Doctor Who – The Witch’s Familiar – Review

Barry Quinn

Barry Quinn is an English Language and Literature graduate and a Creative Writer MA studier. He is an aspiring creative and professional writer and is currently in the process of writing his first novel. His writing blog can be viewed here: https://barrygjquinn.wordpress.com You can follow him on Twitter at: @mrbarryquinn

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Last week I was stumped as to who the magician’s apprentice is. This week I’m still not quite sure I understand the references of the titular witch’s familiar. I guess Clara is Missy’s familiar, just as she is also the Doctor’s apprentice, but I may have read that all entirely wrong. Either way, it looks as though Clara is being bigged up once more, and we all know how much some despised that element last series. Not me though.

The Witch’s Familiar was vastly different to last week’s opener, and something that only Doctor Who could achieve. Stripping the trappings from last week, we were limited to a handful of characters in sparse settings, but what followed was a delight.

Peter Capaldi and Julian Bleach were both stunning in their roles, and the drawn-out scenes of them arguing and reminiscing were brilliant. The only niggle I have is that we saw Davros outside of his support chair – but other than that everything that followed was sensational. We saw many facets to both characters, revealing that they’re not as unalike as perhaps previously thought.

From anger, to grief, to jubilation, and then evil in a matter of minutes. It was quite something to see Davros opening his own eyes, and even more special to see him and the Doctor sharing a chuckle as old friends. I entirely bought the concept of Davros regretting the actions of his youth now that he was close to dying, and as bold a move as it would be, after such a sensitive portrayal I was ready for Davros to die. Bleach delivered this turn with aplomb.

But all was not as it seemed. The only casualty of this week was Colony Sarff, who regrettably had restricted screentime because of everything else that was happening, but I guess that can be forgiven when everything else is so rich. Davros was tricking the Doctor all along, and sapped some regeneration energy from him. But since the Doctor apparently knew this all along, I doubt there’ll be a lasting impact upon his regenerative cycle.

Over to Missy and Clara, now, and unsurprisingly they both survived their extermination last week. The explanation of Missy’s survival was a bit throwaway, but I guess you have to suspend belief with a character like Missy. Either way, we see some pretty snarky comments from Missy once more, who is doling out the humour en-masse: ‘Make your own stick!’ ‘Dark star alloy. Goes through armour plating like a knife through people.’ ‘Is it still the same old Supreme Dalek these days? I fought him once on the slopes of the Never Vault. Tell him the bitch is back.’ That last one will probably elicit complaints.

Aside from learning much more about Davros, this week also added to the lores of the Daleks, a creature that has been around for 52 years. I thought we knew everything about them, but apparently not. We learnt how their casing functions, how their weaponry is charged, and how their speech is filtered so they don’t say anything that contradicts their basic function of hatred. And we learnt all of this as Clara stepped inside of a Dalek.

This, of course, isn’t the only time Jenna Coleman has played a Dalek and, like last time, I thought the process would be irreversible. Missy turned out to be dark once more as she tried to get the Doctor to exterminate his companion.

Missy seems intent on giving the Doctor power he doesn’t want to wield; this scene wasn’t about killing Clara. Missy does not have a vendetta against Clara, because she could have quite easily killed her at any point in the episode. No, it was about letting the Doctor become a God, just like she tried to do last year.

So where does that leave us? Davros has been rejuvenated, and whilst the rest of the city crumbled around him I sincerely doubt Davros will be dead. Otherwise, what was the point in having him absorb the Doctor’s regenerative powers? Missy, too, looks like she’s in a pickle, but I think we’ll find out what her plan is later this series. I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see her or Davros return in the finale.

It appears as though this years arc will be about the Doctor’s confession. He stole away from Gallifrey all those years ago because of a prophesied hybrid – something that just has to return at some point, right? But ultimately we found out that the Twelfth Doctor is a very good man indeed. He could have quite easily killed Davros in two instances this episode, and he saved him twice. It doesn’t matter that he is his enemy; Davros was in peril, and the Doctor lived up to his name.

And finally, the Doctor has left his sonic screwdriver, and replaced them with sonic sunglasses. No. Just no.

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