DALEK: Cultural Index


Hatred is a powerful emotion, not just anger
directed at a single person or event, but a raw hatred against everything. This is the
mindset of a Dalek and it has led them to kill nearly all other lifeforms they encounter.
The exact dates of the Dalek’s history and their governmental structure has changed a
lot due to the longevity of the species, the 50 plus years of Doctor Who itself and the
fact that time travel is a messy affair that can retcon events out of history. But I’ll
do my best to summarise them. On Skaro there were two factions, the Kaleds
and Thals. They were at war, and had been for a thousand years, so long that neither
faction could identify the cause of the war due to the rampant destruction that both sides
had bestowed upon their culture. The two sides wielded early firearms alongside laser weaponry
suggesting that their technology had entered a period of decline due to the constant war,
with scavenged technology from their past continuing their feud.
During this conflict, radiation weapons and other contaminates created mutations among
the sides who were shunned by the Kaleds. Termed “Mutoes” their rejection was perhaps
the origin of the Dalek’s inherited obsession with purity and in ironic stance considering
their later development. A Kaled scientist Davros created the Daleks
we know today by mutating the Kaleds into creatures bred for war and begun encasing
them in Mark III Travel machines, armoured mobile tanks forged from Dalekanium and Polycarbide
compounds. The term Dalek is an anagram of Kaled, though
its origins are a mystery though it is suggested that the name itself may be a paradox as Davros
was exposed to the term from the Fourth Doctor who then began to use the name, though it
bears similarities to an ancient Skaran, Skaran? That right? Skaro…Skaranian, …ronion race?
An ancient Skaran race, the Dals. The mutated forms were little more than a
brain, sensory organs and tentacles used for operating the frame, however the younger the
mutant, the more mobile outside of the shell they were. Despite looking frail, they are
capable of strangulation, leaping a fair distance and are biologically immortal thanks to the
regenerative and mutative qualities of their DNA. In an extreme example of this tenacity,
a Dalek mutant could survive dismemberment and remain dormant for around 1200 years before
returning to full health. With advanced age however, they could lose cellular structure
and effectively liquefy to a point where they were confined to a form of sewer system, below
their cities to remain forgotten. Cybernetics and technological additions were also made
to further bind them to their armour and they could metabolise various radiations (ultraviolet/atron
and so on) to repair and reenergize themselves. The exterior casing itself was derived from
the mobility and weapons technology devised by the Scientific Elite of the Kaleds and
serves as a battle armour, tactical computer, environmental suit and life support system.
It has many functions that varied from time period and specialisation, but some constants
remain. An eyestalk sits atop the armoured dome, allowing for a sight (also one of the
few weaknesses the Daleks have), and two lights that flash when in commination. Then there
are the Gunstick and manipulator, modular attachments that act as a Dalek’s arms and
weaponry. The Gunstick produces an infamous sound when discharged and could cause massive
internal disruption or complete atomization. The lower frame was designed for mobility
and was heavily armoured. The Dalek’s were connected via the Pathweb which was a Scientifically
created telepathic link and database which contained a vast library of information.
Due to the fact that their creation was attributed to one individual, their goals and mind-set
were shaped by his singular will and unfortunately for the universe; a millennia of warfare on
Skaro had rendered Davros’ views rather twisted. He installed a cortex vault in the
frames that would smartly analyse memories and emotions then distil those that would
keep the Kaled mutant in a state of hatred. He had great pride in his creations, and the
first he made did not permit any authority higher than their own. They also gave no quarter
in battle, sparing no victim for mercy’s sake, only tactical advantage. This also shows
a clear level of operational logical behaviour, not just raw hate.
They also developed the notion that their form and existence was the pinnacle of evolution
and this lead to an extremely xenophobic attitude of racial purity when combined with their
constant hatred. When in combat, they scream “exterminate!” as a battle cry of sorts
to amp themselves up and supply power to their Gunsticks which can only be fired when in
an agitated state. Speculation here, but I suspect this is a further failsafe to encourage
a Dalek to fire first and not worry about the consequences of killing, being enraged
when they do so. The Daleks are constantly trying to attain
a level of purity through genetic experimentation and cultural adaptation. This can then fundamentally
alter their goals as a species at times and has led to internal conflict. Some examples
include the Humanised Dalek created by the Second doctor and Davros when the Current
Dalek Emperor saw humanity’s destructive potential and forced the Doctor to create
a Human Factor to introduce into their genetics. It also brought across more passive traits
and a rebellious streak that lead to a civil war. Another was a Dalek known as Sec, who
tried to evolve the species to survive after the Time War, but was exterminated by his
former allies when he was “corrupted” by more benign emotions.
The introduction of compassion, friendship and such emotional traits is seen as abhorrent
to a Dalek as it fundamentally alters the premise for which Davros designed them, we
saw this in the episode “Dalek” where a lone unit was contaminated by Human DNA
once again and chose destruction over emotion. Their limited emotional range has led them
to develop an appreciation for death and destruction, terming it the closest thing they can come
to appreciating beauty. The Dalek’s governmental structure has changed
significantly over the eons with several radical shifts. A common return point through is the
position of the Emperor and thus the Dalek as an Empire. They first rebelled against
Davros, but then later came to almost deify him as their creator allowing him great influence
over the race so long as he continued to serve their interests. The same can be said of Dalek
Caan whose actions in rescuing Davros elevated him to a respected position, even as his sanity
was lost. At this time, a New Dalek Empire was being established but ultimately fell
to the Tenth Doctor and many of these governmental structures were instituted during attempts
to rebuild after the Last Great Time War. There was also the creation of the New Dalek
Paradigm to save the race from extinction where specialist Daleks would oversee certain
operations, but this later gave way to the Parliament of Daleks overseen by a Prime Minister.
So lets’ look at the most common layout of Dalek hierarchy.
At the top of the chain of command is the Dalek Emperor, and there have been several,
the “Golden Emperor”, the “Dalek City Emperor” who was cybernetically connected
to the Dalek City and the Emperor during the Time War who again was installed in his command
saucer. There was also the Progenitor Emperor of the New Dalek Paradigm who was then disposed
of in favour of the Parliament. Below the Emperor was the Supreme Dalek, also
known as the Black Dalek when this position was occupied by such a unit. This Dalek is
the second in command and is often tasked with being the Emperor’s voice in campaigns.
In instances where there was no Emperor, the Supreme Dalek became the total head of the
Dalek Empire. Surrounding these positions were the Imperial
Guard, elite Black cased Daleks. And reporting directly to the Supreme was the Time Controller,
whose specialty in Time Travel often led it to outrank the Supreme in matters within its
purview. The Daleks also operated a number of divisions:
The Eternity Circle was Temporal RnD and marked by blue and silver colourings.
The Cult of Skaro was an elite unit with greater imagination and therefore emotional range.
Volatix Cabal were another elite task group but more secretive.
There was the Dalek Scientific Division responsible for regular RnD marked by blue and brass.
But orange under the New Paradigm. The Strategists were Blue and part of the
New Dalek Paradigm. There was the Eternal Dalek whose goal seems
to be the preservation of the species and part of the NDP, marked in Yellow.
And there were the Astrodaleks, stationed to observe the space around Skaro.
As well as the Recon Specialists who were among the first dispatched from Skaro and
had a variety of extra abilities. Within these Divison were Ranks of Daleks.
The Dalek Prime is designation for a current operation commander and a term seemingly used
to address any rank, Supremes and even the occasionally emperor.
The Black Dalek oversaw an operation, but ranked below the supreme.
A Controller is a designation for a unit overseeing an army or force.
The Inquisitor General oversaw the inquisitors and was Known as Dalek X, it reports only
to the Supreme and records only ever mentioned one during the Time War.
A Command Dalek is designation given to an installation’s commander.
Likewise a Saucer Commander is the captain of a Dalek ship.
A Red Dalek is an officer with some authority over squads of others.
And there is a Blue Dalek with similar responsibilities. It’s interesting to note that most of these
Daleks were created to fulfil a role, rather than a lower Dalek ascending in rank. Below
these are the soldiers of the Empire and they serve a variety of functions.
Dalek Drones are your basic Daleks whose appearance varies with the time peroid.
Dalek Puppets are the semi-dalek nanocloud conversions of other species used as agents
and infiltrators. There were certain special weapons Daleks
Marsh Daleks who operated on stilts to traverse bog world environments
Spider Daleks are 8 legged Daleks with larger Strider Daleks variants.
A Marine Dalek that was torpedo shaped for water mobility.
An Assault Dalek had breaching equipment, hacking capabilities and was designed to siege
a compound. And there were the Skaro Degradations, which
were created during one of the many Dalek experiments during the Time War. These were
disrespected genetic failures of an experiment to retro-evolve the Dalek genome. Used as
mindless infantry fodder. The Daleks superiority complex led them to
enslave and genetically or technologically modified other dominated races as cannon fodder
or a labour force. Overall the Dalek initiative is simple and
the product of an insane mind. Everything that isn’t a Dalek is inferior and must
be purged. This state of mind leads them into a state of constant warfare and scheming against
most other species and they became the primary antagonists of the Last Great Time War, but
when engaging such a foe with absolutely no ethical boundaries, the Timelords found their
own culture forever tainted by the Dalek’s onslaught. The Daleks have no art, no culture,
no religion save a devotion to some indefinable purity and death meaning that their ultimate
goal of being the supreme life in the universe would lead to a complete stagnation.
It’s for this reason that the Timelords consider them the ultimate threat to the universe
and their resilience and refusal to be stamped out even beyond their apparent annihilation
solidifies them as a recurring foe, whether it be one or an army.
There’s a lot more to the Dalek’s than mentioned here and I’d like to examine the
Kaled people in more detail too, but that will have to wait for another Video. Until
then, the next index will be a viewer voted one, which you can do by liking the appropriate
comment below to vote and the choices this time are either the Orions from the Star Trek
universe or the similarly culturally inclined Zygerrians of Star Wars infamy. Thanks for
watching this video on the Daleks, there’s so much I didn’t have time to address as
well so no doubt we’ll revisit them at some point, but until next time, I’ve been Ric,
thanks for watching this Index and goodbye!




Comments
  1. Though i do think the new years special had awful writing/acting (in parts), the new dalek introduced was a great concept if poorly executed

  2. Time Lords, Sontarans, Daleks. That pretty much leaves the Cybermen for big name Doctor Who races. Though I was concerned when this dropped that it had been produced before the New Year's Special and therefore would've lacked information on the Recon Dalek; I don't know how long these take to make.

  3. great video!!! hope you can make a video about their creator Davros in the future! and more videos about various points in dalek history!!!!

  4. You raise an interesting question and one that i've considered many time in relation to Star Trek races like Cardasians and Klingons – which is where is the boundary between art & science when it come to things like shipwrights or architects & engineers.
    Isn't a Dalek shell or a Dalek city a form of art ?

    Would a Dalek scientist get any additional respect from it's peers if it made a better firearm ?
    What about the Dalek who implemented Flight capability in their travel units ? Is their name lauded to all for this achievement ?

  5. Great video CI you've done your research but still their is so much more like you said 🙂
    Would you ever consider doing a Cultural Index of the Cybermen? I've always found their evolutionary path and history interesting.

  6. Great video and surprised it's so up to date. Have you ever considered going through lineages of archetype/ideas? You can probably draw a line back to War of the World's Martians with the Daleks since they are both war obsessed relatively frail tentacled creatures in war machines with differences inspired by the era in which they were created in: Imperialism/Militarism with the Martians and Fascism/Racism with the Daleks. Similar things could be done with lost evolved dinosaur-person races eg Doctor Who's Silurians, Star Trek's Voth, Aritsune Toyota's Hot Blooded Dinosaurs, D&D's Saurial, Land of the Lost's Sleestak, Clan Ru from the Trek novel First Frontier, etc.

  7. If you want some good Kaled lore on top of being an excellent dark series I highly recommend the Idavros audio series.

  8. Hoorah! You mentioned the marsh daleks! Those old comics are delightfully weird! (And the alternate history of the daleks they present should probably be mentioned at some point… Hail yarvelling….)

  9. Well done making it absolutely up to date considering Resolution was only on 3 days before. Love the channel put me down for a vote on the Orions.

  10. What about the split timeline, where most of the dalek stories before genesis never happened due to the doctors meddling and the daleks became weaker and the time war was unintentionally started.

  11. The Cult of Skaro rank BELOW the Emperor, I thought Ten said they were "Up and above/beyond the Emperor himself" implying they ranked above him.

  12. I would suggest the cybermen, but then you have to go into the theory of parallel evolution and how they came from alternate societies as well as alternate events.

  13. I've never understood why people think the Daleks are so great, I actively dislike them, their first story was good, there were a few good Dalek stories in the Tom Baker era, but everything else has been a bit crap, the fact they are hideously overused doesn't help either.

  14. What about those flying air-fighter like daleks we saw in Time of the Doctor? They kinda were shaped like the dalek emperor from parting of the ways. They werent spider daleks they were much bigger.

  15. Great video….but please allow me a few small points of constructive criticism:
    Kaled is not pronounced "kay-led"…..it was pronounced in Genesis of the Daleks as"kar-led"….. same as "dar-lek".
    Ace, companion of the 7th Doctor initially made a similar mistake in calling the daleks "day-leks"…..so you're in good company! lol
    Quite surprised that you made no mention of the original red dalek "Zeg", who challenged the leadership of the golden Emperor in The Dalek Chronicles/TV21 comic in the 1960's.
    The Imperial Guard (originally called "Black Leader Daleks"in Evil of the Daleks) were not "black cased"…. they only had black domes.
    The gold and black dalek you have pictured as one version of the Dalek Supreme, is in fact only a member of the Supreme Council.

    Apart from those minor issues……… excellent job, and hope to see more new videos from you soon 🙂

  16. Why does everyone get this wrong?! Dalek Sec was not exterminated! He WILLINGLY sacrificed himself to block a blast from Thay and Jast meant for The Doctor…

  17. Didn't the 10th doctor say the Cult of Skaro worked above and beyond the emperor or something like that. My memory is hazy.

  18. If davros is still alive (possible, even if skaro is gone as the 13th doctor showed), then isn't their two factions? The Davros Dalek Empire and the Paradigm Dalek Empire, as we don't see any Paradigm daleks on Skaro.

    If so, it'd make an interesting Salem civil war story….

  19. I love your work on the dalek government but you forgot few things one, there were not just 2 daleks in the dalek council there are over 2,000 of them plus every 3,000 years the current emperor dalek either dies or is placed in suspend animation and the high ranking supreme dalek would become the emperor dalek and 2nd the dalek prime is below the emperor and both golden and city r both the same the golden emperor dalek was the first dalek that shot davros and proclaimed it as emperor cause the emperor dalek had a better cassing then standard dalek. "the original Dalek was built a new casing, made of Flidor gold, quartz and Arkellis flower sap. The first Dalek Emperor was now in command." (COMIC: Invasion of the Daleks).

  20. This is pure propaganda against Daleks, being successful it's them that end up being hated. Anyway as the new Dr.Who is so Uber Liberal I want the Dalek to win every time

  21. Moffat’s Dalek Parliament was such a bad idea. Why does a hyper-facist militaristic Empire have a Parliament & prime minister? Are they a democracy? Do they campaign & elect a candidate?

  22. Unfortunately wrong in one respect. There is another emperor in Remembrance of the Daleks where Davros was in the Emperor Dalek suit and was even called The Emperor.

  23. Dalek Prime was the one responsible for exterminating Davros at the end of Genesis of the Daleks part 6…

  24. Actually the word Dalek was thought up by the scientist who came up with the so called "Dalek solution" that was proposed to Davros.

  25. Kah-led. If it were Kayled as you pronounce it, it would suggest Daleks would be called Day-leks. Plus I’ve never heard it pronounced Kayled anywhere in cannon. I’m happy to be wrong here, and I don’t want to appear rude (sorry if I do!), but I do think you could be wrong here.

  26. I'd like to point out that the Kaleds and Thals AREN'T factions, but should be preferred to as "species", as they indeed ARE 2 different species that evolved into sapience on the same planet (if you take into account the Dals, it comes to 3), and just "happened" to evolve into similar forms, and most of the minor differences are internal, rather than external.

  27. So if a Borg assimilated a Dalek, would it just run into a feedback loop error where it can't reconcile "EXTERMINATE" and "ASSIMILATE" between each other?

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