“This is the last will and testament of the Time Lord known as the Doctor”
Where is the Doctor? When the skies of Earth are frozen by a mysterious alien force, Clara needs her friend. But where is the Doctor, and what is he hiding from? As past deeds come back to haunt him, old enemies will come face-to-face, and for the Doctor and Clara survival seems impossible.
How do you kick start a series people have waited nine months for? With a little terrified boy stuck in the middle of a hand-minefield, ready to drag him to his demise. Who else should turn up but the Time Lord to try and help him?Personally, I feel this episode carries the theme of consequence quite heavily, one that Doctor Who skirts around sometimes, sure he might save an alien race from another, but how does that affect the families of the fallen? That is something we have never seen, and now I think about it, a great idea for an episode…
Digression aside, the opening act, featuring Colonel Sarf gliding around the universe, from the Maldovarium to The Shadow Proclamation to Karn, looking for the Doctor to give him a message felt to me like a massive shout out to New Who, featuring cameos from Ood, Sycorax, a Hath, the Shadow Architect and a Judoon, for fanboys and girls alike, this kind of thing is always appreciated, but for the casual viewer (but we know if you’re reading this, you won’t be a casual viewer) it was probably just rather confusing.
The next act, featuring the frozen planes in the sky, is the most unneeded act of this episode; the reasoning of the frozen planes, a way for Missy to get both UNIT’s and Clara’s attention, unless properly explained in the next episode, is totally worthless. One part of this act I did adore was the return of Michelle Gomez as Missy, every line she delivers in this episode was brilliantly played, with varying levels of comedy and sinisterness. For me, Gomez is up there as one of the best portrayal’s of the Master/Mistress/Missy to date, even though she’s only properly featured in three episodes up to this point. The fact she so mercilessly kills UNIT soldiers just proves that she still is a bananas and bonkers murderous Time Lord/Lady. The dynamic between Missy and Clara is brilliant in my opinion, the fact they go from duelling minds to being forced to work together to find their best friend, even if Missy had slaughtered Clara’s boyfriend a few episodes ago.
The third act, the Doctor’s farewell tour is absolutely mad. Not many incarnations of this Time Lord could have rode in on a tank playing power chords to some 12th century Essex dwellers. Then using some fairly terrible Dad jokes to justify his tank, “I bought it for my fish!” to then acknowledging Missy and Clara’s arrival by playing Pretty Woman. The thing that I felt was really captivating here, amongst all the madness is how the Doctor treats Missy more than Clara; even though he compliments Clara, it’s the way Missy and he play with each other, it could almost constitute as flirting, even if Missy did deny it. The banter between the Doctor and Missy when Colonel Sarf says that Davros is his arch enemy is brilliant and shows how childish and petty Missy can be. If one thing in this act feels overly forced in, it has to be that Bors is a Dalek slave, as, unless it pays off in The Witch’s Familiar, it would have been much more dramatic for Bors to be guarding the TARDIS for the Doctor and a Dalek exterminating him to gain it.
Beginning the fourth act is a little back and forth conversation between the Doctor and Clara where she scolds him for knowing Missy is alive, she becomes very manipulative and rather cold, personally I hope this is the first glimpse we see of Clara this series being an unlikable companion, and I hope that it pays off in her departure. The biggest shock of this episode however, was that Julian Bleach is reprising the role of Davros, something nobody has managed to spoil online, which is an absolute delight in this day and age filled with spoilers. Bleach’s performance is outstanding as the dying scientist, still tormenting the Doctor in his dying days. For me, this act is superb, is shows Missy’s character filled with dread, something we’ve not yet seen, it shows dozens of Dalek’s from all of their history, and, unlike in Asylum of the Daleks, these Dalek’s actually do something. They exterminate. The only problem with the extermination of Missy and Clara is knowing that next episode they’ll undoubtedly be back, so the shock factor never really played out for me.
The main question of the episode is how does the Doctor then go back in time to attempt to exterminate the young Davros if he’s just witnessed the TARDIS being destroyed? Something I hope will pay off next week.
The rating system on the Gallifrey Archive is achieved with on a scale of 1-10.
For The Magician’s Apprentice, I will give a rating of: