The Magician’s Apprentice – Doctor Who S09E01
Loved it, loved it, loved it! Many girlish squeals of joy also! 🙂 Now that we’ve got that out of the way, lets get down to it shall we? There was just so much to enjoy and love in this episode I know that I’m going to miss something however I’ll try to cover the high points and would appreciate any reminders for things I might have missed in the comments below.
The first thing that struck me right from the start is that this episode is definitely being shown in a “Star Wars year” as one of the earliest scenes is of an alien wandering through a bar that reminds me of nothing else but the Mos Eisley Cantina on Tatooine. Literally snaking through the crowd (this reference will be made clear later) we see the Oood and other familiar characters from Dr. Who lore, however most important perhaps is the search that this mysterious hooded figure is on.
Colony Sarff (looking very much like a Sith Master – another reference to Star Wars) is on the hunt for the Doctor and when he’s unable to find him in all of his regular jaunts, he returns to his master … Davros. Davros it seems has remembered something, something important and something about the Doctor. What you may ask? Well that was actually answered in one of the coolest prologues I’ve ever seen!
In the prologue, the Doctor comes across a little boy on a war torn land. Similar to other rescues that we’ve seen him make countless times before, this looks like just another run of the mill encounter. The boy however is stuck in a field with “hand mines” that are one of the more interesting and gruesome weapons provided by Doctor Who. Able to literally suck a person into the ground to their doom, they are able to see people to attack and while the Doctor is good at saving people, you really need to wonder how he’s going to make this miracle happen?
The answer in this case however, is that he isn’t! The boy it turns out is someone we all know and hate – Davros the creator of the Daleks himself is the one trapped in the field of hands and the Doctor surmises that by leaving him to die, he can possibly change the path of the future and save trillions from extermination.
Silly Doctor … this time he forgot that Davros himself must be a fixed point in time … the creator of the Daleks cannot be killed by non-action. The Doctor really only has two choices here … either kill Davros or save him. Unfortunately neither option guarantees that the Dalek’s still won’t be built.
However, Davros himself is not the only villain in this episode … perhaps the one that we all loved and hated the most … the Master in his female incarnation Missy is back! If you recall from the episode Death in Heaven (the Season 8 finale) – Missy was seemingly disintegrated by one of the Cybermen – somehow the Doctor’s finest foe resurrected herself (“Ok,” she deadpans. “Cutting to the chase. Not dead. Back. Big surprise. Never mind.”), and now she really wants to be considered more of friend. At least a frenemy.
The Master/Missy has always been a character right on the edge of sanity – while the Dalek’s are simply evil incarnate, the Master has always been someone that could have been on the side of light if things had just gone just a little bit differently. With the return of Missy in The Magician’s Apprentice, we see a capricious foe, one that while still an enemy of the Doctor is also perhaps his oldest and truest friend and from what we’ve seen over the previous seasons – this is actually somewhat true! I’d be the first to acknowledge that the Master was always one of the Doctor’s greatest foes, however was he not in some ways made this way due to the meddling of the Time Lords?
When she (Missy) stops all the planes in the world to get Clara’s attention & likens her to a dog that is being walked by a nearby couple, it’s supremely classic and in some ways give you the best indication of how the Time Lords (perhaps including the Doctor himself) see us. Pets to be cared for and nurtured, but ones that they are infinitely superior to – not only in knowledge, but also in ability and determination. With Clara’s help, Missy is able to track the Doctor down who has been hiding in the renaissance era, this is probably the weakest part of the episode as while it’s fun to watch, its nothing more than a rip-off of Back to the Future & while some of the aforementioned scenes also rip-off other movies/shows, they are done in a way that is subtle, whereas this is definitely not!
Missy however is nothing more than brilliant in this scene and it’s probably one of her strongest ones on screen. While she was excellent in her conversation with Clara, her she is sublime. She plays the perfect foil to the Doctor and his over the top ego & acts as the villain to his hero in his ramblings to the crowd. She’s just amazing and I can’t wait to see what else she brings to the screen this season!
Sarff arrives while Missy and the Doctor are interacting and while Missy is trying to get the Doctor to answer the question of why he sent her his will and why he thinks he’s dying, Sarff tells him that Davros has remembered & the Doctor immediately goes white. As both Clara and Missy point out, its a new look for him – one of shame.
Taken to a citadel seemingly hovering in space, the Doctor meets up with Davros and while the scenes and conversations of all of Davros’ previous encounters with various incarnations of the Doctor play on the screen – including the brilliant Genesis of the Daleks with Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor – Peter Capaldi seems up to the challenge of replacing this memory in all of our minds. When Clara and Missy discover the the citadel is not actually hovering in space, but is in fact on the surface of Skaros – the home planet of the Daleks themselves, well that’s where the plot really thickens!
While Missy tries to persuade the Daleks that she should be their new leader & help them take over all of space and time with the aid of the TARDIS, they are less than interested and proceed to EXTERMINATE her, followed by Clara and the TARDIS while the Doctor looks on in horror. While you might think that was a suitable cliff hanger to leave us on till next week, its not over yet – the Doctor appears back on that war torn battlefield with the little boy … this time however it seems he’s made a decision and its not to save the boy but rather to kill him & perhaps end the reign of the Daleks before they even begin!
Ohhh, boy … this was definitely a good one and if the rest of the season matches this episode in terms of story and production values, we’re in for a very exciting journey. This episode has the potential already to be one of my favorite ones, possibly second to the Doctors Wife. Can’t wait till next week!