently due to Big Finish’s release of Master! starring Eric Roberts, set after the Master has escaped the Eye of Harmony and is once again at large in the universe.

How did the Master survive after running out of regenerations?

Eric Robert’s Master is merely a Human body being possessed by the Master’s consciousness, and as Day of the Master explains, he does eventually revert his withered, burnt body that he had before possessing Tremas to make Anthony Ainley’s incarnation all the way back in The Keeper of Traken.

The emaciated Master, played in this incarnation by Geoffrey Beevers, would eventually end up on the desert planet Parrak searching for a the tomb of the ancient Time Lord Artron which he believed held technology that could prolong his life or even grant him a new cycle of regenerations.Artron’s tomb did indeed contain the technology the Master was searching for, though the Master would be killed by the Ravenous before claiming his prize.

The Master survived after running out of regenerations because his future selves intervened at the last moment to use Artron’s device on their predecessors’s withered body and allow him to regenerate into a new incarnation, presumably Alex Macqueen’s.

How did the Master survive the Time War?

As we see in the Series 3 episode Utopia, the Master survived the Time War using a Chameleon Arch which rewrote his DNA to make him a Human. The Human form of the Master eventually took the name Professor Yana and was essential in building a spacecraft that transported the last of Humanity to the prophesized Utopia that existed at the end of the universe.

Unfortunately, Utopia did not exist, and Professor Yana would regain his true Time Lord self after opening his pocket watch, becoming the Master once again. He went on to murder his former assistant Chantho, who shot him in return and forced him to regenerate into his next incarnation who would then strand the Doctor and his companions at the end of the universe by stealing the TARDIS.

Big Finish expanded more on the ‘Yana’ incarnation, played by Derek Jacobi, in their War Master audio series which depict his exploits in the Time War before his eventual decision to run from the war by disguising himself as a Human.

How did the Master survive being shot by his wife?

The Master’s next incarnation, played by John Simm, would become Prime Minister of the UK and hold dominion over the entire Earth for a year until being overthrown by the Doctor and his companions and having his entire reign wiped from history.

The Master would then be shot by his wife, Lucy Saxon, and supposedly killed. His body was burned and seemingly all that survived of him was his ring. However, the Master was able to survive once again after he was resurrected by a cult of his followers.

The resurrection was botched by none other than Lucy Saxon, who sacrificed herself to cut the ritual short. This forced the Master to inhabit an unstable body that granted him bizarre powers at the cost of a constant hunger that could only be satisfied if he consumed food, and this included Humans.

How did the Master survive being stabbed by Missy?

After returning to Gallifrey and having his condition ‘cured’ by the Time Lords, the Master was stabbed by Missy after refusing to stand with the Doctor, forcing him to return to his TARDIS and regenerate into Missy. Before leaving, the Master shoots Missy in the back with his laser screwdriver, ensuring that she couldn’t stand with the Doctor either.

We see in the Big Finish audio Masterful that John Simm’s incarnation didn’t regenerate into Missy right away, however, as he would hold off his regeneration long enough to host a party and invite all his past selves with the intention of stealing their lives. Missy would intervene and disrupt the party, foiling her younger selves’ plans.

How did Missy survive on Skaro?

Missy was left in a precarious situation on Skaro at the end of The Witch’s Familiar, as she was surrounded by Daleks amid a crumbling Dalek City and seemingly had only her ‘clever idea’ to get her out of it. However, the next chronological appearance of Missy in Extremis shows her to be safe and sound.

It seems Missy survived on Skaro by either allying herself with the Daleks or escaping using a similar method to her previous successful attempts to cheat death, by teleporting away at the last second using the energy from her enemy’s weapons.

Missy does remark to the Doctor that she heard about his 24-year stay on Darillium with River Song from the Daleks, implying that she may have had dealings with them.

How did Missy survive to regenerate into Sacha Dhawan’s Master?

Although Missy seems very dead after being shot in the back by her previous incarnation at the end of The Doctor Falls, it seems as though she must have survived in order to regenerate into Sacha Dhawan’s ‘Spy’ Master who appeared in Series 12, as many officially licensed BBC sources seem to claim that this is the case.

Big Finish have already suggested that Missy survives and regenerates into a new incarnation after her death in The Doctor Falls, as Missy encounters her future self, the Lumiat, during the Missy audio series. This new female incarnation of the Master has embraced her role as a force of good in the universe, and she is able to thwart many of Missy’s schemes before being killed by Missy and presumably regenerating into Sacha Dhawan’s incarnation.

Doctor Who’s timeline is constantly in flux, however, and future revelations may change how we look at the Master’s timeline. Until then, we can only speculate as to how the Master’s story will continue.

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Doctor Who – How did the Daleks Survive the Time War?

The Daleks are the Doctor’s most fearsome enemies, and are well-known for their brutality, their ingenuity and above all, their survivability. The Daleks have survived everything from an attempt by a temporal race of demi-gods to avert their creation to a civil war that rendered the surface of their home-world a charred cinder, but one conflict that the Daleks seemingly could not escape was the Time War.

This huge temporal conflict saw the Daleks fight an all-out war with the Time Lords, a war that would destroy the Dalek race and leave only a few scattered survivors, including the Emperor and the Cult of Skaro. One by one, however, these survivors would be killed, usually due to the intervention of the Doctor.

The last Dalek drone known as the Metaltron would kill itself after absorbing Human DNA, as we see in the episode Dalek. In the Series 1 finale The Parting of the Ways we see that the Emperor Dalek was killed trying to invade Earth in the year 200,100. Finally, in Evolution of the Daleks, all but one member of the Cult of Skaro would die during the disastrous Final Experiment in New York in the 1930s.

The last member of the Cult of Skaro, Dalek Caan, went back into the Time War to rescue Davros and rebuild a New Dalek Empire, but in the process he saw the Dalek race for what it was and in the Series 4 finale Journey’s End we learn that we decided to wipe his own kind out, engineering the destruction of Davros’ empire to apparently ensure a final end for the Daleks.

However, just like every ‘final end’ the Daleks had suffered so far, the destruction of Davros’ empire would prove to not be the end of the Daleks, as three surviving Daleks would go on to uncover a lost Dalek Progenitor and create a New Dalek Paradigm, as seen in Series 5’s Victory of the Daleks. The new breed of Daleks created from the Progenitor would escape via time travel and begin rebuilding the Dalek Empire.

Exactly what happens next for the Daleks is a bit murky because each episode they feature in seems to tell its own story in terms of what the Daleks do next. The Paradigm Daleks essentially disappear after Series 7’s Asylum of the Daleks, and now the Daleks have established a Parliament, perhaps in order to keep peace. The Magician’s Apprentice implies that Davros has rebuilt a new Dalek race on Skaro, though the Dalek City is later destroyed.

Other Dalek appearances are even stranger. The fact that Bronze Daleks are attacking the Movellans in Series 10’s The Pilot seems to indicate that the Daleks are either interfering with their own history or resuming their past conflicts with post-Time War vigor. The fact that various Classic Daleks are present in the Asylum and Davros’ Dalek City on Skaro would seem to indicate some kind of temporal shenanigans, but it is unclear exactly what they are up to.

Other recent appearances for the Daleks in episodes like Into the Dalek, Resolution and Revolution of the Daleks state that the Daleks have a roaming fleet that serves as their headquarters, and as the Dalek saucer that was destroyed in The Time of the Doctor was apparently the Dalek Parliament, it could be that now the Daleks are ‘between empires’ at the moment and are instead rampaging around the Galaxy in a nomadic fleet. We can only wait and see what the future holds for the Daleks, but needless to say that after surviving the fires of the Time War they are now here to stay – and are more powerful than ever.

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Halo – Why did the Prophets Betray the Elites?

Did you know, Arbiter, that the Elites have threatened to resign? To quit the High Council? Because of this… exchange of hats?

We have always been your protectors.

These are trying times for all of us.

-The Prophet of Truth and the Arbiter discuss the Brutes replacing the Elites as the Honour Guard of the Prophets

The Changing of the Guard

After the Prophet of Regret was assassinated by the Master Chief during the events of the Halo 2 mission Delta Halo, the Prophet of Truth decided to take radical action, allegedly in order to protect the remaining Hierarchs from attack. This resulted in all the Elite Honour Guardsmen being replaced by Brutes in a controversial and unprecedented move.

However, the Prophet of Truth’s decision to replace the Elite Honour Guardsmen with Brutes in response to Regret’s death was more than just a precautionary measure, it was the first step in his plan to remove the Elites from the Covenant entirely and replace them with the Brutes.

The question remains, however: why would the Prophet of Truth want to replace the Elites, a loyal race of powerful warriors, with the Brutes, a race whose greatest achievement up until this point had been nuking their entire civilization back to the Stone Age?

The Great Schism

The answer lies in the Prophet of Truth’s grand plan to ensure the firing of the Halo Array, as he was certain that the Elites were never true believers and as such declared the entire race Heretics. The Prophet of Truth’s decision to do this was an early sign of his increasingly power-hungry, treacherous and unstable personality that would eventually result in the death of the Prophet of Mercy.

Truth would later order the Brutes to begin killing their Elite counterparts once the Elite Councillors were grounded on Delta Halo. During the mission Gravemind, we see first-hand the result of Truth’s treachery as High Charity is torn apart by civil war as Brutes and Elites fight each other for control of the city.

Truth’s motivations for doing this were more than just religious, he saw the Elites as a threat to his power. The Elites had powerful figureheads in the Covenant such as Rtas ‘Vadum, the Arbiter and the Councilors, and Truth sought to kill anyone who would limit his power in a bizarre religious purge.

The Prophet of Truth’s Master Plan

After the Prophet of Truth’s decision to betray the Elites resulting in a huge civil war in High Charity, the Gravemind chose the most opportune moment to attack the city with a captured Human ship filled with Flood spores. This soon resulted in High Charity being infested with the Flood, forcing Truth to flee in the Forerunner Dreadnought that powered the city.

Disconnecting the ancient ship from High Charity doomed the inhabitants to die at the hands of the Flood, and Truth’s once-mighty Covenant was reduced to a handful of carriers and cruisers. This last fleet fled to Earth in a last-ditch attempt to find the Ark, and the remaining Elites followed close behind. Unfortunately for Truth, the remaining Human forces on Earth, including Miranda Keyes, Sergeant Johnson, Lord Hood, the Arbiter, the Master Chief, and of course the legendary Chips Dubbo were able to repel his forces long enough for the Elites to arrive at Earth.

Although Truth was able to flee to the Ark, the Elites were close behind, and as soon as they arrived the Elite fleet were able to make short work of the Brute fleet whilst the Master Chief and the Arbiter destroyed Truth’s forces on the ground. By the time the Prophet of Truth got round to firing the rings, the last of his fleet and the final two Scarabs of the Covenant had already been reduced to scrap metal.

The Fall of the Covenant

The Prophet of Truth’s hubris would eventually come back to haunt him, however, as his decision to betray the Elites would not only result in Humanity being saved from certain extinction by not only the Covenant but also the Flood, but it would also lead to Truth’s Brute forces being absolutely devastated by the surviving Elites during the Battle of the Ark.

During the Prophet of Truth’s final stand on the Ark during the mission The Covenant in Halo 3, he desperately attempts to fire the remaining Halo rings as the Arbiter and the Master Chief infiltrate the Citadel and finally kill the Prophet once and for all. In the end, Truth’s faith in the Brutes turns out to be poorly placed, as the Arbiter finally executes the Prophet after the Master Chief deactivates the Halo array after murdering all the Brute bodyguards.

Clearly, had Truth not ordered the Brutes to remove the Elites from the Covenant, Humanity would have lost a powerful ally and Truth wouldn’t have had to worry about a civil war, the war with Humanity and the war with the Flood. Truth’s decision to betray his allies inevitably causing him more harm than good, as it not only lost him the Holy City of High Charity but also the Covenant itself.

Remnants

Despite the death of the Prophet of Truth, the Covenant did survive, albeit in a fractured form that was a hollow shell for its former self. Warlords like Jul ‘Mdama began to seize Covenant assets like backwater defence fleets, outdated weapons and mothballed vehicles in order to continue the Covenant’s crusade against Humanity.

This inevitably led to the conflict between the Elites and the Brutes taking on a new form, as there was now also a civil war between the Elites loyal to the Covenant, led by Jul ‘Mdama and other warlords, and the Elites that followed the Arbiter and were allied with Humanity, called the Swords of Sanghelios.

In Halo 5: Guardians, Spartan Locke is able to finally put Jul ‘Mdama down and help the Arbiter to remove the Covenant’s final stronghold on Sanghelios, freeing the Elites from Covenant influence. However, the Covenant undoubtedly survives in some form or another, because as long as one faithful believer survives, the Covenant survives, and although the main enemy in Halo: Infinite seems to be the Banished, there is no doubt that Halo fans have not seen the last of the Covenant, despite the Prophet of Truth’s inability to hold the Empire together.

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Doctor Who – What Happened to Rusty?

As the focus of the second episode of Series 8, Into the Dalek, Rusty was a one-of-a-kind, a character that initially seemed like it could be the universe’s only example of a Dalek that was morally good. That is, until the Twelfth Doctor discovered that it was simply suffering a malfunction, cured the problem, and instead accidentally taught Rusty to hate the Daleks. At the end of Into the Dalek, we see Rusty leave for parts unknown, but what happened to this unique Dalek?

Escaping the Dalek Fleet

At the end of Into the Dalek, Rusty leaves the Human hospital ship Aristotle and joins the rest of his kind in their saucer, and he then presumably stays undercover until he reaches a strategic position. Interestingly, early drafts for Into the Dalek depict Rusty self-destructing to destroy the saucer in a manner similar to the Metaltron from Dalek, though this was cut from the final episode.

What we do know is that Rusty would survive and live among for the Daleks for a while before defecting and waging an unending war against his own race. Rusty would go on to destroy countless Daleks, and he became somewhat of a legend both among his own people and in the wider universe in general. According to the Twelfth Doctor, Rusty would go on to live for billions of years, slaughtering Daleks and becoming a quasi-mythical figure.

Waging War against the Daleks

After meeting the First Doctor in Twice Upon a Time, the Twelfth Doctor would eventually reunite with Rusty after travelling to his fortress on Villengard. Rusty has clearly been busy since his last encounter with the Doctor, as there are dead Daleks strewn around the entrance to his tower, and he has been living there for so long that the scattered Dalek survivors have adapted to live outside their casings and latch onto the faces of humanoids in order to feed, implying that Rusty had been there for hundreds of thousands of years, if not millions.

A former weapons production facility, Villengard was perfect for Rusty’s purposes, and he not only installed himself atop a tower with external weapons, but he also tapped into huge Dalek databases in a bid to become one of the most intelligent life forms in the universe. The Doctor would tap into this knowledge to learn more information about the Testimony, eventually discovering its benevolent nature. The Twelfth Doctor was then teleported away and Rusty is left alone once again.

Rusty’s Future

Twice Upon a Time is the last time we see Rusty, so what he gets up to after this and what eventually becomes of this Dalek is unknown. His unending hatred of the Daleks that has lasted for billions of years will undoubtedly motivate Rusty to continue his crusade against his own kind, and perhaps he will appear in a story in the future and shed some light on how he has managed to evade destruction and wreak havoc on the Daleks for so long.

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Doctor Who – What is the Cult of Skaro?

In all of Dalek history there are few individual Daleks save perhaps the Emperor himself who can claim to be as important or influential as the Cult of Skaro, as they are some of the most interesting Dalek characters ever created and were the first Daleks to reappear across multiple episodes. These four Daleks were created by Russell T. Davies for the Series 2 finale Army of Ghosts / Doomsday and went on to become the first individual Daleks to have names and unique personalities.

We are introduced to the Cult of Skaro during the climactic cliff-hanger ending of Army of Ghosts and their names and personalities are expanded on more in Doomsday, in which they are revealed to have escaped the Time War in a Void Ship along with a mysterious Time Lord artefact called the Genesis Ark. These four Daleks are capable of imagination, something that most standard Daleks lack, and as such they are able to out-think their enemies and made exceptional tacticians during the Time War.

Each member of the Cult can be identified in several ways. The first and most difficult way of identifying each member is by their unique tag located underneath their eyestalk, as in theory each Cult member has an associated tag that is printed onto their prop. Unfortunately, however, during filming of the two main episodes in which the Cult of Skaro appear, the props were routinely switched up, sometimes even between shots, so this method is all but useless in practicality.

The easiest way to tell the Cult members apart is by their voices, as Dalek voice actor Nicholas Briggs gave each member of the Cult their own unique voice and personality. Dalek Sec has a standard Dalek voice with an authoritative tone, Dalek Caan’s voice is very deep and rasping, Dalek Thay has a low-pitched voice with a nasal croak, and Dalek Jast has a high-pitched, staccato voice with a very fast line delivery.

Dalek Sec is easily identifiable. But can you tell the other three apart?

Who is Dalek Jast?

Jast is perhaps the least developed member of the Cult, as he has the fewest lines of the group and does not get any notable scenes on his own. He is the Dalek that first notices that the Doctor is present at Torchwood by analysing the communication with the Cyber-Leader, and he is seemingly the one in charge of directing where the Genesis Ark should move.

Dalek Jast’s greatest claim to fame is assisting Dalek Caan in the aerial attack on Hooverville in Evolution of the Daleks, and then later accompanying Dalek Thay to the theatre where he is later killed by the Human-Dalek hybrids. Jast is identifiable by his high-pitched voice and fast, energetic line delivery. Dalek Jast’s reserved nature is due to more than just Nick Briggs wanting to minimize the amount of squeaky Dalek dialogue, however, as Jast comes across as one who only comments when he feels his eye for detail is necessary, to voice a concern that the other members of the Cult may have missed.

Who is Dalek Thay?

Thay is the most prominent Cult member early on, as he is the first of the group to be introduced by name and is also the Dalek that starts the war with the Cybermen in Doomsday. He is identified by his medium-pitched voice that has a distinct nasal croak, and he is often the first Cult member to speak his mind during group discussions.

After starting the war with the Cybermen, Thay doesn’t do much for the rest of Doomsday, but he becomes prominent again in Daleks in Manhattan as he is the Dalek who sacrifices his three back panels for the Final Experiment, making him the only Cult of Skaro member other than Sec who can be easily identified from a distance.

After spending most of the two-parter skulking around in the sewers, Dalek Thay accidentally kills the hybrid Dalek Sec before being destroyed by the Human-Daleks. Overall, Dalek Thay is quick to voice his mind and also quick to fire his weapon, and this more often than not ends up getting the Cult into fights, either with the Cybermen or with the Human-Dalek hybrids, which eventually ends up getting Thay killed.

Dalek Thay’s missing back panels are clearly visible in this shot

Who is Dalek Caan?

Caan gets only one line in Doomsday, his booming announcement of his own name. As the Cult member with the deepest voice, Nicholas Briggs chose to limit Caan’s lines early on when voicing the Daleks, but in Daleks in Manhattan / Evolution of the Daleks Caan becomes more prominent.

He is the Dalek who liasons with Mr Diagoras on behalf of the Cult, and in Daleks in Manhattan he laments that his planet has been destroyed and that the Daleks must now look to the Humans for inspiration. It seems as though he is in favour of the Final Experiment at first, as he does not participate in the debate before Sec absorbs Diagoras and he later gives the speech about the Daleks needing to evolve in the climax of the story before the Hybrid emerges.

Caan clearly begins to show doubts about Sec, and he even asks Dalek Thay if he shares those feelings in a great little scene between the two in one of the sewer corridors. The two Daleks guiltily swapping treasonous thoughts in what passes as a Dalek whisper illustrates how the Cult members are more individual and less drone-like than standard Daleks. Caan eventually takes over the Cult when the other members deem Sec to be inferior, designating himself Controller.

Dalek Caan’s voice changes from deep to high-pitched when he takes on the role of Controller in Evolution of the Daleks, as Nicholas Briggs wanted to take advantage of Caan’s new role to justify a voice change. Dalek Caan was given a guttural, rasping voice in Doomsday because he had only one line, but Briggs began to find the voice difficult to maintain after the extended conversations between Caan and Diagoras followed by a speech Caan gives to Martha and the other Humans in Daleks in Manhattan.

After being left as the final surviving Cult member at the end of Evolution of the Daleks, Caan goes insane when he rescues Davros from the Time War. Seeing the Daleks for what they truly are, Caan betrays Davros by instigating the fall of the New Dalek Empire in Journey’s End.

Who is Dalek Sec?

Arguably the most famous member of the Cult of Skaro, Sec is immediately recognizable because of his jet black casing that sets him apart from the other Daleks. Sec is the one who exchanges verbal quips with the Cyber-Leader over the comms in Doomsday in an iconic scene which illustrates his razor-sharp wit and sense of humour, which is unusual for a Dalek, even a high-ranking one. After losing the Battle of Canary Wharf, Sec and the other members of the Cult travel to 1930s’ New York and there Sec merges with the Human Diagoras and becomes the Dalek Sec Hybrid.

Evolution of the Daleks deals with Sec coming to terms with his Human emotions following his transformation, and he eventually develops into a kind and pacifistic man who genuinely wants to save the Daleks from their constant cycle of death and destruction. The other Daleks see Sec as impure, however, and betray him. Sec is demoted and treated as little more than a pet by the Daleks, but he continues in his efforts to convince them to change their ways. In the end, Sec sacrifices himself to save the Doctor’s life by standing in the way of a blast from Dalek Thay that was meant for the Doctor, proving in the end that he was a good man despite his Dalek nature.

Before his death, Dalek Sec tells his Daleks that their efforts to spread death and destruction will inevitably turn against them, and he is proven right mere minutes after his death as the remaining Human-Dalek hybrids choose to turn against their masters and destroy Dalek Thay and Dalek Jast, leaving Dalek Caan as the last surviving member of the Cult.

Why were the Cult of Skaro created?

According to Dalek Sec during his conversation with the Doctor in Doomsday, the Cult of Skaro was created by the Emperor in the latter years of the Time War to ensure the survival of the Dalek race at all costs by imagining new ways to survive. This explains why Dalek Sec is willing to go to such extreme lengths during the two stories in which he appears as he risks corrupting the timeline by invading 21st century London, and then he chooses to alter Dalek DNA during the Final Experiment.

The creation of the Cult of Skaro proves how desperate the Dalek Emperor was getting towards the end of the Time War, as the Cult are given authority above anything within the existing Dalek hierarchy and Dalek Sec uses this authority to justify the radical alterations to Dalek DNA during the Final Experiment. The other members of the Cult are less convinced that Humans are a species that Daleks should learn from, but we already know that the Emperor himself reached the same conclusion.

The Daleks created by the so-called ‘God of all Daleks’ that we see in Bad Wolf / The Parting of the Ways are created from cells harvested from Human bodies, and the Dalek Emperor builds an entire army of impure, Human-bred Daleks that he uses to invade Earth. Whilst the Emperor is clearly insane, it is interesting to note that Dalek Sec and the Emperor both reach similar conclusions of how to perpetuate the Dalek race.

What Happened to the Cult of Skaro?

Following the disastrous Final Experiment, three members of the Cult of Skaro were dead and the last surviving member of the group, Dalek Caan, was sent hurtling into the Time War by his own Emergency Temporal Shift. Caan intended to rescue Davros and save the Dalek race, but in the process of falling through the Time War the last member of the Cult of Skaro saw his race for what they were – genocidal killers.

Caan chose to rebel against the Daleks and eventually brought about the downfall of Davros’ new Dalek Empire by tricking his creator into gathering the Doctor and his friends on the Crucible to ensure the Daleks’ destruction. Caan was presumed killed during the destruction of the Dalek Crucible but Davros suffered the same fate and was later revealed to be still alive, leading many to question if Caan did truly die.

Whether Caan died in the fires of the Crucible or not, it is safe to say that the Cult of Skaro itself is dead. Their ultimate goal was to out-think their enemies by imagining, but unfortunately their imagination made them enemies of each other. Both Dalek Sec and Dalek Caan both individually reach the conclusion that the Dalek way of life is wrong, and the two members of the Cult who remained loyal Daleks to the end, Thay and Jast, were destroyed by their own hubris.

The Cult of Skaro arc is probably one of the most insightful Dalek storylines both for fans and potential writers for the show, as it not only delves into an interesting aspect of Dalek lore, but it also illustrates the folly of the Dalek race as each member of the Cult is destroyed by their efforts to either uphold or influence Dalek doctrine.

Why did the Cult of Skaro fail?

Although Dalek Thay and Dalek Jast make the point that the Final Experiment was contrary to Dalek doctrine and would ultimately have weakened them, the fact that the other Daleks in the Cult of Skaro chose to use their powers of imagination to rebel against Sec exposes the fatal flaw in the very concept of the Cult of Skaro, in that four Daleks with the power to imagine will inevitably turn on each other when any one of them imagines something a bit too far outside the Dalek sphere of thought.

The ultimate tragedy of the Cult of Skaro is that the only two Daleks of the four to actually utilize their imagination to the extent that they break free of Dalek conditioning only manage to do so once they are corrupted in the eyes of other Daleks. Dalek Sec becomes a compassionate man by fusing his DNA with Humans but is cast out by his comrades as a result. Dalek Caan learns the truth of the Dalek race but in doing so is blinded and deemed an insane abomination by the Supreme Dalek.

Into the Dalek would later give us a natural evolution of the Cult of Skaro, the essence of the two best Daleks of the Cult galvanized into one Dalek. Rusty experiences similar epiphanies to Dalek Sec and Dalek Caan, in that he learns the value of humanoid life and also fosters a growing hatred of other Daleks. However, Rusty retains his Dalek casing and weapons, and is able to not only rebel against his own kind but also establish his own sanctuary on Villengard, slaughtering any Daleks that come to destroy him.

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Custom Classic Series Daleks – Part 3

As Character Options are slowly releasing History of the Daleks figure double-packs in B&M that each contain two Daleks from each classic episode from The Daleks to The Daleks’ Master Plan, it is only a matter of time before all the Classic Dalek stories are represented in figure form, so there is no better time for me to showcase my collection of Custom Classic Daleks before they become completely superfluous. On the upside, having all these Classic Daleks out on the shelf does mean that the History of the Daleks sets can be kept mint in box. These Daleks have been customised to resemble Daleks from the classic stories Destiny of the Daleks and Revelation of the Daleks, and each one started out life as a more common classic Dalek figure before being modified and painted to stand in for rarer Dalek figures that are not commonly available at the moment.

Custom Destiny of the Daleks Drone 1

Although Destiny of the Daleks is far from being my favourite classic Dalek story, (it is in fact my least favourite classic Dalek story) the unique light-grey colour schemes of the Drones make customs inspired by Destiny of the Daleks particularly interesting. The oddly bright grey base coupled with the huge variety in detailing on each individual Dalek definitely makes ‘Destiny‘ Daleks stand out from the crowd, which is ironic given how shoddy the Dalek props looked in this story. By the time Destiny of the Daleks was filmed, most Dalek props owned by the BBC had been rotting away in a storage for years, and this coupled with some particularly poorly-made stand-in props makes the Daleks in this story look shoddier than one of my early customs, meaning that despite the occasional paint errors on these customs they actually look better than the Daleks they are based on.

Custom Destiny of the Daleks Drone 2

This Dalek showcases the variety in paint detailing on the original Destiny of the Daleks props, as the previous Dalek had black slats but this one has the slats, mesh between the slats, the front circle and the band around the midsection all painted black, perhaps because this Dalek is a higher rank (though the episode doesn’t bring attention to this). Citadel paint was used for the grey base, black detailing and white dry-brushing on the mesh, and the glossy effect on the hemispheres was achieved using a black Promarker pen. Unlike the previous custom, in which the dome lights are coloured orange with Sharpee, this Dalek has dome lights that are painted block orange, it is up to you which looks best. Unfortunately, due to the paint used for this custom, a degree of the articulation had to be sacrificed as the ball joints are painted over which locks them in place.

Custom Necros Dalek 1

Unlike Destiny of the Daleks, which had a combination of shoddy old props and poorly-made newer ones, Revelation of the Daleks was lucky in that the old Dalek props had been recently refurbished for the previous story, Resurrection of the Daleks, and several new props were made to represent Davros’ new faction of Daleks being built on Necros. They are essentially standard Daleks but with an Imperial Dalek colour scheme, and that is exactly what this custom is representing. White gloss paint was used for the base and gold, metallic Citadel paint was used for the detailing on the neck grille, slat meshes, gunstick, manipulator arm and hemispheres. This Dalek started out as an Emperor’s Guard, meaning it is actually a 1960s Dalek with the base replaced. Unfortunately, the dome lights and eyestalk rings are innaccurate to actual Necros Daleks. Some artistic licence that I took with this particular custom was that I painted the neck grille gold, whereas on actual Necros Daleks (including my other Necros customs) the grille is black. This Dalek could also double as one of Davros’ guards on Lethe from the Big Finish audio, The Juggernauts.

Custom Necros Dalek 2

Like the previous custom, this 1960s Dalek base has been heavily modified with spares in order to resemble the base of a Necros Dalek. The dome has been replaced so the dome lights are accurate this time, but unfortunately the eyestalk is still slightly innaccurate as 1960s Daleks have the rings pushed forward to just behind the eye, whereas later Dalek props from the 1970s onwards have the rings pushed back to be more in the middle of the eyestalk. Aside from that, this Necros Dalek is a bit more accurate that the previous one, and like the previous one it has been painted using white gloss for the body, gold metallic Citadel paint for the detailing and black paint for the base. One final finishing touch on both of these Daleks was the addition of the dot in the eye, as the 1960s Daleks lacked this feature. I applied this using a very precise, tiny ink applicator to ensure that the pupil was tiny and perfectly rounded.

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Custom Classic Series Daleks – Part 2

Although Character Options are releasing Classic Dalek figures for each episode in order, it seems as though it will be years before we get the complete collection of Classic Dalek figures. As such, we have bolstered the ranks of our Classic Dalek figure collection with some custom figures, each of which have been created using Daleks from the Dalek Collectors’ Set #2, which was extremely common several years ago, and from which many Dalek spares and customs have been created from. This set included the Saucer Commander Dalek from The Dalek Invasion of Earth, the Emperor’s Guard Dalek from The Evil of the Daleks, and the Supreme Dalek from Day of the Daleks.

Custom Planet of the Daleks Drone

This first custom uses the Supreme Dalek from Day of the Daleks, which uses the same basic mould as many other Daleks from the 1970s era of the show. For this custom I used more matt colours compared to other Dalek figures released in this mould, in an attempt to emulate the matt grey colours of the Daleks from Planet of the Daleks. The Drones in this story take extra care to be stealthy, and as such it makes sense that the would use dark, matt colours. This figure was painted using Citadel paints and the detailing on the hemispheres was done using a Pro Marker pen. The glossy finish on the hemispheres makes an excellent contrast with the matt finish on the casing, and the metallic silver finish on the eyestalk and manipulator arm stand out on this figure.

Custom Planet of the Daleks Supreme

This custom is much more elaborate than the previous one, and was created using the pieces from several Daleks. The base of this Dalek is from a Drone from The Dalek Invasion of Earth, but the body is an Emperor’s Guard Dalek from The Evil of the Daleks, which I repainted with black paint and detailed with bright gold. The actual Supreme Dalek from Planet of the Daleks was created using mismatched Dalek prop parts from Terry Nation’s private collection, so this method of construction is surprisingly appropriate. The large light pieces are actually LEDs which have been painted pinkish-purple, and the eyestalk has been painted white with a red light to emulate the Supreme Dalek’s illuminated eyestalk. Hopefully this Dalek will be released as part of the History of the Daleks sets from B&M, but until then it is only available as a rare collectible from the elusive Dalek Collectors’ Set #1.

Custom Death to the Daleks Drone

This Dalek is another custom made from the Day of the Daleks Supreme, except this custom is far more detailed. The Gold and Black colour scheme has been replaced with the distinctive Silver and Black design of the Daleks from Death to the Daleks. In order to create this custom, a complete disassembly of the figure was required as each piece of the neck rings and the midsection had to be painted independently with Citadel paint. Each section of the Dalek required multiple coats of paint to ensure the silver coat had full consistency. The dome lights were coloured using orange Pro Marker, and the eyestalk and gunstick have been recoloured to resemble the unique colour scheme of the Death to the Daleks drones.

Custom Genesis of the Daleks Drone

Perhaps one of the most iconic Dalek designs of them all, the distinctive gunmetal-grey colour scheme of Genesis of the Daleks is not to be underestimated. This custom was created using the Day of the Daleks Supreme, painted over with a gunmetal grey paint from Citadel with the detailing painted over with silver. This Dalek is meant to resemble the one that exterminates Davros and assumes the role of Dalek Prime, or Dalek Supreme, at the conclusion of Genesis of the Daleks. The silver pieces between the slats on the midsection are the giveaway artistic licence on this figure, as the majority of the Daleks from this story have a completely monochrome design, but the silver slats helps differentiate this particular Dalek from its subordinates.

Doctor Who – The Night of the Doctor Review

The Eighth Doctor is perhaps one of the least appreciated Doctors of them all, as in the entire tenure of this Doctor there has only been one major TV production, that is the TV Movie from 1996 that has a mixed reception in the fanbase to say the least. Nonetheless, The Eighth Doctor played by Paul McGann had a romantic charm and swashbuckling confidence that stole the hearts of many would-be fans of Doctor Who in the 90s, and he continues to amass a legion of loyal fans to this day with his impression collection of audio productions that Big Finish have been producing since 2004.

However, during the 50th Anniversary celebrations that took place in 2013, Steven Moffat graced the fandom with a one-off mini-episode released online that featured the Eighth Doctor in a live-action role for the first time since the TV Movie in 1996. Paul McGann returned to the role of the Eighth Doctor once again for this short webisode, entitled The Night of the Doctor, which depicts the final moments of the Eighth incarnation of the Doctor during the Time War.

This special proves that Paul McGann can slip easily into the role of the Doctor as if he never left, as he effortlessly plays the role after more than 15 years away from the role on-screen. Fans of the Eighth Doctor Big Finish audios will know that he has been playing the Eighth Doctor continuously since 2004, and as such has had more than enough practice in characterising the Doctor. The Eighth Doctor has had many different eras during his reign, but The Night of the Doctor ushered in a whole new universe of stories for the Eighth Doctor, as it established that he had been active in the Time War for a while now, and this led to Big Finish’s range of Eighth Doctor: The Time War audio stories with his new companion, Bliss.

The Night of the Doctor takes place at the very end of the Eighth Doctor’s life, however, long after his adventures with Bliss have concluded. Judging from the state of not only the TARDIS but the Doctor himself, who despite sporting a new outfit is looking considerably bedraggled, it is clear that the Time War has been continuing for some time. The story begins with a ship spiralling uncontrollably towards Karn, as the final remaining crewmember, Cass, is rescued from certain death by the Eighth Doctor who promises her a trip through Time and Space in a ship that is bigger on the inside. Cass, however, recognises the Doctor’s ship as a TARDIS, and immediately recoils in horror as she realises that the Doctor is a Time Lord.

This subversion of the classic revelation of the Doctor’s alien nature from throughout the show’s history makes The Night of the Doctor notable in itself, but Cass’s reaction to the Doctor’s Time Lord nature serves another purpose, as it shows just how far the Time Lords have fallen this far into the war. The Doctor’s attempts to reassure Cass that he isn’t a Dalek, and her rebuke that there is no way to tell the difference between a Time Lord and a Dalek anymore proves how the universe has come to view the Time Lords during their destructive conflict with the Daleks that has come to affect almost all of Time and Space.

The Eighth Doctor’s death is quite a small-scale affair, as he dies refusing to abandon Cass even as she practically condemns him to die with her. The ship crashes on Karn, and the Sisterhood of Karn from the Fourth Doctor story The Brain of Morbius recover the bodies of the Doctor and Cass and temporarily revive the Doctor to ensure his regeneration. This is where Paul McGann’s acting ability comes to the forefront, as in the Eighth Doctor’s last moments we are treated to some great dialogue, some really poignant moments and a great final line: “Physician, Heal Thyself”, as the Eighth Doctor finally accepts his death and embraces his role as a warrior in the Time War, regenerating into John Hurt, the War Doctor.

The Night of the Doctor serves as a prelude to the 50th Anniversary Special, The Day of the Doctor, as it shows how the War Doctor came to be and also illustrates just how terrible the Time Lords have become as the odds of the Time War turn against them. However, it also serves as a prelude to the Twelfth Doctor story The Magician’s Apprentice, the opening story to Series 9, as the Sisterhood of Karn is led by Ohila who returns in Series 9. This mysterious character seems to know more about the Doctor than most, and it is implied that she has a history with the Doctor that extends beyond her introduction in The Night of the Doctor.

Overall, this short ‘minisode’ proves just how much potential the Eighth Doctor has on-screen. Paul McGann is incredible in the role and there is still a lot of potential for an Eighth Doctor Time War TV Series later down the line. In the meantime, there are dozens of Eighth Doctor Big Finish audios to enjoy, which depict the adventures of the Eighth Doctor with his companions Charley Pollard, C’rizz, Lucie Miller, Molly O’Sullivan, Liv Chenka, Helen Sinclair and Bliss. The best part is, many of these companions that are exclusive to audio are actually named in the The Night of the Doctor by the Eighth Doctor before he regenerates, which solidify their status as true companions of the Doctor despite the fact that they only appear in audio dramas.

The Night of the Doctor is a wonderful treat for Eighth Doctor fans, and it makes great bookend for his era that completes the set of Doctor regenerations from incarnations 1-11, just in time for the 50th Anniversary. Not only is this short story a great addition to the Doctor Who universe, but it is also a great study for future Eighth Doctor TV stories, if the BBC is planning on making any expanded universe Doctor Who TV shows in a shared cinematic universe then the Eighth Doctor is a great place to start, as Paul McGann slips into the role easily and his there is a huge gap for potential storytelling in the Eighth Doctor’s life that Big Finish have already taken advantage of. If nothing else, The Night of the Doctor proves that there is still huge potential in the character of the Eighth Doctor.

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