Monday, September 21, 2015

My Review of Doctor Who's 9x01: "The Magician's Apprentice"

Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Hettie MacDonald

Davros: "Are you going to save me?"
The Doctor: "I'm going to save my friend the only way I can. Exterminate."

And this moment happened. Back in April when the Mirror leaked that the Doctor was going to potentially kill Davros as a child, I was pretty dismissive of the idea and in spite of how this episode, I still am to a degree but even still, that last scene though.

Over the years, Moffat has brought back various elements and characters like Russell T. Davies had done during his four series reign and with the Master as Missy, it was time for Davros to make an appearance in this particular era and I really appreciated that this episode didn't really delay anything there. We met him at the start of things as a child trapped on a battlefield and his presence gave the Doctor one hell of a moral dilemma.

Years later and Davros now seems to be on the way out (like that'll last) and has sent his minion, the snake like Colony Sarff throughout space and time in order to locate the Doctor. In that regard, it was the rather strained team up of Clara and Missy who did the work for Sarff and Davros by finding the Doctor for them.

I really enjoyed having to see both Clara and Missy battle with their mutual disrespect for each other in order to seek out the Doctor and I also really enjoyed the back and forth barbs between the pair of them as well. Unlike last series finale though, this story might have reminded us a few times that Missy is still evil (killing UNIT blokes, trying to cosy up to the Daleks) but for now, the main threats were an ailing Davros and his monstrous creations.

The Daleks in particular seemed a little too happy in killing Missy, then Clara and then destroying the TARDIS in almost too quick a fashion that you just know that all three of them are going to be fine, even if their 'demises' did result in that cliffhanger moment. On the other hand, Davros seemed perfectly happy with taking a pot shot at the Doctor's compassion but I still am curious as to what his overall angle is here.

Does Davros genuinely want to die and somehow get the Doctor to do it? For what end then? To mess with the Doctor's morality once and for all or is there another ploy at play? Given that this is the first of a two parter, we'll soon know the answer to that one but either way, the scenes between Peter Capaldi and Julian Bleach (yup, he's back in the role) were one of several highlights throughout the episode. The others including stuff with Clara and Missy of course.

This episode certainly played on the themes of enemies and friends, while not new for the show was definitely it's most effective here. The Doctor and Missy, Clara and Missy, the Doctor and Clara and of course, the Doctor and Davros. All of them wonderfully explored within the madness of this opening story. I just hope the second part really goes for leather there as well as providing a solid reason as to why the Doctor won't inevitably murder Davros as a child either.

Also in "The Magician's Apprentice"

Doctor Who Extra seems to be broken up into four seperate parts for this episode, which can be found on YouTube and the BBC website.

Davros (to the Doctor): "Davros. My name is Davros."

The hand mines on Skaro were pretty effective, especially with the eyes sticking out of them. Such a classic Moffat type of creation too.

Colony Sarff (to Ohila): "Tell the Doctor Davros knows. Davros remembers. He must face Davros one last time."

There was a lot of cameos in this episode - UNIT with Kate and new members Mike and Jac, the Shadow Proclamation, Karn, Maldovarium and aliens from both Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures as well.

Clara (re the Doctor): "He's not your friend. You keep trying to kill him."
Missy: "He keeps trying to kill me. It's sort of our texting."

Bors: "Dude, what is that?"
The Doctor: "You said you wanted an axe fight."

Which was more ludicrous - the Doctor playing guitar on a tank or Missy cupping a Dalek's ball? Oh and the Doctor's confession dial is a will that only opens after he dies. Missy was the one trusted with it, not Clara.

Missy: "Hang on a minute, Davros is your archenemy now?"
The Doctor: "Hush!"
Missy: "I'll scratch his eye out."

The Doctor (to Clara): "Davros made the Daleks but who made Davros?"

I loved the use of previous encounters with Davros - Genesis Of The Daleks, Resurrection Of The Daleks, Revelation Of The Daleks, Remembrance Of The Daleks and The Stolen Earth/Journey's End being used to bring audiences up to speed with the Doctor and Davros's history.

Davros: "Do you know why you came, Doctor? You have a sense of duty, of guilt perhaps and certainly of shame."

Missy: "With this and with me, everything can be yours. You can burn it all forever and ever and ever or would you rather just kill me?"
Dalek: "Maximum extermination."

No direct explanations were actually given as to how to either Davros or Missy survived their previous encounters with the Doctor.

The Doctor: "Why have I ever let you live?"
Davros: "Compassion Doctor. It has always been your greatest indulgence. Let this be my final victory."

Chronology: Some bits of 2015 London for Clara/UNIT, some in 1138 Essex when the Doctor was hiding out and various times on Skaro.

As an opening episode, I think "The Magician's Apprentice" is definitely one of the strongest we've had. It's certainly one of the most maddest and boldest, very much feeling like a series finale and with the Doctor's confession being an arc this year, there are some slight shades of the sixth series running through this one along with the plethora of Classic Daleks and other nods throughout.

Rating: 9 out of 10

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