Lets start with the positive on this episode as it must be said, there were some misses, but still quite a bit to like and while this episode was not as good as The Magician’s Apprentice, it still moved forward in a fairly quick and interesting fashion.

While we all knew that Missy and Clara were not killed at the end of the previous episode, their means of escape from the Dalek’s was explained quite well and their interactions throughout the show were spot on. I especially liked the “view” that Clara had of the Doctor’s escape in a similar fashion and her explanation of his gift for similar escapes from other enemies in the past. Missy specifically while seeming “almost good” last episode, continued that trend here, but gradually and convincingly started to revert to type in a more and more demented fashion and started to remind me of the Joker in some weird and wonderful ways!

Similarly the Doctor and Davros’ conversations and interactions were exceedingly well done and you could absolutely get into it. While anyone would assume that Davros was bluffing and playing on the Doctor’s feelings, more and more throughout the episode, he managed to persuade you of the genuinness of his feelings and his eventual betrayal when it came, as well as how it came was a surprise.

Quick Recap

If you recall from last weeks episode, Clara and Missy were supposedly killed by the Daleks. Well this week starts with them explaining how they escaped (basically Missy had reprogrammed their teleportation devices to send them elsewhere when they were shot by the Daleks) and then discussing how they can break back into the city that is filled with murderous Daleks so that they can save the Doctor.

Entering the sewers of the city – Clara rightly asks, why do Daleks even have sewers? Missy informs her that the sewers are not for removing waste from the Daleks but as they are essentially immortal, when their shell decays the remnants of the Dalek pool in the sewers of the city. While they no longer have the ability to navigate and drive a Dalek shell/body – they still continue to hate as a Dalek and Missy uses this knowledge to trap and kill a Dalek that has come into the sewers searching for the intruder.

“genetically hardwired to keep on living, whatever happens”.

Placing Clara in the Dalek shell – with eerie similarities to Clara’s first appearance on the Doctor in epic Asylum of the Daleks – Clara is “taught” by Missy how to navigate and use the Dalek body. Scarily emotions and words like love and hate and exterminate are the tools that power the Daleks disintegration beams and Clara is quickly frightened by what she’s gotten herself into.

‘How are you supposed to make it go without pedals?’ Clara asked.
‘Telepathic control.’
But inside when she spoke, to her horror she found everything was automatically translated into Dalek-speak.
‘I am Clara Oswald’ came out as ‘I am a Dalek.’

Meanwhile the Doctor and Davros continue their repartee and in a short interlude it seems that the Doctor might have found a quick and easy way to escape when he removes Davros from his chair and uses it to taunt the Daleks in their control chamber.

‘Davros is an insane, paranoid, genius who has survived among several billion trigger-happy mini tanks for centuries,’ he told the army of Davros’ ‘children’. ‘Conclusion? I’m definitely having his chair!’

While this interlude is short, the interaction between the two in the latter half of the episode is both poignant and moving, and Davros particularly does an exceptional job in his portrayal of a dying madman that has seen the truth. When he opens his eyes – well I’ll be honest, thats a scene I NEVER expected to see!

Davros even wept as he asked: ‘I need to know before I go. Am I a good man?’

However, as we’ve come to expect from both the Doctor and his most bitter enemy, leopards just don’t change their spots and while the Doctor is seemingly trapped in his efforts to restore Davros to life so that he can see one more sunrise, in reality the Doctor has realized that its all a setup and trick. Bequething his Time Lord energy to Daleks, the Doctor has realized that its not going just to Davros and those Daleks still in their bodies, but to ALL Daleks on the planet including the bodies of millions and millions of quiescent Daleks that were previously only in the sewers.

generations of Daleks just woke up very cross and they are coming up the pipes ! This city is about to be sucked into the ground, your own sewer is about to consume you !’

Realizing that Clara is trapped in the Dalek shell when she utters the word “mercy”, the Doctor helps her get out. Missy meanwhile is forced to flee as while she’d saved the Doctor from Davros, she’d commited a more heinous crime when she attempted to trick him into killing Clara by pretending that the Dalek body she was inhabiting had actually been the one that killed her.

While we were left last week with the Doctor facing a young Davros seemingly about to destroy him, this week we see the conclusion to that and the Doctor instead exterminates the handmines and saves Davros’ life. The boy wanted to know if was a friend or an enemy though.

‘I’m not sure any of that matters – friends, enemies..’ the Doctor assured him. ‘So long as there’s mercy.’

No!!! Not the Sonic Screwdriver!!

Overall a bit of a mixed feelings here. I mean the first and most obvious thing that must be said here, is that millions of toys around the world have now been consigned to the dustbin of history and I’m sure whole factories full of toy makers are cursing the BBC and Moffat for what he’s done in this most recent episode. If you recall from last week’s episode (The Magician’s Apprentice), the Doctor had given his Sonic Screwdriver to a young Davros, well now its gone (perhaps for good?) and has been replaced by “wearable technology” – sonic (?) sunglasses! I’ll be honest, that’s one thing I really didn’t like – if they wanted to introduce a new line of toys or gadgets, wouldn’t a smartwatch have made more sense? Sunglasses while admittadly cool, just aren’t the right tool in certain situations and just don’t make sense. Of course, in terms of a (secret) grand reveal it’s quite appropriate, as I’m sure everyone was rightfully surprised when it happened! As Capaldi has been featured wearing these shades in episodes being filmed for the remainder of Season 9, it can be assumed that they are here to stay – at least for this season & while the Sonic “Screwdriver” was most definitely not a screwdriver, its a gadget that I will personally miss.

Finally this episode has done nothing more than reenergize the Daleks as while it might seem they are setback by the muck from the sewers, we all know they will be back and if the Doctor knew that Davros was pretending, he’s done nothing more than give him additional life which seems a bit wrong to me? In addition, the same can be said of Missy couldn’t it? She’s an excellent character and I really love the spin she’s brought to the show, but previous iterations of Who had done what they could to stop her … here, he’s just told her to go away. Seems like a bit of a cop out.

Overall I didn’t love this one as much as I did the previous episode. There was some good stuff for sure, but the negatives in my opinion did more to hurt it.

Loved it, loved it, loved it!  Many girlish squeals of joy also! 🙂  Now that we’ve got that out of the way, lets get down to it shall we?  There was just so much to enjoy and love in this episode I know that I’m going to miss something however I’ll try to cover the high points and would appreciate any reminders for things I might have missed in the comments below.

The first thing that struck me right from the start is that this episode is definitely being shown in a “Star Wars year” as one of the earliest scenes is of an alien wandering through a bar that reminds me of nothing else but the Mos Eisley Cantina on Tatooine.  Literally snaking through the crowd (this reference will be made clear later) we see the Oood and other familiar characters from Dr. Who lore, however most important perhaps is the search that this mysterious hooded figure is on.

Colony Sarff (looking very much like a Sith Master – another reference to Star Wars) is on the hunt for the Doctor and when he’s unable to find him in all of his regular jaunts, he returns to his master … Davros.  Davros it seems has remembered something, something important and something about the Doctor.  What you may ask?  Well that was actually answered in one of the coolest prologues I’ve ever seen!

In the prologue, the Doctor comes across a little boy on a war torn land.  Similar to other rescues that we’ve seen him make countless times before, this looks like just another run of the mill encounter.  The boy however is stuck in a field with “hand mines” that are one of the more interesting and gruesome weapons provided by Doctor Who.  Able to literally suck a person into the ground to their doom, they are able to see people to attack and while the Doctor is good at saving people, you really need to wonder how he’s going to make this miracle happen?

The answer in this case however, is that he isn’t! The boy it turns out is someone we all know and hate – Davros the creator of the Daleks himself is the one trapped in the field of hands and the Doctor surmises that by leaving him to die, he can possibly change the path of the future and save trillions from extermination.

Silly Doctor … this time he forgot that Davros himself must be a fixed point in time … the creator of the Daleks cannot be killed by non-action.  The Doctor really only has two choices here … either kill Davros or save him.  Unfortunately neither option guarantees that the Dalek’s still won’t be built.

However, Davros himself is not the only villain in this episode … perhaps the one that we all loved and hated the most … the Master in his female incarnation Missy is back! If you recall from the episode Death in Heaven (the Season 8 finale) – Missy was seemingly disintegrated by one of the Cybermen – somehow the Doctor’s finest foe resurrected herself (“Ok,” she deadpans. “Cutting to the chase. Not dead. Back. Big surprise. Never mind.”), and now she really wants to be considered more of friend. At least a frenemy.

The Master/Missy has always been a character right on the edge of sanity – while the Dalek’s are simply evil incarnate, the Master has always been someone that could have been on the side of light if things had just gone just a little bit differently.  With the return of Missy in The Magician’s Apprentice, we see a capricious foe, one that while still an enemy of the Doctor is also perhaps his oldest and truest friend and from what we’ve seen over the previous seasons – this is actually somewhat true!  I’d be the first to acknowledge that the Master was always one of the Doctor’s greatest foes, however was he not in some ways made this way due to the meddling of the Time Lords?

 

When she (Missy) stops all the planes in the world to get Clara’s attention & likens her to a dog that is being walked by a nearby couple, it’s supremely classic and in some ways give you the best indication of how the Time Lords (perhaps including the Doctor himself) see us.  Pets to be cared for and nurtured, but ones that they are infinitely superior to – not only in knowledge, but also in ability and determination.  With Clara’s help, Missy is able to track the Doctor down who has been hiding in the renaissance era, this is probably the weakest part of the episode as while it’s fun to watch, its nothing more than a rip-off of Back to the Future & while some of the aforementioned scenes also rip-off other movies/shows, they are done in a way that is subtle, whereas this is definitely not!

Missy however is nothing more than brilliant in this scene and it’s probably one of her strongest ones on screen.  While she was excellent in her conversation with Clara, her she is sublime.  She plays the perfect foil to the Doctor and his over the top ego & acts as the villain to his hero in his ramblings to the crowd.  She’s just amazing and I can’t wait to see what else she brings to the screen this season!

Sarff arrives while Missy and the Doctor are interacting and while Missy is trying to get the Doctor to answer the question of why he sent her his will and why he thinks he’s dying, Sarff tells him that Davros has remembered & the Doctor immediately goes white.  As both Clara and Missy point out, its a new look for him – one of shame.

Taken to a citadel seemingly hovering in space, the Doctor meets up with Davros and while the scenes and conversations of all of Davros’ previous encounters with various incarnations of the Doctor play on the screen – including the brilliant Genesis of the Daleks with Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor – Peter Capaldi seems up to the challenge of replacing this memory in all of our minds.  When Clara and Missy discover the the citadel is not actually hovering in space, but is in fact on the surface of Skaros – the home planet of the Daleks themselves, well that’s where the plot really thickens!

While Missy tries to persuade the Daleks that she should be their new leader & help them take over all of space and time with the aid of the TARDIS, they are less than interested and proceed to EXTERMINATE her, followed by Clara and the TARDIS while the Doctor looks on in horror.  While you might think that was a suitable cliff hanger to leave us on till next week, its not over yet – the Doctor appears back on that war torn battlefield with the little boy … this time however it seems he’s made a decision and its not to save the boy but rather to kill him & perhaps end the reign of the Daleks before they even begin!

Ohhh, boy … this was definitely a good one and if the rest of the season matches this episode in terms of story and production values, we’re in for a very exciting journey.  This episode has the potential already to be one of my favorite ones, possibly second to the Doctors Wife.  Can’t wait till next week!