Doctor Who Season 9 Episode 2 Review: “The Witch’s Familiar”

Doctor Who Season 9 Episode 2 Review: “The Witch’s Familiar”

Doctor Who

After last week’s stunning Doctor Who premiere episode, there were tons of questions left up in the air. The show put its hero in an interesting position by revealing that there was more to his past with Davros, linking back to the villain’s childhood, and how the Doctor would handle the idea of having the ability to exterminate the entire Dalek race in one quick move. We know the Doctor doesn’t kill, but the idea that the ability to save his own race and prevent millions of deaths is a tough idea to wrestle with. In the past, some of the shows most emotional episodes come when the Doctor is sitting in a position where he can’t alter the past as much as he wants to because the show has an element of fate and nature tied into it. Yet, this is why we love and feel for the Doctor, because he is so deeply compassionate for every being in the universe and he truly believes everything has a reason and place. Tonight’s episode, “The Witch’s Familiar,” once again displayed that compassion and how it extends to the Daleks by further developing the Doctor’s relationship with Davros, which set up for a great conclusion to this season’s opening story.

Throughout the entire first episode, the Doctor is definitely on high alert because he’s been drawn to Skaro and is in the heart of his archenemies layer. It’s to the point where the Doctor even believes he is truly going to die and had his last will sent out to Missy, he’s not messing around. There have been times where we watched the Doctor “die” or prepare for his death, but this felt like the first time there was a chance he could be in some type of real danger considering the seriousness of the situation and how everything was set up. Obviously, we know the character finds his way out of everything, but stories like this always turn into a crazy maze and puzzle game at once.

“The Witch’s Familiar,” continues to explore the relationship between Davros and the Doctor, to the point where it’s actually quite touching to see that Davros, the human, hasn’t completely died after all of these years. The discussion where he admits his admiration for the Doctor’s compassion and ability to rise above everything for the sake of good seems extremely genuine. It was pretty clear from the start that Davros always had some type of tricky plan up his sleeve, but the scene where he admits and initiates his plan is actually pretty sad for how deep his conversation with the Doctor was getting. Both characters are constantly trying to stay one step in front of the other, which raises the idea that maybe neither of them was ever being honest. I’ve really been amazed at how the show has refreshed Davros as a character, because this has easily been the most fleshed out we’ve seen him. The character is always restricted to being the evil creator of the Dalek’s, yet, in a single episode alone Davros has been more relatable than ever before. I find that this is one of the things Doctor Who  does so well as a show though, it’s ability to bring forth the reality that everyone has a past and reasoning for how they became the person they currently are. Plenty of the show’s antagonists in the past have been misguided or been pushed to extreme measures to save their own race, and when the Doctor sees that, he does everything he can to save everyone.

Despite thinking we might see more into Davros’ past and how he became so purely evil, I really loved that the episode continued with the two characters connecting. While it was a part of his plan, Davros opening his real eyes was pretty neat to see because the character has never been shown so vulnerable and real before. When the Doctor travels back to visit young Davros again, we are wondering if our hero is actually toying with the idea of killing a child who will betray him over and over again. Of course, compassion is both the Doctor’s biggest weakness and strength, which leads him to save the boy that deserves a chance to live more than anyone else. Through Clara’s use of Mercy, the Doctor realizes that he might have gotten through to Davros in an Inception sort of way. He plants the idea of mercy in the scared boy’s head; the idea that it doesn’t matter if the Doctor is the boys ally or enemy in this moment, everyone deserves to live. This is why a part of me believes Davros was being honest with the Doctor during their conversations, because although it was a part of his plan, the evil mastermind had to open himself up knowing it would fool the compassionate man.

Doctor Who is a great show for lots of reasons, but mainly it all stems from everyone loving the main character. The Doctor is not a perfect character, but his willingness to admit and correct his mistakes makes him all the more human. Whether episodes are very dark or deep, I always finish the episodes with a smile on my face because of how inspiring and nice the character is despite knowing he is flawed. I think it’s really neat that Missy is staying around as a more frequent character there to sort of add some mischief into everything. She’s become this type of nagging child who pushes their parent’s buttons at the worst moment just because she can. It’s good though, because we are really getting to see development in these historic relationships of the Doctor’s, and I hope that the season can continue this trend.

Other Things:

  • Where did I get a cup of tea? Answer: I’m the Doctor, just accept it.
  • Seeing a half-bodied Davros squirm on the ground after the Doctor took his chair was phenomenal.
  • I’m really curious about where the Galifrey idea will evolve to this season.
  • Not much to talk about relating to Clara. I really loved watching her and Missy have their own adventure together over the course of the two episodes, but she was reduced to not doing much.
  • Michelle Gomez continues to be amazing as Missy.

[Photo via BBC America]

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