12 Great Moments From The Witch’s Familiar
Mark McCullough & Simon Mitchell pick out 12 faves from the 2nd episode of Series 9.
Note: Big episode spoilers follow, naturally!
Another week and another episode of Doctor Who. This one had a lot to live up to following its superb opening part last time out: The Witch’s Familiar delivered (sort of). I’d assume you’re Familiar with the set-up of these articles by now (I’ll show myself out)! Simon is joining me again this week which gives a nice continuity for our coverage of this fantastic two-parter. So take a seat, and please do appreciate that we went to a lot of effort to find you the only other one on Skaro, relax and enjoy our list of twelve standout moments from the episode:
12. Missy Meets Davros
The Master and Davros. Two of Doctor Who’s most famous villains. Each with a long history behind them, and finally they cross paths. What happens? Well, the Master pokes Davros, all-powerful creator of the Daleks, in the eye! As first meetings go, this one’s certainly going to be remembered for some time. Missy’s also continuing her tendency of touching all things Dalek in inappropriate places here, too. At least this time was more kid friendly!
11. Davros’ Betrayal
A somewhat bittersweet moment for me, because whilst epic and what we should have been expecting all along when Davros was involved. But I really loved the direction Moffat had taken Davros in the scenes preceding the reveal, that was brave, that was brilliant and that is why it is somewhat disappointing that it was all revealed to be a hoax. Another reason for the low placement of this moment on the list falls in the hands of the BBC’s marketing people (not for the first time this series). Having been told before the episode started that it would feature an ‘electrifying twist’, it was no surprise when the Doctor’s regeneration energy went near the wires which we had been earlier warned about, that the twist occurred. Regardless of both complaints against it, there is no denying it was extremely well delivered and gave the narrative the kick necessary to up the pace towards its crescendo!
10. Sonic Specs
Of course the Doctor would get rid of his sonic screwdriver and replace it with a pair of snazzy sunglasses! It’s just such a Doctor thing to do, and what’s best is I absolutely did not see it coming. Of course this does mean the Doctor has had more control of the situation than he was letting on in the first half of the story. But that’s a good thing, the Doctor is meant to be in charge of things and of course he should never be without a sonic device. The Sonic Specs allowed the Doctor to escape the Daleks in a scene which provided a satisfactory resolution to last week’s cliff-hanger without appearing too clichéd.
9. Missy Kills the Dalek
Whoever said that Missy wasn’t a good Master? Certainly not this fan, as we get to the moment where Missy defeats a Dalek using just a brooch! To be fair, she only did half the job, leaving the actual killing to decomposed Dalek mutants. But the way she sadistically mocks the Dalek is both fairly sinister but comical at the same time, making this moment a definite Missy highlight. The concept of the Daleks aging but being unable to die was also a stroke of genius from Moffat extending the terror of the Daleks outside of the casing.
8. Clara Pushed Down the Hole
Missy is mad and I just love it. There were a plethora of wonderful moments I could have chosen from her to put on this list. Such was the quality of the episode however that I was restricted to just picking this one. What I loved about this was how it just exemplified everything that was good about her character (like a few scenes did last week too). Superiority complex, insanity, and sheer unpredictability, you just can’t sit comfortably any time this evil genius shares the screen with a character we care about. Let’s hope her smart idea with the Daleks worked, because I am hoping for a lot more appearances throughout the series. When Michelle is in the cast, an episode’s quality is inevitably always increased.
7. Test Drive in the Sewers
Finally, we get to see someone return to the inside of a Dalek shell and impersonate a Dalek! This was one of the most interesting scenes of the episode, to me, as it gives us more of a glimpse into how a Dalek really works (much to Clara’s expense, but I’d say it’s worth it). It also provides some rather sinister, subtle foreshadowing of the Doctor vs Dalek Clara showdown later in the episode, with Missy showcasing how the Dalek physically couldn’t say certain things (Such as ”I love you”. Coincidence?). Also worth noting the parallels here with Oswin Oswald in Asylum of the Daleks
6. Consider the Doctor
The resolution to one of the big cliff-hangers of The Magician’s Apprentice: did Clara and Missy die? What follows is a rather fun sequence, accompanied by a wonderful track (Kudos to Murray Gold for continuing his wonderful standard of music into Series 9), explaining not only how Clara and Missy survived extermination, but also lending itself to a question left from Death In Heaven (How did Missy survive being deleted by Cyberbrig?). Even if the explanation may have left some fans unsatisfied (For the record, this fan was satisfied), the sequence makes for an entertaining re-introduction to the story, hooking us up again to what’s to come.
5. Always Mercy
The resolution to the other big cliff-hanger of The Magician’s Apprentice: does the Doctor actually shoot a young boy in the face? This was the cliff-hanger that most fans were questioning from broadcast, whether the Doctor actually would kill this child to stop his friend dying, or if he had another scheme up his sleeve. This was a resolution that they played with for most of the episode, resolving properly only in the final scene. Of course, mercy prevails, and the Doctor takes young Davros home. Despite how it looked last week, could there have been any other way?
4. Davros’ Chair
What’s the one ride that beats the tank from The Magician’s Apprentice? Only the chair of the Dark Lord of Skaro himself, of course. Even if the scene does lend itself somewhat to comic relief, there’s no denying that most of us felt a thrill inside our inner child as the Doctor rolled into the control room sitting inside the most recognisable chair of Doctor Who. It’s an impossible scene to watch without a huge grin on your face and for that reason comes in here on our list of top moments.
3. Comments on Finding Gallifrey
We’ve entered the tough competition for the top three moments of the episode, and really it could have gone either way. I loved Davros’ reaction to the Doctor revealing that he had saved Gallifrey for a few reasons. The first is (as I had highlighted in an article last week) the Doctor’s actions in doing so where actually what a Dalek would do in the situation, of course this would please Davros. Secondly was the insight that it delivered on Davros himself and his motivations: his desire to survive. It also made me feel sorry for Davros, having created his own race, he is the Lord of the Daleks. But he will never be one of them, he is alone. It actually broke my heart a little to see him rise above his evident hatred of the Doctor to actually be happy that he found something Davros can never have. It is regretful that this may no longer stand given Davros’ betrayal. Finally in light of the discussion about the hybrid, it is my belief that this refers to the Doctor and that this will be the arc of the series.
2. The Dalek that ‘killed’ Clara
Arguably the tensest scene of the episode was the one in which the Doctor faced off against the Dalek who killed Clara. At least this is what Missy told him was the case, when in actual fact the Dalek was the one which Clara was hiding in. The rage of a Time Lord is something which has been discussed to no end within the fandom and within the show itself. Looking at what Missy attempted to do in Death in Heaven (convince the Doctor that they were alike), it appears that her motivations have not changed despite being a protagonist within this particular narrative. It shows us that loyalty and friendship mean nothing to her, and establishes just how dangerous she can be. It was also edge of the seat stuff seeing Clara unable to communicate to the Doctor that it was actually her inside.
1. Davros’ Redemption
Finally topping off our list for the week is Davros’ charade. Whilst being the top moment, it’s actually also the thing I have the biggest gripe with within the narrative. That might sound weird, but it was so well done and so effective, that I am actually really disappointed that it was revealed to be a ploy. In all honesty what we were presented with represented what could have been the best opportunity to give a famous Doctor Who character the best possible ending. Never before have I found myself in a position where I have felt sorry for one of the Doctor’s enemies. Actually the scene took things even further than that, for me it alone would actually have warranted a decision by the Doctor to allow Davros to live. I struggle to see them ever ending the character in a better manner, but then with a character like Davros who would want to write him out of the series any time soon.