Monday, September 21, 2015

Doctor Who - The Magician's Apprentice

Time travel is tricky. One of most commonly discussed issues with the ability to travel backwards it time and alter the future is the Hitler Paradox which debates both the morality and ability of killing someone before they grow into a fascist dictator with genocidal tendencies. The crux of that argument is at the heart of "The Magician's Apprentice" opening with The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) naturally reaching out to help a scared child lost in the middle of a battlefield. However, learning the child's name will force The Doctor to make an uncharacteristic decision which will bring the series full circle and cause The Doctor to return to face the creator of his most deadly adversaries one last time.

The first-half of a two-part opening episode, "The Magician's Apprentice" is heavy on set-up while finding ways to obscure the nature of events and delay a reunion The Doctor knows is inevitable for nearly the entire episode. It also brings back some familiar faces in Kate Stewart (Jemma Redgrave), Missy (Michelle Gomez), the Shadow Architect (Kelly Hunter), and the Sisterhood of Karn, and introduces some new creatures to the Whoverse in the handmines and the reptilian Colony Sarff (Jami Reid-Quarrell) who searches for The Doctor in order to deliver the Time Lord to its master.

Missy's ultimate role in the episode is interesting as Davros (Julian Bleach) has created a perfect storm of events that may force The Doctor down a dark path that his oldest frenemy was unable to accomplish in last season's finale. Her use of freezing all the planes on Earth just to get Clara's (Jenna Coleman) attention works to get the pair on the same page (while still reminding us Missy isn't to be trusted). Despite appearances I'm going to guess that there is some method to the woman's madness and her quick thinking has likely saved not only herself but also Clara and the T.A.R.D.I.S. from destruction at the hands of the Daleks.

As unexpected as the child announcing his name to be Davros so is the reveal of a rebuilt Skaro which, regardless of the outcome of The Doctor's final confrontation with Davros, threatens the safety of the entire universe. I doubt the show will actually take The Doctor down the dark path that the final few minutes of this episode tease, but regardless of that the cliffhanger works well. Even if it does feel a bit drawn-out, there's quite a bit to enjoy here including The Doctor's impressive (if completely ridiculous) grand entrance, Clara being called into action by U.N.I.T. and her back-and-forth with Missy.

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