The Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) and Rose (Billie Piper) follow a distress call to a huge underground bunker in Utah in 2012, in which resides a vast collection of rare objects owned by billionaire Henry van Statten (Corey Johnson). Rose is offered a tour by the young man who manages the collection, Adam Mitchell (Bruno Langely), while van Statten himself takes the Doctor to see a living alien. The Doctor is shocked to see a Dalek, a dangerous creature thought to have been wiped out in the Time War.
The Dalek is weak and heavily chained, but when the Doctor attempts to destroy it, he is seized and restrained in van Statten’s offices. Not only does he collect aliens, but he also tortures them for information. He intends to study the Doctor’s body to learn about Time-Lord physiology. Adam takes Rose to see the Dalek. She pities the creature and touches its casing. The Dalek absorbs her DNA and the time-energy she has picked up in the TARDIS, and it re-energises itself. It breaks out of its chains, kills several guards, and connects to the Internet to learn the fate of the Daleks. It is the last surviving member of its race, as is the Doctor. So, it proceeds to exterminate every living thing it encounters. Van Statten releases the Doctor to help stop it.
It tries to kill Rose, but it has absorbed compassion from her DNA. She convinces it not to kill van Statten, then she stops the Doctor from killing the Dalek. But the Dalek cannot cope with either compassion or loneliness and asks Rose to order its own self-destruction. She relents and it implodes. Van Statten’s assistant Diana Goddard (Anna-Louise Plowman) takes control of the bunker and announces her intention to destroy it. Rose offers Adam the chance to travel with her and the Doctor.
Henry van Statten was a caricature of Bill Gates. There was some trouble getting permission to use the Daleks from the estate of Terry Nation, who created them. The story was criticized as sado-masochistic because of the Dalek in chains, and because the Doctor was seen as torturing the Dalek. But overall, the reviews were positive. The Xenomorph egg from Alien is in van Statten’s collection, a piece of a Slitheen, and a Cyberman helmet. Apparently, the milometer from the crashed saucer at Roswell was there as well, and an alien weapon which the Doctor recognized as a hairdryer. The helicopter is called Bad Wolf One and came from the Blue Thunder TV series. The Dalek’s eyestalk was designed to be at Billie Piper’s eye level. The Doctor was supposed to mock the Dalek in a flippant way, but Christopher Eccleston went for rage and pain instead and began to raise the emotional level of the season from that point on. There were powerfully emotional performances from Eccleston, Piper, and the Dalek.