Review: Doctor Who – Dalek Universe 3

Review by Jacob Licklider

With each installment in Dalek Universe, the scope and tension has been building to unravel the mystery of just what’s happening with the universe that the Tenth Doctor is now before the Time War and with Anya Kingdom and Mark Seven. The initial promotion as a full fourth series for the Tenth Doctor was perhaps the most accurate description of the three box sets as a whole, all taking place right after The Waters of Mars; and Dalek Universe 3 sets up The Day of the Doctor, and actually helps transition the Tenth Doctor towards the end of his life. Like the first set, Dalek Universe 3 is only two stories, a single episode and two parts, essentially echoing the structure of one of his televised series (without the third two-parter to fill in the usual thirteen episodes as this is only nine episodes). And with any finale, this set is built around wrapping everything up from the heartbreaking installments at the end of Dalek Universe 2. This review will contain spoilers for Dalek Universe 2, so it is highly recommended to at least be caught up with the stories to this point before continuing. This is also a set which cannot be listened to in isolation, despite its high quality.

Lizzie Hopley contributes her only script to this series with The First Son, promoted as the story featuring both the Movellans and River Song, played by Alex Kingston, and picking up right where the cliffhanger from Dalek Universe 2 left off with the Dalek message of “Hello Sweetie”, dragging in the Doctor and Anya aboard with the Movellans. Now, this already sets up Dalek Universe 3 as the one with the most Daleks, they’ve been relegated to really well executed cameos to this point. River is essentially in charge of the Movellans on the ship, with her “son” Kamen Vers being the Movellan in charge, played by Matthew Jacobs-Morgan. Hopley and Matt Fitton (who writes the Movellans in his installments) clearly understand that the Movellans aren’t that highly regarded but here they make for an effective threat. The Daleks here are essentially encroaching as this is a part of the Dalek-Movellan war, but its Kamen Vers and his Movellans which are the thrust of the threat. Much of the episode is devoted to the Doctor and Anya attempting to discover just what River is doing there, if it really is River, or if there is a duplicate from the Movellans or even the Daleks. This first story is essentially a mystery from the Doctor’s perspective and at least partially relies on The Diary of River Song for it to work, with Anya specifically referencing the events of Queen of the Mechonoids. The mystery element is great fun and highlights the actual danger of the Movellans as a species, the idea that the always logical and ruthless robots on paper always sound like something ruthless. This is highlighted by perhaps Kingston’s most intense scene as River where she attempts to break the Doctor’s arm, all while telling him what’s going on through what she isn’t saying. It’s a wonderful opening to the set. 9/10.

Matt Fitton’s two-part The Dalek Defence and The Triumph of Davros bring Dalek Universe to a close in what is perhaps one of the most satisfying ways. It’s in The Triumph of Davros where the real purpose of this mini-series becomes apparent: as a reflection on the Daleks and especially The Daleks’ Master Plan (and in a way The Syndicate Master Plan) all cloaked in the mythology of Destiny of the Daleks and Resurrection of the Daleks. While this is still the Doctor’s story, it’s Anya Kingdom being able to complete the process of grief over the deaths of Sara and Brett while patching up her broken relationship with the Doctor. Those seeds were planted way back in the prologue to the miniseries, and here is where they come to fruition. While the headlining act is Tennant and Terry Molloy having their first Tet-a-Tet as the Doctor and Davros together, it’s Jane Slavin’s range of emotions that becomes a powerhouse throughout the story. Slavin injects Anya with this quiet rage and anger that comes through, she wants to fight the injustices and reverts back to being a soldier and the twist at the end of The Dalek Defence is something that breaks the character down. When confronted Colonel Keelan played by Joseph Millson, she can’t help but revert back to the Space Security Service agent coming out to stop the Daleks, even if that means resurrecting Davros under the supervision of Ajjaz Awad’s Vilsa (Awad playing an almost meta-textual three roles in the purpose of reflecting the other death in The Daleks’ Master Plan). The Doctor and Davros are also clear highlights as this is an odd moment where the Doctor can’t help but imply just where Davros is going and that reflection on their shared past, echoing The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End, but for the Doctor, he actually knows what he’s done and what Davros is destined to do. The reflective nature also reflects on Dalek Universe as a whole, though that would ruin some of the twists so nothing further on that front will be revealed here. 10/10.

This is a brilliant ending to the saga, wrapping up the threads and revealing things set up from the very beginning making it one of Big Finish’s tightest releases. It is driven purely by characters and the Daleks are used to their best as an off-screen, larger than life threat without ever falling into the simple shooting people which other Doctor Who stories fall to. This may be the capstone of Big Finish’s 2021 releases. 9.5/10.

You can get it on download/CD or Vinyl from Big Finish.

Review: Doctor Who – Dalek Universe 2

Review: Doctor Who – Dalek Universe 1

Check out the rest of our Big Finish reviews!

One thought on “Review: Doctor Who – Dalek Universe 3

  1. Loved the stories within the entire series, most of which (esp in DU1 and 2) work well as stand alone stories. Not sure why this was called Dalek Universe though. The Daleks were bearly in it and there was nothing to suggest the universe had been impacted by the Daleks any more than normal l.


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