You are here

The Magician's Apprentice

ShowDoctor Who / Series IX / Episode 1
First Broadcast2015/09/20 - 19:40 (Link: ABC Details)
Related LinksDoctor Who Wiki Wikipedia
Previous EpisodeLast Christmas
Next EpisodeThe Witch's Familiar

We begin with a question that seems so obvious in hindsight. There's a war going on and the Doctor drops in, ostensibly to save a boy trapped in a mine-field (hand-mines - brilliant). Fairly typical fare until the boy reveals his name: Davros. As the Doctor asks later, "Davros created the Daleks, but who created Davros?" Why have we never looked at Davros' back-story before? The Doctor is clearly torn and abandons the boy leaving behind his sonic screwdriver. Is this the cause of the fear that drove Davros?

Fast-forward to the future and the Doctor is nowhere to be found. Davros has sent his emissary, the creepy Colony Sarff to find the Doctor for one last meeting. Sarff lays a trap via the Doctor's friends - Missy and Clara. Eventually they all end up on Skaro. Here things go off-balance. The Daleks exterminate Missy. And then Clara. And finally they destroy the TARDIS. What is the point? Meanwhile, the cliff-hanger reveals the Doctor has somehow escaped and is going to exterminate Davros as a boy to prevent the future and save his friends. Most un-characteristic.

There's plenty to chew on during this episode. Exactly who is Clara to the Doctor? He sends his Confession Dial to Missy, not Clara. Clara is put out by this and we do wonder what exactly is the Doctor's and the Master's relationship. Missy's explanation doesn't quite stack up for mine.

Missy is not dead. Hardly a surprise - the Master never seems to die. Clara dies again (for the third time). Just how will that be undone?

A strong focus on the Doctor and his past. What has the Doctor done that he is so ashamed of? Is it abandoning Davros as a child? Or is there something else?

Lots of good humour: Missy threatening to scratch Davros' eye out. Axe fight - hah! The Doctor's entrance on a tank playing guitar. The music selections, eg. Oh, Pretty Woman. Anachronisms.

Lots of references. Star Wars seemed to crop up a few times. The bar scene is reminiscent. As is coming out of hyperspace. Davros is now a Dark Lord. (Or is that Harry Potter?)

Lots of bits from past episodes, eg. the Shadow Proclamation, a human with a Dalek eye-stalk, Karn, an Ood, a Sycorax, a Hath.

Lots of references to past incarnations of the Doctor including actual footage of their meetings with Davros. The humdinger is the 4th Doctor pondering meeting a cruel dictator as a child and the opportunity to kill them. I don't know if that was brilliant writing back then or something that has been brilliantly exploited now. Probably the latter. Very clever.

The UNIT thing early on was a bit off. Suddenly Clara is giving orders and Kate is subservient and lost for ideas. This seems out of step with what has gone before.

Overall a very good episode with lots to pay attention to. No idea how this will turn out in part 2.