Doctor Who S9x01 “The Magician’s Apprentice”
Doctor Who is back and it arrived in style with one of the strongest pre-credits sequences that I saw in a while, with an excellent teaser to what was in store in the first section of this two-part sequence. Whilst not everything worked and this episode may be unlikely to be remembered as a classic amongst fans, it does put renewed confidence in the season ahead, especially with the return of the Daleks and in particular, Davros, to kickstart the season as we look into the question: if you could go back in time and kill your greatest enemy before he became your greatest enemy, could you? There’s lots of potential there for a good storyline, especially when you look at the mileage that time travel stories have got out of going back in time to kill Hitler. Davros is the creator of the Daleks. Wipe him out now and they will have never, ever been created. But at what cost?
Of course, we don’t see the answer immediately, as this is something that is more or less teased at the end of the episode, but what we get is a nonstop, fast-paced ride of craziness that only Moffat can provide. There’s a scene halfway through the episode where The Doctor is reunited with Clara (and Missy, but more on her later) in one of the more spectacular sequences that is so unique about this show. Not many others can pull off a badass entrance like The Doctor can, driving a Tank into an Arena, playing a guitar and introducing the word “Dude” centuries before it should have been. There’s a lot to love about this and for me, this remains the highlight of the episode.
There’s some other great stuff in here though as well. It will most likely leave the casual audience lost, but there were some very cool nods to previous Doctor Who monsters, some of which that we hadn’t seen since the Russell T. Davies days. The Shadow Proclamation and the Judoon are the more high profile ones, and a welcome surprise that allowed us to jumpstart the new season quite nicely, as it seemed that everybody was looking for The Doctor. The question was though, where had he gone?
Michelle Gomez returns as Missy in The Magician’s Apprentice and it was great to see her interacting with Clara. Not only does The Doctor have to deal with The Daleks but, he also has to deal with the latest incarnation of The Master. There were some great moments between the three, Missy, Clara and The Doctor, which really stood out, and one of my favourite moments came when Missy was somewhat jealous that The Doctor viewed Davros as his greatest enemy. There’s also a few little hints presented by Missy as well that I caught, one that could potentially hint towards a future female Doctor, with the line that he was a little girl as a child. However, it came with a bunch of other statements, and any one of those could have been a lie. We won’t know until later, if at all.
The episode saw Davros wanting to meet with The Doctor, and eventually, The Doctor relented even though he knew it was a trap. This set the stage for the final cliffhanger very nicely, and allowed for a great surprise even if the two characters that were killed off are probably not going to stay dead for long. From what we’ve seen in the past, not even being erased from time completely is enough to kill off a Doctor Who character, so the chances are highly likely that you can expect to see more of Missy and Clara, most likely in next week’s episode. So there’s a lot of things in store, but the question is really, how can Moffat deliver? His second halves of two-part stories have often been not quite as good as the first, and it’ll be interesting to see if he can wrap this up nicely or not. Time will tell.
Catch the next episode of Doctor Who next Saturday on BBC America.