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I want to get a closer look at that body
Well Davros, I see the long dark has done nothing to cure your megalomania. Have a Jelly Baby.
Is there a stowaway aboard the TARDIS? No, it's just Romana, who has regenerated off-screen, for no apparent reason, and chosen to do so into an identical double of Princess Astra. (One might think that she'd had enough of being a princess's exact double after the incident on Tara, but clearly our Romana is made of stronger stuff than that.)
Meanwhile, the TARDIS has arrived on a seemingly deserted planet that the Doctor finds naggingly familiar. Turns out it's Skaro, home planet of the Daleks, which the Doctor last visited five seasons ago, when he crossed metaphorical swords with the Daleks' creator, Davros. The Daleks exterminated Davros when they decided he had outlived his usefulness, but now they need his help so they've come back to find him -- and isn't it lucky for them that Davros wasn't killed, but has only been in suspended animation all this time?
The Daleks' problem is that they've reached a stalemate in a war with the Movellans, and need Davros to cast a fresh eye on the problem. Speaking of Movellans, there's a group of them come to find out what the Daleks are up to, and when they find out they decide that if the Daleks are taking advice from Davros, they'll take advice from the Doctor -- whether he wants to give it to them or not.
This story was a turning point for the Daleks -- every Dalek story for the next decade was more of a Davros story with some Daleks in it than an actual Dalek story.
This story is also known because Terry Nation seems to forget what he himself established about the Daleks, calling them robots and portraying them as perfectly logical Straw Vulcans... even though they're usually the opposite.
- Air Vent Passageway
- BBC Quarry: See Lampshade Hanging.
- Big Little Man: Romana is trying out different bodies into which to regenerate, while the Doctor is crouched on the floor fixing K9. Romana reappears as a blue-skinned alien babe, towering over him.
Romana: "I thought I'd try this one, but it's a bit short."
- Costume Test Montage
- Distaff Counterpart: With her regeneration, Romana acts very much like the Doctor.
- Dropped A Bridge On Her: No explanation is given for Romana's regeneration.
- Faking the Dead: Romana
- Finger-Twitching Revival: Twice!
- Forever War: The Daleks and the Movellans. Their computers are constantly predicting what the other's will do leading to both sides being in constantly evading actions.
- Hand Wave: K-9 sits out the adventure in the TARDIS with robot laryngitis.
- Human Popsicle: Davros' backup life support systems switched on when he was exterminated.
- Hypocritical Humor: The Doctor is insistent that it's only what's on the inside that counts yet he rejects Romana's first three bodies based on their appearance alone. When she comes back as Lalla Ward, and dressed as him, he praises the choice. She calls him out on it of course.
- Lampshade Hanging:
- "Oh look, rocks!"
- "How can a robot catch laryngitis? I mean, what do you need it for?"
- "If you're supposed to be the superior lifeforms in the universe, why don't you try climbing after us?"
- Lie Detector: The Daleks use one while questioning Romana.
- Magic Countdown
- Male Gaze: Agella's shapely rear end as she blocks the Doctor.
- The Nth Doctor: Romana mk. II
- Not Quite Dead: Davros
- The Other Darrin: David Gooderson as Davros. Also a general Man in a Kilt, as Davros has magically become Scottish.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: K-9's sidelining due to robo-laryngitis. Sources differ on to why exactly this happened -- some say it was because Terry Nation hated K-9 and didn't want to "degrade" his Daleks by making them appear with K-9 on-screen, while others have said that because of the amount of quarry filming in this episode, there was no way that K-9 would ever have been able to play a major part in the episode.
- Ridiculously-Human Robots: The Movellans.
- Rock-Paper-Scissors: Used by the Doctor to show the Movellans the fallibility of fighting only with logic.
- Plot Hole: Romana's regeneration is against every rule that would be established for the concept.
- Shout-Out: The Doctor reads a book by Oolon Colluphid. (Douglas Adams was the script editor for this season, and probably added that bit himself.)
- Straw Vulcan: Both the Daleks and the Movellans which leads to their conflict, or lack thereof. Both sides are caught in a logical stalemate as their battle computers have anticipated every stratagem their counterparts have made.
- Strong as They Need to Be: While Time Lords are always shown to be stronger than the average species, the Doctor and Romana have strength comparable to 1938 Superman here.
- Suicide Attack: Davros send all of the Daleks, but one, on one.
- Tears of Fear: Romana when being interrogated by the Daleks.
- Weaksauce Weakness: The Movellans can be killed by removing the unprotected power pack on their waist.
- We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future: "Humanoids are effective work machines!"
- The X of Y
- You Look Familiar: Lalla Ward, after guest-starring as Princess Astra in the previous episode, takes on the role of Romana; the episode spends several minutes climbing out from under the weight of the lampshade. (It doesn't help that Terry Nation turned in his scripts before Romana's re-casting was confirmed; Douglas Adams had to write the new opening scene himself, and the resultant change in tone is jarring.)