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The Witch’s Familiar

witch

WELL.

Welly, well, well. That was quite something, wasn’t it? Best two parter since The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang…? (YUP). And like that story, Moffat pulls a quite different second episode out of the hat. If episode one had a lot of Universe hopping, colour, and whizz-bangness, this episode narrowed its focus somewhat for a deeper, more contemplative forty five minutes.

If you’re interested, and I KNOW YOU ARE, here’s how I thought this opening story stacked up against Moffat’s other season openers.

The Eleventh Hour: I mean, how could this ever be toppled?

The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar: Read this page.

The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon:Moon doesn’t quite live up to the first episode, but still, WOW.

Deep Breath: Fourth, and yet I love it. Kinda tells the story of how ace Moff is at opening seasons, that.

Asylum of the Daleks: Bottom, but still lots to love. It’s just that damn fool ‘the Pond’s are splitting’ thread that pulls it down, really. I mean COME ON, was anyone really buying that baloney?

Moffat has been writing for Doctor Who for ten years now, and he can still pull out a story like this. By rights he should be rolling out tired old shite by now, but nope. The show still inspires him. That’s why he doesn’t want to go yet, he knows he still has scares to tell.

YAY!

‘Am I a good man?’ Oh no he didn’t! That was a real slap round the face when old no-legs said that.

Davros opened his FREAKING EYES. Daw. His sad, tiny little peepers. It felt at once awww and ewww. Unnatural. What a moment.

I saw someone mention that the rotten Daleks from the sewers, newly regen-powered up, taking out the Daleks above was a crappy Deus ex machina. No. You are a dumb-stupid. Please, fans, Google what Deus ex machina actually means. You are making yourself look daft.

Missy and a pointy stick.

How beautiful did those classic old blue Daleks look? I mean just gorgeous.

When Missy is recounting a past adventure, and we skip through a few Doctor’s before she decides to settle on Capaldi’s. GLORIOUS. 9Even if they looked nothing like who they were supposed to be…..)

Clara was hooked up as a Dalek when they were leaching some of the Doctor’s regeneration power, so… did she get a wee top up to? Or did it not affect her because she isn’t a Dalek? I guess we’ll find out.

‘Just the Doctor and Clara in the TARDIS, same old same old’ kinda seemed odd in the trailer. But in context, a mini-air punch of a moment.

Missy had a Daughter? Well obviously it’s Maisie Williams. (NO)

Ooh, the FEELS as Clara stepped into that Dalek casing. Asylum flashbacks ago-go. And when she opens the casing at the end, and the Doc cradles her big, sad face in his hands…. lovely.

‘Davros, your sewers are revolting!’ Cue slide whistle.

Missy always doing things ‘cos bananas. Attempting to get the Doctor to exterminate Dalek-Clara, just for shits ‘n giggles. 

Moffat loves to shed old things in a new light, or add to what we know, or think we know. Here, we realise when a Dalek says ‘Exterminate’, it actually might be saying a whole heap of other words. Or reloading. And that the casing basically strips the creature of individuality. It does not have a name, it is just a Dalek. That whole scene was funny and scary at the same time. Genuinely unnerving.

Clara says the Doctor is the last person she would ever kill… Foreshadowing, or nothing…?

I was right about how Missy and Clara survived, and about just what the Doc was gonna exterminate. ME SO SMART.

Julian Bleach. I mean… he IS Davros. Awesome work.

The Doctor walking hand in hand into the mist with little Davros at the end. Lovely.

Of COURSE it will be compassion that does for the Doctor in the end.

Capaldi was amazing, again. A Doctor prepared to die, if needs be, to atone for not living up to being the Doctor when he walked away from helping a small boy, to a man not prepared to go quietly once his friend gets pulled in.

I choose to believe that, when Capaldi is getting his neck squeezed by snakes, that face he pulls is a knowing nod to:

pert cap

pertwee nest

HMM

Okay, either my telly, or my ears, are crap, or someone needs to sort the audio levels out. There was one bit in the sewers where I couldn’t make out a word of Missy’s dialogue.

Missy kinda jabbed holes in that Dalek with her broach a little easily.

Where my Paradigm Daleks at?

Colony Sarff was given sort shrift this episode. A few crucial snakey moments, but mostly a forgotten character.

When Missy and Dalek-Clara return in ep two, the Supreme Dalek fella doesn’t seem to recognise Missy as the woman he just exterminated earlier. Goldfish memory?

I kinda wanted to see the Special Weapons Dalek blow the shit out of something. Oh well. Sad face.

****

Doctor Who, man. Best Dalek story since season one? Quite probably! Genuinely a little sad that a section of fans will watch this two part story and get nothing from it. How? HOW????

@doctorwhothing

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The Magician’s Apprentice

capclarared

HOLY CRAP.

What was that?! It was just SO MUCH. It was a bit like having The Pandorica Opens as the season opener. I’m not gonna lie, I really need to see it again to get any settled, strong opinions. Need to let it all simmer and settle. I NEED TO SEE PART TWO! Perhaps more so than most two-parters, I need the full picture.

Okay, so here are a few (slightly half-formed….) (okay, very half-formed) first thoughts after watching this crazy beast just the once.

My main takeaway is that it was like the dark, deep season 8, coupled with the wild colour of season 5. Yes, dark AND colourful. The double. Moffat is taking everything he’s done and squishing it into one. It’s a giant, bold way to open a season. It takes no prisoners and doesn’t gently hold the hand of any newcomers. (And is Who the ONLY show that reviewers obsessively worry about what new viewers will make of it?)( They’ll think ‘What the heck was that pile of crazy? I need to catch up.’ Give ’em SOME credit, guyz.) (Alright, alright, if it neglects new fans, it’ll die. I get it.)(But also, COME ON.)(Has this got annoying yet?)(Yes?)(Okay, I’ll stop.)

(Not yet)

(Now?)

(FINE.)

Was it all a bit TOO MUCH to open with? It certainly ran at you screaming and waving its arms, it was quite discombobulating in a way. It was also a new, fresh feeling way to open. Moffat does like to change things up. If RTD liked a series to have a familiar flow to it, Moffat is the opposite. Change is his familiar. It does make me wonder, if this is where we start, where the heck is this season going to take us next?! 

Moffat’s Who is a big tangled mess of time, of cause and effect. This story was another dive into that sort of story. This can annoy some, confuse others, but I love it. No good or bad deed goes unpunished. You can’t just hop around in time for centuries without kicking over a few stools that you’ll end up tripping over later.

In terms of Moffat season openers, I’d currently place this above Asylum of the Daleks, and then… hmm…. possibly above Deep Breath? Nothing will usurp the Eleventh Hour, and I think The Impossible Astronaut thrilled me more completely on first watch. Let’s see how I feel upon second viewing, and after part two completes the story.

Oh, and remember when the first episode of a season was ‘New Earth’? Different show, mate. Different show.

cap9

YAY!

DAVROS DAVROS DAVROS DAVROS. I LOVE Davros, okay? It’s been WAY too long since his last visit, and Julian Bleach was, once again, awesome. Unfortunately, the return of Davros was spoiled for me. A few hours before broadcast, someone found a pic of Davros and Twelve from the episode and tweeted it. Yes, some people really are total dicks. So a lot of the WAAAA?! OOOOH! OH MA GAAAAAAAAAAAD! of it all was stolen from me. But still… DAVROS.

The ‘hand-mines’. I mean, what on Earth? But also ‘wow’! And creepy as all hell. The opening, with young Davros, was wonderfully atmospheric and fantastical. It was Who meets a Del Toro film.  Seems like Skaro had a taste for mixing weaponry and the organic even before Daleks were developed.

Speaking of which…. Skaro! That beautiful Dalek city. And we got some classic era Daleks, including that sexy swine, the Special Weapons Dalek.

“Unlimited rice pudding!” Oh, I did snigger when I heard that. Davros is obviously a fan of watching classic Who. Though only the stories featuring him, the big headed so-and-so.

CLIFFHANGERS! Are there many things more lovely than a Doctor Who cliffhanger? And how wonderful that this season is so two-part heavy, ‘cos it means we’re gunna get a butt-load of cliffs to hang from.

The look on the Doctor’s face when that wee boy tells him his name…. Did the Doctor play a part in making Davros who he is?

The old ‘You would make a good Dalek’ thread continues to develop, with the Doctor holding the pepperpots own weapon and preparing to ‘Exterminate’… or is he..? I have theories, people! (Basically, no, I don’t believe he’s about to frazzle Davros Jr.)

Capaldi, man. CAPALDI! Have we ever seen a Doctor take such a journey? Develop and change so much over the course of his run? This isn’t just the actor getting used to the role, this is purposeful development. We have moved into peak Twelve, he’s a Doctor fully bloomed. The difference between the short-haired, severe Doc in, say, Into the Dalek, and the one we have now. Talk about a journey. We get everything in here, the funny, the wildness, the dramatic chops, the sense of loss, terror, shame. Capaldi can do everything.

Playing Pretty Woman when he saw Clara. The charming devil.

The Master/Doctor relationship. He sent her his final confession! His best and oldest friend. (Missy. Master. Missy. Master. Can we just call her by her proper title, now? She’s THE MASTER)

Gomez was superb again. So bonkers, then cruel, then funny, then everything at once. “Davros is your arch-enemy now? I’ll scratch his eye out.”  “How’s your boyfriend? Still tremendously dead?” She really gets some terrific lines, and Gomez delivers them all with aplomb. And, being the Master, of course she can’t resist attempting a bit of the old double-cross when Daleks and the TARDIS turn up.

The return of the hug agenda.

Colony Sarff was suitably creepy, gross looking, and the effect when his face twisted and he turned into a big ‘ol pile of snakes… coooooooool. And yuck. I bet that had a few wee ones shivering when they went to bed that night. (And was I the only one who couldn’t help but think ‘MARA!’ as the main snake reared up. Yeah, I knew it wasn’t. Didn’t stop me squeeing.)

Loved the Universe-wide jaunt, searching for the Doctor. Seeing the wider universe of Who.

The Doctor was afforded two different and equally ace entrance scenes. One dark, one pure, unbridled joy. Again, can you imagine early Capaldi rocking that axe? How far he’s come. And can you imagine any other recent Doctor getting away with that entrance? It just feels like it would be toe curling with Tennant or Smith attempting it…! At first I thought they’d thrown the switch too far the other way, but then Clara only went and addressed it and it was made clear just why he was behaving so. Good stuff.

cap road

HMM…

There were a few edit and sound issues for me. Weird late cuts. Strange shot choices. Hard to hear lines. Stuff like that.

It was kinda a bit much to take in comfortably on first watch. I really feel like I need a second watch. I felt ATTACKED.

Didn’t it, you know, destroy more or less everything last time someone had the bright idea of blowing up the TARDIS?

Looked a bit parky in UNIT HQ. Health and safety in the workplace nightmare, that. Maybe consider an office relocation, before someone catches their death.

Kate Stewart. I mean. *shrugs*. Underplayed to a fault. I get it, she’s supposed to be normal, unimpressed, straight ahead, but come on, inject a little personality. A little *something*.

As I said, it reeeaaaalllly feels like an episode that I can’t fully contend with until I’ve seen the whole picture. So come at me, The Witches Familiar.

(I reckon I know haw Clara & Missy survive (Missy basically tells us earlier..!), and just what the Doc is about to do with that gun. I wonder if I’ll be right? I’ll let you know next time….)

***

Doctor Who is back, guys. DOCTOR WHO.

@doctorwhothing

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