Alright Iggles, Season 9 is officially here! What did we all think of The Magician’s Apprentice? Let me preface my recap by saying that overall, I liked this episode. One word description would be “fun”. That being said, there were some things that really bothered me, but not enough to stop me from really enjoying the episode. Let’s dive in, shall we?
So the biggest problem I had was how there was no explanation whatsoever for Missy’s return. You may remember I mentioned being apprehensive that Missy was back. Not because I don’t like her character, but because even Doctor Who has to operate within a world with rules. In explaining herself, I think Missy actually said the phrase “not dead” at one point along with “dying is something that other people do”. That’s not a good explanation! If a character can simply pop back whenever, you run the risk of loosing all dramatic tension, which is exactly what happened for me this week. It seems like the Daleks really did kill Clara and Missy, but there’s no doubt in my mind that both of them are coming back. Because we already know that Jenna Coleman will be back for episodes later in the season, and apparently dying is something that Missy doesn’t do. Based on how the episode ended, the tension is not meant to be if Clara and Missy will be saved, but if The Doctor will be able to bring them back without killing bitty-baby Davros. It is nice to see The Doctor wrestle with the big moral questions, and this regeneration has a history of acting in favor of the greater good, so it will be interesting to see what he chooses.
Speaking of Davros, what a callback! The last time he appeared was way back in Season 4! The call backs were nice, but to be completely honest I had forgotten who Davros was, and almost everything about The Dalek’s planet! There was a lot of frantic Googling on my part to get caught up.
The snake man was kind of strange until his face moved at which point he suddenly became the creepiest character ever, but I didn’t understand why Davros was employing him. The Daleks do not have allies. They can clearly disguise themselves enough to avoid The Doctor’s detection, so I didn’t understand why they needed a middle-man. I really did like that we got a chance to see into the origin of the Daleks, I have never thought of them as little tanks before. After that comparison (aided with being able to see an actual tank) it does make the Daleks more terrifying. I have never found them visually intimidating, but if I think of them bearing in mind that each one is a tank, they’re scary.
This brings me to The Doctor’s entrance shredding on a guitar, riding on a tank, into a Medieval axe fight. At first it seemed weird and self-indulgent, but thankfully there was a structural reason for The Doctor’s behavior. He thought he was dying, so he became a modern rock star in the Middle Ages. As you do. Things have definitely made less sense before in Doctor Who, so as far as this goes I’m ok with it. It did take me a while to get into the scene, because I honestly thought they were in Medieval Times or some dinner show theater instead of the real Middle Ages! It didn’t seem to me like it was real life and I didn’t even realize that they were outside until probably the fourth shot of Missy and Clara looking down on The Doctor, which was when I noticed there were stars behind them.
Now, let’s talk about Missy. I really like that there is no more sexual stuff between her and The Doctor. While last season it seemed like she was flirting just so that there would be flirting, I think this episode did a pretty good job of establishing that that’s just her personality. Her flirtatious comments combined with the skipping, singing, and random gunmen-zapping really cemented her as a wild card. I just think that traveling with Missy would be so much fun. I want just one episode of her and The Doctor without anyone else. I mean if she’s back, let’s use her, because she’s a great character. I just really want an explanation of why she’s back first. I’ve said before that I think Peter Capaldi needs his own characters, instead of recycling those from past seasons, and Missy seems to be the first, so that’s kind of great.
I realized I haven’t talked about Clara yet! Last season really was all about her, and this episode it was really nice to see her in charge. She really was in control of all those gunmen, when they were confronting Missy, and it was great to see her interact with the other female characters at the military base. She also called the Doctor out on his lies, which was amazing. Sometimes the companions don’t hold The Doctor accountable for his actions, but I’m glad that Clara is not going to let The Doctor get away with lying.
I have one last question; why was this episode called the Magician’s Apprentice? Am I missing something really obvious here? The next episode is called The Witches Familiar, and I bet you that they are both referring to the same person, so I am looking forward to figuring that one out. My guess is Clara.
Overall I liked this episode better than the last two episodes from Season 8 and so much better than Deep Breath. As much as I hate that this ended on a cliffhanger, I do appreciate that we are jumping right into major action. As a final thought, I thought the hand-mines were absolutely terrifying and I loved them.
Let me know what you guys think and check out this thread in the forums to chime in!