Previously: Martha got kidnapped, the Doctor got feelsy about Gallifrey, and the Face of Boe died.
Daleks in Manhattan
Kirsti: Gatsby-esque Manhattan. A bunch of showgirls in glittery devil outfits run around backstage at a theatre preparing for the show. One raps on the dressing room of the star – Tallulah – to give her the two minute warning. Tallulah – dressed as an angel – is making out with her boyfriend, Lazlo. He makes her promise to come to Sunday lunch because his mother wants to meet her. Tallulah freaks a little, but Lazlo insists his mother will love her. Ha. Hahaha. Okay, Lazlo. Whatevs.
Marines: I hope this is the thing you find most unbelievable in this entire episode.
K: Probably not, but nice try.
Tallulah promises to come on Sunday, he gives her a rose, they kiss blah blah. She rushes out to join the other girls going on stage, and he tells her to break a leg. Left alone in the dressing room, Lazlo sees something run past the door. Curiosity, always a bad trait in an episode of Doctor Who, gets the better of him. He heads into the hallway and follows some grunting noises.
Mari: Okay, you might get curious about something running past your door. Once you hear grunting noises, though. BAIL.
K: And maybe call Animal Control.
The trail leads to a warehouse featuring an open sewer grate. Something slams the door behind him. Lazlo lights a match, but there’s nothing there. Well. Until a man/pig hybrid in a coverall runs squealing out of the shadows and attacks him.
Mari: Too early to ask what Doctor Who has with man/pigs?
K: There DOES seem to be a bizarre man/pig obsession on this show…
After the credits, the TARDIS materialises next to the Statue of Liberty. Poor Martha, still wearing the exact same outfit, flails about how she’s always wanted to go to New York as Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue plays. Martha wonders what the date is, because the Empire State Building’s not complete. The Doctor rambles as he tries to work out what the date is, but Martha grabs a newspaper from a bench and says “November 1st, 1930”.
She’s excited because it’s technically living memory in her reality but it also seems forever ago because all the newsreels are in black and white. The Doctor gets serious face as he reads the headline on the newspaper and says their detour just got a little longer. Apparently there’s a mystery afoot in Hooverville.
Cut to them walking through “Central Park” and infodumping about Hooverville – Wall Street crash, mass unemployment, people ended up living in a shanty town in Central Park. They walk through the “town”, people glancing at them suspiciously. “You only come to Hooverville when there’s nowhere else to go,” the Doctor says. They come across a suitclad black man in a very snazzy hat breaking up a fist fight over stolen bread.
Mari: I wanted a Les Mis gif but this will work:
K: A+ gif selection.
Snazzy Hat splits the bread between the fighters – of course, because his name is Solomon (though I kind of want to keep calling him Snazzy Hat…) – and tells them that stealing and fighting are both against the rules. He says that he, like many of them, fought in the Great War and just like then, they have to stick together to survive. The fighters go on their respective sulky ways. (M: Especially the dude that just had to give up his bread for some other guy. NOT FAIR.)
The Doctor asks if Solomon’s the boss, and Martha introduces them. Solomon chuckles that they’ve got plenty of stockbrokers and lawyers but the Doctor’s their first doctor. He says that Hooverville has none of the racial segregation bullshit of the rest of the country, because everyone’s too busy starving to worry about anything else. Although he’d very much like to know how something as huge and fancy as the Empire State Building can still be under construction when so many people have nothing in the middle of Manhattan. 1% bullshit, that’s how. (M: Preach.)
Up in the Empire State Building, the construction foreman is all “Work faster? Are you fucking kidding me?”. The boss man, who’s in a ridiculous pinstripe suit and looks like he’d work for the Assassin’s Guild if he lived in Ankh-Morpork, says their new masters demand it. They don’t want to wait another month. They want things finished tonight. Foreman threatens a strike, and Pinstripe Assassin says he should tell the masters directly, and hits the elevator button.
Foreman says he’s not afraid of anyone, even if they’re from out of town. Pinstripe Assassin is all “LOL” and says the new masters are from further away than his imagination could deal with. The elevator arrives, and it contains a Dalek accompanied by two Coverall Pigs. The Dalek demands an explanation, and Foreman’s all “The fuck is happening”. Pinstripe Assassin explains, and the Dalek says Foreman should be replaced. “Use him for the final experiment!” it says. The Coverall Pigs drag him into the elevator.
Mari: It was a this point that I had the, “OH. IT’S THIS EPISODE?” moment. Apparently my brain didn’t retain the depression era setting or the man/pigs, but just a particular phallic Dalek from later. I’m getting ahead of myself, but this is the moment I REALIZED.
K: I’d forgotten about the particularly phallic Dalek until it appeared on screen, so…yeah.
The Dalek turns to Pinstripe Assassin and says that the Empire State Building has to be completed, no matter what. They need more workers because “the gamma strike has accelerated”. I have no idea what that means, but the word “gamma” being mentioned in Manhattan makes me think of precisely one thing:
Pinstripe Assassin assures his master that the work will be finished on time.
Back in Hooverville, the Doctor asks Solomon about the missing men, saying that surely it’s a transient population. Solomon looks at them thoughtfully for a moment, then admits that something is taking the men. They hear the men calling out for help in the night, but by the time they get there, they’ve vanished. And he’s sure someone’s taking them because they leave their stuff behind. We all know how the Snark Ladies feel about this. (M: It’s all the evidence I need. They left their stuff? KIDNAPPING.)
Martha asks if they’ve gone to the police, and Solomon’s all “HAHAHAHAHA, they’re called the LOLPD for a reason.” The Doctor wonders who’s taking them and why. Just then, ANDREW FREAKING GARFIELD I HAD FORGOTTEN ABOUT THIS AHAHAHAHAHA bursts into the tent to say that Pinstripe Assassin’s there looking for workers. They head outside.
Mari: OH MY GOSH I HADN’T EVEN RECOGNIZED HIM. I don’t even know how to handle this episode.
K: This episode is amazing and terrible all at once.
Pinstripe Assassin is shouting that he’ll pay guys a dollar a day to go work in the sewers. Solomon points out that a dollar a day is slave wages and that people tend to not come back from the sewers. Pinstripe Assassin has zero fucks to give. The Doctor volunteers to go, and Martha reluctantly raises her hand too. Andrew Garfield and Solomon do the same.
Down in the sewers, Pinstripe Assassin gives directions and says he’ll pay them when they get back. They start walking, and I’m sure more stuff happens but I’m too busy laughing over Andrew Garfield’s terrible accent. Especially when he announces that his character’s from Tennessee. He tells Martha to stick with him because he’ll keep her safe. The Doctor asks Solomon about Pinstripe Assassin, and apparently he’s had a very sudden rise to fame.
Just then, they round a corner and there’s a glowing green jellyfish looking thing on the floor. Martha makes “ew” face because apparently it’s stinky as hell. The Doctor picks it up and sniffs it, and Martha gags a little. You and me both, girl. The Doctor asks for her medical opinion, and all she’s got is that it’s not human. The Doctor agrees, and then realises that they’ve not come across any sign of the sewer collapse Pinstripe Assassin mentioned, so why the eff are they there.
Up in the Empire State Building, Pinstripe Assassin gushes to some workers about how great the building is. But they need to bling up the spire with what’s basically giant Dalek panels. (M: So much beautiful technology.) And it needs to be done tonight. The workers get belligerent because it’s hella cold on top of the Empire State Building at night and they’ll fall to their deaths. Pinstripe Assassin again has zero fucks to give because workers are replaceable. The workers reluctantly pick up the panels and head outside as Pinstripe Assassin shouts some more.
The lift arrives and the Dalek rolls out and starts demanding that things be finished, like, NOW. It looks out over Manhattan and has a little grumble about how the planet of the Daleks has been destroyed but versions of New York exist all over the universe. “The human race always continues…” it says. Then it declares Pinstripe Assassin to have excessive amounts of ambition, and Pinstripe Assassin glares at the city while saying he’s going to rule it some day.
“You think like a Dalek,” the Dalek says. Pinstripe Assassin considers this a compliment.
Mari: At least it didn’t say he looks like a Dalek. THAT WOULD BE A SICK BURN.
K: Elsewhere, a bunch of Daleks watch Pinstripe Assassin on a monitor. One demands that he be brought to them. The Dalek in the Empire State Building tells Pinstripe Assassin that he’s being rewarded for his loyalty and demands that he follow it. They get into the lift, and the doors open in a fancy looking art deco lab full of Coverall Pigs. Pinstripe Assassin suddenly looks worried.
He comes to a halt in front of the black Dalek, and OH HEY. It’s the Cult of Skaro again. (M: Talk about always surviving… Daleks never die.) Pinstripe Assassin turns into a total brown-noser, and Dalek Sec tells him to STFU. Dalek sec orders the Coverall Pigs to secure Pinstripe Assassin, and he freaks.
Back in the sewers, there’s still no sign of a collapse, and they’re all wondering why Pinstripe Assassin sent them down there. Suddenly, there’s a squeal. Everyone panics, and Andrew Garfield mentions all the missing people and how they haven’t found any bodies so maybe they’ve all gone mad being trapped in the sewers. Martha spots a figure sitting sadly on the ground just down the passage. She calls out to the Doctor, and Solomon asks if the person’s hurt. Andrew Garfield tries to make friends because he’s basically a giant dorky puppy, and the Doctor tells him to stay back.
The Doctor walks forward instead, and crouches down next to the Coverall Pig, which looks super sad. He says he’s sorry and that he can help. Martha calls out because she’s noticed that there are a ton more Coverall Pigs closing in, and they look pissed. The Doctor backs away, and they follow him. He yells at everyone to run. and the Coverall Pigs give chase. The Doctor finds a ladder. He climbs it and sonics the manhole cover at the top, yelling at everyone to follow.
Martha scurries up, followed by Solomon. Andrew Garfield tries to be a superhero (geddit?) (M: sogood.) and brandishes a metal bar at the Coverall Pigs. Once Solomon’s up, he runs for the ladder, but it’s too late. The pigs get him. The Doctor screams in rage. Solomon drags him away and slams the manhole cover back on. The Doctor demands to go back down, but Solomon says it’s too late. He’s not losing anyone else.
Just then, Tallulah appears, carrying a gun. She demands to know where Lazlo is, and Martha’s all “Who the eff is Lazlo?”. We cut to Tallulah’s dressing room, where she’s still waving the gun around as she fills them in on who Lazlo is. The Doctor’s nervous about the gun waving, but Tallulah’s all “LOL, it’s a prop”. (M: Second episode in a row we have a woman waving a fake gun. That doesn’t mean anything, just saying.) Martha asks what happened to Lazlo, and Tallulah says he just vanished.
The Doctor puts his serious face on and says they can try and find him, but there are people vanishing all over the place, so chances aren’t good. Solomon mentions the Coverall Pigs, but the Doctor has no time for that. He pulls the green glowy jellyfish out of his pocket and says he needs to work out what it is so he knows what they’re dealing with. Tallulah makes “urgh” face. Legit, girl.
Later, the Doctor kludges together a DNA scanner out of theatre props. Suuuuuuuuuure. Solomon wants to know where he’s from because he’s not a fool. The Doctor doesn’t answer.
Back in the dressing room, Tallulah’s having swoony memories of Lazlo and how he used to leave her a rose every day. Martha asks if she’s reported him missing, and Tallulah says that he’s just a stage hand so no one gives a shit. Martha suggests she kick up a stink seeing as she’s the star of the show, and Tallulah says that would get her fired. “It’s the Depression, sweetie. Your heart might break, but the show goes on. Because if it stops, you starve…” she says.
Martha hugs her, and Tallulah congratulates her on having snagged the “hot potato in the sharp suit“. Martha sad pandas that they’re not together and he doesn’t see her that way. Tallulah’s all “Ohhhhh, he’s gay? Shame.” Still, she says Martha should have hope. Because even thought Lazlo’s missing, she’s still finding a rose on her dressing table every day. Martha asks if she thinks it’s Lazlo, and Tallulah’s not sure because she doesn’t understand why he’d be secretive.
Mari: WHY? WHY MUST EVERY OTHER WOMAN ASK MARTHA ABOUT HER LURVE OF THE DOCTOR?
STOP IT, PLEASE.
K: SERIOUSLY OMG STOP.
Back in Hooverville, there’s a storm building. Solomon fills people in on what’s happening, including the fact that Andrew Garfield’s been taken. He tells them that he wanted Hooverville to be a place of peace, but now they have to take up arms and defend themselves. Everyone nods in agreement and dashes off.
Up on top of the Empire State Building, the workers struggle to get the giant plates in place. Art Deco Lab. Dalek Sec announces that Pinstripe Assassin is to be part of “the final experiment“. He begs them not to turn him into a Coverall Pig, and Dalek Sec says the final experiment is fancier than that. Also, they need – to quote Supernatural – his meatsuit.
The other Daleks start grumbling about how this is an abomination because Daleks rule, humans drool. Dalek Sec points out that there are millions of humans and only four Daleks. Their purity has brought them to extinction and the Cult of Skaro was created to find new methods of survival. In short, it’s the only way. Although probably not, because Daleks are like dryer lint: no matter what you do, they always turn up. (M: A+)
Dalek Sec continues wibbling about how they’ve all made sacrifices. With that, we pan down to see that one of the Daleks is missing a chunk of its shell, the metal having been given to the workers to attach to the top of the building. Dalek Sec says he’s going to sacrifice himself for the greater good. Pinstripe Assassin fights as Dalek Sec reveals his true form and says it’s time for them to join as one. Pinstripe Assassin screams, which is legit when a Dalek is sounding weirdly sexual. But Dalek Sec basically just hoovers up Pinstripe Assassin with one of its tentacles. IDEK, you guys. (M: That’s what I’ve been saying all along.)
Up in the balcony, the Doctor’s playing with his DNA scanner trying to work out what the green jellyfish thing is. Downstairs, Tallulah declares it to be showtime and drags Martha up to watch from the wings. The audience cheers as the curtains open and the Doctor mumbles to himself about the green jellyfish being artificially created. Tallulah sings a song that Murray Gold apparently wrote especially for Doctor Who, which seems a little odd but whatever. It’s called “My Angel Put the Devil in Me”, and it’s very 1930s.
Mari: It also made me slightly uncomfortable but okay.
Suddenly, Martha spots someone watching from the wings on the other side of the stage. It’s Lazlo, but he’s half pig now. Like, he’s not a full blown Coverall Pig. But he’s got a pig nose and tusks, so…yeah. Martha scurries across the stage, using the back up dancers as cover. Or she tries. But then she trips over and causes chaos. Up on the balcony, the Doctor works out the genetic code number. He racks his brain for what it belongs to, then realisation dawns: the planet of origin is Skaro.
Tallulah tells Martha to GTFO, but Martha points at Pigzlo in the wings. Tallulah screams, and he runs. Martha follows, calling out to him to wait. But it’s too late. Pigzlo’s gone. The Doctor rushes up to Tallulah and asks where Martha is. Tallulah says she ran off. A Coverall Pig jumps out at Martha and she screams. The Doctor and Tallulah run towards the sound, but she’s gone when they get there. The Doctor puts on his coat – SRS BSNSS requires SRS COAT – and climbs back into the sewers.
Tallulah follows. He tells her to leave, but she says that whoever took Martha could have taken Lazlo and she’s not leaving. The Doctor eyerolls a little, but leads the way. Elsewhere, the Coverall Pigs pin Martha to a wall. Other Coverall Pigs lead past a group of captives, including Andrew Garfield because OF COURSE. She hugs him tightly and holds his hand as the Coverall Pigs shove at them to keep moving.
Meanwhile, Tallulah demands answers as they walk. The Doctor shushes her. She keeps talking. A familiar Dalek-y shadow appears on the wall. The Doctor slaps a hand over Tallulah’s mouth and drags her into the shadows just as the Dalek passes. He looks a little broken, shocked and full of rage when he realises that once again, the Daleks have survived. Tallulah joins the “aliens are real” dots and looks startled.
Art Deco Lab. Smoke is pouring from Dalek Sek, but it insists “the experiment must continue“. Dalek Sek starts doing the usual Dalek shouting-one-words-lots-of-times thing. In the past, we’ve had “EXTERMINATE” and “EXPLAIN”. This time, it’s “EVOLVE“.
Mari: CHANTING! CHANTING! CHANTING!
K: It’s their favourite thing ever.
Back in the sewers, Tallulah spots Pigzlo and screams. The Doctor demands to know where Martha is. Pigzlo hides his face and begs them not to look at him. The Doctor asks what happened, and Pigzlo says “the Masters” needed servants so they created human/animal hybrids to serve them. It makes precisely no sense, but whatevs. (M: Why a pig? Why a hybrid? What are the pigs even doing? Why is this happening?) (K: I have literally no answers.) Apparently Pigzlo escaped before they got his mind, which is why he’s only part pig.
The Doctor asks what happened to Martha, and Pigzlo says they took her and it’s his fault because Martha was following him. Tallulah demands to know why he was in the theatre, and Pigzlo says “I never wanted you to see me like this“. Tallulah eventually realises who it is and cries. I’m distracted by her nail polish which is the sort of colour I tend to end up with 12 bottles of in very slightly different shades.
Pigzlo reluctantly agrees to show them where the others are being kept. They’re nearly to Martha and Andrew Garfield and the others when the Coverall Pigs start to freak out and a Dalek rolls in. It orders them to get into a line. Martha tells them to obey. Another Dalek arrives and they have a conversation about the suitability of their captives and how the final preparations are complete.
The Daleks scan the prisoners to assess their intelligence. The stupid ones are sent off to become Coverall Pigs while the smart ones are taken to the Art Deco Lab. Andrew Garfield and Martha are both in the second category. Tallulah’s outraged on Pigzlo’s behalf because “you’re the smartest guy I ever dated!” The Daleks finish assessing prisoners and roll towards where the Doctor and the others are hiding. Pigzlo tries to get everyone to leave, but the Doctor says he’s staying.
Apparently this means Pigzlo has to stay too?? IDK. He asks if Tallulah remembers the way out and tells her to save herself. She leaves, reluctantly. The Doctor darts out into line between Martha and Andrew Garfield. Martha’s relieved. Pigzlo follows. Meanwhile, Tallulah gets lost in the tunnels and cries.
The brass section of No Seriously This Is A Tense Moment goes into overdrive as the light goes out in Dalek Sec’s eye stalk. Then the casing opens, and a human-Dalek hybrid in a pinstripe suit emerges. “I…am…a human-Dalek. I…am…your future!” it says.
TO BE CONTINUED.
It’s hard to assess the first half of any two part episode on its own, and it’s especially hard when it’s taken me three days to recap this. But it’s a pretty enjoyable episode. Sure, I’m not thrilled to see the Daleks return AGAIN and the Coverall Pigs are dumb, but jazz era New York is a fun new location, and it’s nice to see multiple people of colour characters in a history-based episode. In short, it could be worse.
Mari: It certainly has been worse. There is something convoluted about this story though and I’m not a huge fan of the outrightly silly Who episodes anyway. Sure, this TV show is silly all the time, but there are times it really tries to be silly from the get-go and that’s when it mostly loses me. It also doesn’t seem to match with the Daleks as villains. Pig hybrids and Daleks? What’s even happening?
Well, I guess we’ll really find out next time. There are always lots of feelings for the Doctor when the Daleks are involved and that’s the highlight. We saw a bit of that with one look when he first saw the Dalek and that’s always a place I don’t mind the story exploring. Even if it means Daleks over and over again. And over again.
Next time on Doctor Who: Daleks over again in S03 E05 – Evolution of the Daleks.