Has the Doctor come to praise Davros or bury him? (Doctor Who Season 9, Episodes 1+2 review)

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Doctor Who, Season 9, Episodes 1 + 2

The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar
Written by
Stephen Moffat
Directed by Hettie MacDonald


Peter Capaldi – The Doctor
Jenna Coleman – Clara Oswald
Michelle Gomez – Missy
Julian Bleach – Davros
Jami Reid-Quarrell – Colony Sarff
Jemma Redgrave – Kate Stewart
Joey Price – Young Davros

Warning! This review contains quite a few spoilers!

Quick Summary: We find out that when Davros was a child, the Doctor had the chance to save him from a dangerous situation, but when the Doctor realized who it was, the Doctor ran away and left him to die. Now, Davros is dying and asks his old enemy to come see him one last time. The Doctor’s guilt in his past actions lead him to making a huge mistake...though the Doctor still has one card left to play.



Meanwhile, Missy is back and teams up with Clara to track down the Doctor. As you can imagine, this isn’t exactly the most congenial of pairings since Missy was responsible for the death of Clara’s boyfriend last season.

First Impressions:

  • I loved that this episode was basically a sequel to “Genesis of the Daleks.” In that serial, the Doctor is tasked by the Time Lords to wipe out the Daleks by going back in time and destroying them before they can become a major threat. The Doctor is faced with that dilemma here once again. If he allows Davros to die as a child, could that have prevented everything bad the Daleks have done afterwards? And what would the guilt of even having to face such a choice drive the Doctor to do?
  • Capaldi continues to be terrific in the role. He managed to add some new facets to the character. He wasn’t just a grumpy curmudgeon. Faced with the end of his life, he seems to have much more humor and warmth. He even was willing to throw a hug Clara’s way. Missy is worried about the Doctor, because the Doctor always wins because he walks into any situation with the confidence that he will always come out on top. But, this time, the Doctor seems to believe that he has already lost, which puts him at a bit of a disadvantage. But The Doctor still always has a plan. Even when things seem to be darkest, he manages to pull out some new surprises to remind us that the Doctor always wins.
  • There was a lot in this episode that reminded me of the end of David Tennant’s run and the end of Season 6. The Doctor believes he is faced with death, so he just goes off and has some fun while delaying the inevitable. That plot point has been done to death in recent years. Though I will say the Doctor riding in on a tank to an “axe fight” was a great shot.
  • Colony Sarff was a cool new nemesis for the Doctor. Davros’ new head of security is a mass of snakes who form a humanoid being. He moved in a very unique way, seeming to slither around any scene he was in. I loved that the Doctor didn’t seem all that impressed, called him a snake’s nest in a dress. I hope we get to see more of Colony Sarff in the future. Doctor Who needs more reoccurring villains. He seems to always end up killing the ones he meets.
  • There was a pretty cool cliffhanger between the two episodes. We see Missy and Clara killed, along with the TARDIS being destroyed. And the Doctor returns to face young Davros, seemingly about to execute him. Unfortunately, for various reasons, I didn’t get to watch the season opener until this week, where I watched both episodes back to back. So I didn’t really get to dwell on the cliffhanger all that much. I suspect it would have had a little more impact with some time to breathe. That is on me, not the producers of the show.
  • We also got to see what happens to Daleks when they become too old to function any more. That created some of the most disturbing scenes in the episodes, though I do think they could have come up with a better looking special effect to show them attacking the other Daleks. It often reminded me of the Golgothan from DOGMA. It was more disgusting than frightening.
  • The dynamic between Missy and Clara was disturbing. Both seem to be competing to be the Doctor’s best friend, with Missy going out of her way to try and kill Clara, even though she knows she needs her help. It was also nice to see Clara having grown up a bit. She’s know a vital piece of UNIT, and they seem to rely on her experience, even when the Doctor is not around. That said, I did think that Clara seemed a little too willing to let bygones be bygones with Missy.  If it was me in that situation, I think I would have allowed UNIT to take her down in the beginning of the episode, no matter what the consqeuences might be down the road.
  • I also think they have to stop having Missy doing funny voices when she’s talking. At times, it made her hard to understand, and we had to rewind several times to catch what she was saying. I like Michelle Gomez as Missy, but it really disrupted the flow of the episode for me when I kept having to go back to see what she was talking about.
  • This was probably the best season opener since The Eleventh Hour. It gave us some real depth to dig in to, and showed us some new tweaks on the Doctor’s relationships with his enemies, Davros and Missy. There was quite a few genuinely funny lines in the episodes, and the story was pretty easy to follow. Moffat can get a little far out there at times, but he kept things under control and the end result was one of the best Dalek stories since Doctor Who returned.
  • Next week: Under The Lake: The teaser for next week didn’t tell us all that much, but according to Doctor Who TV: In 2119, the crew of Caithness mining facility The Drum unearths a smooth black spaceship and hauls it aboard the underwater base for inspection. It’s not long before a terrible incident seems to spawn homicidal hollow-eyed ghosts. When the Doctor and Clara arrive, they have mysteries to solve. Number One on the agenda: can ghosts really exist? It’s by Toby Whithouse who has written some good episodes of Doctor Who, so it should be good, but I am not sure I want a season full of two-part episodes. Most of the time, Doctor Who’s two-part episodes start great and have weak finishes. We will see what happens this year.
4.5 / 5.0