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:

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!

Doctor Who Season 9 Premiere: "The Magician's Apprentice" Recap (Spoilers)

The episode opens in the middle of a war fought with differing levels of technology, ie, aircraft vs bow and arrows, which is very reminiscent of The Hunger Games.  One of the soldiers notices a little boy stuck in an area that’s full of “hand mines”.  Get it?  It’s a funny little play on “land mines” only it’s “hand mines”, only wait, no, there’s nothing funny about it at all because hands come up out of the ground and drag you down to your death, which is actually a little terrifying.  Oh, and the palms of the hands have eyes on them, similar to the guy from Pan’s Labyrinth.

The soldier gets pulled underground and that’s the last we see of that guy, so now we have the point of view of the child, who is in the middle of a field of hands, and he’s pretty much done for.  Of course, it’s at this point the Doctor shows up, tosses the kid his sonic screwdriver, and gives him a pep talk.  The Doctor asks the kid his name, and he tells him it’s Davros, his longtime enemy and creator of the Daleks, and the Doctor proceeds to immediately freak out.  I guess there was no chance it was a case of mistaken identity (“Oh no, that’s Davros Jones.  I’m Davros Smith.”), and there’s only one Davros in all of time and space.  Ok, that’s just me being nitpicky because I know it’s the same Davros, you know it’s the same Davros, and the Doctor knows it’s the same Davros.

Then the opening credits roll.  All this stuff is in the cold open.

We come back to a robed, hooded, snake-like creature going through time and space asking people where the Doctor is, saying Davros has a message for him:  “Davros knows.  Davros remembers, and the Doctor must face him one last time.”  The Doctor is hiding at one of the places and gets the message.

Back on Earth, Clara is teaching class when she notices a plane frozen in the sky.  She has her students get on social media to be part of the conversation over the frozen planes, and she leaves to consult with UNIT.

Clara meets up with the head of UNIT, Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, but not before Kate gets to say the line,”Tell the President I’ll call him back”, thus establishing how important she is.  Clara, Kate, and an as of yet unnamed UNIT scientist (if she has a name, I apologize – I didn’t catch it) discuss the frozen plane phenomenon.  After the obligatory and obvious “This is beyond human technology” line buy the scientist lady, Clara deduces that someone is trying to send a message, but who?

Then a message comes through the Doctor’s private channel, which he never uses.  It turns out it’s Missy, who isn’t dead after all, which is explained by, well, a non-explanation.  Missy reveals she’s the one behind the planes being frozen and arranges a meeting with Clara.

Missy and Clara, accompanied by several teams of UNIT agents, meet at an outdoor cafe.  The agents hang back and Clara sits at a table with Missy, and Missy reveals to Clara the Doctor’s confession dial, which, per Time Lord custom, is sent to a Time Lord’s closest friend on the eve of their final day, with the closest friend being Missy, and the day in question being the current day.  

Because of this, Missy has been looking for the Doctor, but hasn’t had any success in finding him, so she wants to use Clara and UNIT to find find the Doctor.  Clara then asks Missy if she’s supposed to believe that Missy has turned good now, although why Clara even thought that’s what Missy was trying to convey is a little beyond me, you know, with the whole freezing the planes thing.  Since there weren’t any puppies around to kick, Missy murders two UNIT agents to reassure Clara that no, she in fact is not “good”.

Together they come to the conclusion that the Doctor is somewhere on Earth, but exactly where and when is what they need to find out, which they do using a UNIT algorithm.  Once this is discovered, Missy transports herself and Clara to that time and place – medieval England.

There’s some type of event going on in an arena, where a challenger with an axe is preparing to face the reigning champion, the “Magician”.  It’s revealed that the Magician is none other than the Doctor (shocker!), and he rides in on a tank and playing an electric guitar.  

The Doctor gives a rambling speech, as the Doctor generally does, and when he notices Clara and Missy, he calls them down into the arena and introduces them to the crowd.  In the middle of this, the snake guy from earlier in the episode shows up and demands that the Doctor come with him to see Davros.  Initially the Doctor refuses, but the snake guy threatens the lives of the people there, so the Doctor agrees to go as long as no one gets hurt.  Against the Doctor’s wishes, Missy and Clara volunteer to be taken captive as well, so the snake guy takes them too.

It’s revealed that the arena challenger with the axe had been converted into one of the humanoid disguises for the the Daleks, and he finds the TARDIS, which the Daleks then confiscate.

The Doctor, Missy, and Clara get taken to a space station/hospital type place, because apparently Davros is dying.  The snake guy drops Missy and Clara off in a prison cell area and takes the Doctor to see Davros.

While the Doctor and Davros are chatting about life, mortality, philosophy and generally catching up like old friends, Missy realizes that they’re not on a space station, but on a planet instead.  She opens the door and her and Clara walk out into what seems like empty space, but as they adjust to their surroundings it becomes clear that Missy is correct, and they are on a planet, but not just any planet – Skaro, the planet of the Daleks, believed to have been destroyed.  Missy is surprised, and for the first time, seems a little horrified by this, and the Doctor, who has been viewing this with Davros, is even more horrified.

The Doctor and Davros continue to watch as Missy and Clara are recaptured by the Daleks, and brought into a room where they are keeping the TARDIS.  Missy tries to make a deal with the Daleks, telling them she can help them use the TARDIS to go through time and space to carry out their agenda of mass extermination.  However, the Daleks really don’t care about any of this and seemingly kill Missy.  Then Clara.  Then the TARDIS.

The episode ends back where it began – with little boy Davros in the field with the “hand mines”, with the Doctor reappearing.  Only this time, he has what appears to be a Dalek gun/cannon thing, with the apparent intention of “exterminating” Davros, before any of this ever happens.  What’s next?  We’ll find out next week!