Saturday, September 26, 2015

Review: "The Magician's Apprentice"/"The Witch's Familiar"

Just finished part two of the start of Series Nine of the revived "Doctor Who".

Much commentary to follow.

Much spoilerage in said commentary.

Essentially I'm ranting. If you read this blog (FSM help you), you probably have a sense of the kind of incoherent nonsense I'll blather on about.

Rather than bother with the whole deprecated font tag trick, I'll just put in a bunch of page breaks so you don't accidentally view my spoilery nonsense.

Still there? You were warned...

Okay, here goes:

"The Magician's Apprentice" starts off with a war on a battlefield. Mix of technologies where a biplane uses blasters and soldiers on the ground have scanning devices and bows and arrows. A soldier spies a kid running from a battle and tries to help the kid out. The kid and the soldier wind up in a field of "Hand Mines". Creepy-as-hell hands with eyes in the palm that grab you and pull you into the ground. The soldier gets snagged and the kid is trapped.

The kid calls for help and a sonic screwdriver lands at his feet. The Doctor is there and tells the kid he's got a one-in-a-thousand chance of surviving and to disregard the odds and focus on the one tiny chance. He asks the kid's name. The kid replies: "Davros".

The Doctor realizes he's on ancient Skaro during that generational war between the Thals and the Kaleds. He pops into the TARDIS and abandons young Davros, the future creator of the Daleks, to his fate.

We next get the tired Moffatt trope of some sinister figure hunting for the Doctor.

Yup. Apparently everyone and their cousins can just bop around through time and space without needing a TARDIS and can just randomly question people as a way to find the Doctor. 'Cause that makes sense somehow.

This figure, called "Colony Saaff" or something like that, is a creepy amalgam of snakes that's working for Davros.

Why a snake man and not some kind of Dalek? Oh, silly reader, don't ask questions.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, Clara is teaching rugrats about what a great kisser Emily Dickenson was when she spies a plane frozen in the air. Turns out every aircraft in the world is frozen in a time bubble.

Oh that's right, it's the Master returned as "Missy". Missy froze time to get Clara's attention. It seems Missy has been delivered (somehow) the Doctor's "Confessional Dial", a sort of recorded last will and testament as he's going to die.

Yup. We're back to another tired Moffatt trope of the Doctor's death, which we know won't happen as the show hasn't been canceled.

Anyway, Missy is trying to find the Doctor as he's disappeared. Needs Clara's help. With U.N.I.T.'s incomprehensible algorithms, they discover the Doctor is in medieval England having an axe-fight, only in the Doctor's case he's on a tank and has an electric guitar.

And the crowd is rocking out. Because electric guitar apparently has universal appeal, save for my parents' and grandparents' generations. So... yeah. Um. Moving on.

Missy and Clara reunite with the Doctor and Colony Saaff appears because reasons. Colony weirdo says Davros is dying and wants to see the Doctor.

The Doctor lets Colony Saaff handcuff him with a snake (again, WTF?) to transport him to Davros. Missy and Clara also agree to come along, cuffed and all because... um... yeah. Moving on.

Davros, it turns out, is on a space station that isn't really a space station but is the planet Skaro disguised because... um... I really don't know. Why would the Daleks bother to hide their planet? If the Time Lords are toast (and the Daleks seem to think they are during this episode) nobody in the universe can threaten them, or even resist them, so why hide anything?

For that matter, why haven't they just conquered/obliterated the universe? Argh. I give up.

Anyway, the Doctor is chatting with Davros while the Daleks find Missy and Clara, then exterminate them to the Doctor's horror. Oh, and apparently the Daleks always knew where the Doctor was and had an agent in the medieval times. They snagged the TARDIS and vaporize that too.

So yeah. Jump to "The Witch's Familiar". Of course Missy and Clara aren't dead. Missy and Clara had found the Doctor in the past using vortex manipulators (I guess Missy lacks a TARDIS of her own?). So when the Daleks tried to disintegrate Missy and Clara, Missy performed some hand-wavy bullshit to teleport Clara and her away, burning out the vortex manipulators.

Cue lots of somewhat interesting conversation between the Doctor and Davros. In a nutshell:
  • The Doctor tells Davros that Gallifrey survived and is out there somewhere (he'll doubtless regret that later).
  • Davros makes lots of maudlin noises about he and the Doctor being almost friends.
  • Davros talks about some prophesy on Gallifrey about a hybrid race between a warrior race and the Time Lords or something. How does Davros know anything about stuff that happens on Gallifrey? I have no idea at all.

Missy and Clara stumble about in the Dalek sewers, where decaying Daleks, who have now become goo, are residing as they "can't die" somehow. Missy arranges for her and Clara to capture a Dalek and Missy forces Clara into the Dalek so they can get into the Dalek city.

Meanwhile Davros reveals his plan: turns out he's been living off the life-force of the Daleks and playing on the Doctor's compassion to give him "one last sunrise". The Doctor can apparently share a bit of his regeneration energy (does this mean he's burning regenerations like he did with the hand or does this somehow, mysteriously, not count, Moff?). It's a trick and Davros and Colony Saaff try to suck out all the Doctor's regeneration energy to somehow make the Daleks more powerful.

Missy steps in and kills Colony Saaff, saving the Doctor from dying. And the Doctor reveals he let himself get pulled into the trap so he could regenerate the sewer Daleks, who flood out to kill the still-living Daleks.

The Doctor abandons Davros and flees with Missy. Missy tries to fool the Doctor into killing Clara while Clara is still in a Dalek shell, but that doesn't work out. Missy gets stuck on Skaro, the Doctor escapes with Clara and using his sonic sunglasses (he's done with the screwdriver, apparently) he re-forms the TARDIS through more hand-waving then he and Clara watch the Dalek city burn. The Doctor then goes back in time to save little Davros because compassion.


All-in-all, it's classic Moffatt. Excellent mood and great dialog but the plot is utter trash and nonsensical.

Capaldi carries the episodes, as does Gomez's Missy. For all that, I'm seriously praying Moffatt leaves the show soon.

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