The Witch’s Familiar Review
That didn’t quite work for me, at least on a first viewing, although watching it again as I write this it improves. Much of that is, I think, being free from the weird vertigo of the fake cliffhanger. I have mixed views about deliberate misdirection via out-of-context flash forwards as a technique. Actually, that’s generous; I tend to think they’re a cheap trick (and am still known to grouse about the utterly shameless and unnecessary one in American Beauty). So in that regard I found the episode jarring.
It wasn’t even that I was particularly excited about the trolly problem the cliffhanger set up. That was only ever going to be interesting as a platform upon which to do something interesting. In that regard, if anything the opening, with Missy having Clara tied up and explaining a seemingly irrelevant plot point from a story we weren’t watching, is the best part. Certainly it never quite matches that giddy thrill again. And similarly, the Doctor rolling out in Davros’s chair to argue with the Daleks is great. But it’s also where the episode loses its tension.
Actually, between you and me, I suspect Moffat had trouble with the script. You can almost perfectly imagine him on some eventual DVD commentary during the “Doctor in Davros’s chair” bit admitting that he only wrote the scene because he realized he had written an episode that just dumped Peter Capaldi in a basement for forty-five minutes, and making fun of himself for the fact that it contributes absolutely nothing to the plot. Or at least I can, though maybe what this really reveals is that I’m the sort of person who writes imaginary Moffat commentary tracks in my head.
But the problem this script has isn’t the Doctor/Davros scenes, or at least, mostly isn’t. Indeed, on the rewatch those are what really sing. The detail of Davros being beside himself with joy at the news that the Doctor saved the Time Lords jumped out on the first pass, but only as part of a fairly tiresome “Davros pretends to be good” scene. On the second pass, it struck me as incredibly clever and interesting; a moment of genuine empathy from Davros, but one that’s carefully framed in terms of the nationalist and racist ideologies he espouses and represents. I buy that much more than the bullshit “the Doctor teaches child Davros about mercy and thus achieves some small ineffable victory in the form of incremental progress towards a less genocidal Dalek” note on which the episode ends, certainly.
No, the problem is ultimately that there’s not ninety minutes of story here, and the effort made joining the two halves up and structuring this as a season premiere detracts from the actually interesting bit. Or, rather, if there are ninety minutes of story the cliffhanger is in no way the halfway point of them. Certainly that’s what’s suggested by the weirdly rushed denouement, in which the Doctor, for no discernible reason beyond the fact that the episode is about fifteen minutes from the end, decides that instead of letting Davros die naturally he’ll walk into his trap. It’s not that I think there was necessarily more road to run in the actual Davros/Doctor conversation. Rather, it’s that the resulting rush of tying off threads was, to my mind, unsatisfying, a point highlighted by the perfunctory “Missy addresses Davros” line, which at once flags the fact that Moffat recognizes the appeal of that pairing and the fact that he didn’t actually give it to us in any meaningful sense.
Ah yes, Missy. Presumably the witch, with Clara as her familiar, right? (I mean, who even knows anymore.) There’s an argument to be made, in fact, that the Doctor/Davros scenes were filler for an episode that’s actually about Clara and Missy infiltrating the Dalek city. Certainly bringing Missy back as a foil to Clara is a sly move, although one might be forgiven for feeling like some more Gomez/Capaldi scenes might have been nice. Or perhaps it’s just the degree to which Clara is a prop here, with her only real contribution being to say some clever things while tied up in the pre-credit sequence. After that she exists to get handcuffed to a wall, shoved into a Dalek, and left to helplessly beg that the Doctor figure out Missy’s final trap. (A scene that didn’t quite work for me, Has Jenna Coleman ever been this poorly served in a single episode?
It’s not that the Missy/Clara scenes are bad, although I’m not quite sure what the “Missy dances cackling around endlessly ricocheting Dalek fire” was meant to do, precisely. Michelle Gomez is still compulsively watchable. (Her delivery on “get in” is probably my favorite of her many fantastic line readings.) And the setup is fantastic. I love the Dalek sewers, which feel as though a China Miéville idea snuck into Doctor Who. I even love the basic dynamic, setting up fairly standard Doctor Who situations and then showing Missy handling them in her own macabre and unique way.
But it’s hard to escape the fact that this doesn’t actually follow particularly well from The Magician’s Apprentice. It does the standard thing – which one expects to become even more standard this season – of having the second episode take a decidedly different tone and approach (note that the Dalek sewer, crucial to the resolution, is only introduced here). But the high concept premise makes it difficult to have that much of a split. So we have an episode that feels enough like its predecessor that the deliberately misleading cliffhanger hangs over it, making it feel at all times slightly unsatisfying. And by the time that collapses into a slightly rushed denouement the problem has festered.
Of course, none of this is helped by the basic problem, which is that Moffat built an entire two-parter out of the most overrated (and, as Jack points out on last week’s podcast, misrepresented) scene in the history of the series. The Doctor’s debate over destroying the Daleks is crap. It was crap in 1975. It’s crap today. It has always relied on a crass substitution of aesthetics for ethics that ends up saying nothing. The Doctor cannot destroy the Daleks or actually shove Davros into a handmine because the larger structure of Doctor Who cannot possibly allow this. And so with one option foreclosed for entirely aesthetic reasons the actual content of the debate becomes empty. Genesis of the Daleks sidestepped that by ultimately taking the debate out of the Doctor’s hands. But The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar puts it back in his hands, and ends up with all the obvious problems. Put another way, the Doctor’s initial choice in The Magician’s Apprentice of walking away without doing anything one way or the other is fundamentally the least interesting decision he could take. And moreover, once he took it there was only one actual direction the story could go from there, which was, of course, where it actually ended. Add to that a fake-out cliffhanger that pretends the Doctor is going to take the aesthetically impossible route (at least temporarily) and you get a story that’s tremendously frustrating.
As I said, a rewatch helped. The story benefits from having all questions of suspense removed from it so that you can just enjoy the basic craft of seeing the Doctor and Davros put into a conversation that doesn’t involve Davros shouting for most of it, or of seeing what happens when Missy plays Doctor.
Even there the pointlessness of the Doctor in Davros’s chair sequence and the rushed nature of the ending is a bit disappointing, though. And I have trouble imagining this is ever going to be considered a classic. Well, actually, no. There will always be people for whom having Missy and Davros in a story that heavily references Genesis of the Daleks and isn’t as abjectly awful as Attack of the Cybermen is going to be the very definition of a classic. And fair enough. I won’t lie and say I’m not a sucker for that sort of thing in my own way, and it’s as responsible for the episode’s successes as its failures. This wasn’t a bad way to kick off the season by any measure, but I hope we move on to more daring, ambitious, and weird things next week.
- Though I admit I’m skeptical; from the looks of it, we’ve got Whithouse doing a base under siege, which just doesn’t sound like a recipe for innovation. I’m curious about the two-parter nature of it, though; the Radio Times preview’s descriptions of the two episodes sound like there’s some real evolution in the concept at least.
- Whatever else I may think of the episode, the “only other chair on Skaro” joke made me laugh as hard as I ever have at Doctor Who. I expect Jane and I are going to have much to say about chairs on this week’s podcast.
- “The only other chair on Skaro” is also the best of a truly fantastic pack of Julian Bleach moments. What a performance, especially under that makeup. It makes you wonder what Michael Wisher could have done with a prosthetic this good.
- So, there’s a half-Time Lord, half warrior thing called the hybrid, and it has something to do with Clara, and also some ancient aspect of the Doctor’s life on Gallifrey. I’m sure Moffat has a compelling idea here, but… it sure does look like they’re going to tackle the “half human” thing, whether directly or indirectly, doesn’t it?
- I’m sure there are people who are going to complain that it didn’t reference Oswin’s fate in Asylum of the Daleks, but there’s no sense Clara remembers her splinters, so I’m not really sure how that would have been supposed to work. Or was it just that there weren’t enough continuity references in this story?
- We’re not really doing sonic sunglasses, are we? Please tell me we’re not really doing that.
Funny Quote From Someone Posting in the #moffat hate Tag on Tumblr
“Does Moffat not realise how many female viewers will have been shocked out of the action with that word? The story was carrying us all along and what was the point? Be honest, how many people were thrown unceremoniously out of the magic by that word?” (On Missy’s use of the word “bitch”)
- The Magician’s Apprentice
- The Witch’s Familiar
September 26, 2015 @ 8:03 pm
I enjoyed how they literally ignored the trolley problem!
I thought it was decent enough. Well, lots of nice little moments, but no idea why it needed to be two parts, and it didn’t really feel about anything. I was struggling over what the plot actually was, but some of the little bits were really good, and it’s great that Capaldi is having fun as the Doctor rather than being doom and gloom.
But uh, what about Web 3 being stolen, eh?
September 26, 2015 @ 8:06 pm
Well, I adored it. Maybe it’s because I’m the target audience for this episode, but I think there’s something more to it than that. The mercy storyline really affected me; it’s probably the most emotional I’ve ever gotten at Doctor Who. I don’t have a particular explanation as to why.
September 27, 2015 @ 12:04 am
Yes, what really got me was Davros asking the Doctor, “Am I a good man?” after the build-up that term of ‘a good man’ has gotten in the last few years of Doctor Who. Okay, maybe I was fooled by Davros’s act, but the music and the mood really played a part in entrancing the watcher, even if they knew that the snakes were the cables.
And that scene of the snakes covering the Doctor really unnerved as well. See, this episode, or a majority of the episode, seemed to be sort of working as an entrancement or a trap for the Doctor. And he seemed to be falling for Davros’s thrall, but then again-the sewers were revolting and taking control. Although now I’m wondering how the Doctor even knew about the sewers. I guess from his former experiences tromping around Skaro.
September 27, 2015 @ 2:13 am
I bought the “Davros redemption story” bit simply because I could not believe they were going with the hoary “Davros is pretending to seek redemption to trick the Doctor, at which point he will turn into a bwa-ha-ha cackling villain” with an absurdly overcomplicated scheme to get the Doctor to donate regeneration energy (which has never been mentioned before and probably never will be again). And I CERTAINLY didn’t think that the Doctor would come back with a McCoyesque “I anticipated that you would try to trick me into giving you regeneration energy, so I set the whole thing up to where you would accidentally destroy yourselves with it.” Although, in retrospect, the reference to “unlimited rice pudding” from last week suddenly makes more sense. By THAT point, I half expected Missy to come in and say “I anticipated that you would anticipate Davros’s trap, so I went back in time and set things up so I can steal your regenerations to achieve Total Absolute Power. Bwa-ha-ha.” And then, Rowan Atkinson would show up and things would get sillier.
Like you, I may need to watch it again, but on first viewing I’m profoundly disappointed.
Also, is anyone else having monumental problems with Captcha?
September 27, 2015 @ 6:23 am
The Captcha is either terrible or we are all robots but don’t realise it.
September 27, 2015 @ 3:00 pm
I know, Captcha is acting up. I swear I can see the letters fine enough, though it is a little blurred and difficult with all of those two lines slashing through the field and the dots. But once, twice, three times, maybe even four? Good grief.
September 27, 2015 @ 10:37 am
Except that I don’t think Davros was pretending to seek redemption. I think the scenes work perfectly fine if you assume Davros was being scrupulously honest, because that’s pretty much the point of the episode–Davros is doing to the Doctor exactly what the Doctor always does to him, being completely and totally honest in a way that he knows won’t matter because he knows the nature of the other person will lead them to reject all of the escape hatches from the trap. Davros is telling the absolute truth about everything, especially the bit about “none of this means you should have any compassion for me because compassion is a weakness and it will destroy you.” As far as he’s concerned, it’s not his fault if the Doctor doesn’t listen.
So yes, Davros is wondering if all the sacrifices he made to preserve his people are worth it. He is dying, unsure of whether he did the right thing, and isn’t it wonderful that we finally get a frame of reference for Davros’ behavior that allows us to understand how he could do these things and still think of himself as “right”? He is the product of an utterly xenophobic, tribalistic, militaristic culture that prizes survival at all costs. Everything he’s done has been to save his people, and he has struggled with his conscience for ages. The Doctor keeps saying there’s a better way, that compassion is worth it…and Davros has set up a trap that will prove one way or another who’s right. Davros isn’t saying whatever he thinks will get the Doctor to step into that circle–he’s telling the truth, knowing that he will be vindicated whether he lives or dies. Either the Doctor lets him die and admits that compassion isn’t worth it, or he saves him and dies himself, which proves that compassion isn’t worth it either. Seriously, Davros means every word he says and I think this is the best character study we’ve ever seen of him, and I include some rather spectacular Big Finish audios in that.
Of course, the Doctor spotted a flaw in his plan, but that’s why the show is ‘Doctor Who’ and not ‘Davros’.
September 27, 2015 @ 5:57 pm
You have perfectly summed up my feelings on their interaction.
Davros says, “Take the darkest path into the deepest hell but protect your own as I have sought to protect mine.”
Which is pretty much a warning right up there with ‘compassion will kill you’ as much as it is a statement of his ultimate allegiance and philosophy, regardless of any doubts that may creep up on him.
September 28, 2015 @ 3:47 am
Bang on. Really with those thoughts above, I was really moved by that section too.
September 29, 2015 @ 1:25 am
On second viewing, I will admit this — This two-parter is easily the best use of Davros since “Genesis.” Far better than the ridiculous omnicidal maniac of “Stolen Earth/Journey’s End.”
September 26, 2015 @ 8:10 pm
Moffat’s urge to dilute and overwrite the fundamentals came very close to breaking Doctor Who here:
The Doctor stole a TARDIS and left Gallifrey because of his part in developing a hybrid Time Lord / Dalek? I can only hope that this won’t be mentioned again.
I’m was also disappointed with The Doctor’s line about being ‘a bloke with a box’ – like proclaiming himself ‘an idiot’ at the end of the last series, it promulgates the notion of the Doctor as everyman, or, indeed – reluctant hero – which seems to be me to reduce everything that is interesting about the character.
September 26, 2015 @ 8:15 pm
Actually, the “prophecy” or whatever is half human, half “race of warriors” or something similar; Davros simply assumes this refers to the Daleks, but there’s no real reason to think it does.
I’m 99% certain it actually refers to humans.
September 26, 2015 @ 8:26 pm
Oh god you’re right aren’t you D: D: D:
September 28, 2015 @ 3:49 am
My partner and I would agree it refers to humans too.
September 26, 2015 @ 9:09 pm
“the notion of the Doctor as an everyman… seems to reduce everything that is interesting about the character”
ugh. Literally disgusting. Gross gross gross. I suppose you like the Cartmel Masterplan Other bullshit, too? The Doctor as a Destined Hero and all that garbage? Your aesthetics are critically flawed.
September 26, 2015 @ 9:29 pm
On the contrary, I think it is only in the revived series that the Doctor has been portrayed as a ‘Destined Hero’. I don’t care all that much for the Cartmel masterplan. These posts on Phil’s ‘Castrovalva’ essay were what I had in mind:
September 26, 2015 @ 9:35 pm
I suspect you can disagree more civilly than that, BC.
September 26, 2015 @ 10:38 pm
I suppose I could. I was… incensed. I find any reading of the Doctor as anything other than a (tremendously privileged) everyman as being very… distressing. There are so many heroes in media whose heroism is predetermined or a special quality; the Doctor should be a hero because he WANTS to be one.
September 28, 2015 @ 4:45 am
I guess you could argue that he’s an everyman compared to other timelords, but most people he meets don’t have a magic box, a sonic screwdriver, or more than one heart.
I’d see the companions as more everyman(person) figures.
October 26, 2015 @ 3:34 am
I guess it’s an issue of semantics. When I see “everyman hero” I think of characters like Han Solo or Sam Spade; someone the ordinary audience member could easily imagine themselves being under the right circumstances. But the Doctor is, to my mind, more akin to Sherlock Holmes. By which I mean he is practically a superhero, and should be handled as such in stories. That doesn’t mean he should be without flaws or relatable moments, but that he should always be kept a bit above & beyond the audience. I think characters like that work better when they aren’t the lead strictly speaking, or at least not the main perspective character. Holmes has his Watson, Wolfe has his Goodwin, etc. Thus, the Doctor’s companions.
But as you seem to define it, “everyman” is the counterpart to child of destiny. I certainly agree with you there, characters who becomes heroes through their own agency (setting aside whatever privileges make that possible) are much more interesting, particularly for long-running serials. I love Star Wars, but that kind of narrative requires a clear arc with beginning, middle, and end. I’d rather the Doctor remain a time lord who chooses his path, if at times reluctantly, than it being part of some grand wizard’s conspiracy or some-such.
September 26, 2015 @ 9:32 pm
I am confused. How did he turn then into robots? The ones in the graveyards/sewers didn’t seem like robots.
What’s wrong with the Doctor being a kind of cosmic Everyman?
September 26, 2015 @ 10:00 pm
There is something in what you say – I will have to watch the episode again to consider the sewer Daleks. If, however, we are now to believe that any creature inhabiting the casing of a Dalek is somewhat impelled to act like a Dalek, what is the slimy jelly for? Does that creature have no agency? It also rather contradicts ‘Dalek’, and the suicidal Dalek in ‘Remembrance’ by suggesting that they are programmed like a machine…
There’s nothing wrong with that conception of the Doctor. It just doesn’t interest me. The irony is that one might think that a cosmic Everyman Doctor would be less interested in himself and more interested in the world, whereas with Eccleston, Tennant, Smith and Capaldi we have rather more of the opposite.
September 27, 2015 @ 12:16 am
I think rather that the Dalek casing OS has built-in autocorrect
September 27, 2015 @ 2:05 am
There’s no point in programming a robot voice with a full vocabulary if the creature inside the robot only ever says like ten things.
September 27, 2015 @ 9:10 am
It’s the built-in censor that every successful fascist requires lest a stray word leads to a stray deed and a fall from righteousness.
September 28, 2015 @ 6:24 am
Yes, they still have agency, it is just limited. It’s a perfectly fascistic conception. There’s a point to the organic being if nothing else in the fact that there is a being there who is aware and suffers. Robots have no awareness.
With that autocorrect and the sewers, a lot of what I got from this is how utterly rotten it is to be a Dalek. No wonder they’re angry, even if they weren’t bred for it.
I’m having difficulty confirming I’m not a robot with the new Captcha. They’re often very hard to read.
To merrival – I also don’t like it when the show focuses too much on the Doctor, rather than outwards. I don’t mind learning more about him, but it’s like when they go on and on about what a wonderful person he is and he’s the most important being in the universe and suchlike. But this is mostly from Russell. T.
September 26, 2015 @ 8:13 pm
Michelle Gomez, “admit it, you’ve all had this EXACT nightmare” and The Only Other Chair on Skaro were all hugely entertaining, laugh-out-loud distractions from the fact that this has done nothing to sell me on the idea of an entire season of two-parters.
A little bit of me was hoping the “hybrid” thing was just this hugely dramatic build-up on Davros’ part that existed to get comedically punctured by Missy’s entrance. They’re not actually basing a season arc on this are they? Hmm.
Still, fucking loved the revolting sewers. In both senses of the word.
September 27, 2015 @ 12:12 am
The nightmare bit was also good, and some of the action in this episode harkens back to early Dalek serials like-The Daleks and the Space Museum, when Ian and the Doctor have both jumped into a shell of a Dalek in the past.
Yep, I can definitely see the hybrid taking over here.
September 26, 2015 @ 8:28 pm
Huh. While I don’t like misleading flashbacks, this one worked well enough for me, as thanks to the timey-wimey-ness of Doctor Who sometimes you’ve got two frames of reference regarding an action–as here. To Davros the Doctor with the weapon saying “exterminate” is a past event–one he remembers and finds absolutely key in regards to the Doctor’s personality. All his actions in part two are driven by this being his understanding of the Doctor–but it’s fair enough play for Moffat not to show us the full outcome for a bit of cliffhanger..
Indeed, I liked the structure. You have the bracketing question posed all the way back with Baker’s Doctor: what if you could kill a child before he could commit attrocities? Answer in Doctor Who will always be “No, you can’t.” No getting around that so long as it’s a British kid’s show. But having accepted the answer MUST be no, you’re then inside the brackets with an immortal Doctor and his immortal enemies: enemies so constant and so intimate that in some ways they’re closer to him than his companions can ever be. What does that automatic “no” mean in that context?
That’s why it HAD to be two episodes long: to play Missy against Davros, showing each as in odd ways close to the point of being the Doctor’s loving friends.
The Doctor can’t kill them. He can’t because they share his world. Because in a crazy way they are the real people he’s protecting, far more than Gallifrey: “his people.” He can’t because he knows from near-infinite life that if you do not kill, you have a chance of planting seeds of mercy. Of bringing a Missy to your side when you need her.
You need two episodes to pick your way through just how bug-house crazy both Davros and The Master/Missy are. How close they also are to the Doctor. How much Missy/the Master always did “love” the Doctor.
You need the Doctor, even in rage, ordering Missy to run, specifically so he can’t kill her in his anger. You need her hurt at his “rejection” of her for an ephemeral.
In a real way this pair of episodes was more ABOUT timey-wimey and its consequences in near-immortal lives than any Doctor episode I can recall. Yeah, there are a lot of stories about the trick of jumping in time. But this one is a story about what it means to live nearly eternally outside time as humans experience it, surrounded by mayflies.
As a complete aside, I’m also intrigued by the reprise of Clara as a Dalek. I’m wondering if that’s going anywhere?
September 26, 2015 @ 8:43 pm
See, I feel like the Doctor Who answer to the question “What if you could kill Hitler as a child?” is not “No, you can’t, because this is a British kid’s show” so much as it is “Why would you want to, when you could show him a better way instead?”
September 26, 2015 @ 10:49 pm
That’s definitely the answer this time.
But to me any answer but no is ruled out by the “British kid’s show” element. There may be a range of reasons why “no” is the answer, but in that genre frame it’s always going to be no.
Part of what I like about Moffat is that rather than dodge, he turns a show with a preordained narrow answer, and turns it into something complicated because of all the things that preordained answer can stir up.
September 27, 2015 @ 11:39 pm
You don’t even have to show Hitler a better way. Just give him something better to do.
For example, track him down when he was an aspiring artist, and give him a commission to travel and paint landscapes for you.
Davros is clearly a genius at developing medical life-support technology for the severely disabled, ill and injured. A very doctorish trait, really. And the Doctorish solution would be to direct that talent towards real medical needs.
September 28, 2015 @ 4:43 am
To me this episode did a great point of showing that even with time travel, there are some people you just can’t redeem, or heal, or turn aside. The answer to “why doesn’t the Doctor just go back in time and fix Davros up” is “He already did”. This is the “fixed” Davros. The Doctor shows him what mercy is like, but to Davros, that just illustrates the fundamental horror of being at someone else’s mercy. Alone, and afraid, and wondering if the stranger will return or abandon him to death. So he set out to ensure that his people would never be at anyone’s mercy again.
At least, that’s a reading I could make from this episode.
September 28, 2015 @ 9:43 pm
Well, you certainly can’t fix someone like Davros in a few minutes, which is all we saw the Doctor try. It took more than a few minutes to make Davros who he is, and it would take a similar amount of time and effort to make him someone different.
I’m not even sure if “mercy” is the lesson that young Davros would get from the Doctor saving him. After all, at that point in his life, he’s done nothing wrong to need mercy! That’s the whole point of a “child Hitler” moment.
Davros was saved by a stranger from a single threat on a single day, of a life he lived being born into and surviving endless war. For children and civilians to survive at all in such situations, they often have to help each other, and help strangers, and be helped by strangers. One more incident to get past one more danger probably was not too memorable.
Going back to save the child Davros was a big deal to the Doctor. But it would not have the same psychological weight for the child Davros.
It might come to mean more to Davros when he was older, when he realized that the Doctor saved him knowing what he became.
But everything else that made Davros who he is remains the same. So I think this is a mistake to read as the Doctor’s attempt to “fix” Davros.
September 27, 2015 @ 12:22 am
With the whole Clara as a Dalek, last episode also had another shout-out to Asylum of the Daleks with Boris being transformed into a humanoid Dalek in the arena-at first I had thought he had just gotten bitten by a snake, because he surely was still human up until then. And the whole two-parter has been predicated in some fashion on the nature and history of the Doctor and Clara’s relationship with one another, with Daleks and Missy tossed into the mix to shake things up and disturb them.
I found some of the stylish elements of this episode, especially in the sewers and when the Doctor was confronted by Dalek Clara, as a callback to Asylum of the Daleks. And the nature of the snake, I touched upon briefly in another post as an attempt to enchant/entrance the Doctor into helping Davros, which still benefited the Doctor in the end as he turned it against Davros and the Daleks. In that case, the snake is also a symbol of treachery, betrayal, and lies and I do wonder if, in the end, the Doctor might wind up betraying or lying to Clara.
September 27, 2015 @ 5:50 pm
What I noted about the reprise of Clara as a Dalek is that it inverts how the Doctor encounters her.
Last time, all he could hear was Oswin’s voice, until we got the shock reveal of the Dalek casing. This time, all he can see is the Dalek casing, and Clara can’t make herself heard.
There’s probably something really profound to be made out of this observation, and I leave it here in the hope that someone might do so.
September 26, 2015 @ 8:29 pm
The thing about the Dalek sewers was, whilst a great story idea it begs the question, why haven’t the Daleks weaponised their senescent colleagues? Surely as a psychological weapon showering your enemy in insane, screaming viscous hate must work as a method of softening resistance.
September 27, 2015 @ 1:40 pm
Probably because it’s less efficient than just showering your enemy in clouds of nanobots that turn them all into eyestalk-headed zombies…
September 26, 2015 @ 8:51 pm
I have to say I’m surprised at this review. I thought it was incredible. I can’t quite formulate why I loved it so much at this early stage so I may well change my own mind in time, but I really can see it being hailed as a classic. I thought the Doctor-Davros scenes and the Missy-Clara ones showcased some bravura writing from Moffat. I also think Coleman had some great stuff to do – Clara obviously knew she was falling into each one of Missy’s traps but just had to go with it as her best chance of saving the Doctor, mirroring the Doctor flashback scene at the beginning. And that last scene of her inside the Dalek was superb and quite moving in a way.
Yeah, right now, I’m in love.
September 26, 2015 @ 9:47 pm
I agree about Clara’s last scene in the Dalek, the basic horror of it mistranslating her attempts at identifying herself had a nice ‘I have no mouth…’ effect.
September 26, 2015 @ 11:51 pm
Yes, I definitely agree this is a great episode/two-parter-I like the Witch’s Familiar more than The Magician’s Apprentice for all the inventive, caring ways Witch’s Familiar stretched things out while it seemed like merely too much bloat or build-up in Magician’s Apprentice. (They re-establish Missy’s nature, some of the background of Clara and the Doctor, Colony Snake-what happened to the snakes, were they all fried/destroyed?- the nature of the Doctor’s concern for his impending death, and of course the arrival on Skaro.)
And with Clara, yes, I can see it was her one chance in a million of surviving by following Missy-she took her one chance, no matter how dangerous that was. What else could she do, accept that she had no chance? Of course Missy took advantage of her hope for living/surviving and tried to use that against her, but it is the Doctor’s nature to give that hope/chance to whoever asks-even a Dalek.
September 26, 2015 @ 9:18 pm
The hollowness of the ethical question at the centre of the story also brings us to the problem of The Doctor’s power. Missy’s line, ‘The Doctor without hope. Nobody’s safe now: he’ll burn everything, us too.’ doesn’t make much sense. This kind of thing was fine when The Time War shaped the way we think about The Doctor. When we know that he wouldn’t even annihilate The Daleks on their own planet, it’s silly.
It’s a shame, also, to see ‘regeneration energy’ sprinkled like pixie dust again – though the description of it as an ‘ancient magic’ must be of interest to the Eruditorum, surely?
September 27, 2015 @ 5:36 am
Of course Missy would think he would. And you need that for the proper subversion of the fridging narrative.
September 26, 2015 @ 10:09 pm
I loved “your sewers are revolting” as a line.
Also, a Dalek begged River Song for mercy back in the Big Bang.
September 26, 2015 @ 11:54 pm
Hmm…I wonder if that idea of a Dalek beginning River Song for mercy is going to play out again later.
September 27, 2015 @ 8:40 am
And of course, significantly, the Doctor wasn’t there to witness that Dalek begging for mercy.
September 27, 2015 @ 9:12 am
Maybe only the rank and file Daleks have the autocorrect option – the officer class gets more leeway?
September 26, 2015 @ 11:55 pm
No one has mentioned the part of Missy dropping the fact that she had a daughter back on Gallifrey. Hmm…
Ger of All Trades
September 27, 2015 @ 4:40 am
“Got it in the olden days of Gallifrey. The Doctor gave it to me when my daughter—”
I find the juxtaposition here extremely interesting. Apparently the Doctor’s gift of the brooch to the Master was relevant to the Master’s daughter in some way? Only one possible explanation leaps out at me here – could it have been a token bride price? Was the Master the Doctor’s father-in-law? It does strike me as the sort of twist the mind behind “River is actually Amy and Rory’s daughter from the future” might pull, especially now that the subject of bastard hybrids on ancient Gallifrey has been broached.
September 27, 2015 @ 7:01 am
Actually I think it was when the Master’s Daughter Married the Doctor’s Child.
Their offspring being Susan of Course.
Just imagine Susan addressing Missy as Grandmother!
September 27, 2015 @ 8:51 am
Oh, now that’s gold. Well done.
September 28, 2015 @ 5:08 pm
Or the Doctor’s daughter had a child with the Master.
September 27, 2015 @ 12:40 am
I didn’t realize this until earlier today, but Danny-Missy was not entirely responsible for his death, right? That might be the one thing that Clara cannot hold against Missy, though everything else, Missy was to blame. The car hitting Danny was an accident, which Missy did use to her own advantage as Clara then called upon the Doctor for help to bring him back.
Missy desecrated his body, and the bodies of all the dead, and changed them into Cybermen as a ‘gift’ to the Doctor. Plus Missy toyed with and lied to Danny and Clara, fooling them for a bit with ‘heaven’ and the 3W facility, and of course Missy killed as many people as she could. It’s not much, that Missy didn’t kill Danny, compared to everything else she’s done, but it’s just something I had not really realized before.
September 27, 2015 @ 3:40 pm
I have to credit my girlfriend with pointing this out – I wrote about it in my own giant blog review of Death in Heaven. You’re right that the Master doesn’t kill Danny. Danny dies three times.
Danny is severely twisted and messed up by the Master’s schemes, yes. But essentially, Danny commits suicide, or at least lets himself die.
September 27, 2015 @ 6:19 pm
I know it’s more likely that Missy’s plan included the step “hope one of Clara’s loved ones dies before she leaves the Doctor” but I read somewhere the idea of Missy driving round and round that stretch of road all day waiting for Danny to step off the pavement, and I think that’s at least as fun as a traditional Missy plan.
September 27, 2015 @ 11:09 pm
Huh, that’s interesting. Part of me also wonders if, as a Time Lady, Missy might have some handle on alternate timelines. My fan theory here is that Missy, looking for a companion for the Doctor, got a lock on Clara and glimpsed part of her timeline, including her relationship with Danny and Danny’s death. That might have influenced Missy’s decision there.
September 27, 2015 @ 11:16 pm
I just wanted to add, because Danny and Clara could have had a relationship and Danny could have died without the Doctor being involved in their lives at all. So Missy could have used that potential future to her advantage, like a Turn Left scenario, and brought Clara and the Doctor together, which made things more explosive. Although I may be thinking too much about this. Didn’t Missy mostly choose Clara to be the Doctor’s companion because she thought Clara reminded her of herself, or something along those lines?
September 27, 2015 @ 12:51 am
Another thing that interested me-the fact that Missy remarked upon the fact or idea that she might have eaten Clara if she was hungry enough. I don’t know where exactly this comes from, but one of the spin-off media-was it ‘The Dark Heart’ or something like that?-indicated the Time Lords were reptilian in nature, almost like a crocodile. And I’m really only familiar with this idea because I like the stories written by a fanfiction writer featuring Jamie and Two traveling together, and the fanfiction writer also likes to use this idea about the Doctor being a reptile in the stories.
September 27, 2015 @ 1:04 am
The Master totally ate some dudes in The End of Time.
September 27, 2015 @ 2:25 am
Hmm. Perhaps that explains why the Doctor, who is otherwise a pacifist and usually a vegetarian, is okay with Madame Vastra /eating/ the criminals she catches.
September 27, 2015 @ 8:48 am
The Doctor isn’t really usually a vegetarian is he though? It wasn’t even mentioned until “The Two Doctors” and briefly followed up in “Revelation Of The Daleks”. I always assumed that was something that changed regeneration to regeneration (in the way that, for example, the Third Doctor clearly loves his vino while the Eleventh really, really doesn’t), but I don’t think it could be called a key part of who he is.
September 27, 2015 @ 6:40 pm
The NAs made a big deal out of Seventh’s vegetarianism, while the PDAs completely ignored Sixth’s,
Actually, lets do this. Doctors and evidence of their vegetarianism or otherwise, based on what I can remember right now and as much research as I have the energy for at 11:30 pm.
First: Likes fish’n’chips in the novelisation of Dalek Masterplan. But that was by John Peel so it doesn’t count. He’s programmed the TARDIS food machine to simulate bacon and eggs, which may indicate he likes bacon, but may also indicate he prefers to simulate it,
Third: When he’s hobnobbing with the Minister at the club, I can’t really see him asking if there’s a veggy option. No, it’d be the roast beef and potatoes or the duck in orange sauce.
Fourth: Jelly babies are made with bovine gelatin, so if he is vegetarian he can’t be a very strict one.
Fifth: No real evidence, but a man who carries emergency celery at all times, so that must mean something<.i>.
Sixth: Becomes vegetarian in Two Doctors (previously fond of gumblejack),possibly lapsed by the time he met Mel (cooks bacon in Business Unusual),
Seventh: Definitely veggy in the NAs.
Eleventh: Is prepared to try bacon but doesn’t like it. Believed to be vegetarian by the Dream Lord, but famously fond of fish fingers and custard. Possible pescatarian?
TARDIS Wiki has a whole category about meat. I may do further research in the morning.
September 28, 2015 @ 8:54 am
Should add to the Fourth Doctor that he makes a point of getting salami for ‘a salami sandwich’ from Renaissance Italy. We also see the Third eating corned beef sandwiches in one of his stories.
Ger of All Trades
September 27, 2015 @ 4:44 am
That line really made me wish Michelle Gomez had guest starred in Hannibal.
September 27, 2015 @ 1:40 am
I found it exquisite.
September 27, 2015 @ 9:48 am
I have to admit, the moment I saw Clara strung up as the hanged man, I thought of you. And then Missy poked Davros in the eye…
For me it was prime Dctor Who doing what only Doctor Who can do: in any ways taking three series of Hannibal, condensing them to fifty minutes, and adding sink plungers while making the ideas understandable by children.
The “What do you do if you had a Time Machine and the opportunity to go back in time to kill Hitler” problem is addressed in exactly the same way as it was in Lets Kill Hitler: you try to show by example a better way of being.
The Magicians Apprentice is the Doctor: causing elemental chaos by not fully thinking through the long term ramifications of his actions; the Witches Familiar is Clara: for all Phil’s complaints, she keeps up with Missy, but is just too slow to raise the consequences of following her because at the end of the day she is just human.
Loved the explanation of Dalek thought as Newspeak: the reduction of language to expressions of terror, apt in the modern world.
As Jane says, to quote Eleanor Bron: exquisite.
September 27, 2015 @ 2:47 pm
I am SO looking forward to hearing you and Phil talk about it on the podcast 🙂
September 28, 2015 @ 4:03 am
With the image of the chair I got to thinking about ascension in the story. And for me there is an ascension here that grabbed me, albeit a dark one as the rotting Dalek matter rises up into the world of light in the climax.
As Carey mentions above Clara is seen in the position of the Hanged Man, and she also descends down the pit, to then ascend too, but inside the shell of the monster – so part of what she goes through is about understanding the monsters from within.
September 27, 2015 @ 2:27 am
I thought for sure Phil would get a major kick out of the scene where Missy tells a story where the Doctor is in mortal peril and then escapes. She asks us how the Doctor survived, and in response the Doctor looks out of the (black and white, grainy) TV screen at the viewer. Almost felt like Moffat giving you a wink.
Speaking of, I loved the effect at the start where Four became One became Twelve (dressed as Three).
Personally, I always assumed that the Doctor left Gallifrey due to a prophecy as well, I just figured it was because when he looked into the Untempered Schism, he saw himself destroying Gallifrey at the end of the Time War.
Other stuff that seems like it would be right up Phil and Jane’s neighboring, crooked, dank alleys:
* Snakes being representative of both treacherous temptation and medicine
* Proper affirmation that the blue eye on Davros’s head is a third eye, thus making the Daleks a race that, collectively, has only third eyes, no
regular eyesleft or right eyes
* Between the opening and the fact that every generation of Daleks (save the New Paradigm) is present in the city, this also serves as the Dalek version of The War Games, which was likewise about warriors coming together and being synthesized into some new form
* The entire episode is just the “Master in a sewer” joke from The Curse of Fatal Death, isn’t it.
September 27, 2015 @ 2:29 am
Bit of an HTML failure there, “regular eyes” is supposed to be crossed out. I typed regular eyes and then remembered there’s actually some business to do with left eyes and right eyes.
Ger of All Trades
September 27, 2015 @ 4:47 am
I genuinely thought Moffat had finally run out of Curse of Fatal Death elements to incorporate into the actual show. How wrong I was.
September 27, 2015 @ 2:36 am
If this year’s season theme is “why did the Doctor really leave Gallifrey”, then the “Maisie WIlliams is Susan” rumours suddenly seem a whole lot more plausible…
September 27, 2015 @ 3:25 am
I never thought the “A man should have a race” bit was part of the ploy, it was just Davros going full Hitler. It was so effective and disturbing.
September 27, 2015 @ 3:40 am
Is this too fanficcy for Moffat, but I wonder if the Hybrid is Maisie Williams, but she is the daughter of the Doctor and River. Hence half human on her mother’s side.
September 27, 2015 @ 4:28 am
Clara hanging upside down from a tree was surely a reference to Tarot. The Hanged Man being an image of initiation. The ‘Magician’s Apprentice’ becomes the ‘Witches Familiar’ and is put through various trials before achieving enlightenment. Clara being pushed off the ledge and surviving a twenty foot drop being just one of a number of ‘leaps of faith’ given her by Missy (in her own inimitable style). The whole sewer sequence, as well as being a classic ‘journey through the underworld’ rescue was also a call back to Ian and Barbara’s interminable journey (at least three episodes) through tunnels to the Dalek city with the Thals in the first Dalek story. (A lovely reference to Hartnell to compliment Capaldi’s trousers).
Snakes, eyes, (and blindness. “My vision is impaired) tunnels, chairs (thrones?) mercy, regeneration, death. Enough imagery there Jane surely?
So…Susan is the Hybrid offspring of the Master’s daughter and the Doctor’s son. That’s my theory.
Oh, and no to the sonic Raybans. Just no. (Moffat’s trolling us here Isn’t he?)
September 27, 2015 @ 5:45 am
My initial reaction to the hybrid stuff was: “That’ll be Susan then.” (Quickly followed by “ooo – the forums are going to be in uproar if he does that”, later followed by “then again the forums are always in uproar.”)
What has surprised me is that none of the reviews (admittedly I’ve only seen a couple) have mentioned this, making me wonder if I’ve read too much into it or missed something.
September 27, 2015 @ 3:31 pm
It seems crazy and ridiculous now, but I could see the magic Ray Bans becoming delightful Lennon-style neo-hipster transition lenses by the time Hannah Murray takes over as the Doctor in the last 2020s.
You could do a lot of interesting Doc’s-eye-view shots with them too.
John G Wood
September 27, 2015 @ 5:01 am
More to say later – maybe – but I just wanted to share what my son said (with a deadpan expression) when it finished:
“Well, that was disappointing.”
“There should have been clams in the sewers.”
September 27, 2015 @ 7:12 am
You are bringing up a very smart boy there, John G Wood.
Ger of All Trades
September 27, 2015 @ 1:33 pm
Nothing will ever dislodge my head-canon that the Skaro Degradations were just clams.
September 27, 2015 @ 5:07 am
Clara being trapped in the Dalek and unable to communicate came through to me as pure horror, as I have a degree of claustrophobia and the thought of being misunderstood hits my emotional buttons.
Otherwise, it came across on my single late night watching as a bit of a mess. Fantastic images and ideas that are followed by strange jokes and self undercutting. The only chair on Skaro was great. Davros thrown out of his chair and lying on the floor was bathetic, and surely the chair is his life support?
Why was the red Dalek on a fixed podium?
Does Davros always have a colony of snakes in his chair? That’s just an extra level of ick.
September 27, 2015 @ 6:21 am
Some upset comments today on Gallifreybase claiming that the Doctor’s treatment of Davros was disability abuse.
September 27, 2015 @ 8:53 am
Don’t read GallifreyBase?
September 27, 2015 @ 10:28 am
Absolutely. I mean, the whole “evil cripple” trope is horribly, horribly ableist and has been since Davros’ first appearance; I don’t think there’s anything Moffat can do at this point to redeem that, and pretty much anything physical you do to Davros is going to be disability abuse by its very nature. I think Moffat was pretty much stuck with what he had to work with, but there’s no question that it’s entirely fair to bring this up as a problematic trope.
September 27, 2015 @ 10:43 am
I was genuinely expecting Davros to regenerate at the end, actually!
September 27, 2015 @ 9:35 am
On the whole I liked it well enough, and I think that there were some intriguing potential set-ups about both Gallifrey as it is now (wherever it is), and Gallifrey way back in the Doctor’s and the Master’s past.
It’s true that not everything worked, but really the best thing the show can do at the moment with the prodigious acting talent at its disposal is just let them talk. The Doctor and Davros together were marvellous, and Missy and Clara together also had some fine moments (though moreso in Part 1 than Part 2).
September 27, 2015 @ 9:58 am
Another example of 60 minutes of good stuff squeezed into 100 minutes (well, actually into about 110 minutes but with the last bit being heavily compressed as Phil notes.) Having said that, I thought TWF was much more interesting, although that’s mostly because I thought that practically all of the set-up in MA was paid off nicely, whilst still managing to introduce new things.
(I’m moderately convinced that this is going to be Moffat’s last year, and he’s trying to get everything still on his “list” into the show; this must have covered quite a few of them…)
I really, really want to see Missy facing off against River though.
September 27, 2015 @ 1:37 pm
Are all the episodes going to be 50 minutes this season, or was this a special extension of the running time because “there’s just too much story here to fit into 90 minutes”? [boggles]
September 27, 2015 @ 12:54 pm
Some may consider this a spoiler so be aware of that. But in the Moffat Radio Times guide, here’s the synopsis for the Capaldi one-hander:
“In a world unlike any other he has seen, the Doctor faces the greatest challenge of his many lives. And he must face it alone.”
I wonder if the hybrid mentioned in this episode may be the greatest challenge he has to face alone? Otherwise, why throw a prophecy/hybrid into this story at all, if not for foreshadowing?
September 27, 2015 @ 4:00 pm
We also have episode 12’s synopsis: “If you took everything from him, and betrayed him, and trapped him, and broke both his hearts… how far might the Doctor go? It is time, at last, for the Doctor’s confession.”
The confession dial shall return!
September 27, 2015 @ 1:16 pm
I’ve just watched this in its ‘omnibus’ repeated format, wherein the BBC cut out the end credits of part 1 and opening titles of part 2, instead using an insert slide reading “Part 2: The Witch’s Familiar”. What leapt out at me was that the explanation of Missy and Clara’s cheating death flows more nicely when we see it straight away, rather than as a return to Doctor Who after a whole week’s break.
Other than that, I thought the two halves balanced each other’s strengths quite well as a 90 minute movie, perhaps resulting in something more than the sum of its parts.
September 27, 2015 @ 1:40 pm
I wonder why they didn’t just edit it together completely, with no breaks/black screens/title cards.
September 27, 2015 @ 3:11 pm
It’s odd where television conventions are concerned, but I think the first time we see the Doctor’s “Exterminate!” almost demands some kind of chapter division.
September 27, 2015 @ 3:38 pm
I’d like to add to this – and I might be making up nonsense here – but perhaps some of the longer and less vital scenes in the two-parter simply were better suited to the ‘hour-and-a-half chunk’ mode of viewing than the ‘forty-five minutes a week’ mode.
Like perhaps we invest different levels of tolerance and patience for pacing when we commit different amounts of time to the exercise. I expect Sherlock to be sprawling and indulgent (screentime-wise) in a way I don’t generally expect of Doctor Who.
September 27, 2015 @ 1:33 pm
Enjoyed that a lot more than I was expecting after the filler-filled and clunky Magician’s Apprentice. Sundry things wrong with it, including some of my usual gripes about Dalek hybridisation, but certainly the most pleasing Dalek story since Army of Ghosts/Doomsday, though obviously that’s not saying all that much.
Speaking of which, besides Genesis it seemed to be cribbing all manner of fragments from previous new-series Dalek stories – Davros’s scheme was an elaboration of the Dalek’s ploy in Dalek, the netherworld-of-discarded-crazy-Daleks-terrorising-the-normal-Daleks thing echoed Asylum, and the combination of the “regeneration energy” business with the querying of how mercy got into the Dalek’s “DNA” [gurgle] seemed like trolling Evolution.
I also liked the nod, as last week, to fear and craving for security as the driving force behind the Dalek idea.
Full agreement with everyone else on Gomez, Bleach, Capaldi, and the chair…and the sunglasses. No. Just no.
September 27, 2015 @ 1:46 pm
I found it a flawed episode, definitely, but it had its wonderful points. A beautiful performance from Julian Bleach, for one. I think my favourite was the horrors of the Dalek sewer/graveyard, and the fact that the Daleks were destroyed literally by the re-emergence of their enraged zombie slime ghosts bubbling with eldritch ichor.
Piggybacking on Phil’s reviews again to throw my own thoughts into the crowd.
September 27, 2015 @ 5:42 pm
I buy that much more than the bullshit “the Doctor teaches child Davros about mercy and thus achieves some small ineffable victory in the form of incremental progress towards a less genocidal Dalek” note on which the episode ends, certainly.
Yeah, I liked that scene when I watched it, because I’m a sucker for scenes like that. Then I wrote up my own review and suddenly thought “and this achieves what, exactly?”
I still like the scene, I’m just not sure it does what Moffatt thinks it does.
Not convinced on sonic sunnies, but I do like that they just look like ordinary sunglasses, just as the TARDIS key looks like a normal house key. They don’t even light up! Hear the howls of anguish from replica screwdriver manufacturers!
September 28, 2015 @ 2:32 am
Possible alternative reading (apologies if I’m repeating anyone) – Davros believes his trap will work precisely because he “remembers” the Doctor going back for him, even though the Doctor knew he was rescuing a child who would become a monster. He knows that the Doctor will always take that one chance in a thousand of the ‘good’ outcome prevailing. He therefore knows (or thinks he does) that the Doctor will fall for the one in a thousand chance of Davros seeking redemption at the end of his live. The final scene isn’t about the Doctor sowing the seeds of ‘mercy’ in the daleks: it’s about him revealing to Davros that he will always come back if he thinks there the chance of something good coming out of it …
September 28, 2015 @ 3:30 am
Mainly testing to see if I can comment as I have had trouble doing so, as until now my comments have simply not posted onto the page, as i cannot get past the captcha. Shame, as there as so many posts I wanted to share thoughts on : ) So sorry, but still not that keen on the commenting interface.
I enjoyed a whole lot about this episode, but the sections that stunned me the most were those with the Doctor and Davros and their conversations. The heart of the story for me felt like where the Doctor felt driven to share that he was “just a man in a box telling stories.”
September 28, 2015 @ 3:32 am
Finally! I got past the sentry robots!!
September 28, 2015 @ 3:44 am
Sorry for being grumpy bout it, but do feel better now it’s easy for me to comment again.
September 28, 2015 @ 4:38 am
Captcha is, undeniably, a more nefarious creation than anything Davros might ever have devised …
October 5, 2015 @ 6:08 am
Yes, it particularly intrigued me that the Doctor is now primarily describing himself as a storyteller.
I would strongly suspect Mr Moffat was an Eruditorum reader, even without previous psychochronograph references.
As for the captchas, I think they want to be entered within a few seconds of the page loading.
October 5, 2015 @ 6:13 am
And having written that, I now wonder if Mr Moffat will ever invoke more directly the Doctor’s relationship to the Land of Fiction.
September 28, 2015 @ 5:41 am
It’s pretty gross of you to randomly mock the complaint of a tumblr user (who you have had more than a few disagreements with in the past). Like, some people don’t like the word ‘bitch’. Why does that young woman’s complaint really bother you enough to include it in a review?
September 28, 2015 @ 1:41 pm
It does seem… petulant? At the very least, unprofessional. At the worst, actively hostile and mocking.
September 28, 2015 @ 4:56 pm
I found it ironic as, for all the nasty, evil things that Missy has done, the random killing is fine, the threatening the world, but have the character use the world ‘bitch’, and it’s OMG Moffet!
What would fiction be like if characters words were policed for every line of offence? What would be left, what stories could be told?
September 29, 2015 @ 12:13 am
Criticising Moffat personally because one of his villains uses the word ‘bitch’ (and, seemingly, forgetting that part of his job is to put words into fictional characters’ mouths) is about as logical as claiming that Moffat likes to kill off innocent bodyguards in his spare time: i.e. “he wrote that scene therefore he definitely thinks it’s something that should happen”
Now – if Moffat used the word ‘bitch’ in his own speech that would be a different issue, and a very, very valid complaint against him. If Moffat had scripted the Doctor using the word, that would be a valid complaint, but arguably for different reasons.
Scripting Missy using the word actually adds some depth to her character: she will use every tool in her box to undermine and unsettle Clara, even a petty insult.
September 29, 2015 @ 3:58 am
Whilst I agree with most of this, Missy does not use the word bitch as an insult toward Clara, she uses it to refer to herself as the subject for a message to be given to the Supreme Dalek. That would make it a reclaimed slur, and even less ‘problematic’.
September 29, 2015 @ 4:24 am
Well, considering this appears to be a feature for the series (there was one in the TMA review as well), it’s not something that bothered Phil so much as something he found ridiculous. Which it is. As a criticism of the use of the word, it’s about as logical as being up in arms that Rose Tyler, a 19 year old Londoner, being ever so politically incorrect once used the word gay as an insult despite being written by a gay man. In 2005. Yes, it’s not politically correct, but as I remember from being 13 years old Londoner at the time, it was something you heard pretty much on a daily basis, thus perfectly in character for her to say.
As for the bit about them taking them out of the story, it’s absolutely in character for Missy. It’s such an unsurprising thing for her to say that it’s tempting to use the doge meme regarding it. Missy remains in character, uses reclaimed slur in reference to herself. Such shock. Much surprise. Wow.
September 29, 2015 @ 8:48 am
If anybody is not familiar enough with Elton John to get the joke, then they deserve all the pity & scorn they receive.
September 29, 2015 @ 8:50 am
I say, if anybody is unfamiliar enough with Elton John not to get the joke, they deserve all the pity and scorn they receive.
As do these stupid catchpas.
October 1, 2015 @ 10:02 am
‘The bitch is back’ was also the tagline on the posters for Alien 3, with (I think) a deliberate slight ambiguity as to whether it referred to the alien queen, or Ripley.
September 28, 2015 @ 9:23 am
I might not much support here with this, but for the first time I actually really disliked Capaldi’s performance in these past two episodes. Maybe it’s that opposite Bleach and Gomez he felt he needed to ‘up his game’, but either in comparison he didn’t quite measure up or because I was expecting their performances to be so intense anyway it felt like Capaldi being intense was just too much, but a lot of parts came across as shouting in place of acting, and a lot of the line readings just didn’t land for me.
That said, I much preferred this to last week; maybe just because it felt like more stuff happened and it wasn’t just sat around waiting to get to the cliffhanger, and it didn’t have an entire scene built around Peter Capaldi playing the guitar.
September 28, 2015 @ 1:43 pm
Let me be the first to say, then, that I love the sonic sunglasses.
September 28, 2015 @ 4:29 pm
Alright, let me unpack that a little.
1.) I’m a sucker for the over-the-top, the gonzo, the ridiculous. I love being genuinely delighted and surprised. I’m the target audience for Farscape’s space muppets and Planescape supplements and sonic sunglasses. So there’s that.
2.) Lots of interesting things implied by sunglasses. It struck me as signalling a mid-life crisis, an attempt to capture lost youth. There’s also something about hiding your eyes, putting a shield between yourself and the rest of the world. The Doctor is hiding something behind his eyes.
3.) The sonic screwdriver is a tool, a wondrous tool, but every tool can also be a weapon. What do we see in so much of the Doctor Who promotional material but the Doctor pointing the screwdriver intently, almost menacingly, as though it were a kind of gun. (I’d love to see the promotional poster where the Doctor is assembling Ikea furniture.) Sunglasses offer a new way to see the world, rather than disassembling it.
September 29, 2015 @ 8:54 am
Sonic sunglasses – no no no no please no. Moffat, your “dorky dad” side is showing and it’s not flattering at all.
I really liked this episode, I really did. So I’m going to focus on the one thing I utterly hated.
Am I the only one who just DESPISED Davros opening his eyes? Fandom has always assumed that his eyes are just hollow, burnt-out sockets. Fair enough it was never said on-screen so there is room for revision. But why? It was bathetic (as opposed to Davros on the floor, which was quite gruesome to me). But to write over all these years of perception with this awful, mawkish, and pointless revision that Davros HAS eyes, he just…never opens them? For some reason? Ugh. I was SO hoping that once he reverted to full-on evil mode he would pluck them from the sockets and discard them, revealing them to be mechanical implants devised for just that purpose. But no. So now we have to live with it in our heads from now on that Davros always had eyes, he just was resting them all these years? Piss off.
September 29, 2015 @ 1:43 pm
Also, the whole “Let me gift you some regeneration energy so you can see one last sunrise” would have worked better if we hadn’t just seen Davros open his eyes, with no explanation as to why he never did before and why he can’t again. In fact, Davros opening his eyes could have been a result of him absorbing some regeneration energy, making it a moment of horror rather than bathos. SIGH.
September 29, 2015 @ 10:20 am
Regarding Missy’s “daughter”, I’ve just seen a tweet by @themindrobber and I kinda love it. He theorises that, actually, Missy’s jumbled mind still has echoes of the life stolen from Tremas, so the “daughter” mentioned was actually Nyssa.
October 12, 2015 @ 4:44 pm
A thought just occured. In last year’s Listen we learnt that the Doctor’s childhood fear was having his ankle grabbed by a disembodied hand. Now we get hand mines, whose modus operandi is to grab you by the ankle. No wonder the Doctor was so disturbed to witness the child Davros being scared by them.