SpoilerTV - TV Spoilers

Doctor Who - The Witch's Familiar - Review: "So long as there’s mercy"

© BBC Pictures
Episode: 9.02 "The Witch's Familiar"
Directed by: Hettie MacDonald
Written by: Steven Moffat
Air date: 26 September 2015

Reviews so far:
Episode 9.01 - "The Magician's Apprentice"

This was a brilliant follow-up to the strong season premiere. I loved it and both pairings - Doctor and Davros, and Clara and Missy - turned out to be great idea. I also always enjoy the story behind the Doctor and Daleks' fighting and all the references to the Doctor's past. And one more thing before I get into the details, congratulations to everyone who figured out the trick behind Clara and Missy's "death" in the premiere. I've read so many bright ideas that I wasn't even surprised by the reveal. Well done, all you clever people!

The Doctor's compassion
In the end, the Doctor is always the Doctor and that's absolutely what makes him such a great and compelling character. He doesn't have to be just kind or strong, or smart, he can be all of those things and a mad man with a box (or without a box). All his conversations with Davros were one of the highlights of the hour. Even though they are each other's archenemies, there's so much history, pain of war, memories, so many personal connections between the two that at times they seem more like old friends arguing about the same old thing over and over again. Both actors did a brilliant work with all the little gestures and expressions in their scenes. And the fact that the Doctor's decision to save the little Davros is what caused the creator of all Daleks to keep some mercy with him, was a wonderfully done twist of fate. But the heart of this story, or maybe just a part that got me the most, was the Doctor's desperate search for Clara. Simply refusing to accept she's gone, he sees past Missy's deception and finds his companion. I've grown to really love Twelve and Clara's relationship and these little moments are something I always enjoy. Another thing worth mentioning - the hybrid - Dalek and Time Lord forced together and the Doctor partially responsible for that. The prophecy being one of the reasons why the Doctor started running all these years ago sounds like an interesting concept. It feels like we're getting a little bit closer to Gallifrey every episode...

Davros' plan
It was a good plan, really. In his time of dying, Davros found a way to make Daleks stronger than ever by exploiting his greatest enemy's weakness - the Doctor's compassion. Acting like a broken, full of questions and maybe even regret, man, he managed to do what might seem quite impossible, make the Doctor feel sorry for him. Sorry enough to share his regeneration powers with his old foe, only for him to use this act of kindness against him. But still, the Doctor not only figured out what he's really after, he also thought of one detail that Davros missed in his brilliant concept - the graveyard of the Daleks gaining power. A truly horrifying place and another time to part ways with the Doctor. As always, the Daleks might be defeated but not gone and I hope with their next return, Davros will also show up to lead his creations. His presence on the screen has a great effect when meeting the Doctor and the story between these two is done really well and worth to revisit. We are left with a few open questions though, how much of what Davros said was a simple lie to deceive the Doctor. Or if the mercy's still in him, then maybe hate's not the only emotion he's got left.. "A man should belong". Davros' reaction to the Doctor's news of Gallifrey and him wanting to see the sun again were probably my favorite parts. Of course we can simply assume that everything was a lie but personally, I think this option's just too simple and if the Doctor really knew Davros' plan all that time they spent together he wouldn't have to play along like that. Whatever reasons were behind both men's actions, I really enjoyed all their interactions, probably even more than I expected.

Missy's deception
I have to admit, I found Missy's character in both episodes to be a great addition to both the cast and the story. She's a true wild card, who despite not being a good person can sometimes act in a really unexpected ways. And every time she shared a scene with Clara, those two were stealing the show. Missy's clearly a clever person, she's a Time Lady, after all. She knows the Doctor well enough to figure out his next move and to make a strong impact that leaves him questioning his actions. She plays with the danger and embraces the darkness of the situation. Her idea to hide Clara inside the Dalek's casing was both practical and later useful for her own purposes. Her explaining to Clara how the Daleks "work" was definitely a scene worth mentioning here. Despite the gravity of the events, Missy's character still made some parts seem lighter and fun. In its very own, Missy-specific way. That's certainly one evil smile there on her face. I do wonder where she'll turn up next. Missy's story is far from over.

Trapped Clara
And the other half of this pairing, Clara's the one desperate to get to the Doctor. Even deciding to join forces with Missy and risk her life on multiple occasions. Taking risks, saving the Doctor, none of it is really news for Clara. But then there's the Dalek. "I am a Dalek". It's impossible not to think about the first time we've met Clara, one of her echoes anyway - Oswin Oswald. Can't help but wonder whether it's meant to be a preview of Clara's farewell. I really hope not but since the news of it being her last season, there are so many theories to consider. Anyway, Clara fighting with the Daleks' emotional "settings" and getting through to the Doctor was the most memorable scene of the episode for me. Great work by Jenna! She and Michelle Gomez had brilliant dynamics in this hour and I actually can't wait to see in which direction Clara's story is going. Judging by all the promos and interviews, the risks Clara's taking might be too much...

Whovian notes and questions:
1. Sonic glasses! Such a cool new idea, yet I am going to miss the screwdriver so much that I'm both for and against this change. What do you think?
2. What's next for Missy and the Daleks? Now that's a force to be reckoned with! Any theories, wishes to share?
3. How do you feel about this hybrid prophecy? And it's possible impact on the Doctor's decision to keep running all his life?
4. What characters/aliens would you love to see return next?
5. Any ideas about Clara's final episodes and where are the writers taking her character you'd like to share?

Memorable quotes:
1. Doctor: "You really are dying, aren’t you?"
Davros: "Look at me. Did you doubt it?"
Doctor: "Yes."
Davros: "Then we have established one thing only."
Doctor: "What?"
Davros: "You are not a good doctor."
2. Davros: "I … am dying, Doctor."
Doctor: "You keep saying that, you keep not dying."
3. Doctor: "Admit it, you've all had this exact nightmare."
4. Doctor: "Of course, the real question is, where did I get the cup of tea? Answer: I’m the Doctor, just accept it."
5. Clara: "Because I would never kill you. You are the last person I would ever kill."
6. Doctor: "One word. No, two words, actually. First word – moron. Second word – sewers."
7. Doctor: "I’m not sure any of that matters. Friends, enemies. So long as there’s mercy. Always mercy."

What did you think about "The Witch's Familiar"? Any favorite scenes, quotes or theories? Feel free to let us know in the comments. As always, 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.
Recent Reviews & Articles( All Reviews & Articles)