Doctor Who The Witch’s Familiar Review

And so on to part two of the season opener. To recap in the last episode lots of stuff happened that had very little to do with anything. And a dying Davros wanted to see the doctor.

The cliffhanger of course had Missy, Clara and the Tardis zapped by the Daleks. This episode wastes no time with any misdirection. Missy and Clara are safe and well outside the Dalek city. Missy explains that she programmed their time jumper bracelets to absorb Dalek weapons fire energy and teleport them away. Or something daft.

Missy and Clara make their way back into the Dalek City by going through the Dalek sewers, which are basically tunnels with lots of old used-up Dalek innards. I mean the actual living creature that lives in a Dalek machine. This will prove to be A Very Important Plot Point.

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Meanwhile the bulk of the episode deals with the Doctor and Davros. The Doctor is a bit miffed that Clara has been exterminated. For a while he is so miffed that he actually extracts Davros from his chair and drives around it in. Seriously. It’s in the episode.

But later when a recaptured Doctor reveals that Gallifrey wasn’t actually destroyed and is still out there somewhere Davros says he’s pleased for the Doctor because it means he’s no longer alone.

Huh?

And Davros uses his own eyes to see the Doctor. Yes, there are actually eyes in there somewhere which was kind of cool. And then the next thing you know the Doctor and Davros are all best buddies and sharing a joke. Well, Davros is dying, isn’t he? But it would be so nice to see the sunrise again with his own eyes…

The performances by Capaldi and whoever is in the Davros makeup do sell this very well, that these two old enemies could be possibly becoming friends.

The Doctor gives Davros a bit of his regeneration energy to help Davros see the sunrise. But it’s a trap! It’s all a trick and Davros is stealing the renegeration energy to feed his Daleks and turn them into some sort of regenerated Daleks.

But there’s a double-bluff type of thing going on. The Doctor is aware it’s a trick and he allows it to happen because he knows his regeneration energy will make the sewer Dalek creatures (remember the Important Plot Point) regenerate, and that will cause a Dalek sewer earthquake, or rather skaroquake.

Some of the stuff between the Doctor and Davros is actually very good but the highlight of the episode for me were a couple of very powerful scenes with Clara being convinced by Missy to get inside a Dalek shell in order to escort Missy as a “prisoner” through the Dalek city. I seem to recall this being done way back in the original Dalek serial so there’s a nice symmetry there. And of course the first time we met Clara (or “Oswin”) she turned out to have been turned into a Dalek without realising it.

Once Clara is inside the machine and connected up telepathically to the controls Missy puts Dalek Clara through her paces. She gets Clara to say “my name is Clara”. It comes out as “I am a Dalek”. And “I love you” becomes “exterminate”. It’s initially amusing and then becomes increasingly disturbing.

Near the end of the episode Dalek Clara and the Doctor meet. Of course he doesn’t know it’s Clara inside and Missy tells him it is actually the Dalek that killed Clara. The Doctor understandably wants to destroy this Dalek. A desperate Clara is trying to tell the Doctor it’s her inside the Dalek but ends up repeating “I am a Dalek, I am a Dalek”. Eventually Clara’s pleadings are translated as “mercy” which lets the Doctor know something is amiss. He helps extract Clara from the machine and with a full on Capaldi glower he tells Missy to run.

Of course it’s not wise to leave the Master on a planet full of Daleks. I’m sure this will come back to haunt him.

Oh, by the way the Tardis wasn’t destroyed in the last episode, it was just “dispersed” and the Doctor reassembles it using his sonic…. sunglasses…. Seriously. Face palm. Don’t go there.

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The Doctor muses about Clara’s Dalek being able to ask for mercy. How did that get in there? The Doctor then goes back in time and saves Kid Davros from the hand mines, telling him the importance of mercy.

So in summary this was a very strong episode that I enjoyed very much. Indeed much more than the messy shenanigans of the introductory part. The scenes with Clara in the Dalek are the stand-out scenes for me combining great writing and dramatic tension.

As a final note I keep reading that Missy is a “fan favourite”.

Really?

Ok, I’ll take your word for it…