Sunday, September 20, 2015

Doctor Who 9.01: "The Magician's Apprentice"

“If you seek the Doctor, first seek his friends.”
- Davros

Welcome to the first recap post of the fall season! It feels like forever ago we last had an adventure with the Doctor and Clara and I suppose it was nearly nine months ago (with 2014’s “Last Christmas”). But we’re back and it is crazier than ever. I have a sneaking suspicion Moffat is trying to outdo himself this year with the appearance of constant two-parters and big overarching questions and plots to resolve. If that’s his goal, he certainly succeeded in the first episode of the new series.

We begin on a planet where people are fighting off drones with bows and arrow (my first thought was how is it even possible for the people to win). A little boy is running through a field and a soldier stops him because there are hand mines everywhere. They are creepy little hands with eyeballs in their palms (like the Seer on Once Upon a Time or the leader of the Syballine sisterhood from Pompeii) that pop out of the ground, latch on to your leg and pull you into the ground. The soldier gets sucked in pretty quickly and then the Doctor appears. He’s trying to rescue the boy until he learns the lad’s name; Davros. Well damn, archenemy and father of the Dalek race was once a normal, scared little boy abandoned by the Doctor. That might explain a few things.

In what can sort of be deemed the present, a servant of Davros who is just a bunch of snakes in a cloak (gross) is searching for the Doctor. He goes to the Maldovarian marketplace (which made me think of Dorian the poor fool) but has no luck. So he heads to the Shadow Proclamation and again hits a dead end. I did like the bit of a tie in to “Stolen Earth”/”Journey’s End” with the Jadoon and everything. Finally, snake man ends up on Karn (which is where the Doctor went from Eight to the War Doctor) and the sister tells him off, saying if Davros has a message for the Doctor, snake man can leave it with her and she will pass it along. The message is simple. Davros knows, Davros remembers. Cryptic. Snake man retreats to where Davros is dying and the leader of the Daleks says that to find the Doctor, you simply find his friends. Great!

Speaking of friends, Clara is back to teaching and things are going well until planes appear frozen in the sky and she gets a call from U.N.I.T. Apparently she’s now an honorary memory or something. I didn’t quite get why they called her but I suppose it’s really not that different than gathering the companions. Anyway, Clara gets there and Kate says she can’t reach the Doctor. Clara hasn’t tried yet because she doesn’t know if it’s a real crisis. Silly girl. It’s definitely a crisis. I thought it was snake man luring Clara out at first but it turns out to be Missy. Surprise, she’s not dead (I didn’t think she was).

Clara ends up meeting with Missy (with some heavy U.N.I.T. support) and Missy drops the truth bomb that the Doctor sent her his confession dial (the Time Lord version of a will) and Clara is rather miffed that he would send it to Missy, rather than her. Missy points out she and the Doctor are old friends, the best of friends really and she’s concerned that she can’t find the Doctor. She’d only get the confession dial the day before the Doctor dies. So here we go again trying to save the Doctor from dying. Working together, they find where the Doctor is hiding out. He’s in the Middle Ages and he’s been having a three-week blow out party, complete with giant tank (for his fish) and a guitar. I did appreciate Peter Capaldi getting to show his musical skills (he was in a band back in the day with one Craig Ferguson). Unfortunately, Missy and Clara showing up there leads the snake man right to the Doctor. He gets to deliver his message that Davros is dying and wants to see the Doctor. The Doctor agrees to go but Missy and Clara insist on joining him. He’s not very pleased by this. I think he wanted to face his old enemy alone because he knows what’s coming.

Missy and Clara get locked in while the Doctor goes to see Davros. We learn just how old their relationship is thanks to some old audio from Four and Ten (during “Journey’s End”). Davros created the Daleks to stop the War that was raging but obviously it got out of hand. Part of me wonders if the Great Time War happened because Davros was still to some degree that abandoned little boy and he was mad at the Doctor. Anyway, it seems Davros hasn’t changed much since last we saw him. He still uses the Doctor’s friends and people who care about him against him. Missy and Clara have managed to go wandering (Missy is a bit snarky and pointing out that the gravity feels too real to be artificial) and in short order we discover that they are really back on Scaro, where the whole thing began. Missy is just as pissed as the Doctor and Clara is just confused.

Daleks kidnap the ladies and take them to where the TARDIS is being held (one of the people who was serving the Doctor in the Middle Ages is actually a human Dalek) and the Doctor is forced to watch them get disintegrated. First, Missy tries to stop them from destroying the TARDIS by saying she can get them in but only her because she’s a Time Lady. Honestly, this felt a bit like a retread of what happened at the end of series 4. Davros tried to destroy the TARDIS then and threatened to kill the Doctor’s companions. Clara gets dematerialized, too. I know they aren’t dead because Daleks don’t dematerialize people. They sort of electrocute them. Besides, I can’t believe that they would write Clara out in the first episode (spoiler alert, Jenna Coleman is leaving the show sometime during this series). As the Doctor watches the TARDIS disappear, he somehow ends up back on Scaro where little Davros is still holding on to his sonic screwdriver. The Doctor gets up real close to him and threatens to exterminate him. I can’t believe the Doctor would willing kill a child, even if it was his archenemy. For one thing, that’s just not him. Abandoning him, sure. But killing him, no. The Doctor isn’t a killer. And secondly, the Doctor can’t kill him because it would so drastically alter the history of their two races, not to mention their personal histories that it would effectively negate the last 50 years of storytelling. Moffat is bod but he isn’t that crazy. We hope.

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