Doctor Who, Season 9, Episode 1 (The Magician’s Apprentice).
Last year, Doctor Who debated whether the Doctor is a good man; now we see the Doctor arguably at his darkest. How far would the Doctor go to save those he loves? Deep Breath hinted that the Doctor would be willing to kill to rescue his loved ones and now The Magician’s Apprentice climaxes with the same decision.
Season 9 returns with a bang as it shares a cinematic direction similar to many other Blockbuster science fiction films. As the opening shot pans across a chaotic battlefield, it’s clear that the episode would take a different direction than from what’d we’d usually see in a Doctor Who episode. Not only does director Hettie Macdonald create a visual treat, but Moffat also manages to forge various different locations and plot-lines into one thrilling episode.
Davros is back, Missy (The Master) is back, The Doctor fears he’ll die and UNIT works alongside Clara to locate the missing Doctor. All four points could essentially work itself as a singular episode, yet somehow Moffat successfully works all of these into The Magician’s Apprentice. What makes all these separate plot pieces wonderfully converge into one episode is how the Daleks fits perfectly into the episode. Ironically the Doctor has been previously labelled as “a good Dalek”, despite his ongoing feud with them, the Doctor shares the same Dalek mind-set to exterminate. In revealing that the Doctor had crossed paths with Davros as a child (hence creating Davros to be who he is today), it’s clear why the Doctor and the Daleks are often seen as similar.
Michelle Gomez returning as Missy will probably be the best highlight of Season 9. The energetic performance as a psychotic killer/arch nemesis/the Doctor’s best friend is a welcome return from her debut from Season 9. Unfortunately Clara loses her interesting touch from last season; she’s become too experienced as the Doctor’s companion that there is no apparent fault with the character. She’s an idyllic companion for the Doctor, but a bore for the fans. Missy seems to bring something new as we can never tell where she stands – is she friend or foe?
But what becomes the stand-out moment in the episode is the cliffhanger – one which shares the style of a typical Russell T Davies cliffhanger. Considering the opening of the episode, it was somewhat obvious that the episode could conclude as such, but it’s astonishing to see the Doctor actually in that situation. So how far does the Doctor go to save those he loves? We’ll find out next week in The Witch’s Familiar.