Ever since Doctor Who returned to TV, it’s taken a different look at the Dalek, not just as a monster, but as a being. From “Dalek,” where the Doctor finds one in captivity to “Into the Dalek”, where a Dalek is broken because it doesn’t exterminate, the show has dared to look at what makes a Dalek tick.
Now, it’s decided to revisit the question that was posed in “Genesis of the Daleks” 40 years ago: if you had a chance to kill Davros before he created the Daleks, could you?
When the Doctor had the chance, he declined, but he thought the Daleks led to something good.
Now we see him get a second chance. He’s about to rescue a young boy trapped in a battlefield, but then learns his name is Davros. What does the Doctor do?
Whatever he decided, it’s led him to hide from everything, especially a snake-like creature called Colony Sarff (Jamie Reid-Quarrell) is literally scouring the galaxy, from the Shadow Proclamation to Karn, for the Doctor. He needs to tell the Doctor Davros is dying, and wants to meet with him. The Doctor would rather not.
Missy gets involved when she apparently gets the Doctor’s Final Confessional, and decides to make hundreds of airplanes stop in mid-air. Why? Because she can, and it’s a way to get Clara involved. Missy is just as insane and evil as ever. She proves to Clara that she hasn’t turned good by killing three UNIT agents while sipping her tea. She also declines to explain why she isn’t dead, claiming death is for “other people”.
Her showdown with Clara, representing UNIT, is something to see. While Clara can’t understand why Missy would be considered the Doctor’s best friend, she keeps cool in forcing her to free the planes and figure out where the Doctor could be, and why he thinks the end for him is near.
Of all times and places, they find him in the 12th century in Essex, where he challenges a warrior named Bors (Daniel Hoffman-Gill) to an “ax fight”. However, he defines “ax” as a guitar, playing a wicked riff on a tank. He’s got more style than the guy who played outside of a moving truck in Mad Max Fury Road. Still, he’s either throwing one wild party or having a nervous breakdown.
Sarff does arrive to take the Doctor, Missy and Clara. While they travel, the Doctor describes Daleks as “a mutant in a tank that would never ever stop.” He also asks Davros made the Daleks, but who made Davros?
Davros (Julian Bleach) and the Doctor have quite the meeting, as if they’re more like old friends. Davros even compliments him for his new face. Still, he says that he was right to create the Daleks, while the Doctor disagrees. It’s been their long argument that has even survived the Time Wars. He watches helplessly as the Daleks first kill Missy, even after she offers the Daleks to teach them to control the TARDIS, and then Clara. Davros then demands the Doctor admit that compassion is wrong. After all, it was compassion that made the Doctor save Davros as a boy, and what that led to.
The final scene shows young Davros facing the Doctor again, and this time, it looks like the Doctor will kill him.
Why is the season opener called”The Magician’s Apprentice”? Davros is the “magician” who conjured up the ultimate evil, and the Doctor had at least one chance to stop him, but did not. So, the Doctor is being chosen as the “apprentice” and maybe successor to Davros. It looks that way, based on the previews for next week. It’s also likely that, somehow, Missy and Clara will be brought back from the dead.
The Radio Times recorded some very interesting responses from fans about the season opener. It was quite a ride with the Doctor’s best enemies both appearing, but not joining forces. It’ll be interesting to see how the Doctor will react to Davros’ offer, and how Missy and Clara may not be so dead. After all, anyone who remembers one of the trailers knows it features Missy laughing at a Dalek, and it’s not because it told a joke.
By the way, Jenna Coleman is scheduled to be on “Conan” on September 28th in a rare US talk show appearance.