Doctor Who, Season 9, Episode 2 (The Witches Familiar).
Since the 2005 revival of Doctor Who, the Dalek’s seasonal return has become a tiresome plot-element. Yet with Davros and the Daleks back on-screen, their threat level literally regenerates as the final act of The Witches Familiar takes an unexpected turn.
To help regenerate interest with the Daleks, we needed an in-depth analysis of the creature’s thought process. Missy hooks Clara up to a Dalek shell (you may recall this isn’t an Oswald’s first time as a Dalek); but somehow this allows us to see a new side to the Daleks. Missy explains the Daleks channel their emotions into screaming “EXTERMINATE!”, which brings to question if every other Dalek mutant have had different emotional reactions other than wanting to exterminate? As the audience, we’ve always seen the Daleks simply as the villain; yet now there’s a chance there’s more to the notorious enemies than we’ve previously understood.
Julian Bleach performs amazingly as Davros. Despite all of the restrictive prosthetics, Bleach manages to convey both a compassionate and menacing side to Davros. The beauty of Davros in this two-parter is that he’s vastly different from the usual villain we’ve seen. Sure, some of us may have predicted that Davros wasn’t actually dying in The Magician’s Apprentice, but the drastic change in the character where him and The Doctor appear to be the best of friends really is a heartwarming scene. Any relationship the Doctor has with someone is bound to be complex. The Master for example constantly reminds us that the two used to be really close, and despite all their rivalry there’s always a sign of that friendship between them. It was odd to see Davros and The Doctor at this similar level of rivalry and friendship, yet it was a perfect idea by Moffat to mislead the audience from The Dalek’s true intentions.
“Your compassion is your downfall”.
In the previous episode, the Doctor questioned “who created Davros?”. The answer was obviously the Doctor. Had the Doctor not been compassionate, he wouldn’t have saved Davros as a child, Davros wouldn’t have made the Daleks and the majority of the last 50 years wouldn’t have taken place. There’s an interesting parallel between the Doctor and Davros; both are seen as leaders of their people, and both have suffered from the same moral dilemma. As Davros questions whether he’s a good man, we cannot help but compare Davros to the Doctor. As it appears, deep down, Davros also shares some compassion. Perhaps had the Daleks been created without feeling mercy, they would also be victorious. In some capacity, the Doctor, Davros and the Daleks are all the same, and what links them together is their tendency to rule, kill and feel compassionate.
The Magician’s Apprentice & The Witches Familiar plays as a wonderful two-parter opening to Season 9 of Doctor Who. The Daleks are now seen as menacing again, Missy remains an unpredictable joy and we witness a fast-paced and enticing storyline. If the rest of Season 9 continues with the same mix of humour and suspense as the opening episodes did, we’re all in for a treat.