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Doctor Who - The Magician's Apprentice - Review: "If you knew..."

© BBC Pictures
Episode: 9.01 "The Magician's Apprentice"
Directed by: Hettie MacDonald
Written by: Steven Moffat
Air date: 19 September 2015

First of all, Doctor Who is officially back! And this was an amazing premiere, much better than last season's, if you ask me. More than that, the return of all the familiar faces, the Shadow Proclamation, UNIT, Davros, Daleks, the destruction of TARDIS, missing Doctor and many more, they all made me think about "The Stolen Earth/Journey's End", which, despite its flaws, still remains one of my favorite episodes of the show. Great way to start the new season!

The Doctor's choice
It's been such a long break that I've almost forgot how much I've been enjoying the new, Twelfth Doctor. He's very much his own character, yet feels really familiar to the ones before him. This premiere, he spent three weeks on a party in Essex in 1138, introducing the locals to things such as electric guitar and the word "dude". He knew that Davros was dying and expected time might be running out for him as well, so he sent Missy his confession dial - "Last Will and Testament of the Doctor". But the most important part of his adventure in the episode was the meeting with Davros, or rather, the first and the last time Davros met him. It's a popular question in the stories, both written and real-life examples - if you knew a child that was going to grow up to become the monster and the murderer responsible for the destruction and death of many innocent lives, what would you do? Would you choose to end his life, abandon him in the hour of need, or help him anyway, let him go, knowing what will become of him... The Doctor already met Hitler, yet the concept was never really tested back then. Considering it's a story of time travel, I'm glad to see Doctor Who facing this dilemma. At first, the Doctor chose to leave the child Davros on his own, trapped, maybe even making an impact on his decision to create the Daleks in the future, but after the events of the final minutes of the episode, it seems that this choice is far from being a final one.

Davros' story
As it always happens with the Daleks, Davros survived the last time we've seen him, a long time ago, when DoctorDonna was saving the day, only to come back to make the Doctor feel ashamed and destroy everything he cares about. Like an archenemy would. I have to admit, Davros sure seems like one of the Doctor's most fascinating villains. How broken, how desperate, how insane and hateful would one have to be to create the Daleks? "A mutant in a tank that would never, ever stop. And they never did." Though, truth be told, hand mines were absolutely creepy and terrifying. Still, it seems somehow strange that Davros would wait for his final moments (assuming he really is dying, which is honestly a big IF at this point) to finally confront the Doctor about their meeting when he was still just a scared kid. Especially knowing how Davros never regretted his decision to create the Daleks and is always trying to make the Doctor be the bad guy of the story... Another argument for the theory that what happened it not yet a fixed point, but a choice to be made. Right now, a choice that could save the Doctor's friends.

Missy "The Friend"
To be honest with you, I'm not such a big fan of Missy. Michelle Gomez is absolutely brilliant in her portrayal but I'm not so sure I'm happy to see Missy back. Especially so soon. I guess it might be because I didn't really enjoy last season's finale as much as I would like. It was too dark, too depressing and haunting for me, and since Missy was the reason behind it all, this might impact my opinion about the character. I also really miss John Simm's Master sometimes, he worked so well with David Tennant years ago. Anyway, Missy is back, apparently as the Doctor's "closest friend". She has a very promising role to play in the current situation, she's not afraid of the Daleks, she works only for herself, but still likes to keep the Doctor around for another fight in the future. She's the real wild card there and currently she's very much dead. Obviously, considering the situation, it won't last, but still, I found her speech to the Daleks to be really interesting. Missy working with them would sure be something not to miss. I wonder where she'll go from here and what can she add to the story in the next weeks. She might grow on me as a character yet.

Clara's "in between"
And then there's Clara. The Impossible Girl with the Doctor in the TARDIS. I like how comfortable she now feels with the new Doctor. These two work really great together. Much like a family. Clara's such a clever character, the way she figured out how to find the Doctor and help UNIT with the new crisis were really well done. I also very much enjoy her interactions with Kate and her bravery in the face of the immanent danger. But it's her scenes with Missy that really make Clara shine in the episode, her strength and confidence, in the face of someone she truly hates and associates with a personal heartbreaking tragedy, were the most impressive view. She didn't let Missy get to her and hold her own brilliantly. But I have to say, with the recent news regarding the character, watching her last scene in the episode had even greater impact than I expected. It's almost like a first step, a preparation, to say goodbye. But for now, getting her back is a priority for the next week's episode.

UNIT's return
Good to have Kate and UNIT back. It seems like her recurring appearances might have a connection to a bigger story this season. I'm already excited to see it. This time, the crisis was the strange view of the planes frozen in time, thanks to Missy's "trick". That was certainly something new. I like the trust Kate and her people have towards the Doctor and Clara. I always enjoyed seeing UNIT work side by side with the Doctor, so I welcome the team coming back in the future.

Whovian notes and questions:
1) The Doctor really is a rock star! I liked this little moment with the Doctor actually having a great time for a change. His interactions with the people of Essex were hilarious. What did you think about this scene?
2) Davros, the Daleks, the Shadow Proclamation, UNIT, an Ood and many more. What's your favorite return?
3) Missy - a friend or a foe? What are your thoughts about the Doctor's oldest frenemy? Were you glad to see her back so soon?
4) Clara's death was such a painful part. But the TARDIS - that's just too much, guys! How do think will the Doctor get out of this one? Any theories to share?
5) Most creepiest part of the episode - hand mines, Colony Sarff, other? When did Doctor Who get so dark?

Memorable quotes:
1. The Doctor: "Your chances of survival are about one in a thousand. So here's what you do: you forget the thousand and you concentrate on the one."
2. Clara: "How did you know I was here? Did you see me?"
The Doctor: "When do I not see you?"
Clara: "What, one face in all of that crowd?"
The Doctor: "There was a crowd, too?"
3. The Doctor: "Now, explain. Politely. Davros is my archenemy. Why would I want to talk to him?"
Missy: "No, wait, hang on a minute. Davros is your archenemy now?"
The Doctor: "Hush."
Missy: "I'll scratch his eyes out."

What did you think about "The Magician's Apprentice"? Any favorite scenes, quotes or theories? Feel free to let us know in the comments. And check out the trailer and episode info for the next week's "The Witch's Familiar" here. Thanks for reading!

Justyna JJ Kubica
23. SpoilerTV Writer. Loves Movies (especially Marvel Cinematic Universe), TV Shows (The 100, Agents Of SHIELD, Teen Wolf, Sherlock, Person Of Interest, Supernatural (especially 1-5), The Musketeers, Agent Carter, The Flash, Doctor Who, Fringe, Psych and many more) and Books (Harry Potter!). Fantasy & SciFi geek! Scene Of The Week articles author. Writes reviews for Doctor Who, Sherlock & The Musketeers. Member of SpoilerTV team since 27th November 2011.
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