Timey Wimey Talk: ‘Doctor Who’ Series 9 Episode 1: ‘The Magician’s Apprentice’
There’s only one word to say about the season premiere of Doctor Who:
Expectations going into Peter Capaldi’s second full season were extremely high, and with the recent announcement that Clara (Jenna Coleman) would be leaving, the stakes were even higher. Could Capaldi continue the success of last year?
I’d say it’s a resounding yes.
What was great about “The Magician’s Apprentice” is that there was no foreplay. The episode jumped right into the action with, of course, the Daleks. But not just any Dalek, the father of all Dalek’s, Davros (Terry Molloy) himself. The reaction from The Doctor when he realized the child he was trying to save was indeed Davros was just painful. The terror on his face was palpable and it’s one of the few times I’ve seen true fear on his face. I don’t know what the Hell planet he was on but those hand monsters were part Pan’s Labyrinth part sand pits from The Princess Bride. Either way the creatures, coupled with the foggy moor-like landscape, killed it.
Davros’ snake emissary looked like a creature created in Voldemort’s lab. And was it me or did the bar he went into remind anyone of the Star Wars cantina? Although if Greedo took on this guy he wouldn’t be any more successful than he was against Han.
As if Big Daddy Dalek Davros wasn’t enough, we also saw the return of Missy (Michelle Gomez). She is such a slick incarnation of The Master. As great as John Simm was I think Gomez’s performance tops his. It’s amazing the lengths she’ll go to just to get Clara and The Doctor’s attention as well. Frozen planes? Really? I also noticed that Missy requested eight snipers to come along for the sit down between Clara and her. Don’t ignore the significance of that statement. It means she has plenty of regenerations left, so we should be seeing different incarnations of the Master for quite some time.
The scene between Clara and Missy was more tense than a Ood without his mouth device. When Missy asks Clara, “How’s your boyfriend?” the image of Chris Tucker saying, “DAMMMNNNN!” immediately popped into my mind. That’s about as cold and callous as you can get. The interaction only escalates when Missy randomly takes out two security officers when Clara asks if she’s turned good. Missy may be witty and sarcastic, may even care for The Doctor, but she’s far from good.
One thing you’re never short of in Doctor Who are intricate artifacts. From the Pandorica to the Sonic Screwdriver, cool gadgets are everywhere. “The Magician’s Apprentice” was no different, as audiences were introduced to the Confession Dial, the electronic equivalent of a last will and testament, an item to be delivered to a Time Lord’s closest friend the day before his death. Intriguing that The Doctor delivered the Dial to Missy. How that action reflects on the rest of the season remains to be seen.
While Doctor Who‘s devices may be ostentatious, they pale in comparison to The Doctor himself. I may never see anything cooler than The Doctor riding a tank into an arena playing an electric guitar. Never. Without question the scene immediately catapulted into my top five best Doctor Who moments. Medieval citizens saying the word “dude” was just icing on the cake.
Despite the festive nature of the moment, The Doctor’s expositions felt much like gallows humor. The fact that his first action upon seeing Clara is to embrace her is extremely telling. After all this is a man who hates hugs because it’s just a way to hide your face. Capaldi’s iteration has been somewhat cold and aloof as opposed to Matt Smith’s goofy enthusiasm. To show a modicum of warmth as he did here demonstrates how concerned he is for Clara’s continued existence…and his own.
While the closing fifteen minutes of “The Magician’s Apprentice” didn’t top the scene with the tank and the guitar, it certainly made a gallant effort. When Missy and Clara stepped out onto the invisible planet, you knew something was up. And it was a big something. To see the veil pulled back and reveal that The Doctor, Clara, Missy, and Davros were all on Skaro, the Dalek’s home planet blew my mind. I can’t actually remember the last time Doctor Who traveled to Skaro. I sincerely hope we see much more than bulky buildings on next week’s episode.
Although both Clara and Missy were exterminated by the Daleks at the end of the episode, no one really believes that they are gone for good, least of all me. After all The Doctor has the TARDIS. And it’s Doctor Who. It’s timey wimey!
Timey wimey or not, there’s a ton of questions that still need to be answered. Why is Davros dying? How do Clara and Missy come back? Why are they on Skaro? What’s in the Confession Dial and who is it meant for? And maybe most importantly, will The Doctor kill the young Davros and if so, what are the ramifications?
Thankfully, we only have to wait a few days to find out. If the rest of series nine is as good as the season premiere, we are in for a wild ride.
On a scale of 1 to 10 Sonic Screwdrivers, “The Magician’s Apprentice” rates a 10.
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