The Magician’s Apprentice

 

Missy receives the Doctor’s will and recruits Clara to help find him. But they are not the only ones hunting for the missing Time Lord.

The Magician’s Apprentice is preceded by two short episodes, the Prologue:

And The Doctor’s Meditation.

 

The Doctor’s chance encounter with the young Davros echoes the idea of him shaping another character’s future by imprinting on the child. The Eleventh Doctor’s post-regeneration meeting with young Amelia gave her a childhood obsession with him. In Listen it is suggested that the Twelfth Doctor gave Danny the inspiration for joining the Army. Here, the Time Lord inadvertantly instils the overwhelming will for survival into his arch-nemesis Davros. One that will ultimately lead to him designing survival machines for his entire race. It also brings to mind Sardick from A Christmas Carol. This episode seems to follow the same logic, with a character’s timeline being fluid enough for the Doctor to affect established events  by travelling back in time.

Always two there are. A Master, and a magician’s Apprentice.

The episode bursts with invention, from the hand mines to Davros’ servant, Colony Sarff. When he looms over the Doctor and friends at the castle I actually thought he might be a new manifestation of the Mara, in an episode with so many nods to the past. Steven Moffat really paints on a huge canvas, showing the vast universe of planets and races the Doctor inhabits. In common with the series since he took over, the Daleks are an empire he occasionally has skirmishes with, rather than utterly destroying the ones he meets each time. Like the Cybermen in A Good Man Goes to War. I quite like that Davros is still there, infamous throughout space.

It’s great to see Michelle Gomez back as Missy, and doing interesting new things with the character. I always enjoy seeing the Master in unusual situations, like unwilling Scientific Adviser to UNIT in The Claws of Axos. Here she convinces as being every bit as resourceful as the Doctor, while shaking Clara out of her complacent belief in how close she is to the Doctor. It’s probably just what was needed to stop the smugness of series 2 Rose setting in. Missy tests the gravity with the exaggerated strides, echoing the Doctor doing the same in Kill the Moon.

Making an even more welcome return is Julian Bleach as Davros, making the dying villain’s scenes with the Doctor incredibly compelling. It’s nice to see that he’s acquired a Time-Space Visualiser of his own (having the standard round screen and ability to view events there were no cameras present for), so he can spend his last days reliving past glories.

 

The story continues the excellent groundwork of the previous series, exploring interesting moral questions.  This time the question the Fourth Doctor poses in Genesis of the Daleks about killing an innocent child to stop the monster he will become is explored. In this case possibly a monster of his own making. The final scene forcefully reminds us of this incarnations early manifesto:

“I’ve made many mistakes. It’s about time I did something about that.”

.

Order Series 9 on DVD:

Doctor Who – Series 9 Part 1 [DVD]

On Blu-Ray:

Doctor Who – Series 9 Part 1 [Blu-ray]

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