WARNING: This review contains spoilers
I am going to be honest here: ‘The Magician’s Apprentice’ was already more exciting than the majority of episodes from last season. The reason why is probably that we got many things that us Whovians love: Daleks, timelord mythology, references to past Doctors and our kind Doctor back.
‘The Magician’s Apprentice’ begins and ends with the same scenario: some kind of war zone from the past in which a child is about to die due to some creatures called hand-mines: strange hands with eyes that grab your feet and suck you into the ground. I can’t keep but wonder whether we will see these creatures again. They’re not as brilliant as The Silence or the Weeping Angels but they would still could make for a pretty good episode. And here comes the first jaw-dropper of the episode: the little kid is Davros, the creator of the Daleks (last time we saw him was in Season 4’s Journey’s End). Back to the present, there is a snake-made alien looking for the Doctor in several places to communicate a message from Davros, who is dying: “Davros knows, Davros remembers”.
Clara keeps teaching in school and Missy decides to call her attention by freezing planes mid-air. We don’t know how Missy survived, so that’s another mystery that we will have to wait to get an answer to. In a very tense meeting surrounded by snipers, Missy tells her that the Doctor needs help and that she wants to help him as a friend (and no, that does not mean that she has turned good, at all). She shows some sort of “confession dial” or “testament” that the Doctor has sent to Missy and that will only open after his death. Will we get another season about the Doctor dying? I would like to point out how Missy referred to knowing the Doctor saying “since she was a little girl” and no Moffat, that doesn’t solve the female Doctor debate. They find the Doctor in Essex (of course he is always in England) so they teleport back in time to where and when he is.
The Doctor rocking out that guitar with sunglasses should be one of the most badass Doctor entrances to a season. But that was not the best part: from the first moment you could see that the Doctor is changed. He is not as grumpy, he is now nicer and he proves that he cares a lot for Clara, and even for Missy. Snake-guy shows up and passes the message to the Doctor and then gives him the screwdriver he had given to Davros as reality shocks the Doctor: by saving Davros, he was responsible for the creation of the Daleks. Timey-wimey stuff. The Doctor feels ashamed and complies to go with him, even though Missy warns him that it sounds like a trap. And it was indeed.
While the Doctor is meeting with Davros, Clara and Missy, who had followed the Doctor against his will, realize that they’re not in a spaceship, but on a planet. And not any regular planet, but Skaro, the planet of the Daleks. Missy is freaking out as much as the Doctor, but soon decides to turn the tables on the situations and tries to convince the Daleks that she could be of use to them by teaching them how to use the TARDIS for destruction. Aaaaand she is killed again. But then so is Clara. Yes, we know that this will be Jenna Coleman’s last season with the Doctor, but I don’t believe that they would kill her off this soon. And certainly not like that. As the Doctor watches his friends get exterminated, Davros tells him that “compassion is wrong” and then Daleks proceed to destroy the TARDIS. So yeah, an awful way to start the new series for the Doctor. We go full circle when the Doctor goes back in time to the war zone and points at Davros with a Dalek piece to exterminate him. Will he do it? We’ll find out next week.
Yes, I know what you’re all thinking: How could the Doctor kill Davros? Wouldn’t that eliminate Daleks from history? And not only Daleks but also all the disasters that they caused (Rose…)? How is Doctor saving Davros not a fix point in time?
Final thoughts: Again, this was a pretty entertaining episode to watch. Especially the ending, where too much was happening at the same time. However, the episode didn’t have that “premiere” feel to it as it almost felt like a regular episode. We got a cliff-hanger and the story is going to continue on next week’s ‘The Witch’s Familiar’, which makes it look like the typical 2-part episode in mid-season.
However, I have to give kudos to Moffat for bringing back the Doctor we all love: a Doctor who loves Earth, humanity and that shows that he cares about his friends and what happens to innocent people. Gone is the grumpy, cynical Doctor that picked fights with Clara after every two sentences. To me, this was the most important thing from this episode. If that wasn’t enough, we also got a lot of Dalek material, which is the most classic and well-known Doctor Who creature. And Missy, of course. And no, no one seems to know why the episode was called ‘The Magician’s Apprentice’.
‘The Witch’s Familiar’ will air next Saturday on BBCOne