Doctor Who Season 9, Episode 2: "The Witch's Familiar" Recap (Spoilers)

Remember how in the previous episode it seemed like Missy and Clara were killed, but nobody bought that for even a second?  Well, this episode thankfully doesn’t waste any time with the charade and in the opening scene, Missy explains how she got Clara and herself out alive, as well as explained how she survived being vaporized in the previous season’s finale.  She does so by telling a story of how the Doctor once used enemy fire to recharge a teleporter to both escape, as well as make it appear as if he was killed, causing his pursuers to stop looking for him.  So she used the same trick with her and Clara’s vortex manipulators.

The whole time Missy has been sharpening a stick, and Clara has been hanging upside down because Missy tied her up with a rope, and one has to ask, “Where did the rope come from?!”, which is never answered.  Missy cuts Clara down and they discuss a few things, then they set off to the Dalek…city?  Complex?  Base?  All three?  They set off for the buildings that have the Daleks in them, in order to save the Doctor.

Back in Davros’ chamber, he monologues while the Doctor rummages around and finds a Dalek gun and threatens Davros with it.  The Doctor kicks Davros out of his chair and Davros sounds the alarm.  The Doctor, in Davros’ chair, rolls into the Dalek command chamber brandishing the gun and asking what happened to Clara, to which the Daleks hesitatingly respond that Clara is, in fact, actually dead.  Then the snake guy (Upon rewatching I realized that while they mentioned him by name multiple times, I completely missed it, so bad on me.  His name is Colony Sarff.) who was all over the previous episode, is able to wrap a bunch of snakes around the Doctor and recapture him.

At this time, Missy and Clara are going through what Missy refers to as the Dalek sewers, and they come to a hole in the ground, which Missy pushes Clara into so as to determine the depth.  (It’s very predictable, but it fits the character and I thought it was funny.)  Because of the fall, Clara is able to get the pointy stick and threatens Missy with it, to which Missy’s response is to immediately turn her back to Clara to see if Clara would make good on her threat, which of course she doesn’t.  Missy then superspeeds (I didn’t realize she could do that) up to Clara and snatches the stick from her hand.

As they make it to a detection system in the sewer, Missy explains that to Daleks, a sewer is essentially the same thing as a graveyard, and that they are surrounded by countless decaying Daleks.  Missy then handcuffs Clara to the detection system to use her as bait.  (Side note:  Missy carries around a lot of interesting random things.) 

A Dalek comes up to respond to the alarm, and Missy pokes holes in it with her superbroach made of dark star alloy, which is just a fancy way of saying it can poke holes in a Dalek.  The holes in the Dalek tank allow the decaying Dalek goo stuff to get into the tank and kill the Dalek inside, which is a plot point I never fully understood, but I guess it has something to do with the Dalek Goo (that’s what I’m calling it now) being vengeful toward the other Daleks.  

The recaptured Doctor awakens in a chair, once again in Davros’ chamber.  Davros tells the Doctor he should be thankful because that chair is the only one on Skaro, which brings up another unanswered question, “Who is it for?!”.  Davros draws the Doctor’s attention to a device in the middle of the room that has a bunch of cables attached, and explains that he’s been able to prolong his life this long by means of a life link that feeds Davros the life force of all the Daleks on Skaro.

Davros then tries to goad the Doctor into killing him and all of the Daleks by ripping the cables, calling it “genocide by choice”, which of course the Doctor doesn’t do, but not after considering it for a while.  Davros then asks the Doctor why he even showed up, considering their history and how dangerous it would be, to which the Doctor’s response was, “You’re sick, and you asked”, which kicks off some verbal sparring about the pros and cons of compassion.

Down in the sewer, Missy gets Clara to crawl inside the Dalek tank and interface with it.  How she was able to convince Clara to do this, I’ll never understand, and honestly, I think it’s a little insulting to the character.  Nevertheless, this is what happens.  When Clara speaks, she’s unable to say certain things because of some sort of filter in the system.  For example, “I am Clara” comes out as “I am a Dalek”, and “I love you” comes out as, of course, “Exterminate!”.  Also, getting emotional evidently fires the weapon, too.

Over the course of the conversation between the Doctor and Davros, the Doctor informs Davros that he was able to bring Gallifrey back and that the Time Lords are alive and well, even though he doesn’t really know where they are.  Then Davros, in one of the most out of character moments of all time, congratulates the Doctor and tells him that he’s genuinely happy for him.  Then, a bit more in character, he advises the Doctor to do whatever is necessarity and be as ruthless as possible to protect his people, which leads to this exchange:

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.

Then the Doctor and Davros, two bitter enemies for untold centuries, laugh it up and pretty much become buddies.

Missy and Clara, disguised as a Dalek, do the whole Trojan Prisoner routine, and they pretend that Clara is escorting Missy to be detained.  They make it to the Dalek command chamber once again, and Missy demands to see Davros, stating that she has a gift for him – Clara Oswald, and through this, control of the Doctor.

While Davros and the Doctor are having touching moments together, Davros laments his inability to make it to see one last sunrise with his own eyes, instead of the mechanical glowing eye in the middle of his forehead he had been using.  (Fun fact:  I never realized that’s what that was.  Maybe I’m just slow.) 

The Doctor rigs Davros up with the cables in an effort to keep Davros alive long enough to see the aforementioned sunrise, but it’s just too little, too late.  Davros then really lays it on with the statement that just once, he wishes he and the Doctor had been on the same side.  At this point, the Doctor decides to lend some of his regeneration energy to Davros (Really?!  Really?!  You’re giving regeneration energy to Space Hitler?). 

So the Doctor gets into the device with the cables and starts pumping in regeneration energy, but is immediately seized by Colony Sarff and locked into the device, which Davros then uses to regenerate himself and the Daleks along with him, creating Dalek/Time Lord hybrids, which, as we find out, has been Davros’ plan all along.  Who would have thought that the most evil person in space in time would be such a shady guy?

Missy realizes what’s happening and breaks into the chamber, shoots up the device, and the Doctor is able to get out, but it’s too late, and Davros starts gloating once again about how great his victory is and how the Doctor has failed and blah blah blah, the same usual Davros stuff.

But wait, while the whole time Davros was working his brilliant master plan and manipulating the Doctor, the Doctor knew what was happening and was in turn manipulating events himself, which is a little ridiculous and reminds me of this:

 (Full version here: http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=1582)

What the Doctor realized that Davros didn’t account for, was that the regeneration energy would work on the Dalek Goo in the sewer, which then proceeds to bubble up through the pipes and kill the Daleks.  After the Doctor and Missy make fun of Davros for being a moron, they make their escape.

They encounter Clara in the Dalek tank and Missy lies, saying that it’s the Dalek that killed Clara and that the Doctor should kill it.  Clara is unable to tell the Doctor that it’s her because of the filter, but the Doctor figures it out when she’s able to get the word “mercy” to come through, because a Dalek shouldn’t be able understand the concept. 

Clara says she can’t get out, so the Doctor tells her to think the word “open” in order to open the tank.  So you mean to tell me, this whole time she was trapped in the Dalek tank, she never once thought the word “open”?  Really?  Clara’s reputation and cleverness really took a beating this episode.

The Doctor tells Missy to run, which she does.  She gets surrounded by Daleks, then claims to have a really “clever idea”, which is the last we see of her.

The Doctor and Clara make it to the Dalek command chamber and he uses his new “sonic sunglasses” to reassemble the TARDIS from HADS (Hostile Action Displacement System) mode, which basically is a way to explain why it looked like it had been blown to bits, but really wasn’t.  Then he and Clara peace out, leaving the Daleks to their fate.

The Doctor realizes he has one last thing to do – he goes back to little boy Davros trapped in the hand mines from the previous episode, rescues him, and really drives home the point of how important mercy is.  This allows for there to be the tiniest understanding of mercy to exist within the Daleks, thereby allowing the Doctor to recognize Clara in the Dalek tank and save her, as he did earlier, thus creating a stable time loop.

All in all, a very interesting opening story to kick off the season.  I can’t wait to see what’s to come!

Tony P. Henderson

Tony P. Henderson is a well traveled army brat who loves comedy and geek culture. After a stint in Los Angeles testing video games, performing comedy, and background acting Tony moved back to Georgia and hasn’t missed a Dragon Con since.

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