Death to the Daleks
Death to the Daleks was the third story of Season 11 of Doctor Who. It was the first time Sarah Jane Smith was on a planet other than Earth and the first time she encountered the Daleks.
On the rocky surface of an alien planet one night, a blue-uniformed spaceman is carrying out an investigation. Suddenly, he is struck in the chest by an arrow, collapses and tumbles down a slope into a lake.
The Third Doctor and Sarah are en route to Florana for a vacation when the Doctor’s TARDIS suffers a series of power failures. An unknown force somewhere on the nearby planet Exxilon is causing the energy drain. They are barely able to land on the arid planet. The Doctor and Sarah exit the TARDIS, but Sarah goes back to change clothes from the swimsuit she is wearing. The Doctor, exploring, is pursued and captured by the primitive, xenophobic natives.
Sarah searches unsuccessfully for the Doctor, finding his lamp covered in blood. She is chased by the native Exxilons, escaping briefly to an enormous City that pulses with energy. She is captured by the Exxilons, who consider her presence near their sacred city an abomination. They prepare her for sacrifice.
Meanwhile, dawn comes and the Doctor encounters a Marine Space Corps expedition whose ship has also crash-landed because of the power drain. The team – Lieutenant Dan Galloway, Lieutenant Peter Hamilton, Captain Richard Railton, and civilian geologist Jill Tarrant – are in search of the rare mineral parrinium, which can be found in large quantities on Exxilon and is needed desperately to cure a galactic plague. Along with Commander Stewart, who is badly wounded after a previous Exxilon attack, they are the only survivors of their expedition (another member named Jack has disappeared without trace). Another ship lands nearby. The Marines initially believe it to be a rescue vessel, but to their dismay a squad of Daleks emerge, guns at the ready. The Dalek leader gives the order for the Doctor and the humans to be exterminated…
The energy drain has disabled the Daleks’ energy-based weaponry, much to the Doctor’s glee. They are also seeking parrinium; their own worlds are falling victim to the plague – or so they say. What they don’t say is that there are several more Daleks hidden on their ship. The Doctor, the Marines and the Daleks are forced into an uneasy alliance to find the source of the energy drain so they can escape. However, they are all captured by the Exxilons in a skirmish that ends with the death of Captain Railton and the self-destruction of one of the Daleks. The Doctor saves Sarah from sacrifice, but is recaptured and is himself sentenced to die for assault on the High Priest.
Back at their ship, the remaining Daleks replace their electronic weaponry with mechanical projectile weapons and quickly master the Exxilons. In the confusion, the Doctor and Sarah flee down a nearby tunnel. The Daleks then “negotiate” a deal with the High Priest, which forces the natives to mine the parrinium. In return, members of the Space Corps are in charge of wiping out a renegade group of Exxilons. The deal also states the Doctor and Sarah will be returned to the Exxilons – dead or alive. Peter and Jill protest, but Galloway (who has taken charge despite the last wishes of expedition commander Stewart) insists it’s the only way if they want the parrinium.
In the tunnel, Sarah realises that the sacrificial ritual had been meant to end with them being sent down the tunnel – something in here was meant to complete the sacrifice! Both realize that this is probably the source of the strange roars they hear echoing in the tunnel. She also wonders how the Daleks were able to move if they were robots (and thus electronic); the Doctor explains that Daleks move by psychokinetic power (and are thus unaffected by the power drain). At a junction the Doctor has Sarah wait whilst he has a look down the other tunnels for a way out. While she waits she is frightened by the appearance of another Exxilon…
In the new tunnel, the Doctor is about to head back when an enormous, metallic, snake-like creature rears up to strike at him…
The Doctor ducks out of the root’s way, but he can’t do it for ever.
At the junction, a terrified Sarah is reassured by the Exxilon, who introduces himself as Bellal. Along with another Exxilon, Gotal, they conceal Sarah from pursuing Daleks, who head down both tunnels after the Doctor. In the tunnel the Doctor is in, the Dalek comes across the root probe and is destroyed, allowing the Doctor to escape and reunite with a very relieved Sarah.
As they are guided away, Bellal explains to the Doctor and Sarah about Exxilon. Their civilization was once very technologically advanced, including space travel. Thousands of years ago, the Exxilons built the enormous City, one of the Seven Hundred Wonders of the Universe. It became sentient and drove them out, and the Exxilons gradually degenerated into their current primitive society which worships the thing that destroyed them. Bellal and Gotal are from another, much smaller faction which wishes to destroy the City. After Bellal draws several of the images he has seen on the City walls, the Doctor realizes that the advanced Exxilons had been to Peru on Earth. He decides they must infiltrate the City to deactivate the energy drain. Before he leaves with Bellal as guide, he tells Sarah to make sure the Marines are ready for take-off when the beacon is disabled, because the Daleks will destroy their ship once they have full power again. He also lets Sarah know that if he should fail to return from the City, she is go with the Marines back to Earth.
On the surface, the deal between Dalek and human is fast becoming uneasy. The Daleks are upset the Exxilons are not mining fast enough, much to Galloway’s distaste. After another root comes to the surface through a body of water and kills an Exxilon and a Dalek, the Daleks are forced to move the mining operation to another location, as the Exxilons are refusing to go back to work otherwise.
The Daleks decide on a two-pronged plan to restore power: two Daleks are sent to infiltrate the City and hopefully destroy the controls (and thus restore power), while Hamilton and Galloway are made to scale the City walls to plant bombs on a beacon at its summit to blow it up.
The Doctor and Bellal arrive at the City and the Doctor manages to work out how to get in – a non-matching symbol. With the Daleks in hot pursuit, they get in and face their next test in a room with several skeletons – evidence of their fate if they are unable to pass the next test. The Doctor traces a maze pattern without error, opening the next door just before the Daleks enter the first room. As the Doctor and Bellal come to a corridor with a chessboard pattern, the Doctor snaps “Stop – don’t move!”
The pattern is an electrified trap, but the Doctor is able to negotiate it with his sonic screwdriver. The 7000-volt electrical charge causes only minor damage to the Daleks. The next two tests are of the mind – the Doctor has to use his sonic screwdriver to stop Bellal killing him – and of their sanity – they manage to survive after the Doctor denies the reality of the mind-warping illusions. This opens the final area – the City’s control center, where the Doctor promptly starts tinkering with the City’s “brain”. It responds by triggering the creation of two humanoid “antibodies” to destroy the intruders; the Doctor orders Bellal to let him know when they’re finished while he keeps working.
At the mining camp, Sarah finds Jill Tarrant and the pair hatch a plan to replace the Daleks’ parrinium sacks with sand-filled ones, whilst the real parrinium sacks are moved to the Earth spaceship. As dawn breaks, a Dalek guard finds that Jill has escaped, and promptly self-destructs for failing in its duty; its voice rising to a maniacal pitch and then slurring away as it dies.
On the City exterior, Hamilton and Galloway have finally reached the summit and plant one of the two Dalek bombs on the beacon. Galloway, however, insists on keeping the second bomb, pointing out that the Dalek guard at the base won’t be able to see them keeping it and that one bomb will be enough to do the job. They start to descend.
The Doctor has almost finished with his interference with the City’s “brain” when the antibodies attack him and Bellal. Fortunately, the pursuing Daleks arrive and promptly fire on the creatures, causing them to turn their attention to the Daleks. The fight causes a lot of damage in the control room, and that plus the Doctor’s tinkering causes the City to start to die; the Doctor and Bellal escape.
The Dalek bomb goes off, and power is restored. As the Doctor and Bellal escape they join up with the other humans, only to find that the Daleks are not only about to leave, but that they really were behind the plague. As soon as their ship is in orbit, the Daleks will drop a plague bomb to wipe out life on Exxilon and prevent anyone else from coming to the planet to get more parrinium, while the large quantity they mined will allow them to hold the galaxy to ransom.
However, Galloway, who hid on board before the launch while loading the parrinium, sacrifices his life to destroy the Dalek ship with his stolen bomb. Sarah and Jill Tarrant then reveal that they had replaced the Daleks’ parrinium with bags of sand, and that the real stuff is on their ship. Jill Tarrant and Peter Hamilton will now await the arrival of a rescue ship to bring the much-needed plague cure to the afflicted planets.
Everyone turns to look at the City as it melts away, screaming as it is destroyed. The Doctor bemoans the City’s destruction – now the Universe has only six hundred and ninety-nine Wonders…