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Foreman: These new bosses, who are they?
Diagoras: I think you can say they're from outta town.
Diagoras: Bit further than that.
The episode begins with an aerial shot of 1930s New York that zooms in on the local Revue. Showgirls prepare for a performance while Tallulah, a showgirl with a Marilyn Monroe accent, makes out with her boyfriend, Laszlo. As she heads out to the stage, we see Laszlo hear oinking noises from down the corridor, luring him into a dark storeroom. He's ambushed by a pigman and the opening title rolls.
The TARDIS materializes beneath the Statue of Liberty. The Doctor and Martha walk out and take in the view of Manhattan. The Doctor notes that the Empire State Building is still a work in progress. They find a newspaper and identify the date as 1st November 1930. The front cover also describes people going missing in the local Hooverville, leading the Doctor to investigate. Arriving in Central Park's Hooverville, the Doctor and Martha come across two people fighting over a loaf of bread. The fight is broken up by Solomon, the leader of the village. As if the symbolism wasn't obvious enough, he breaks the loaf in half and divides it among the two people. The Doctor and Martha introduce themselves to Solomon, who describes the plight of the people there in Hooverville.
The scene cuts to the Empire State Building, where the construction is being managed by Mr. Diagoras, who is demanding that his workers go faster, despite the fact that they're on schedule and utterly exhausted. After a worker pleads for him to have pity, Diagoras directs him toward his masters from "out of town". As the elevator opens to reveal who they are, we see a Dalek flanked by two Pig Slaves. Diagoras explains how the worker is refusing to work any faster, causing the Dalek to order him taken away for "the Final Experiment" by the two Pig Slaves.
As the worker is taken downstairs by the Pig Slaves, the Dalek speaks with Diagoras and tells him that the Empire State Building must be completed in time for the "Gamma Strike."
The scene cuts back to Hooverville. The Doctor asks Solomon about the disappearing people mentioned in the newspaper, who explains how people disappear during the night and that the police aren't interested so long as it's just homeless people. Mr. Diagoras arrives in the village and offers work to the people there for a dollar a day that involving clearing out a collapsed tunnel in the sewers. Several people in the crowd, including the Doctor and Martha, volunteer.
Whilst exploring the sewers, Solomon explains to the Doctor how Diagoras was just another foreman until a couple of months ago, but now it seems he's running most of Manhattan. As they speak, the Doctor comes across a green alien blob on the ground. The Doctor takes a look, noting that it isn't human in origin, then realizes that the group has gone a mile into the sewer already and there's no sign of any collapsed tunnel.
The scene cuts back to the construction site in the Empire State Building where Mr. Diagoras tells his workers that they are to attach four panels, pieces of Dalek casing, to the mast of the building. Again, Diagoras demands that they work unreasonably fast. The workers say that they can't work at night for fear of losing their grip from the cold and falling to their deaths, but Diagoras simply threatens to fire them if they refuse. After the workers have climbed up to fasten the panels to the mast, the Dalek from earlier arrives to speak with Diagoras. Diagoras reassures the Dalek that the mast will be finished on schedule. As the two look out at Manhattan, the Dalek notes that despite humanity's percieved weakness, they have suceeded in building so much. After the Dalek mentions losing its planet in a great war, Diagoras mentions being a war veteran himself, how he swore he would survive, no matter what, and that he would claim the city no matter what it takes.
"YOU-THINK-LIKE-A-DA-LEK!" is the Dalek's response, whom we learn in the next scene is Dalek Caan of the Cult of Skaro. The scene cuts down to a laboratory in the basement, attended by Pig Slaves working for the Cult of Skaro, who have arrived in 1930s New York after their Emergency Temporal Shift during the Battle of Canary Wharf. Dalek Sec orders Dalek Caan upstairs to bring Diagoras down to the basement. There, Diagoras attempts to thank Dalek Sec, but Sec orders him to cease talking and has the pig slaves take him away as he protests that he's on their side.
Doctor, Martha, Solomon, and a worker continue their search until they find a pigman sitting in a corner sadly. The Doctor promises to help him, but more violent pigslaves chase them to the surface,all but the worker making it. They emerge from a manhole in the theatre and Tallulah holds them at gunpoint. But suprise, it's just a prop, and after she explains that Lazlo is one of the people who've disapeared. The Doctor rigs a DNA scanner for the green blob, Solomon goes back to Hooverville to organize a militia, and Tallulah and Martha engage in girl talk. Martha reveals that she's attracted to the Doctor now.
Finally we get back to the Daleks. Dalek Sec wants to combine his and Diagora's DNA as part of the Final Experiment. The others protests this since humans are impure, but Sec points out that for all their impurity, there are millions of humans and only four Daleks left in existence. Dalek Sec's metal exterior opens up, and a screaming Diagoras is absorbed by him.
To his horror, the Doctor finds that the DNA from the blob is Dalek. As Tallulah goes onstage, Martha sees a pigslave watching the performance from the shadows. She chases after it but a different pigslave captures her, so the Doctor and Tallulah goe after her into the sewers. They find the pigslave who was watching Tallulah, who turns out to be Lazlo; he may be a pigman but he escaped before the Daleks were able to destroy his mind. Doctor and friends spy on the Daleks, who separate Martha and the other prisoners: dumb ones become pig slaves, smart ones are sent to the lab. Lazlo, concerned for her safety, tells Tallulah to go home, then he and the Doctor slip in line behind Martha unnoticed. Once in the lab they witness the results of the Final Experiment: Dalek Sec has become a Dalek-Human hybrid!!! A new life form is born!!! Cue end credits.
Martha: You can't just experiment on people! It's insane! It's inhuman!
Dalek: We are not human.
- All Gays Love Theater: Used as a euphemism.
- And from a woman whose own boyfriend works in the theater, oddly enough.
- Big Applesauce
- Big No: From the Doctor when Frank is taken by the pig-men.
- Call Back: Not the first time we've seen Daleks in the Empire State Building.
- Captain Obvious:
Martha: They're following you.
The Doctor: Yeah, I'd noticed, thanks.
- Chorus Girls
- Close Knit Community: The Hooverville
- Dumb Blonde: Subverted. Tallulah both looks and sounds the part, but she's far from naive.
The Doctor: Tallulah, you're not safe down here.
Tallulah: Then that's my problem.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin
- Fetal Position Rebirth
- Foreshadowing: Dalek Caan's quite un-Dalek-like thoughtful musings to Diagoras that humans are prospering while Daleks were almost wiped out. While it doesn't pay off in this story, it hints at what will happen with the character next series.
- Half-Human Hybrid
- He Is Not My Boyfriend:
Martha: He's not... we're not... together.
Tallulah: Oh, come on! I've seen the way you look at him, it's obvious!
Martha: Not to him.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Andrew Garfield as Frank.
- Homemade Inventions: The Doctor's DNA scanner.
- Judgment of Solomon: Literally, which is definitely on purpose.
- Juggling Loaded Guns: "Daleks in Manhattan". Tallulah threatens Martha and the Doctor with a gun, and handles it in an appallingly cavalier way, waving it around and even briefly pointing it at her own head. The Doctor suggests she should maybe put it down, and she shrugs and tosses it aside. The Doctor and Martha both flinch--
Tallulah: Hunh? [realizes she has gun] Oh, sure. [tosses gun to a chair] Oh, c'mon. It's not real. It's just a prop. It was either that or a spear.
- Landmarking the Hidden Base: Who's building the Empire State Building? The Daleks. Don't say they never do anything for us.
- Meaningful Name: Solomon.
- Mistaken for Gay: Tallulah assumes the Doctor's "into musical theatre".
- My Nayme Is: "Tallulah, three Ls and an H."
- Never Trust a Trailer: Tallulah was originally seen in the preview pulling out a gun and demanding someone to hold their hands up. It's not a real gun and she turns out to be a pretty nice person.
- Newspaper Dating
- No Peripheral Vision: One Dalek goes straight past within a few feet of the alcove where the Doctor and Tallulah are hiding and completely fails to notice them. Guess that's a downside to eyestalks.
- Ominous Latin Chanting
- Pig Man
- Police Are Useless: Enough people have gone missing that it's made the papers, yet the police are nowhere to be seen. According to Solomon, they went to the police, but the cops don't care if "another deadbeat goes missing".
- Reckless Gun Usage: Subverted. While threatening the Doctor and company, Tallulah waves her gun all over the place with little to no regard for where it's pointing; turns out it's a prop.
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves
- Standard Snippet: As per legal obligations, there's a snippet of Rhapsody in Blue when the Doctor and Martha arrive in New York.
- Trailers Always Spoil: Infamously, the ending was spoiled by featuring the human Daleks prominently on the cover of Radio Times, apparently simply because it was just too awesome to pass up as a cover image.
- Wasteland Elder
- Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Subverted; Diagoras is one of the few people who takes "You think like a Dalek" as a compliment.