TV Review/Recap: Doctor Who Episode 902 “The Witch’s Familiar”

Clara is upside down hanging from a rope tied to a rock. Missy is sitting nearby sharpening a stick. She tells a story about the Doctor and a time he had to escape android assassins. Clara asks why she is sharpening the stick. Missy says in case she needs to go hunting. Clara asks why she is tied up. “In case there is nothing to hunt,” says Missy. Continuing her story, the Doctor escapes the assassins by teleporting away as they fired lasers at him. The same way Missy and Clara survived the Daleks. Missy cuts Clara down and asks Clara how the Doctor always wins. Clara says because he always assumes he will win. He doesn’t think he is going to win this time. So, Clara and Missy have to decide they will succeed in their venture to rescue him.

I love how in the depiction of Missy’s story everything is black and white and at first, from a distance, we see the First Doctor before Missy decides to tell the story with him looking like he currently does.

Davros talks to the Doctor as he rushes around looking for weapons. The Doctor finds a Dalek weapon and forces Davros out of his chamber. The Doctor leaves the remains of Davros’ body struggling in his chamber and he rides his Dalek casing out of the room and into a crowd of waiting and hostile Daleks.

Clara and Missy wander the sewers of Skaro. Clara remarks about not knowing that Daleks need sewers. Missy tells her the sewers are ever so slightly alive. They come to a drop and Missy asks how deep she thinks it is. Clara leans down to look and Missy pushes her in. She hears the thud of her landing and guesses the depth at 20 feet.

The Doctor drinks tea and boasts to the Daleks. He threatens them and they doubt he will use weapons. He boasts more.

When he mentions how he got to tea he says, “I’m the Doctor, just accept it”. This sums up how I feel about Doctor Who in general.

Clara wakes up and her and Missy argue (and fight over the pointy stick…). Missy explains what the sewer is made out of. It’s ancient daleks. Daleks can’t die but they still age and liquify and end up in the sewers. They’re alive but just lots of goo….it’s pretty disgusting and horrifying.

Wow. Way to ruin immortality.

The Doctor wants Clara Oswald alive and returned to him. He is convinced she is alive. He makes the accouncment to all of Skaro. The daleks insist Clara is dead. The Doctor says if she is really dead they better be very careful how they tell him.

Missy and Clara ponder in the sewer what will happen if the Doctor loses hope completely and believes Clara is dead. “He will burn everything”, Missy says.

The snakeman’s little snakes disables the Doctor, covering him in snakes. Davros talks to the Snakeman (I have no freaking idea how to spell his actual name so I’m sticking with snakeman) and tells him that tonight they will entrap a time lord.

Missy and Clara keep looking around the sewers. They find what seems to be a camera and Missy tricks Clara into showing it her face. An alarm sounds “intruder alert” and Missy handcuffs her to the wall. They plan to disable a dalek. Well Missy plans to and does when one shows up. She makes holes in the casing and the liquid ancient daleks flood into the holes. The dalek explodes as Missy and Clara (now uncuffed by Missy) take cover.

Young Davros yells for “help” on the ancient battlegrounds. The Doctor wakes with a start. Davros is now returned to his own casing. He says the Doctor should feel privileged. He is sitting in the only chair on Skaro. The Doctor jumps up. Davros says he us dying and The Doctor points out that he keeps saying that but not dying. He tells the Doctor to pay attention to the cords in his chamber. He tells to think about what they can do. He says lots of other stuff, too but that is the gist of it all.

Missy and Clara hijack the casing of the now dead Dalek. Missy tells Clara to get in.

The Doctor comments on the daleks having no respect for Davros. His sickroom looks like the kind of place you’d put a disliked uncle to die, he says. Davros says he is connected to all of his Daleks and that their energy helps keep him alive. He says they are infected with a genetic defect, respect for their father. The Doctor realizes what the cables mean. They are connected to the lifeforce of all the daleks. He could destroy them all. Davros taunts him. He seems to want him to murder his daleks…likely just for the pleasure of seeing the good Doctor destroy an entire race. At the end the Doctor exclaims that he didn’t come there to destroy anyone or to die. He came their, he says to Davros, “Because you’re sick and you asked.”  Davros says that compassion grows strong in him like a cancer and that it will kill him in the end.

There is a lot of talking going on here and while it is interesting to see the Doctor and Davros interact this way it is very hard to recap. A lot of it ends up being repetitive and while watching it is interesting reading it would not be. So, pardon the very brief summaries of these interactions. They just aren’t easy to recap.

Missy hooks Clara up into the dalek. She tells her how it works. It’s all based on thought control. Missy closes her into the dalek. Clara is freaked out and more freaked out to hear the words she says come out of the dalek. Only when she tries to say her name all the dalek will say is “I am a dalek” as this freaks her out more, the gun goes off. Missy tells her that emotion fires the guns. We also find out that “I love you” and “you are different from me” both come out as “Exterminate”. Missy says that “Cybermen suppress emotion. Daleks channel it…to a gun. That’s why they keep yelling exterminate, it’s how they reload.”

Is this really the first time we are learning why the dalek’s shout “exterminate”? It’s good to know there IS actually a reason. Assuming Missy is being honest but it does match how the dalek casing is responding to Clara. So, sounds legit to me.

Also, I thought Clara has some memories of the other versions of herself throughout the Doctors timeline? Shouldn’t she remember being a dalek before? I kept waiting for a souffle joke. There really should have been a souffle joke.

Back with the Doctor and Davros, Davros asks The Doctor why he left Gallifrey. He says he always gives the same line, he got bored. Davros doesn’t believe that is the truth. The Doctor is adamant that it is. Davros wants to know what is on the confession dial that he had sent to Missy. The Doctor grabs the confession dial and pockets it. He won’t tell him.

I’m assuming this is going to be a thing….the confession…why he really left Gallifrey. I’m betting we will hear more about those later in the season.

Clara as a dalek walks with Missy through the halls of Davros’ sick building. When other daleks confront them she says Missy is a humanoid prisoner. The other dalek wants to know why the prisoner has not been exterminated. Missy says she is a prisoner of special interest.

Davros continues to press the Doctor about his confession and why he really left Gallifrey. The Doctor wants to know why he is asking him personal questions now after all these years. Davros says they have slaughtered billions of each other’s people, they have exhausted the means of conventional communication. The Doctor tells him about how Gallifrey is still alive and safe. Davros says he is happy for him. He is happy that his people are still alive. The Doctor is confused. Davros asks him to come closer. He wants to see him with his own eyes. Davros struggles to open his real eyes as the Doctor moves closer. When he is close Davros tells him to not lose the time lords again. He tells him to protect his own as he has tries to protect his own people. Davros is crying and asks him if he did right. He asks if he is a good man. The Doctor says, “you really are dying aren’t you”. Davros asks if he doubted it. The Doctor says yes. Davros says, “We’ve established one thing then, you are not a good Doctor.” the Doctor is surprised at his joke but they both laugh a bit sadly. Davros comments on having wanted to see the sun one last time with his own eyes.

Missy rambles to the daleks. She tells the red and gold one that it’s her favorite. It tells her that she is an enemy of the daleks. She wants to go to see Davros. She tells them she has Clara Oswald and she wants complete control of the Doctor..

I think that’s what she says…I’m a bit unsure of her plan at this point.

The Doctor helps unhook Davros and take him to see the sunrise. Davros thanks him for helping him. The Doctor tells him he isn’t helping him he is helping that little boy on the battlefield. Davros tells the Doctor that he wishes once they had been on the same side. The Doctor says the sun is rising and they are on the same side now. Davros say he can’t open his eyes. So, the Doctor uses regeneration energy to help him. He sends it through the cords. Davros laughs and channels the energy through the cords to all of his daleks. He tells him again that his compassion is his downfall.

I can’t help but feel that some of the emotion in the Doctor and Davros’ conversation was real. Some of the sentiments honest. I know they were both acting and had ulterior motives but still…I choose to believe some of it was genuine. I mean…the best way to lie and be believable IS to tell as much truth as possible. So, it isn’t an outlandish belief.

Th daleks get distracted by the regeneration energy and stop trying to murder Missy. Missy gets worried about the Doctor when she sees what is happening and runs off. Clara, inside the dalek, chases after her begging her not to leave her. The only words coming out of the dalek are “exterminate”. Missy gets to the room and blasts the cords, freeing the Doctor. The daleks say “we are renewed. we are more powerful. the experiment has succeeded. all praise Davros”

Missy wakes up the Doctor. The Doctor asks where is Clara. He assumes she is alive since Missy is. Missy dodges the question. Davros starts talking about his plan saving the daleks by using regeneration energy. The Doctor ignores him and grabs his confessional off of the floor. The planet starts shaking. The Doctor tells Davros he knew the plan all along and went along with it. He transferred regenerative energy into every dalek on the planet. He says “Immortal” and “sewers” and we see the gooey walls of the sewers vibrate and bubble. The planet is shaking more. Davros is confused. He does not believe his plan has went this wrong. The Doctor and Missy run away as the sewer good runs out of the vents. A gold dalek stops the Doctor and he tells the dalek that the sewers are about to consume the planet. He asks where is Clara Oswald. The dalek says “I am a dalek” and keeps repeating it. The Doctor keeps asking about Clara. Missy runs up and comments on all daleks looking alike but says to this dalek “It’s you isn’t it?” Of course, the dalek is Clara. Missy says “affirmative” to Missy that it is her. Missy tells the Doctor that this dalek killed Clara. The Clara-dalek keeps saying “I am a dalek” and Missy gives the Doctor a gun. Then she asks for “mercy” and the Doctor gets confused. The dalek shouldn’t be able to say “mercy” it shouldn’t have that in it’s vocabulary, he says.

But….they do….a dalek asked River Song to show mercy. Well it said she would show mercy because she was a friend of the Doctor and then upon learning her name it asked for mercy. The Doctor wasn’t there, of course. So, I guess he didn’t know that.

He tells the dalek to open it’s casing. Clara asks “how” and he tells her to just think the word “open” and it will happen. Missy says this is why she gave him Clara to begin with so he would see the friend inside the enemy inside the friend…that everyone is a hybrid. He tells Missy to run and she walks away slowly saying it wasn’t her that always ran it was him. He leads Clara through the building to a spot in the room full of daleks. The dalek shoots at them but the blasts bounce off. He tells them the TARDIS is just dispersed around the room and he has to blast it with his sonic and it will reassemble. Clara tells him he doesn’t have his screwdriver anymore. He shows her that he now has sonic sunglasses and he puts them on and uses them to reassemble the TARDIS around them and dematerialize.

Not sure how I feel about sonic sunglasses but I think Captain Jack would approve. He thought a sonic screwdriver was odd. Somehow sonic sunglasses seem more his style.

Missy is stuck in the breaking apart city with lots of angry daleks and looks like she is about to die. Then she gets an idea….

I do wish she’d stop having ideas and go away…or regenerate. I do not like this version of the Master. It’s cool that they finally showed that they can change sex but does she have to be so irritating?

On a distant hill overlooking Skaro the Doctor and Clara stand watching. Clara asks what’s in the confession dial but the Doctor is distracted. He doesn’t understand how the dalek could say the word “mercy” when it shouldn’t have known that word at all. He can’t figure out how a tiny bit of mercy got into the daleks. The he figures it out and runs to his TARDIS.

So, does that mean that timeline wise (for the daleks) this happens before the dalek talks about “mercy” to River Song?

The TARDIS appears behind Davros as a child and the child turns around and asks the Doctor how he got there and if he is going to save him. The Doctor points the dalek weapon and says he is saving his friend the only way he knows how. He says, “Exterminate” and he shoots all the hand mines. Davros asks if he is a friend or the enemy, The Doctor says he doesn’t think any of that matters as long as there is mercy. Then he takes Davros’ hand and sets off to walk him home.

I knew the Doctor wouldn’t kill a child. I don’t know what he would do if put in a situation like Jack was on Torchwood: Children of Earth (I hated that season….great writing but depressing as hell and disturbing enough to give me nightmares….probably didn’t help that I was pregnant when watching it, though) but I knew he wouldn’t kill a child the way he would have had to in this situation.

As far as the episode goes, the long conversations between the Doctor and Davros don’t hold up super well to repeated viewings but they were interesting the first time. Davros’ scheme is basically a twist on the tale of the Scorpion and Toad. Only in this version the Toad has a plan all along and wins in the end and no one really trusted anyone at all.

I loved Clara in the dalek. Asylum of the Daleks is one of my favorite episodes of the show. So, I saw this as a sort of callback and it was awesome. As was the Doctor figuring out that it was Clara. I know people don’t like her and by the end of last season I felt she was getting stale storyline wise myself but I do really like her overall. It seems like this might be a good season for her. It’s looking like we will see more of her with the Doctor and less of her at school but we will see I guess. This is supposed to be her last season. Which is good, probably. A fresh new companion will be fun and I’m sure all the Clara-haters will love it.

Overall, I give the two part opener a B+. It’s a great start to the season, I think. Much better than last season’s opener. I look forward to seeing where things from here.

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