Like the episode before it, Victory of the Daleks largely exists to fulfill a certain purpose, and that purpose is evident in the title: the Daleks are back (again) and this time, they’re going to win.
This episode is something of a necessary evil, since Russell T. Davies killed them off once and for all again at the end of Series 4. There’s a perpetual rumor that a Dalek has to appear in every series of Doctor Who because of a contract with their creator, Terry Nation, but that is apparently untrue. Nevertheless, the Daleks are Doctor Who’s most iconic monster, and it makes sense (a little) to bring them back so they can potter around in the background of things again, rather than being totally annihilated time and again. (I have a few tiffs with how Davies handled them during his run, but this is neither the time nor the place for them.)
So! What we’ve got is Daleks in World War II Britain, posing as secret weapons “invented” by a Scottish scientist. Their secret plot is to get the Doctor to confirm their identity so they can make newer, better Daleks, thus metafictionally allowing the Daleks to be around for future stories. It’s not the best plot in the world, but writer Mark Gatiss gives us a serviceable story nonetheless.
However, we do get a couple extraordinary things out of this episode. One is Matt Smith’s downright terrifying performance in the face of the Doctor’s sworn enemy. He captures the Doctor’s fear and fury almost effortlessly, and while he maybe goes a bit over the top in his confrontation with the Dalek at the episode’s midpoint, he still sells it quite well.
The other thing we get from this episode is yet more insight into Amy. While her lack of knowledge of the Daleks is interesting from an arc perspective, what I find most fascinating is her conversation with Bracewell as he attempts to commit suicide. Her gentle, “I know. Really, I do,” tells us so much about her in so few words. It tells us that she has been in these dire straits before, that those psychiatrists mentioned in The Eleventh Hour were no joke, that growing up in a world where everyone always leaves you really leaves a mark. It’s just a thread of character, but it holds so much together. All that conveyed in a gentle word!
All in all, however, Victory of the Daleks is largely a functional but sometimes forgettable episode. It does what it needs to do and (perhaps unfortunately) doesn’t strive for much more than that. That said, there are little things I like, so it is at least occasionally rewarding in rewatches.