It’s official, I’ve already grown tired of Missy (Michelle Gomez). “The Witch’s Familiar” concludes the opening arc to the Ninth Season of Doctor Who which began with last week’s “The Magician’s Apprentice.” The not-so-dead Missy and Clara (Jenna Coleman) spend most of the episode together, and apart from The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) whose comapssion is put to the test by his most hated enemies and the mind of the mad man who spawned them. As Dalek episodes go I wouldn’t rank this pair against the best of Doctor Who, but the second-half does deliver The Doctor out-thinking his enemy once more (and surely not for the last time).
Time travel is tricky. One of most commonly discussed issues with the ability to travel backwards it time and alter the future is the Hitler Paradox which debates both the morality and ability of killing someone before they grow into a fascist dictator with genocidal tendencies. The crux of that argument is at the heart of “The Magician’s Apprentice” opening with The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) naturally reaching out to help a scared child lost in the middle of a battlefield. However, learning the child’s name will force The Doctor to make an uncharacteristic decision which will bring the series full circle and cause The Doctor to return to face the creator of his most deadly adversaries one last time.
The end of Peter Capaldi‘s first season as The Doctor ends not with a bang but a whimper. In a storyline that puts the entire world at risk from a resurrected Master and an army of Cybermen rising from the dead writer Steven Moffat constantly cheats the audience with a story that never sums up the courage to sacrifice what’s required to make the finale work. The Doctor being made President of Earth against his will caps off a season of bizarre plot points that sound like fun ideas until you put them into practice. The reveal of Missy’s (Michelle Gomez) plan, which is a special kind of torture specifically designed for her lifetime frenemy, works well, but the show’s ending refuses to let there be any real cost to the entire affair undercutting the finale from the get-go.
The first-half of Doctor Who‘s two-part season finale begins with the death of a major character and ends with the return of a familiar foe (although not the one I was hoping for). Despite the mysterious set-up of 3W, a company providing afterlife for the recently deceased, “Dark Water” doesn’t work as well for me as it should since it relies so heavily on a relationship the season has never quite sold me on especially given the amount of foreshadowing about how important Danny Pink would be to Clara’s travels with The Doctor coming to an end.
Magic trees. In the latest episode of Doctor Who a new forest has sprung up across the world much to the surprise and consternation of the local populace. Arriving in London, The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) begins to investigate the phenomena which one of Clara‘s (Jenna Coleman) students brings to his attention. Initially ignoring the girl’s insight, the Time Lord discovers that Maebh (Abigail Eames) is unusually tuned to the odd happenstance and may be the key to understanding what is going on. The show has certainly gotten its money’s worth of introducing Clara first as a nanny and now as a schoolteacher allowing children to become involved in multiple episodes which it uses again as a strength with talented child acting.
Although it’s been mentioned on the show previously, this is the first time we’ve actually seen The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) take a companion to the space-traveling Orient Express carefully recreated to resemble the Earth locomotive of the same name (although no one stops to explain why that is). On what we’re told will be Clara’s final journey with The Doctor, the pair walk into an unusual situation where members of the train begins dying, being slowly murdered by a mummy who only they can see in the 66 seconds leading up to their deaths.
From the looks of things Clara‘s (Jenna Coleman) days as The Doctor‘s (Peter Capaldi) companion are coming to an end. Although I think it’s more than a little cheap to fracture the relationship in the very next episode after Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson) warns Clara about The Doctor, the situation the Time Lord puts his companion in makes sense… at least from his point of view. Attempting to appease Clara, The Doctor takes his companion and Courtney (Ellis George) to the moon during a pivotal moment in human history to make young Courtney into the special young girl that Clara insists she is.