by Julian Spivey
The premiere of the ninth season of “Doctor Who,” since the 50-plus year old series was revived in the mid-00s, was Saturday, Sept. 19 and the season began with a whopper of a question: Could The Doctor actually kill a child to avoid the creation of evil beings, save millions of lives and potentially the future of the world?
“Doctor Who” is frequently better when The Doctor is battling his own inner-demons rather than the demons that are some race of alien hell-bent on destroying Earth or other lifeforms in the vast universe. In “The Magician’s Apprentice” The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) is battling both his inner-demons on whether or not he could let a child die, but also one of his greatest adversaries in the great history of the show, Davros the Dark Lord of Skaro and creator of the Daleks.
The episode begins in the middle of a long war between two unknown factions when a boy comes across a battlefield and gets trapped in a field of hand mines – hands that spring up out of the ground and pull you under to your certain death. The Doctor arrives to the boys cries of help and attempts to save the lad before asking him his name. When the boy answers, Davros, The Doctor does the unthinkable – getting back into his TARDIS and flying away.
It’s a decision that The Doctor regrets and we see this for at least the first half of the episode as he’s basically hiding from everybody in his shame. In fact, he’s seemingly finally ready to die – a Doctor who fails to save all lives is not worthy of the title, after all.
The only two people who can seemingly find him are his companion Clara (Jenna Coleman) and his arch-nemesis and fellow Time Lord, Missy (The Master) – who survived the end of the last season, not really a surprise to fans of the series. Missy, as played by Michelle Gomez, is a terrific villain because she’s somewhat endearing with her humor, but oh so disturbing in the gleeful way she murders people.
Throughout the first part of the episode there is someone else also trying to find The Doctor besides Clara and Missy, a mysterious hooded reptilian bounty hunter type figure named Colony Sarff, who’s been hired by Davros to locate The Doctor and bring him back to Skaro. This is a task he ultimately does, with both Clara and Missy in tow.
The Doctor and Davros, who is dying and wants to get revenge on The Doctor one last time before doing so, have quite the showdown scene where Davros essentially scolds The Doctor for turning his back on him and fleeing so many years before. Davros starts his revenge by killing Missy, but knows he’ll truly get at The Doctor’s hearts by having his Daleks exterminate Clara – which they do in a shocking moment (though we realize The Doctor will probably save her in next week’s to be continued episode).
As his dying wish Davros wants to hear The Doctor utter the words, “Compassion is wrong” just one time, but the scene cuts to the Daleks destroying the TARDIS and after a bright light appears we see The Doctor back in time again with the boy, with the incredibly rare sight of a gun in his hand before uttering the word, “Exterminate.” It’ll be interesting as hell next week to see how this all unfolds.
Side Note: The Doctor is always cool, but I’m not sure he’s ever been cooler than playing an electric guitar (bringing a different kind of ax to an ax fight). I particularly enjoyed the moment upon where The Doctor sees Clara up above the arena and begins to play the opening notes of the Roy Orbison classic “Oh Pretty Woman.” Just another terrific scene of coolness from the series.