Doctor Who: The Magician’s Apprentice

Season 9 of Doctor Who has finally started with the first episode of a 2-arc story titled “The Magicians’ Apprentice“. Doctor Who is one of the few shows where I review and recap each single episode. So SPOILERS!!! If you haven’t watched the episode yet, proceed with caution!


So, after finishing the episode, my first thought was “What the heck did I just watch?”. As a fair warning here, I don’t give myself a lot of processing time after an episode, I just jump right into writing the review. Sometimes I’ll even have changed my opinion a little by the time I get up the next morning. However, this way you definitely get my uncensored and unfiltered first thoughts.

What was the episode about?

War wherever you look, in the middle of it a child. Creepy handmines (mines made out of hands with eyes that grab you and suck you into the earth) have trapped said child in the middle of nowhere. He is crying for help and lo and behold who shows up: The Doctor. He asks the child for his name, who is the boy that won’t die today? Davros. (Yeah, I didn’t see that coming either)
Meanwhile in the presence: The Doctor is in hiding, no one knows where to find him. There is a mysterious guy made of snakes looking for him. Clara is off teaching when suddenly every plane on the planet is frozen in the air and she rushes off to help UNIT solve the mystery. Turns out Missy isn’t dead but needed Clara’s attention because she received the Doctor’s confession dial (a sort of last will that gets delivered to his best friend shortly before his death, but doesn’t open until he is dead). Missy and Clara team up to find the Doctor partying in the 12th century and all of him is invited. But he can no longer escape snake-guy, who’s employer is Davros.
“Davros knows, Davros remembers.”
They head off to meet with him, but it turns out it was all a trap so that the Daleks could get to the TARDIS. The Doctor, Clara and Missy are all brought to Skaro where Twelve finally has to face Davros. Meanwhile Clara and Missy go exploring and find out about the Daleks having the TARDIS. They exterminate Clara and Missy.
The Doctor travels back in time to young and deserted Davros to kill him in order to save his friends.

My thoughts?

Unfortunately, I didn’t love it. In fact, I have very mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, some of the dialogue was really great and funny. I am definitely going to try and use the “Pardon my sci fi.”-remark sometime soon in the future. Also, it had a handful of references, which I probably didn’t catch in their entirety, because I am still not as familiar with the original episodes as I should be, but that were still awesome. It was fast-paced and definitely not a soft opener. They did have my attention the moment the kid said his name was Davros.

On the other hand, this felt like a very lengthy prequel. (Which I know, it kind of was with being the first part of a 2-episode storyline …) Still, it felt strange. Twelve was basically missing the first half of the episode, even though I was hoping he’d be more front and center this time around. Clara clearly had no lingering grief for Danny and was just living her life as a teacher and UNIT agent (and apparently she’s bi now?). Missy isn’t dead, even though it is not explained how she survived. Yet everyone was basically dead and the TARDIS destroyed by the end of the episode. And the Doctor was aboutΒ to do something that would change history forever. But Davros is in the next episode, so he couldn’t have killed him … I mean, he wouldn’t shoot a child in the face, would he? This was just confusing to no end.

So, as I said, I didn’t like it that much. I didn’t hate it either though. I think it much depends on how they’re going to round it all up in “The Witch’s Familiar” next week. There better be a VERY GOOD explanation as to how everyone survives and the TARDIS gets restored. Maybe Davros wants the Doctor to take over his place and become leader of the Daleks? Nah, probably not. He maybe wants to turn him into a Dalek as well though. I don’t know, that’s just sort of what I gathered from the promo below. What was your impression of the start of Series 9?

26 thoughts on “Doctor Who: The Magician’s Apprentice

  1. I REALLY liked it. Like, REALLY REALLY. If the second half is as good as the first half, I think we could be looking at a classic for sure. But each to their own, of course πŸ™‚


  2. I have a lot of the same thoughts as you here. I love Missy, and hate Clara. So I had mixed feelings about the opening, but I definitely wanted more Doctor and less companion focus. I want to see next week before I decide how I feel. Well done this is a great review πŸ˜€


    • Thank you!
      I personally don’t hate Clara, but I would have appreciated if she had left last Christmas. I think that would have been a fitting end for her.
      However, the focus should always be on the Doctor and not the companions and that just really wasn’t the case. I think next week is necessary to determine if the story really works. Maybe they’ll round it up really nicely and then I’ll be more happy again.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I thought it was great! First, I’m excited to see Davros return, and this glimpse into his past is very interesting. We see the Doctor make a rare decision to be a bad guy, and how it has affected him since (this sort of conflict is always great in terms of storytelling because it allows characters to grow and keeps viewers interested), and how Davros is apparently getting his revenge (though how he got control of the Daleks again I’m not quite sure. Might have something to do with the fact that they’re all older models of Daleks, including a few retro ones). We also see the set-up for more conflict–inner and outer–for next week and we’re given a few mysteries, like how will Missy, Clara, and the TARDIS survive extermination, and how did the Doctor end up back in the past and what will he do with that Dalek arm? So many questions!
    Also, great comedy moments. When the Doctor rides out on that tank playing the guitar and everyone keeps saying “Dude”, I couldn’t stop laughing!
    Oh man, this is definitely one of Steven Moffat’s better episodes. I hope he can keep it up for next week!


  4. It was Moffat by numbers. Non-linear, a bewildering amount of Classic Series references, a ton of returning characters who had zero displacement on the plot, and a shocking amount of Russell T. Davies-era stuff returning (The Shadow Proclamation, which I was still unable to explain to my wife, and a silent Judoon). Several audio and video clips from the Classic Series; a cold open that is basically a sequel to 1975’s “Genesis of the Daleks”; a return to Karn, from 1976’s “The Brain of Morbius” and the 2013 Paul McGann minisode (with the same actress); and, when the Brigadier’s daughter (who is now billed only as “Kate”) discusses where the Doctor usually visits, every one of those locales is from a Classic Series story (including the bit about 3 possible versions of Atlantis).

    SO…. with all that, who has time to even follow the plot? πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

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