Doctor Who Season 9 Premiere Recap: The Magician’s Apprentice

Doctor Who S9E1: The Magician’s Apprentice

Original Airdate:  September 19, 2015

Recap by Sarabeth Pollock

At long last, Doctor Who has returned.

It has been quite a long hiatus, really, and a lot has happened.  It has been a hiatus of highs and lows.  (Depending, I suppose, on your personal opinion about certain people)  Peter Capaldi attended his first Comic Con this summer (that would be the juggernaut San Diego Comic Con), and just this week Jenna Coleman announced that she is not returning to the show after this season.  That being said, there is a lot riding on this season.  Personally, I think it is off to a great start.  Peter Capaldi has embraced the role of the Doctor and I’m excited to see what he brings to the series this season.

We’re on a desolate, swampy planet in the middle of a war.  A soldier spots a child on the battlefield and tells his companion he’s going after him.  When he reaches the child, the soldier notices that they aren’t alone.  He points his scanner at the ground, which confirms his thoughts.  The blue eyed boy is terrified, his clothes in tatters.  The boy stares at the soldier’s feet, and the soldier sees that a hand is sticking out from the earth and has clamped onto his ankle.  He tries to reassure the boy, but he gets sucked into the ground.  Soon, the boy is surrounded by hands with eyeballs on the palms.  The palms are turned toward the sky, and toward the boy.

The boy cries for help, and suddenly a familiar-looking sonic screwdriver rolls to his feet.  The Doctor calls out through the fog, telling the boy to pick up the sonic, which has created a tunnel for them to talk through given the distance between them.  The Doctor and the TARDIS are parked some ways away from the boy.  The Doctor explains that he was looking for a bookshop, but he has clearly landed in the middle of a war.  Only he doesn’t know which war it is.  The boy is confused at the Doctor’s confusion.  The Doctor tells the boy that he has one chance in a thousand to make it through the hands.  He asks the boy’s name and says that he wants to know the name of the boy “who isn’t going to die today.”

“Davros.  My name is Davros,” the boy says.

The Doctor’s eyes widen in shock as the boy pleads for help.

Cue the new opening credits….

We return from the credits to the Maldovarium.  A hooded figure floats down a hall and into a Star Wars Cantina-esque establishment full of aliens.  The hooded figure announces that “We are Colony Sarff. We bring harm.”  Great way to say hello, really.  He floats past an Ood and asks the room where he can find the Doctor.  No one responds, so Colony Sarff sends out a wave of pain, which makes the Cantina not so happy.

Next we move on to the Shadow Proclamation, where the leader is barking orders to her guard.  She notices Colony Sarff and says there’s a security breach.  He wants to know where the Doctor is, and she has no idea.  She wants to know that Davros wants with the Doctor.

On planet Karn, Colony Sarff floats around the stormy landscape and encounters the Sisterhood of Karn.  He asks about the Doctor, and they tell him that the Doctor is right behind him, where he always is.  Colony Sarff says that Davros is dying and he requests his presence.  The sisters demand to know his message, and he says that “Davros knows, and Davros remembers.”  As Colony Sarff retreats, the sisters turn to the rocks nearby where the Doctor is hiding.  “Doctor, what have you done?”

Colony Sarff tends to the weakend Davros, leader of the Daleks.  Colony Sarff says that they can’t find the Doctor, but Davros knows that the Doctor can always be found.

Clara is back in the classroom teaching Jane Austen.   She gets distracted from her lesson when she looks out the window and sees an airplane floating in midair, motionless.  She instructs her students to turn on their phones and go to news websites and Twitter for anything relating to the planes being stopped.  A staffer comes in and says that Clara has a phone call.  Clara suspects that it was from UNIT, and he says they were going to patch him through to the Prime Minister.  She asks for the rest of the day off and goes running out to her motorcycle.  (Okay, since when does Clara know UNIT, and since when does she ride a motorcycle?)

All around the world, the media is reporting that there is currently no contact with any of the planes.  Clara arrives at UNIT where she finds out that the Doctor has not answered his phone.  There are 4165 planes in the air at the moment with no response from any of them.  At first they consider the passengers on the planes, but Clara goes to the amount of fuel in the air, and how there are really 4165 bombs out there.  They run simulations on what those planes could do to nuclear plants, fault lines, and possible tsunamis (which seems a bit hasty, in my mind).  They wonder if it’s an attack, but who would do something so blatant?  It seems like the planes are frozen in time, which is more like someone wants to send a message.  At that moment, a message comes through the Doctor’s old text-messaging system.  “Hey Missy, you so fine, you so fine you blow my mind. Hey Missy!”  Just then, Missy appears on the screen.  She pops out into 3-D and says that she isn’t dead after all, and as Clara looks on in disgust, she says they will need eight snipers to feel safe enough to talk to her.  She is in a warm place drinking espresso.  And she wants to talk.

Missy sits in a courtyard in what could be Spain.  Her chest is covered in the red lasers of the snipers she requested.  A car pulls up and Clara gets out to meet her.  The women exchange long looks before Clara sits down.  Missy asks if Clara’s boyfriend is still dead.  She moves an airplane so that Clara is in the shade, knowing how humans burn.  Missy knows that they haven’t been able to find the Doctor.  Missy has a copy of the Doctor’s confession, a timelord’s last will and testament, that it was delivered to his closest friend on the eve of his death.  Clara thinks it was sent to her, but Missy disagrees.  She says that she and the Doctor are the best of friends, which Clara doesn’t believe.  Missy vaporizes several guards to prove she hasn’t turned good, and she asks Clara to figure out where the Doctor would go on the eve of his last day alive.

In 1138, an audience claps while a gladiator-type prepares for battle.  But who is he about to fight?

Clara whips out a laptop and the team at UNIT go to work, trying to figure out algorithms based on the Doctor’s history.  Clara realizes that he would go to a place where he could make a lot of noise where there was no trouble at all.  There is one glowing dot on the map.  “You go girl,” Missy drawls, and she and Clara disappear.

Missy and Clara materialize at a castle, looking for anachronisms.  Before Clara can ask what she means, the riff of an electric guitar rips through the air.  Suddenly the Doctor rides into the ring on a tank, wearing sunglasses and playing guitar.  He sets off a series of really bad puns.  When he sees Missy and Clara, he starts playing “Pretty Woman.”  Apparently he has been in this castle for three weeks, digging wells, introducing the word “dude,” and partying hard.  When Clara approaches, he pulls her into an embrace so he can hide his face.  She says this isn’t him, and he admits he’s a bit out of sorts, but he’s shocked when she says he is going to die tomorrow.  Good thing it’s still today, he laughs.  He tells her that he was wearing a bowtie yesterday, and a long scarf the day before that.  This is his party.  He calls Missy the wicked stepmother and plays some music for her, but then his apprentice (the guy he was going to fight, but who we met during the Season 9 prequel who is the Doctor’s apprentice) starts choking.  The Doctor thinks it’s a marble that he swallowed, but he finds a snake in the man’s robes.  The snake slithers away and into Colony Sarff’s robes.  Missy and Clara have led Colony Sarff to the Doctor, and Colony Sarff turns into a giant snake.

The Doctor tells Colony Sarff that none of his friends will die in this place.  Colony Sarff says that Davros, creator of the Daleks, is dying and he will see the Doctor on his last night alive.  The Doctor isn’t frightened by the snake-man.  Missy wonders why Davros is now his arch-enemy.  Colony Sarff throws the Doctor’s sonic into the sand at his feet and the memory returns.  Missy and Clara see the shame in his eyes and try to convince him not to accompany Colony Sarff to his ship, but the Doctor is resolute.  He allows his hands to be tied by a snake so that he can be taken to the ship.  Missy and Clara demand to go with him.  They all depart, leaving the apprentice alone.  He goes into the castle and finds the TARDIS.  He’s not the apprentice, though: he now has a stem in his forehead.  He’s a Dalek, and they now have the TARDIS.

On the transport ship, the Doctor explains that Davros is the child of a war where people were fighting for thousands of years but no one knew why.  So he created a race of warriors to not have a problem keeping up a fight.  Clara realizes that he’s the one who created the Daleks.  They are taken to the hospital ship, where Missy sings as they wait.  When Colony Sarff comes for the Doctor, Clara asks him why he sent the confession disk to Missy.  He shrugs and says that she’s another Time Lord, so Clara accuses the Doctor of lying and says that he has to return in order to explain himself properly.  Before he leaves, he utters the word “gravity.”

Missy seems to understand his message right away.  If they are indeed on a space station, it has perfect gravity.  She tells Clara that the only way to find out is to turn the knob and see if a door opens, which would mean Clara would get sucked out into space.  Missy reaches for the knob and turns it.

Colony Sarff leads the Doctor into Davro’s hospital room.  Davros is hooked to many wires, but he still approves of the Doctor’s new face.  Davros wonders if the Doctor expected a trap.  Davros plays audio files of their conversations over the years.  We see Four weeping as they talk.  Davros thinks he was right to create the Daleks, and this is what caused the Time War.  Davros notices that Missy and Clara are stepping outside of the space station.  Missy and Clara dance on an invisible floor in space, until Missy starts to put the pieces together.  They’re on a planet that has been hidden.  Her eyes widen as the planet starts to shimmer into view.  Clara asks where they are.  Back in the hospital room, the Doctor looks outside the window and realizes that Davros brought him to Skaro, the home planet of the Daleks.  Clara asks Missy where they are, and she confirms that this is where it all started.  Skaro, the home of the Daleks.  “Correct,” croaks an approaching Dalek.

Clara and Missy are brought into a room where the TARDIS is being stored.  The room is full of different Daleks from over the ages.  They plan to destroy the TARDIS.  Missy takes charge and tells them they can’t destroy the TARDIS because it can be their greatest weapon.  But they can’t do it without her, a Time Lady.  The Daleks consider this for a moment, then they vaporize Missy.

The Doctor pleads for Clara’s life.  Davros tells him that they need her to run for them to destroy her.  She stands still and then decides to run.  They vaporize Clara as well.  Davros wants the Doctor to admit that he has won, and that his weakness is his compassion.  The Daleks destroy the TARDIS as the Doctor looks on.

We return to the beginning of the episode, and the Doctor materializes next to young Davros.  He points at him and says he must exterminate him.

To be continued.

Argh!  A cliffhanger already??

OK, I have a few thoughts here.  Since when did Clara become so UNIT-y?  And why is Missy acting so oddly likeable?  And what in all that’s holy is really going on here?

I suppose we’ll find out next week, right?  What did you think of tonight’s episode?

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