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THE MAGICIAN'S APPRENTICE: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE NERDY
is a certain charm to telling a story about the origins of another story that
already tries to explain the origins of a character. It’s almost as if Steven
Moffat decided to re-imagine Genesis of
the Daleks, but just with a second ‘Genesis’ at the front. An origin of
origins episode if you will. In this article, I’m gonna tell you the good, the
bad and the nerdy bits of this series 9 opener. Warning to fans who haven’t
seen the episode yet, there will be spoilers. Please take heed.
Capaldi still hasn’t convinced you he’s really a mad alien in a blue box
instead of just an actor who happens to play some weirdo who calls himself
‘Doctor’, then there is little hope for you until Twelve eventually
regenerates. The Doctor (not a guy named Peter Capaldi) indeed made one of the
grandest entrances in the history of Doctor Who. The Magician’s Apprentice, in my opinion served as a better
character piece than last year’s Listen,
showcasing almost every side of this Doctor and while it may have sounded a
little forced, showing the Doctor on his knees begging for someone’s life
without being commanded to do so did show us how much he really cares for those
One of my
biggest worries about this episode was that featuring a young Darvos meeting
the Doctor would contradict the superb I,
Davros audio series featuring the life of Davros (the series also being an
origin of origins story for Genesis of
the Daleks). Thankfully it looks like that might not come to pass as the
next episode will either go the alternative universe route or have Davros never
learning the Doctor’s name, thus completing the circular paradox once he
reaches The Magician’s Apprentice.
His inclusion in the episode helped elevate it from a simple Dalek story and
turned it into a Davros story. The Daleks always work better when Darvos is
involved, but as stories such as Davros
has shown us; the mad scientist needs no help from his creations in order to be
entertaining or threatening.
interactions between the Doctor and young Darvos, while short, managed to
convey all the right messages and thrills Steven Moffat was clearly aiming
of you probably expect me to complain about Clara or Missy as they are two
characters that are very low on my Christmas list. In the case of Clara, I
dislike her over-importance to the Doctor’s timeline while Missy doesn’t seem
to pose an actual threat to the Doctor. Surprisingly enough, I liked both
characters in The Magician’s Apprentice.
In the case of Clara, she felt like they’d taken her down a notch. She felt
like a normal companion, UNIT only seeking her out specifically because on-record
she is the current travelling companion.
the case of Missy, while she still poses zero threat to the Doctor as an enemy,
instead serving as a kind of third companion, her antics did grow on me plus
she insulted and compared Clara to a puppy which is an instant favourite and
retweet from me. I hoped she’d turn on the Doctor as per the norm and was
pleasantly surprised when Missy turned heel to save her own backside. Very
Master-ish. I also enjoyed the random red shirt killings and the declaration
that she was not turning good (despite some evidence to the contrary) did help
to bring me over to her side to some degree.
how about that twist eh? As it turns out, Clara is NOT the closest friend and
the mighty recipient of ‘the Doctor’s will’. That pleasure goes to people who know
him the longest and nobody knows the Doctor longer than the Master. Anyone else
curious as to what the message inside reads?
having low reservations given the direction of the series lately, there wasn’t
a lot of things lacking in this episode. This is genuinely a great Dalek story.
It really is, but I do take some offense at using ‘the Doctor is dying’ trope
yet again. This has been three major storylines in three different seasons,
notably Series 6 (Silencio), Series 7 (Trenzalore) and now Series 9 (Skaro).
why do we keep saying this is his greatest battle or darkest hour? I thought
Trenzalore was his greatest battle. But River said Demon’s Run was his darkest
hour. I’m confused. And these are just two examples. Stop trying to escalate
things needlessly. You can create a sense of urgency by just having the
characters say ’this is gonna be a tricky one’. Things like ‘this battle will
be my last’ is just trailer bait and cheapens the ‘final’ battles and ‘darkest’
hours that have come before.
people have joked a little about the reveal of Bors being a Dalek and how I’d
react to it. Yes, I am gutted. It was a pointless plot device and actually
created a gap in the story’s logic in that what was the point of sending snake
man to go look for the Doctor when you have someone that already knows where he
is and has for at least three weeks? Snake man specifically stated that he
followed Clara and Missy. So were Davros and the Daleks searching for the
Doctor independently of one another? Seems counterproductive.
also need to talk about UNIT. They come across as totally incompetent, needing
generic help from a grade school teacher despite having numerous resources that
only seem to serve as paperweights on their desks. It is my hope that they
(drastically) improve before their big story later on in the series.
do you really expect any of us to believe a few dozen Daleks managed to blow up
the TARDIS just because they added ‘maximum’ in front of their catchphrase?
Can you smell the nostalgia in the air? This episode sure could. We touched upon
Karn, the Maldovarium and The Shadow Proclamation all in the span of five
minutes. It would’ve been nice to see a helmetless Judoon, but that’s alright.
Well, the highlight of course was Skaro: Planet of Nostalgia. Don’t worry, one
of these days we’re going to get an explanation for how it’s still there
despite Seven blowing it up decades ago. I mean an onscreen explanation.
a lot of us had our suspicions that kid-Davros would make an appearance, how
wonderful was it to see not-dead Davros as well. Again, an explanation for how
he survived would have been nice. I’m sure there are countless Doctor Who red
shirt villains who would love to know how to survive an exploding spaceship.
And the interactions between the Doctor and not-dead-yet Davros. That was
beautiful. It’s tradition that every Doctor that meets Davros has to have a
deep, philosophical discussion with him and this face-off with
not-quite-dead-yet Davros, feels like one of the stronger entries in the Doctor
Who history books.
off to how genre savvy the Daleks and not-dead Davros are. After his minions fail to find the Doctor, not-dead Davros just casually
tells them to follow his friends instead. The Daleks have learned the art of
not being taken in by big speeches, opting to kill Missy the moment she stops
speaking. And of course vaporizing the TARDIS instead of leaving it on the
floor like they did in Asylum of the
Daleks shows that they are at least one decimal point smarter than their
unfamiliar with the Classic Series featuring past Masters might not have
understood why the Master had a similar ‘oh crap’ moment as the Doctor. Well,
the Master is well aware that he/she has a long history of stabbing the Daleks
in the back so in their eyes, he/she is just as bad as the Doctor.
was such a nice inclusion seeing the past Doctors. If there is one thing Steven
Moffat is adamant about, it’s remembering where the current Doctor came from.
The divide in fandom separating New Who and Classic Who is still very wide and honoring the past by showing previous Doctors is a great way of reminding
everyone just why he is the Twelfth
did anyone else spot the symbolism/foreshadowing when the Doctor entered the
arena on a tank?
hoping the rest of the season manages to live up to the high standard that The Magician’s Apprentice has set.
Actually, let’s hope its better.