TV Review: Doctor Who Episode 801 “The Magician’s Apprentice”

We begin on a battle field. Soldiers are running away. Planes are shooting at them from the sky with some kind of lasers and they only seem to have bow and arrow to shoot back. One soldier spots a little boy running in the wrong direction. He calls out but the boy doesn’t hear him. The soldier goes after him.

The boy, finally hearing him, stops and turns around. He is dirty and scared but not dressed very differently from the soldiers themselves. The soldier tells the boy to stop. He says he won’t hurt him. Another soldier runs up telling him there are some kind of drones two miles away. He says he knows and that he will catch up.  The other soldier runs away and the first soldier asks the child if he got lost. The boy nods his head.. The soldier hears something under the ground. He tells the child to stand still and pulls out a small device. He looks at the device and says he is scanning the ground. He asks the boy if he knows what “hand mines” are. The boy nods his head.

The soldier asks him if he has ever seen a hand mine. The kid nods again. The soldier asks him “Where?” and the kid points. There is what looks like a human hand gripping the soldier’s ankle. The soldier says, “Ok. It’s ok. Everything is going to be fine” but he barely even gets to finish his sentence before he is pulled into the ground completely disappearing under the dirt as the hole fills itself in and the ground resettles.

More hands rise from the ground. Each hand has a large human looking lidless eye in the middle of it’s palm. They are turning, looking around. They seem to know someone is near but they can’t find him or just can’t reach him.

Th kid stands still and screams for help. Something comes through the air and lands at his feet. It’s the sonic screwdriver. The Doctor’s voice comes from out of sight, “Your chances of survival are about one in a thousand. So, here’s what you do, you forget the thousand and you concentrate on the one”. Then he tells him to pick up the sonic screwdriver. The boy bends down and grabs it from the mud with the hand mines stretching out all around him. The sonic screwdriver looks huge in his hands.

The Doctor and the TARDIS are just on the edge of the hand mine field. They’re barely visible through the smoke and dust. The Doctors tells the boy the device he is holding is helping them talk. He says he was looking for a book shop but ended up there. He asks what war this is but the boy only knows it as “the war” and when he asks what planet he is on the boy doesn’t understand the question. The Doctor says never mind and goes back to the matter at hand.

“Now, you’ve got to make a choice,” he says, “You’ve got to decide if you are going to live.” He explains that survival is just a choice you make. The boy insists if he movies the hand mines will get him but the Doctor reminds him that he has a one in a thousand chance and that one is all he needs. The Doctor asks him his name.

The boy seems reluctant to believe him and distracted. He doesn’t answer at first. The Doctor pushes him. He says, “Tell me the name of the boy who isn’t going to die today.”

“Davros. My name is Davros.”

The Doctor stops talking and the boy thinks he’s left. The camera pushes in on the Doctors shocked and appalled face as Davros calls for him and calls for help. When only his eyes are visible it cuts out and the title sequence runs.

A strange looking man with a swollen looking segmented face, lines running horizontally over it, wearing a robe is going from planet to planet searching for the Doctor. He is an employee of Davros. Davros is dying. He wants to speak to the Doctor. One woman on one scorched looking rocky planet asks what he wants with the Doctor. She says to give her the message. The man says Davros wants to speak to the Doctor one last time. “Tell him,” he says, “Davros knows. Davros remembers.” As the strange man leaves the woman says, “what have you done Doctor,” and we see that he was hiding nearby the whole time.

Davros is in a contraption that is presumably keeping him alive. He is holding the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver. It looks old and decrepit. So, does Davros. His employee tells him that the Doctor can’t be found. Davros insists that he can. “He has a weakness,” he says. He tells him to first find his friends. Then he will find the Doctor.

Clara Oswald is teaching her class when she spots an airplane in the sky that isn’t moving. She has the class all pull out their phones and check social media and the news sites for #planeshavestopped.

A man comes in and tells Clara there is a call saying she is needed. She says it’s UNIT. She has to leave. She rides a motorcycle that appears to be hers to UNIT headquarters. The Doctor can’t be found. He isn’t answering his phone and they don’t know who has caused the planes to stop but they have stopped all over the world. Clara mentions how much fuel that is. 4000 flying bombs frozen in time in the air. It doesn’t seem like an attack or an invasion. Clara realizes it’s someone trying to get their attention.

Almost as soon as she has this realization a message comes through on the “Doctor’s channel”, a communication channel he never uses and likely doesn’t remember exists. First to come through is text, “Hey Missy you so fine you so fine you blow my mind. Hey Missy!!!!”.

Clara has another unpleasant realization.

Next to come through is a video of Missy. She quickly points out that she isn’t dead but fails to explain why or how that has come to be. She says she is a hot country with good coffee and a nice breeze coming from the east. She will need 8 snipers she says because it’s the only way Clara will feel safe talking to her. She asks how fast they’ll be there and says she will arrange the flight corridor,

Missy waits in a little outside cafe table. The snipers get into place and Clara pulls up in a back car with guards. She gets out and walks over to Missy’s table. Missy gestures her to a seat.

Once sitting Missy asks how Clara’s boyfriend is, “still tremendously dead, I suppose”. Clara says yes he’s still dead. Missy asks her if she’d like some shade and she moves a plane to be over them to block the sun. She then explains that no one can contact the Doctor. She received his last will and testament, the Time Lord’s version of one anyway. It’s to be delivered to his closest friend on the eve of his last day.

There is some talk of how Missy is considered his closest friend and what Clara is (Missy says she is like the puppy a couple nearby are walking). Missy says her and the Doctors relationship is complex but not romantic. She also evaporates some guards to prove to Clara that, no she has not turned “good”. Clara finally demands to know why she needs her. The doctor is in danger, Missy says. Clara convinces her to release the planes to prove she really needs her help.

Once the planes are free Clara asks what the will said. It won’t open until he dies. So, Missy doesn’t know yet. Clara insists that it won’t open at all.

They start to try to discern where the Doctor would go if he only had one night left alive. Earth, they are certain, but where and when?

UNIT runs an algorithm that tracks anomalies, crises and certain keywords (like “Doctor”) to find where and when the Doctor is (or has been…maybe will be but I really don’t see how they could possibly see the future though…but let’s just ignore that little plot hole because….well just hush). It shows lights all over the map. He makes a lot of noise and creates a lot of buzz when he shows up. So, not much help.

Clara asks Missy what a Time Lord is supposed to do when they are about to die. “Meditation”, she says, “ repentance, acceptance, contemplation of the absolute.”  Clara looks for the opposite. She has UNIT change the algorithm to look for where the Doctor is making the most noise but there is no crisis, no reason for him to be there at all.

They find him.

Missy uses a vortex manipulator (didn’t Captain Jack have the last one of those?) to transport herself and Clara to his location in the middle ages. They on the outside of a gladiator arena. Clara asks how they’ll know where the Doctor is. Missy says “Anachronisms, the tiniest slightest…”

About that time the Doctor rides into the arena on a tank playing a squealing electric guitar.

The Gladiator asks him, “what is that?”. The Doctor replies that he wanted an axe fight. No one gets the joke. The gladiator insists that a musical instrument is not an axe. “And a daffodil is not a broad sword but I still won the last round,” the Doctor says. He continues to make pun based jokes that no one laughs at as he walks around the arena. Clara and Missy talk to each other on the balcony the materialized on. The Doctor overhears them.

The Doctor starts playing “Pretty Woman” and announces he has been there all day. Someone says he has been there 3 weeks. He seems shocked that he has been there that long. He lists all the things he has done (including digging a well and introducing the word “dude”). He then introduces Clara and Missy as a “couple friends of mine” and brings them out. He is sweet to Clara, complimenting her and then hugging her. She seems concerned by his behavior.

He calls Missy the wicked step mother and tells the crowd to hiss. Just as a snake attacks the other gladiator. The Doctor throws the snake and it slithers to the strange looking man in the robe. The man followed Clara and Missy to the Doctor.

Then he drops the robe (or maybe there was no robe) and lots of snakes slither off of one large flesh colored snake that he has turned into (it’s kind of a hard transformation to explain…he doesn’t exactly “turn into” it..he is always the large snake apparently but watching the process it looks like he is turning in to it).

The snake speaks to him and tells him Davros is dying and wants to see him. The Doctor insists no one dies, no one gets hurt. The snake settles back into the form of the man. He asks if the Doctor is really that dangerous. The Doctor says “do you want to know how dangerous I am? Davros sent you. Do you want to know how stupid you are? You came.”

The snake man tells him that “Davros knows. Davros remembers” and he throws the sonic screwdriver at him. Clara says, “thats yours”. The Doctor says, “It was. I don’t have a screwdriver anymore.” Missy says she has never seen that look on his face before and she asks what is it. Clara knows. “Shame,” she says it’s shame. She asks him what he has done.

Back on the field of hand mines, young Davros is still calling for help. The Doctor doesn’t answer. The fog gets thicker and we hear the TARDIS sound of the Doctor leaving.

The Doctor still looking ashamed tells the snake man he will go with him. Missy insists it is a trap but the Doctor is prepared to go even though he believes he is going to his death. Clara announces they are going with him. The snake man agrees and they are all teleported away to the man’s ship.

Once they are gone the gladiator goes into the back room and finds the TARDIS. He turns around to reveal he is a Dalek puppet and he speaks through a communicator to say that the TARDIS has been located.

The ship flies through space as the Doctor tells Clara and Missy about the child Davros once was and how fear from growing up during an eternal war made him create the daleks, sealing all of his people into metal tanks.

They see a space station in the distance that is their destination.

Once inside they are left waiting a long time. It is mentioned that it has been a long time but no one knows how long.

The snake man comes to take the Doctor to Davros. Clara stops him to ask him questions. She wants to know why he sent his confession to Missy when they both saw her die on Earth ages ago (it is unclear how much time has passed since the Christmas episode but this seems to insinuate that it’s been a while). She says he either knew Missy wasn’t dead or at least hoped she wasn’t dead. She says he has been lying. He apologizes. She says to not apologize. He should make it up to her. Now, she says, he has to come back.

As he is walking out he looks at Missy as says “Gravity”.

Missy and Clara talk about the gravity. Missy says the gravity should be artificial. It should smell coppery around the edges but it feels real. She opens the airlock.

The Doctor enters Davros’ sick room. He marvels at his chamber and the wires and machines keeping him alive. Davros says he approves of the Doctor’s new face. He asks if he suspected a trap. The Doctor assures him he still expects a trap. Davros asks why he is there then. He then plays him video “memories” of the Doctor’s last conversations with him. We see the Doctors many faces on the screens in the room. There is video of the Doctor asking if you knew a child would grow up evil could you kill him? Davros says he believes he was right to create the Daleks for the good of the universe. The Doctor says he was very wrong. They have had this argument many times but Davros assures him that it will end tonight.

Missy and Clara stare out into outer space. They see nothing but space and distant stars but there is no suction and they can breath. Clara starts to step outside. She goes slowly and find that she can stand. They still see nothing but there is clearly something to stand on. Missy infers that they are on a planet. The space station isn’t a space station it’s a building. The whole planet is invisible.

But once they are both standing on the ground and aware of being on a planet they start to be able to see things (Missy calling it “sinking with the spectrum”). Clara asks why anyone would hide a whole planet. Missy says, “it depends on the planet.” We see the landscape them and the buildings around them.

They are on Skaro. Davros’ home planet, the planet of the Daleks. Davros has rebuilt the planet thought to have been destroyed in the Time War.

The Doctor, upon realizing where they are and that Clara is in danger tries to leave but Davros says he can’t help her now.

The Daleks have found and taken Missy and Clara to where they are keeping the TARDIS. Clara tells them they will never be able to use the TARDIS because they can’t enter it (she, of course, can but I’m assuming this is her way of telling them she won’t). They tell her they will not be using it. They will be destroying it. Clara says the TARDIS is indestructible. Missy asks if the Doctor told her that? “Never believe a man about a vehicle”, she says.

Davros tells the Doctor he can’t control his daleks. He can’t help them. They are watching Clara and Missy with the daleks on a screen. Missy is telling the daleks about the TARDIS.

Missy tells the daleks they could go anywhere, do anything and kill anyone with the TARDIS. They all need if her, a Time Lord(Lady) to show them how it works. “Or”, she says, “would you rather just kill me?” They evaporate her.

Again the Doctor begs for Clara’s life. Davros insists, “I made the daleks but I can’t control them”. The Doctor is distraught.

The daleks wait for Clara to run. They wait for her to be more afraid. she runs and they evaporate her, too.

The Doctor is angry and…I don’t even know what. Davros tries to get him to admit that compassion is wrong. He wants him to admit that he should have killed him when he was a boy.

The daleks say “destroy the TARDIS” and a bright white light emanates from the TARDIS. I’m assuming it is dematerializing because otherwise what happens next makes no sense.

Back on Skaro in the past with Davros as a boy, the Doctor appears behind him. He spins around and asks how he (the Doctor) got back there. The Doctor tells him he came from the future. The boy asks if he will save him now. The Doctor says he is going to save his friend the only way he knows how. He raises a gun and says “exterminate”.

To Be Continued.

It was a good episode. I liked it but I have no idea where it will go from here. I don’t think the Doctor can kill Davros as a child. That would…..do all kinds of weird things to the timeline. The Doctor shouldn’t be able to change time at all in any major way (but we, of course, know he can and does often try). I just don’t see the writers erasing the daleks from existence. They are just way to big of a part of the show.

I’m guessing he will do something that saves Clara but doesn’t erase the daleks from existence. Or maybe he doesn’t have to save her. She could have already saved herself.

One thing I love about Doctor Who is that I can’t always predict what will happen. The show is so obscure you never know what direction it will take. There are so many shows where I can predict the outcome of events that it’s great when I find one that surprises me.

Doctor Who airs on Saturdays on BBC (and BBC America).

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