In 2019, shortly after the destruction of the Reconnaissance Scout Dalek, its damaged casing is being transported to a government facility and is intercepted on the way. Businessman Jack Robertson (Chris Noth) is selling a defence drone that resembles a Dalek to suppress riots, and also to help politician Jo Patterson (Harriet Walter) get elected. Today, ten months have passed since Graham (Bradley Walsh), Ryan (Tosin Cole), and Yaz (Mandip Gill) returned to Earth. They meet at the TARDIS they came home in, which is disguised as a neighbourhood house. Yaz is trying to find the Doctor. Graham shows her film of the defence drone and they confront Robertson.
Jo Patterson may be the next Prime Minister and wants the drone reproduced in numbers so they can be distributed nationally. Scientist Leo Gugazzi (Nathan Stewart Jarrett) discovers organic cells in the Dalek case and clones them. He shows the creature produced to Robertson and he orders it destroyed. But it escapes and takes control of Leo’s mind and body, The Dalek forces him to travel to Osaka, Japan, where Dalek clones are already being grown.
The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) was incarcerated by the Judoon in a distant asteroid decades ago. She encounters Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), who committed several crimes to get into the prison to rescue her. He uses a Temporal Freezing Gateway Disinhibitor Bubble to transport them to his Vortex Manipulator hidden in another cell, which transports them back to the Doctor’s TARDIS. She rejoins her companions and learns about the return of the Daleks.
Jack and Yaz check out the place in Osaka while the Doctor, Graham, and Ryan confront Robertson. They all meet up in Japan, where the Dalek reveals its plan to take over the Earth. The Dalek clones use UV light to transport themselves into the Defence Drone shells, which begin exterminating humans, including Patterson.
The Doctor sends out a Dalek Reconnaissance Signal, which reaches a Death Squad of Daleks, who eliminate the Reconnaissance Daleks because they are not pure enough, as they have human DNA in them. Robertson allies with the Daleks and reveals to the world that the Doctor summoned them. Jack, Graham, and Ryan infiltrate the Dalek ship and set explosives. The Doctor tricks the Daleks into the second TARDIS, which is set to collapse on itself into the Void. Robertson uses his encounter with the Daleks to restore his reputation with the public.
Jack leaves to catch up with Gwen Cooper of Torchwood, and the Doctor prepares to travel with her companions, but Ryan and Graham decide to stay on Earth. The Doctor gives them psychic paper, which might come in handy. The Doctor and Yaz take to the TARDIS, while Ryan and Graham start investigating strange phenomena on Earth.
The episode was written by Chris Chibnall and directed by Lee Haven Jones. It appeared as a New Years Day Special, 2021. In the prison cell, the Doctor recites from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and befriends an Ood and a Sycorax, whom she calls Bonnie and Clyde. Nicholas Briggs was, of course, the voice of the Daleks. The Doctor says to Jack, “You’ve had work done,” an old John Barrowman joke, and he replies, “You can talk!” This was the last appearance of Barrowman before he was banned by the BBC for “sexual misconduct”. The first three people exterminated by the Daleks wear red shirts like the disposable crew of Star Trek. The episode received less than stellar approval for a Holiday Special. I don’t know why, really. I found it tightly written and well-paced, thrilling and tender, funny and creepy, and a bit satirical.