Celestial Toyroom Issue 444
As 8th March 2015 was the 40th
Anniversary of episode one of "Genesis
of the Daleks,"
I thought I'd use this opportunity to express my feelings as to why
Davros should never have returned to the series following this
Davros is a great creation, but
I feel that all subsequent appearances diminish him. The explanation
for his survival in "Destiny
of the Daleks" is not
convincing, and his portrayal in that story is at odds with how he
appeared in "Genesis of the Daleks". Unfortunately, it is this version
of Davros that informs all of his future adventures. No longer the
Machiavellian scientist/politician who sets out to defeat the Thals and
ended up, to his horror, creating death incarnate, he has instead been
turned into a rather boring and faintly ridiculous megalomaniac, who
wants to declare war on the universe for no other reason than the fact
Obviously this is in part a
result of taking a character out of their original context, but I also
think it's a misreading of the scene where the Doctor asked Davros what
he would do if he possessed a capsule of a highly contagious virus.
Many appear to believe that Davros would crush the capsule and release
the virus in an instant, but let's go over the scene again.
The key points are the Doctor’s statement that the virus
would 'destroy all other forms of life,' and Davros’
assertion that once the glass had been broken the virus would be the
‘only living thing, a microscopic organism, reigning
supreme.’ Clearly, the virus would also kill the creator of
the virus, but Davros doesn’t seem to care. However, we then
have the following:
Here, the Doctor is putting their philosophical discussion to the test,
and Davros fails it. Like many Nazi eugenicists, he adopts a monstrous
theory but, when the consequences involve themselves, or people known
to them personally, they buckle.
What is more, Davros is also capable of remorse:
Davros is asking for pity, not for himself (as "Remembrance of the Daleks"
will have it) but for the other scientists. Davros understands the
concept of pity, and here he feels it for his fellow Kaleds, the ones
who, like Nyder, remained loyal to him.
We also have this:
And then a little later:
Even though everyone who intends to side with Davros has done so, he
still pleads for more of them to join him. He knows that everyone who
refuses will be exterminated on his order, but he wants to be
absolutely certain that he has found 'those men who were truly loyal to
me.' Although Davros accuses the Doctor of being 'afflicted with a
conscience,' and calls it a 'weakness' that should be 'eliminated,'
Davros also has a conscience. The camera script says, ‘Davros
finally realizes the monster He has created. he spins his chair and
moves swiftly to the destruct button.’
We are told earlier by Davros himself that:
So, this isn’t the situation we later have in "Resurrection of the Daleks,"
where Davros wants to destroy the extent Daleks and start again with a
new strain that will just obey him. Here Davros wants to destroy the
Daleks permanently. Full stop. Once Davros presses that button, the
surviving Daleks in the room will kill him, but Davros tries it anyway.
I would also argue that, contrary to what the Doctor tells the Kaled
council, Davros has in fact failed to 'perpetuate himself in his
machine.' It’s true that Davros 'works without conscience,
without soul, without pity,' but these elements within himself have
been suppressed, not eliminated. Davros simply exhibits the mindset
that has been created by the thousand year war. It is one shared by
both Kaleds and Thals and is best demonstrated in the scene where the
Thal politician, following the destruction of the Kaled dome, states:
The first part of the speech demonstrates a war mentality, in that it
talks of victory parades and retribution, but then he changes his mind.
Although 'ruthless in war,' the politician now decides to be 'generous
in victory.' He is still the same man, but the circumstances have
changed. When fighting the Kaleds, the Thal politician would
undoubtedly have echoed General Ravon’s beliefs:
What we have here is a dichotomy of circumstance. In war you hate the
enemy. You dehumanise them, and accuse them of various depravities. In
peace, all of this is forgotten. Davros is a victim of this war
The undergound service shaft, that allows the Doctor and Harry to
access the Thal city, mirrors the subterranean tunnel that links
the Bunker with the Kaled dome. The split between the Kaleds and the
Thals is echoed in the split between the Kaled city and the Bunker.
Equally, in the same way that
political plotting between the Kaleds and the Thals lead finally to
military conflict, the Kaled council's attempt to take power away
from Davros and the Elite, sparks a cataclysm.
Davros feels no compassion towards the enemy, whoever that enemy
happens to be. However, he also equates political loyalty with
friendship, and thereby fails to realise that one does not necessarily
follow the other, and that empathy is also a factor.
So to whom or to what does Davros feel loyalty? Ironically, it is the
Kaled scientist Ronson who provides us with the answer to that:
Therefore, like the Cult of Skaro from the new series, the purpose of
the Bunker was to think outside of the box. What Davros has created is
perfectly in tune with the remit he had been given. The Dalek is not
only a means of ensuring the survival of the Kaleds, in some form, but
also a weapon which will end the war. Ronson’s objections to
the Daleks appear to stem, in part, from the ingrained Kaled obsession
with racial purity, in that Davros' 'ultimate creature' has been
created using similar processes to those which produced the Mutos.
Thus, Davros' loyalty is to the remit given to him by the Kaled
government when the Bunker was set up fifty years ago, which was to
produce a weapon that would end the war between the Kaleds and the
Thals, and by 'end,' they meant to destroy the Thals forever.
Consequently, once twenty Daleks are operational, Davros sends them out
to exterminate the Thals, and the war ends. That’s what
he’d been instructed to do, and that’s what he
does. The fact that he also had to destroy the Kaleds to do it is
academic. As far as Davros is concerned (and Nyder too, don’t
forget) the Kaled councillors who wanted to close down the Dalek
project were acting, not for the advancement of their species, but
simply out of racism and petty power politicking.
Also note that the battle that later takes place between the two
factions in the Bunker isn’t over the fact that the Daleks
are a different species, but rather that Davros has interfered with the
mutation and removed the creatures' 'conscience'. This is also the
Doctor’s argument: the Daleks have a right to live,
it’s the fact Davros has made them pitiless psychopaths
that’s the problem, and the reason he’s done this
1/ As Davros is constantly on a war footing, whether fighting the Thals
or the 'disloyal' Kaleds, he has no time to reflect on his actions in
the same way that the Thal politician had earlier.
2/ The constant whittling down of his core group means that he becomes
more and more reliant on the Daleks to provide him with security.
3/ Davros believes that loyalty and a common
cause are enough to unite
himself and the Daleks in alliance, in the same way that he, a crippled
mutant, has been accepted and revered by Kaled society. However, this
requires empathy, the very thing he is constantly told by society not
to feel for the enemy.
Therefore, the equation follows, if war represents a universal battle
for species survival, why would you equip the ultimate species and
weapon of war with the ability to empathise with the enemy? It makes no
The Daleks that Davros creates in later stories are basically robots to
carry out his dreams of universal destruction. However, again, this is
diametrically opposite to Davros’ stated aims in "Genesis
where he says:
Davros created the Daleks, in part, as a form of immortality; he wanted
to live on through his creations. Equally, the reason why Davros tries
to press the destruct button is because he doesn’t recognise
himself in the Daleks, as they only represent one aspect of a
particular mindset from a time of conflict. This fundamental mistake
has placed the Daleks on a permanent war footing which, because they
lack empathy, is not something they can ever return from.
If the real Davros was ever to return, he wouldn’t create an
army of drones and declare war on the universe; he would simply try to
give back to the Daleks a conscience, the one thing he denied he had