The Witch’s Familiar Review

Well this was an interesting second part wasn’t it. It’s probably gonna be harder to construct coherent thoughts in comparison to the first but let’s make an attempt anyway.

You certainly can’t fault Moffat for not taking risks with this story. Threatening to reveal the Doctor’s confession (though apparently it will come up again in the finale), revealing that Davros can open his eyes and of course the first use of the word “bitch” in a televised episode as far I recall which is probably going to be more controversial than most of the other stuff in this episode. I actually had to go back and make sure she didn’t say “witch” just to make sure I hadn’t misheard it. I am also aware that Celestial Toymaker also brought out the big no-no words wit the use of the N-word but this instance will probably be more shocking right now since the use of that word was less controversial in it’s day and it’s in an episode that no longer technically exists. No matter when Steve eventually leaves he’s gonna have trouble dragging his huge balls out of the door.

Edit: Apparently Rose Tyler used the phrase “bitchy trampoline” at some point so I guess it wasn’t as crazy as I thought. Though to be fair it’s been a while since I’ve seen the episode.

We got quite a few interesting new tidbits about Dalek mythology that are sure to disturb people for a while ala Don’t Cremate Me. First we got the idea that Daleks don’t really die and are pretty much forced to live like in Miracle Day even as they are living as goo (it makes getting blown up seem preferable). And we have the disturbing concept that even if the Daleks are saying nice things what comes out is a bunch of nasty stuff. This of course leads to the implication that the Doctor may have killed a few not so bad Daleks every once in a while which certainly does add a bit of grey to the mix. It would also appear that Moffat has given us a connection between the Dalek’s use of mercy back in The Big Bang and given it a canonical explanation in this tale by showing that by being rescued by the Doctor did manage to leave a bit of an affect on young Davros.

This episode seemed to be about the blurry line between friends and enemies as Missy said at the end with Davros and her having qualities of decency and Clara being in a Dalek shell (Asylum flashbacks anyone). This is probably the closest explanation we can get to the meaning of the titles since both describe people who have relationships with magical people (most likely Davros being the apprentice to the Doctor and Clara being the familiar to Missy). Appreciation also has to be given to the fact that Missy’s mistreatment of Clara (which I sure some people out there appreciated) managed to go from funny to pretty disturbing when she almost got the Doctor to kill her. That would have been a bummer.

It would appear this second part reveals that the event with the Handmines is not what caused Davros to be the way he was after all and that it was due to some unseen events later down the line (probably in the I, Davros audio). Still at least it gave us an interesting reason for the Doctor to save Davros outside of pure goodness by having him save him to ensure that a little mercy got into the Daleks somehow. Some could consider the reveal that he didn’t go back to kill Davros, the fact that Missy and Clara weren’t exterminated (which at least explains how she escaped the Series 8 finale) and the fact that the Doc and Davros were lying to each other the whole time to be cop-outs and they might be right but at the very least we had some interesting story opportunities to ponder in the meantime. Credit definitely has to be given to Julian Bleach in this story who really sold the mournful Davros to the point you’d be surprised that the Doctor was able to see through the ruse.  The opening of Davros’ original eyes definitely helped with this deception as he really seemed a lot more sympathetic. Overall this is still probably the best Doctor/Davros pairing since Genesis mainly cause the two were able to express a lot of deep emotion (even if it was a long con). Praise for everybody!

The idea of Time Lord/Dalek hydrids is certainly an interesting one and I suppose it would have been the only expected means that Davros would have been able to survive his dying. At the very least it’s a far better idea than certain Human/Dalek hybrids (easy target) and it would have been a decent escalation of Time Lord/Dalek conflict had those Sewer Daleks not mucked it up (incidentally I Moffat may have gotten that “revolting” pun from the title of a Futurama episode). Though I do have to wonder what the end result of those hybrids would of been. Would they look more humanoid, could they regenerate, would they start wearing those silly hats? Perhaps it’s best left to the imagination (we don’t need another tentacle head right?).

It was nice to have Missy finally get to be able to meet Davros and poke his eye (it’s not quite the meeting I had in mind between these two giants but I’ll go for it). Still we didn’t see what happened to either of them so perhaps we can have that Davros/Master team-up after all? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Some additional bits to mention include the Master’s mention of having a child (that must have been an awkward household), Capaldi looking pretty rocking in that chair and easily the funniest bit in the whole episode “the only other chair in Skaro” (which I believe may be another Curse of Fatal Death connection “why do Daleks ships have chairs?”

Either way as a whole this was a pretty solid story and probably the best premiere the new series has had outside of maybe The Eleventh Hour though of course both were aiming for very different things. While probably not a perfect story there were a lot of great scenes to be found, some good fan service and several interesting ideas on display (a sign of that is that there’s probably a bunch of other stuff I could mention were it not for a lack of time and need for sufficiency). Overall a very enjoyable two-parter.

 

The Magician’s Apprentice Review

Well what better review to start off with than the latest Doctor Who episode. This is my first proper review so it’s likely to be a bit random and scattered. Also there will be spoilers so make sure you’ve seen the episode before going in.

Series 9 is gonna have a lot of two-parters to be certain. This will probably appeal to those who say that the single-episodes aren’t the way to go. I have mixed feelings on this since while 45-minutes is not a whole lot of time to create a whole world,characters and plot I don’t necessarily see it as unviable since shows like Star Trek and The X-Files have managed to do standalones fairly well in the past. In the end it all comes down to execution. However given some of the rushed Series 7 endings and the opportunities that two-parters allow it makes sense to have a go at a few more this time around.

I guess I should also mention that this will in fact be Clara’s last series in the show. It might be for the best as 3 tends to be a pretty well-rounded number as far as Who-tenures go and hopefully this will be the strongest for her and Coleman. Still I have to think that someone at the Mirror must have had it out for Coleman since this is the second time in a row that someone has leaked her (potential) departure. Though I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that she was gonna depart given all the talk about this series being the glory years of the Doctor and her.

It seems that Moffat has decided to pull out all the stops for this two-parter as we have Missy, Daleks, a crap tonne of familiar locations and characters/aliens and of course the grand return of director Hettie Macdonald to the franchise who directed the episode “Blink”. You may have heard of it. While it may seem a bit soon to have a bunch of Dalek variants only 3 years after “Asylum of the Daleks” but I’m sure it was done to make up for some of the complaints directed at the episode for not properly showing off all the Daleks they had there. As a whole the direction is pretty good and it’s an interesting contrast to “Blink” since that was mostly in modern day UK and this episode goes to various locations with a lot more characters.

Missy was probably the best thing to come out of Series 8. Granted the reveal of her identity was kinda of ruined by all the people who figured out the “Missy-Misstress-Master” connection but once it occurred to you that she was the Master you began to see how much this could work. It overall was a huge risk to completely change the gender of one of the Doctor’s greatest enemies but I think it worked out on the whole since it’s really bred the character with new life. Moffat has clearly made this variation of the character her own and Gomez is fantastic with a great look and a solid performance. Granted there are times when her shtick gets a bit grating and that giant head bit was kind of odd-looking but overall I’m satisfied with where the character is right now. Apparently she wasn’t originally going to be in this story but it makes sense to have her there since Davros and her are the Doc’s biggest singular enemies, it is the first Master and Dalek story in a while and obviously there was strong potential for a begrudging Missy/Clara alliance since she messed with her life pretty badly. Also her killing some guys despite setting up a scenario where she could die instantly was a moment brimming with confidence and made her seem like a bad mo-fo. I also like how the story talked about the complex relationship between the Doctor and her as it is interesting territory to discuss. Not sure the shippers will appreciate the dismissal of love though lol. In regards to the lack of explanation of her resurrection Moffat has claimed that it’s a homage to the fact that the Ainley Master kept returning without much explanation back in the day. Fair enough though I can understand why people might dislike the lack of explanation. At the very least it doesn’t bog down the story.

Capaldi’s performance as the Doctor was also pretty strong as well. The situation he’s in allowed him to be able to express personality traits associated with other Doctors in a way that made sense. Much like some previous Moffat stories we don’t see a lot of the Doc for the first half but when he shows up he’s a definite presence. His interactions with a crowd were fun and something about him coming in on a tank is very amusing. Probably his best work though was when he was pleading for his friends lives, you really felt the emotion out of him.

There were a lot of rumours about this story being about The Doctor deciding whether to kill a young Davros. I was a bit hesitant about this since I didn’t really want a repeat of Genesis of the Daleks. However I think it really worked here mainly cause the moment in question is more of separate event rather than the whole episode being about going to Skaro and contemplating the choice and here it’s more an event that rippled throughout the current story. The interesting question is whether or not the Doctor felt shame because he was willing to let Davros die or because he failed to do so. I also think this provides and interesting origin story for Davros as well. Not entirely sure what Big Finish have come up with for his backstory but this works since we essentially have him being left to die by someone despite him implying that you were supposed to live. That would definitely screw somebody up pretty badly and make them a heartless bastard. Plus if we assume that those Handmines are what cause him to so extremely disfigured then that’s even more appropriate. I also think a story about a dying Davros is appropriate since frankly it’s getting a bit silly that this severely ill man has managed to keep surviving despite how mutilated he is. And the Doctor visiting a dying enemy is an interesting dynamic.

The Snake-Guy was alright though a little silly. Though I suppose it makes sense to have him being made of snakes given that Davros is pretty much the Devil in this situation. Though whenever he kept saying “Dark Lord of Skaro” I kept getting Lord of the Rings flashbacks.

The cliffhanger was also pretty solid and thinking about it it works on two-levels since  we want to know whether or not the Doctor is in fact going to shoot little Davros or Bubby Davros as the FiveWhoFans community would say but it also raises are interest in just how the Doc managed to get back there given that his TARDIS apparently blew up and his friends are dead.

I also thought the stuff with the planes was cool and the Atantis controversy mention was a nice touch. There may have been some more references I missed. Gotta say though that hearing that Tom Baker audio clip was pretty chilling and made the whole thing seem more epic. I do have to wonder about the title though. Obviously the Magician in this case is the Doctor (a reference to the line in Time Heist) and the apprentice is probably Clara (unless the idea is that Davros learned from the Doctor to be an asshole). The title of the next episode is The Witch’s Familiar the Witch likely referring to Missy though who her Familiar is is unclear. It could be Clara but I doubt she’s gonna change sides. Perhaps it will connect to Clara’s eventual departure or have to do with something else entirely.

As far as premieres go this is definitely akin to The Impossible Astronaut as it was very busy and a plot seemed to be already in motion. It was nice to get that kind of hectic feeling again and it will be interesting to see where it goes.

So overall this is a solid episode with not a whole lot to complain about. Tune into Part Two next week where hopefully the title will make more sense.