The 12th Doctor is back and with him Clara, Missy, and Unit when a cloaked figure seeks the Doctor and is slithering across the universe from The Shadow Proclamation to Karn to find him. Missy reveals she was given the Doctors final will and the Doctor has one more day to live. The Mistress and Clara must find the Doctor, but when they do Clara learns another dark secret of the Doctor’s: When the Doctor lands on a war-torn planet with an unknown name he finds a child trapped by deadly subterranean creatures that reach up from below and pull you under, but the Doctor is suddenly conflicted when the child reveals his name: DAVROS. Now the Doctor much choose; let the creator of Daleks live or let him die. The Doctor leaves the young boy to his own fate.
Like previous series there are ups and downs. The Magician’s Apprentice has a great premise, and it is great to see Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor rocking and rolling on our screens again, both literally and figuratively. His charisma and passion for Doctor Who is what draws me, and likely others, back into the Doctor Who Universe. However, the episode is weighed down with lengthy exposition and scenes that do not drive the plot. Further we are treated to an episode title that means nothing for the episode. So Magician’s Apprentice is another mixed bag.
The scene between the Doctor and young DAVROS was brilliant fun. The Doctor is faced with a terrible decision: save the child DAVROS, his greatest enemies and creator of the Daleks, or save him. We know not if saving or leaving the boy leads to the creation of the Daleks. And of course, then there is the option of outright killing the boy which we are led to believe the Doctor is about to do at the end. These are the tough choices that make Doctor Who such an enjoyable show! These are the lessons that kids will watch and remember when they grow up. So A Star for the idea.
We are treated to short visits to Karn and The Shadow Proclamation early on in the episode. I liked revisiting the familiar territory, especially with a new Doctor to help the series feel connected to its past. But I’m still waiting for Captain Jack’s return.
My struggle since series 7 has been the pacing of the episodes. What happened in the 45min of Magician’s Apprentice could have been squeezed into 25min leaving room for more action and adventure. I understand they are doing a two parter and you need to space out the plot, but fill it with suspense and action, not padding it with lengthy exposition which does not drive the plot. I understand people like the Doctor’s wit and those one liners are great! Buying a tank for his fish and getting a military tanks is hilarious fun. But the plot it kept suspended. The axe battle scene, for example, was incredibly long and did nothing other than let the Doctor ramble. Unit didn’t have any use in the episode, so why have them in it? Their computers helped Clara find the Doctor, but Unit didn’t bring anything to the table. The skies freezing was another interesting idea, but it was just a passing note. If DAVROS wanted the Doctor why not do something big and grand to pull him out?
I thought it’d be impossible to out ridiculous John Simm’s Master, but Michelle Gomez has achieved it. Missy is not a fun character at all. Her acting is hammy and her character is so badly executed it’s annoying to watch. Not to mention her incessant use of innuendo that has become immensely tiresome. They desperately want her to be The Joker but she does not have the gravitas to do it. She doesn’t strike me as a MASTER villain but a raging idiot who will have a bomb blow up in their face like Wile Coyote
Death has lost all meaning in Doctor Who now. The Doctor’s death is the most overused misdirection. So far it’s been used in series 4, 5, 6, and 7 as major plot points. It is not just the Doctor though, no one is going to believe when anyone dies. Missy was ‘killed’ at the end of series 8 now she’s alive with no explanation. She and Clara are killed in this episode but we know full well they aren’t dead. There needs to be importance to a character and a horror when they are killed. If you keep killing and bringing people back in a few episodes the trick is lost, excitement and shock value are gone because you know they are back next week. But also, when did Doctor Who become the show all about outrunning ones death?
The Magician’s Apprentice had an interesting premise but was weighed down by lengthy exposition and Gomez’s hammy acting. But the episode isn’t without merit. The conflict between The Doctor and Davros is interesting. One of the greatest scenes was between Peter’s Doctor and old Davros when he displays previous encounters with the other Doctor’s. To see Tom Baker’s 4th Doctor through to David Tennant 10th was charming and fun. I’ll be interested to see how the 12th Doctor resolves the issues with Davros, though I strongly suspect he’ll have no choice but to allow him to live otherwise is reverses too much, including the Time War. What Magician’s Nephew missed the trick was not having the entire episode be about the Doctor’s discussion. We could have seen two realities one where the Daleks are a lesser of two evils and the Doctor chooses them over something else.
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