Planet of the Mechanoids is the episode that cements Daleks! as the spiritual successor to the 60s Dalek comics. Even the title itself feels like a blast of nostalgia. So do the episode’s other robotic species, the Mechanoids, who appeared on television’s The Chase, all the way back in 1965, then given a new lease of life in the Dalek comics. Their depiction here echoes the comics strongly, giving them a society of their own, and a leader.
Moving beyond that, however, the episode has it’s own merit beyond nostalgia. The character of the Emperor is allowed to shine this episode, discussing strategy with the Mechanoid Queen. Throughout their conversation, there’s a hint of a back and forth, cat and mouse game that the two play. This is proven towards the end of the episode, where the Emperor reveals that the Entity was deliberately brought here by the Daleks. The Strategist, although not at the forefront this time, gets a few moments with a Mechanoid scientist, setting up an interesting dynamic.
Another intriguing bit of the episode lies with, ironically, the Dalek drones. A few of them can’t hold back, and end up attacking some Mechanoid guards, only to be defeated. Watching from her chamber, the Queen comments on how none came to help them. The Emperor tries to dance around this, claiming that the Strategist survives, revealing that only those two Daleks survive. While we have seen stories where the Daleks are down to a last surviving few before, the fact that they are the “protagonists” of this narrative, and that an active threat is still going on, not to mention their tense truce with the Mechanoids, adds a nice bit of tension. What makes this feel even more satisfying is that it’s the natural conclusion of the narrative starting in The Sentinel of the Fifth Galaxy, with the Dalek forces being slowly whittled away.
Overall, this episode ticks the boxes of those who love Daleks, those who love the old comics, and those who love narrative. This episode stands as the strongest of the series so far, and possibly, of the entire five episode run.