Doctor Who The Witch’s Familiar

Doctor Who 8Doctor Who?
At the heart of Doctor Who is mystery…
Did Clara and Missy die? (again!) Did the TARDIS get destroyed? Will the Doctor be able to get him out of his Dalek pickle? Will episode 2 be as good as episode 1? These were the big questions that the cliffhanger offered us last episode…

Doctor Meh…
When Doctor Who doesn’t quite hit the spot…
When you think about the cliffhanger there was little threat. If the Master is EVER going to die for real it will be an event. Not a blink and you miss it extermination. She’s not a character that will be just snuffed out. Same goes for Clara. Doctor Who does angst now. Because angst is (was?) cool, I guess. So, no, it was quite obvious Clara was not going to meet her fate that way either. And, come on, who actually thought the TARDIS had been blown up? I mean, the TARDIS is even a character now. The old girl isn’t going to be so ceremoniously dispatched. That being said, ‘Doctor Who’ multipart stories MUST have a cliffhanger. It’s law, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Even if they are mostly weak, and don’t leave you on the edge of your seat as intended.

Doctor Eek!
Doctor Who; scaring kid’s since 1963…
The sewers of the Dalek city was a creepy idea. Dalek waste actually being decomposed Dalek with a zombie level consciousness was a satisfyingly grim idea. And much better than guard-dog clams… Davros out of his chair was Borg Queen territory; it was so cool seeing how little was left of him, and quite gross too. Yet, not as scary as seeing Davros cry and smile. That was so wrong. It was unsettling. The biggest chill goes to Clara in the Dalek; having the Dalek translate Clara’s speech and emotions into it’s own vocabulary, it’s own actions was awesomely sinister. The Daleks are 50+ years old and the fact they found a way to make them more frightening is amazing. I’ll never look at a ranty Dalek in the same way again now, knowing that inside the mutant could be crying out for help, trying to stop the machine it’s trapped in killing everything other than Daleks.

Doctor Ooh!
Those moments when Doctor Who gives geekbumps…
I know that plenty of people lament the introduction of Davros as the sidelining of the Daleks as stooges, but they are so limited in their ability to interact, Davros is a necessity. With the dilemma of genocide, and the Doctor once again armed and having the opportunity to kill Davros, a cynic could easily suggest that these episodes are offering us riffs on classic Doctor Who moments. Yet, these were just moments in a brilliant game of chess between the Doctor and Davros, both playing their game, trying to outmaneuver one another for their own checkmate move.

Doctor Well?
A show that can be different story to story will divide its fan base…
We’ve been stung with plenty of New Who episodes, where episode 2 undoes episode 1. Thankfully this is not the case with The Witch’s Familiar. We get a nice pairing of Missy and Clara, with an apparent conscious effort to make Missy even more unpredictable. Yes, the humor remained, but it was a little more playful, and much more counterbalanced by Missy being tricky and downright dangerous. I can really see her as being an evolution of the Master from Delgado and Ainley. While I’m judging villains, Davros proves–once again–to be a versatile villain, capable of barking hate and anger like his Dalek creations, but also capable of seductive manipulation. He must be one of the most nuanced villains in Doctor Who history. Considering Davros is all prosthetic, with very little of the actor on show, he’s a great showcase for the power of an acting performance, and Julian Bleach is up there with Terry Molloy for me.

I’ve already mentioned the game playing between Davros and the Doctor, but this really made the episode shine–even if Davros’ apparent victory was short-lived, and the threat of the Daleks’ regeneration didn’t get much chance to sink in or be felt. Yes, the zombie Dalek sewage was a deus ex machina that unexpectedly turned the tables on the Daleks and the threat of the episode, and the Daleks also suddenly seemed to forget they could fly despite doing so several times this episode, but the episodes were so satisfying I can let it go. A brilliant start to a new series, which I only hope the series can maintain for the majority of its season.


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