12 Great Moments From The Magician’s Apprentice
Mark McCullough & Simon Mitchell pick out twelve faves from the opening episode of Series 9.
Note: Big episode spoilers follow, naturally!
It’s hard to believe that’s it has been a year already! Thankfully the wait for Series Nine is now over with The Magician’s Apprentice bursting onto our screens. New Doctor Who means more material to discuss, and I am delighted to be bringing you these Twelve Great Moments articles again. Having looked at your feedback last year and taken it on board, I have decided that each article will be structured as a countdown from twelfth best to the single best moment of each episode. Aside from that, everything is pretty self-explanatory, and I will be trying to keep any negativity out of the article (The title is Great Moments, but I can get passionate if I feel things could have been done better).
Also, this week, I have Simon co-writing with me. He has seen the episode at the screening, so in theory we should have a nice balance of immediate post-episode emotion, and a more measured approach from someone who has had time to think on it. There’s no denying that The Magician’s Apprentice was a cracker of a story, so without further ado here’s our list of highlights:
Anyone who is familiar with Moffat’s work will know that he is particularly apt at taking everyday things and making them scary. As if he hadn’t terrified viewers about the idea of flying enough with his exploits in The Bells of Saint John, he offers yet another reason to avoid planes here. (Perhaps he wants to save himself queuing for his next holiday, I’m onto your plan, Steven!) It’s effectively just a mechanism to kick start the plot and bring characters together, but one that is done very well. It must be said, it was nice seeing Kate and UNIT again, even if it was only a brief cameo.
11. Arch-enemies Reunited
It was inevitable that Davros and the Doctor would come face to face at some point within the episode. This is something that I am sure everyone was anticipating, and it did not disappoint. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the scene was the power dynamic in which the dying Davros had the energetic Doctor totally at his mercy. This scene also showcased some of the strongest dialogue of the episode. To add a cherry on top of an already fantastic scene we had ‘cameos’ from previous Doctors.
Character entrances are a common theme this week, as you would expect given that the show itself was making its grand return. Missy was one character who certainly held up to the theme of grand returns. First with a repeat of her famous tune teasing us of what was just about to come. Then appearing OUT OF the screen, reminding us of just how insane she can be! But let’s be honest, were we expecting any less from her?
This moment, I felt, deserved to be recognised on its own. Why? Because, finally, we get to see a Classic Dalek have some ACTION in New Who! (Asylum of the Daleks, take note of how it should be done) As I’ve only seen the episode once, which was at the screening a week ago, this was the part which stuck out in my head as being THE Classic Dalek moment of the episode. I just remembered thinking ”Oh god, yes, they’re back.”. And in the spirit of grand entrances, they introduced Skaro with a special little appearance from an old friend that many wanted to see again.
8. Davros Appears
We’ve already been introduced to Davros in the opening scenes. But there’s no denying that when we see the Davros we know and love in the flesh, played by none other than Julian Bleach, we all had our eyes wide open in amazement. Well, I certainly know I did.
7. Gravity of the Situation/Skaro Reveal
Now if only it hadn’t been for the trailer revealing Skaro, this moment could have been a lot better. Not that it isn’t great already, but one does have to question some of the BBC’s marketing choices lately. The reveal was still delivered to an exceptionally high level which made the most of the stunning visuals both in space and on Skaro itself. Once again Missy’s presence elevates the scene by showing that even she is scared about where she finds herself. This translates well to the audience and cranks up the tension for the final act of the episode.
6. Afternoon Tea from Hell
I can’t find the words to express just how much I love Missy and this scene just exemplifies the qualities which serve her best. Her sheer cruelty in taunting Clara about Danny’s death, her unpredictability as she ruthlessly dispatches UNIT Officers for no reason other than her own pleasure. There is also a new element added to her character which builds on the foundation established in Death in Heaven. Should she become a recurring character, her relationship with the Doctor looks set to be absolutely fascinating.
5. In Search of the Doctor
A few very simple, yet effective scenes. It’s the characters who really create the excitement here. We revisit locations such as the Maldovarium, Karn, and even the Shadow Proclamation through Colony Sarff’s search for the Doctor. In the course of this journey, we encounter a host of recognisable faces including; the Sisterhood of Karn, and the Shadow Architect. Though they’re not very relevant to the story, these are some very enjoyable, fun scenes for both hard-core and casual viewers. It is also worth noting that they are effective at easing the viewer into the plot by showing us the Doctor is difficult to find rather than telling.
4. Doctor on a Tank
And we get to the greatest entrance of the episode! (And as we have already said, there was some stiff competition) You’d be lying if you said you didn’t feel a burst of excitement as the Doctor rode into the arena, guitar in hand, playing a VERY recognisable tune. This scene certainly marked a very different Twelfth Doctor than we were used to, but a very enjoyable one at that. They certainly weren’t lying when they said that Twelve’s entrance would be his most outrageous yet! Credit to Missy too whose reactions only served to add to the hilarity of the affair.
3. ”They need her to run…”
As viewers we are left just as powerless as the Doctor is to stop his friends from being killed at the end of the episode. Again this is a scene which works very well because of how the characters involved respond. In each case this reinforces just how lethal the Daleks are. Missy uses her head to try to bargain with the Daleks offering something that they would want, but they would have to spare her to get it. Clara on the other had tries the more basic approach of trying to outrun them (even though this is what the Daleks wanted). Both cases result in the two main characters of the episode being exterminated. With the Daleks now playing with their victims before killing them, I don’t think anyone can complain about loss of fear factor
The cliff-hanger of the episode is a strange one for me (I’m hoping to maybe write an article dedicated to it on its own as there is so much to say) To cover it quickly, it poses one of the biggest moral dilemmas the show has ever produced: if you knew someone was going to cause unmeasurable hurt to the universe, if you have a chance to kill them, would you? Outside of the morality of the situation there is something much more interesting at play here in terms of the Doctor’s ongoing characterisation. We have had the theme of the Doctor being a ‘Good Dalek’ raised before, so perhaps the use of the word Exterminate is suggestive of this character journey drawing towards a completion.
1. “What’s the name of the boy who’s going to live?”
Perhaps the most shocking moment of the episode, is in fact the first. (It seems last year’s run of opening scenes making their way onto this list is destined to continue for another while) After a long conversation between the Doctor and the unknown boy, we finally learn his name. It’s the one we were all waiting for: Davros, arch enemy of the Doctor. What a moment that was! Due to the rumours earlier this year, Davros was in the back of all of our minds, but the moment his name is mentioned, it’d be impossible not to shock even the most casual viewer. The music, and the look of horror on the Doctor’s face, both help add to the tension of the scene, as Moffat gives the audience their hearts on a plate in the first five minutes! (And kept them on tenterhooks right until the episode ended!)
Agree with our choices for the twelve best moments of the episode? Would you rate them in a different order? Is there anything you feel has been overlooked? Let us know in the comments section!