Wow. What a season of Doctor Who. I am still trying to catch my breath. I think we saw Peter Capaldi start to reach his potential as the Doctor during season 9. I enjoyed him last year, but this year he has really taken ownership of the character. He has become the Doctor, and what’s more, he seems like he is really enjoying his turn as our favorite Time Lord. This season was also an emotional roller coaster in a lot of ways, and the writing has been stronger than it has been in a long, long time. Last year there were a few good episodes, or at least ok episodes, and a lot of really sub-par episodes. This year is the opposite. I think there was only one episode I really didn’t care for, and it was in the second half of the season, and we’re going to talk about it.
With this weekend’s episode “The Zygon Invasion,” we are now starting the second half of season 9. It’s all down hill from here. As I was watching the latest episode, it got me thinking about what we have seen so far this season. It led me to a couple of conclusions. Number one: I wish these seasons were longer. Number two: So far, season 9 has been pretty decent. An improvement of season 8. My only disappointment is that each story this year has been a two -parter. Sometimes I enjoy the quick, one parters. That might be nit-picking, though, which I know is strictly forbidden in the Doctor Who fandom. Let’s take a look at each episode as it aired, starting with “The Magician’s Apprentice.”
I was asked by my brother a while back what my favorite episode of Doctor Who was. That’s not an easy question for me to answer. Not a title I like to give out very easily, because there are so many episodes that i really like quite a bit, and for a variety of reasons. That being said, we have a new, very strong contender in the favorite episode department. “Under the Lake” was a really good episode for a very specific reason for me, and it was a big enough reason that I may call it my favorite for a while. No, that reason isn’t that this was a creepy ghost story just in time for October. That was fun, but not enough to make this my new favorite. The reason this was my new favorite had to do with one thing, well, person. Cass.
It’s finally here- the new season of Doctor Who, and I for one was very excited about it. It almost feels like Christmas when my favorite shows start showing new episodes again, especially Doctor Who. There always seems to be so much anticipation and hype leading up to the new season, and this year was no exception. A new season of Doctor Who also means a new round of “day late reviews” from me, starting with “The Magician’s Apprentice.” Now, to ensure that this post is absolutely spoiler free, BBC America has done something cool with this first episode- they put it up for free on YouTube. The whole episode, commercial free. Check it out:
If you haven’t watched the episode yet, please watch it now, or wait to read this post. You have been warned.
The episode starts with scenes from a war ravaged planet, with quite the mixture of technologies. Two men are seen trying to combat some propeller planes equipped with laser guns only using a bow and arrow. One of the men sees a child in the middle of this battle field and follows him to try to help. They get stuck in the middle of a hand mine field, and one of the hand mines takes the man, and the child is petrified as he stands in the middle, now all alone. The Doctor shows up at this point, and it looks like he is going to save the boy, even throwing his screwdriver to him, until the boy says his own name. We learn the boy is Davros. And it appears that the Doctor doesn’t save him, but abandons him, leaves him to die.
Next we see The Colony Sarff, servant of Davros, going from place to place looking for the Doctor. On the planet Karn, he delivers his message to the Sisterhood and says that Davros Remembers, Davros knows. Apparently, Davros remembered that it was the Doctor he came to save him, and then abandoned him. He is looking for revenge before he dies himself.
Back on Earth, Clara is teaching school when she notices that all the planes have stopped, they’re all frozen in the sky. Clara rushes to UNIT to help them figure out what is going on. She tries to reach the Doctor, but she can’t. They begin to try to work out how the planes all got frozen. That’s when they are contacted on “the Doctor channel,” a channel set up for the Doctor, a channel he never uses. They discover it’s Missy, and she has frozen all the planes to get their attention.
Clara meets with Missy, and discovers that the Doctor is in real danger, and needs their help. Clara looks for the Doctor and they try to figure out where and when the Doctor is. They find him throwing himself a party in some medieval town. This is where the Colony Sarff finds him, and brings him to meet with Davros. Clara and Missy insist on going with him, so he brings all three.
They arrive where Davros is, which looks like some kind of hospital floating in space. They are held in a chamber, until Davros sends for the Doctor. Missy and Clara, alone together in the cell figure out that they are on a planet, even though it looks like it is floating space. The Doctor faces off with Davros-possibly for the last time. Clara and Missy go exploring and discover that they are really on the planet Skaro. The episode then takes a Moffat like turn as both Clara and Missy are killed off by the Daleks.
The episode ends with the Doctor back on the same war-torn planet, now closer to the young Davros, saying he is there to save his friends. That’s when he pulls out a weapon, very un-Doctor like. It looks as though he will be killing the young Davros in order to save his friends, but I guess we will have to wait until next week to see what happens.
The Good: This was overall a very good episode. I enjoyed it from start to finish. I think we are seeing more of Capaldi’s vision of the Doctor, he seems to be getting more comfortable in the Doctor’s skin, and I like the mad man who is coming out as a result of it. It will be interesting to see how it all develops this season with this great opener and then with it being Clara’s last run.
Last season, at the very end, I was pretty harsh on Missy. I still feel like the gender change was a gimmick, and it still felt gimmicky to me at the time. That being said, Michelle Gomez shines in this episode as Missy. I was not excited when I heard she was going to be back, but I was glad she was back as the episode progressed. She has one of the better portrayals of the Master character in this episode. I am actually excited to see more Missy.
There were some great references to some Classic Who in this episode, and I love it when they tie New Who to Classic Who. I love the bit they play from the 4th Doctor talking about what he would do if he had the chance to face an enemy and prevent everything he knew that enemy would do. Tying that bit of dialogue to what they Doctor faced at the beginning of this episode was brilliant.
The Bad: The Doctor should never have a gun. It is one of the things that I like the most about the character. He solves his problems without using weapons, so I always struggle with it when he has one. I don’t think he will go through with it. I don’t think he will actually kill Davros. We’ve been down these sorts of roads before with Moffat, but in the end, the Doctor always comes through.
The Final Verdict: This was a very solid opener, and it made me even more excited for the upcoming season. I can’t wait to see where it goes this year and what will happen with all the characters on the show. This first story has me very excited, and I can’t wait to see the conclusion next week. I would give this premier a solid 4.5 out 5 stars.
What did you think of the episode? Was it one of your favorites, or did you just really not like it? Let us know in the comments below or share your thought with us on our Facebook page, or you can even tweet at us (is that how you say it?) @thegeekymormon, or if you really want, you can send us feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.