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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?

Doctor Who’s Peter Capaldi at Week 4

Tonight Doctor Who fans will be treated to a an old fashioned thriller of an episode.  We haven’t had any scary episodes lately that haven’t featured the Angels or Cybermen, so this is a treat.

I would love to know what your thoughts are on Peter Capaldi as the Doctor.  You know from earlier posts that I think he’s fantastic. 

But, please, tell me what you think! Are you enjoying the Capaldi Era of Doctor Who?

Peter Capaldi as a True “Renaissance” Doctor Who

I’ve been planning for my 200th post to be something special.  I think it’s only fitting to discuss my opinion of Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor during this special occasion.

I adore Peter Capaldi’s Doctor.  This is the first regeneration I’ve experienced as a Doctor Who fan.  I started watching the show during Matt Smith’s first season, and I was too distracted by Amy Pond’s story to really appreciate him.  (In the interests of full disclosure, I am not a fan of Amy Pond.  I don’t like that Stephen Moffat essentially hijacked the show and made it into the Amy Pond Show.  It’s nothing against the character or Karen Gillan; my frustration lies with the writing and the decision-making)

When I heard that Matt Smith was leaving, I was very interested to see who would take his place.  The BBC had a huge task to find someone who would not only appeal to the British masses, but who would be able to perform on a global stage, given the show’s surge in popularity around the world.

Peter Capaldi is a lifelong Doctor Who fan, just like David Tennant.  He is well aware of what happens after taking on such an iconic role, and he was ready to embrace it.  The interesting thing is that Capaldi, like Tennant, is Scottish, but unlike Tennant, Peter Capaldi’s Doctor was allowed to keep his Scottish brogue and his Scottish demeanor.  This is interesting given that the good people of Scotland are currently awaiting a vote that could lead to their separation from the UK.  Could it be that the decision for Capaldi to retain his accent was also a nod to Scotland?  Perhaps, and perhaps not.  It is just interesting to think about.

I see Peter Capaldi’s Doctor as a Renaissance Man.  He is the sum of the eleven men who came before him.  Periodically you can hear Ten’s boisterous exclamations of “Oh!!”, and we frequently see Nine’s darkness in his eyes.  And I believe that Twelve is constantly trying to find Eleven’s innocence and inherent goodness: “Am I a good man?” he asks Clara.  (He also displays a great deal of Ten and Eleven’s goofiness, as seen in “Robot of Sherwood” when he exclaims “I’m already free!” and waves his hands maniacally)  Even the TARDIS reflects this, with it’s modern gears and antique books.  Both the TARDIS and the opening credits have a Steampunk flair to them.  Peter Capaldi is a Renaissance Doctor.

I appreciate the storytelling we have seen in Series 8.  I think it will allow Peter Capaldi to shine as the Twelfth Doctor.  He faces a huge challenge, however, in that many of the young American fans fell in love with Matt Smith’s Doctor, and they won’t understand the nuances of the *character*, because true Doctor Who fans know that the Doctor makes the actor, and not the other way around.  The Doctor is the sum of the men who portrayed him.

I am thoroughly enjoying this season and I can’t wait to see what’s next.  Thank you so much, Peter Capaldi, for being my “first” Doctor.  I’m excited to go on this journey with you, and thank you for sharing my 200th post with me!

Doctor Who Recap S8E3: Robot of Sherwood

Doctor Who S8E3: Robot of Sherwood

Original Airdate:  September 6, 2014

Recap by Sarabeth Pollock


I feel like we’re moving closer to the old-school Doctor with these latest episodes.  Robot of Sherwood felt a lot like an early David Tennant episode, with a good story and lots of adventure.

The Doctor offers Clara a choice.  If she could go anywhere, anytime, where would she go?  Clara says she has always wanted to meet Robin Hood.  Of course, he’s made up.  The Doctor tries to convince her that Mars is a better choice, but she doesn’t let up.  1190 AD is their destination.  The TARDIS lights up and off they go. (Has anyone noticed that the new TARDIS resembles the machine in 13 Ghosts?)  When they arrive, the Doctor shows Clara that there is no such person as Robin Hood, no damsels in distress…until an arrow pierces the TARDIS.  It’s Robin Hood in the flesh.

Robin Hood is very impressed with the “trick” of landing the TARDIS.  He tells the Doctor that the TARDIS is now his property, because that’s what he does.  The Doctor is still baffled that he’s seeing Robin Hood in the flesh, and he’s curious as to whether or not people ever punch him for being so cheeky.  That might be an honor bestowed upon the Doctor if Robin Hood doesn’t let up.  However, they’re interrupted when Clara, dressed in medieval finery, pops out of the TARDIS.  Both men are stunned.  Robin Hood wants to know if there are “any more in there.”  She’s thrilled that her hero is there.  The Doctor declares that he isn’t Robin Hood at all, but the imposter replies that whoever is, he will be relieving the Doctor of the magic box.  That’s when a swordfight breaks out, with the Doctor facing Robin Hood with a giant spoon.  The Doctor’s prowess impresses Clara; he has been in fights before, with Cyrano de Bergerac, Errol Flynn and his massive…ego, etc.  He beats Robin Hood and pushes him into the river, but Clara notices that Robin never comes up for air.  As they lean down, Robin pushes the Doctor into the river.

A village is under siege by a group of men in armor.  A woman is in chains, and a man, Master Quail, tells her to stay strong.  A man rides up on a horse and tells Quail that the only things that matter at the castle are work and money.  He kills Quail after the older man spits in his face.  That should teach the village a lesson.

Meanwhile, Robin is introducing Clara to his men.  The Doctor plucks hair from one of them and uses the sonic screwdriver to analyze it.  There is Will Scarlett, the cheeky rogue, and Friar Tuck, and the lute player, and Little John.  Clara says they really are merry men, a name that Robin finds most apt indeed.  The Doctor has done hair, blood, and clothing analyses and he knows that these people aren’t holograms, but there still are no answers.  (And poor the poor lute player has so many diseases that he’ll be dead in six months, says the Doctor)  While the Doctor continues his examination, Robin Hood tells Clara his story.  She listens, rapt, and she even interrupts him.  She sees his sadness, and he explains that the evil prince has taken his beloved Marian away from him.  Clara knows all about Marian, which pleases Robin Hood a great deal.  The Doctor wants to know what season it is, because the lush green forest looks nothing like the real Nottingham.  Clara asks if it’s a climate change issue, but they’re in 1190, and that doesn’t explain it.  Robin Hood tells his men that the Sheriff is hosting a contest to find the best archer in the land.  Clara warns that it’s a trap, but Robin Hood already knows that.  And besides, it won’t even be a contest.  Clara doesn’t understand why the Doctor can’t believe that this is really Robin Hood, and he can’t believe Clara is so quick to believe it is.  She returns her attention to Robin Hood and the Merry Men while the Doctor examines an apple that he’s eating.  Something isn’t adding up.

The next day the contest begins at the castle.  After many rounds, the contest is tied between the Sheriff and Tom the Tinker (aka Robin Hood)  Robin suggests making the targets farther away.  The Sheriff accepts and shoots a bull’s eye.  Robin takes a long look at Clara before splitting the arrow.  He’s about to accept the prize when his arrow is split by the Doctor.  The Doctor doesn’t want a golden arrow; rather he wants “enlightenment.”  He’s about to get it when Robin splits his arrow, and the Doctor has to do a trick shot.  Finally, he gets annoyed and uses the sonic to blow up the target.  The Sheriff orders the guards to seize the Doctor, but Robin Hood jumps in to save the day.  Clara even joins in with a lance, assuring the Doctor that she has done martial arts, but once Robin Hood engages the knights in battle, he chops off one of their arms, revealing that they’re all robots.  The Sheriff orders the robot knights to kill everyone.  The Doctor tells Robin Hood that they’re surrendering, because the quickest way to find out someone’s plans is to be captured.  Robin orders the men to flee.

In the dungeons, the woman we saw earlier is trying to help a man who can’t work anymore.  The robot knight approaches and tells her that the man is no longer useful to them, and he vaporizes the man and walks away.

Robin, Clara and the Doctor are in a different cell, chained to posts.  Robin and the Doctor argue about who had the situation under control.  The Doctor is upset that Robin won’t stop laughing.  As the two men start calling for the guard, Clara tells them to shut up—there is no guard.  The two men keep competing about who will die first, and who has a plan…but Clara points out that the Doctor’s screwdriver is gone and neither one has a plan.  That’s when the guard comes in (Robin Hood knew there was a guard there!) and says that the Sheriff wanted to speak with the ringleader.  As Robin and the Doctor discuss the matter, the guard takes Clara away, leaving the two men to stew together.

Back in the woods, the Merry Men examine the arrow and discuss their plan to rescue Robin Hood.  The lute player remarks that the Sheriff never seems to care about the jewels, which is strange.  We see that in the dungeon there is gold melting and being poured into a mold that resembles a computer chip.

The Sheriff has Clara seated at his large dinner table, playing the part of the consummate host.  He says that Clara’s words are strange, but that he likes how direct she is.  He has the screwdriver and wants to know if she is from “beyond the stars.”  She points out that he’s the one with the robot army.

Robin is trying to hatch a plan with the Doctor.  He tells him to groan so that they can get the guard’s attention.  Clearly the Doctor is older, and as a Scot he’s pale.  Robin starts moaning and the guard comes in.  The Doctor explains that Robin is having a nervous breakdown, but the guard doesn’t seem to care until the Doctor adds that there is a ransom on his head for the message he carries.  The guard bends close and Robin says that his breath smells like serpents.  He head-butts him and sends the guard to the floor.  “I soiled myself,” he tells the Doctor.  “That’s getting into character,” the Doctor replies.  Unfortunately, they argue about the keys and they succeed in kicking them down the grate in the floor.  The bright side, the Doctor says, is that Clara wasn’t there to see that.

The Sheriff wants to get down to business.  Clara tells him that she has seen the lights in the sky, and she wants to hear his story.  Great men always proceed, she says.  He tells her that his master, Prince John, doesn’t respect him.  There was a great ship that crashed, and the robots saw him as their leader.  With their help, he plans to take over the local kingdoms, and then the world.

Robin and the Doctor carry their chains and the block they’re chained to out of the cell.  They need a blacksmith.

Clara admits that she doesn’t actually have a story.  The Sheriff is angry, but he wants her as his consort.  When he tries to kiss her, she warns him that he will regret it if he tries again.

The Doctor and Robin find the computer room of the space ship.  The ship is projecting an image of a castle, but everything is too perfect.  It’s too sunny, green; the Sheriff is too evil, and Robin Hood is too perfect (no one has a jaw like he does).  The Doctor points out that the ship’s memory banks have access to every story and fairy tale, so it chose Robin Hood.  As Robin watches the images on the screen, the Doctor accuses him of being a robot.  Before they can argue the point too much (Robin threatens to skewer him) the door blasts open and the Sheriff drags Clara into the console room.  The Doctor still thinks that Robin is a robot, but the robots want to kill him.  He grabs Clara and jumps out a hole in the wall, down into the moat.  The Doctor and the Sheriff look out and don’t see them come up for air.  She would have made a great queen, the Sheriff sighs.  The Doctor looks up and sees Robin carrying Clara to land.  Knowing that she is safe, the Doctor turns his attention to the Sheriff and his plan.  He tells the Sheriff that he won’t be able to repair the ship so that he can take over London.  He’s growing a bomb.  The robots knock the Doctor out.

In the dungeon, the Doctor awakens to see the robots building their gold circuits.  The woman watches him in wonder.

Clara wakes up and sees Robin.  Robin tells her that the time for games is over.

The Doctor tells the woman that they need to incite a riot.

Robin Hood wants to know everything about this legend called “Robin Hood.”

The Doctor captures the attention of the guards, who want to assign him to work duty, but they don’t know that he’s already free (a scene that should provide GIFs galore…).  He has armed the captive villagers with gold plates so that they can fight back against the robots.  Soon they have all been destroyed and the woman kisses the Doctor on the cheek for being so gallant.  Once everyone is safe, the Sheriff turns up and tells the Doctor that he can’t stop the ship’s progression.  They will depart for London.  The Doctor warns him that he’ll change the course of history in the process. He urges the Sheriff to release Clara, but the Sheriff says that Robin Hood has her.  The Doctor still thinks that Robin Hood is a robot, but the Sheriff points out that it wouldn’t make sense for the robots to create an enemy.  He’s a legend, the Doctor states adamantly.  Above them, Robin and Clara appear.  Robin wants one more duel with the Sheriff.  The castle is about to blow up.  A daring swordfight moves to the beam above the vat of molten gold.  The Sheriff is able to knock the sword from Robin’s hands, so Robin borrows a page from the Doctor’s book and uses the same move the Doctor used on the branch over the river, only now it sends the Sheriff into the molten gold.  Once Robin is back on the ground, they flee from the dungeon, which is already starting to come apart.

Outside, the villagers and the Merry Men watch as the ship tries to go into orbit.  They need to shoot the golden arrow into the ship to help it gain enough power.  Robin defers to the Doctor to do the honors, but the Doctor admits that he cheated during the tournament, using arrows equipped with homing devices.  Clara grabs the bow, much to the Doctor’s consternation (this isn’t Tae Kwon Do, after all…).  Robin Hood suggests that they do it together, and they do.  The arrow hits the ship, the ship goes into orbit…and then it explodes.

Robin Hood tells Clara that the Doctor is a lucky man to have her.  She tells Robin Hood that Marian is lucky to have him, and that he should never give up hope of finding her.  They say goodbye to each other.  Robin Hood asks the Doctor if it’s true that he’s been forgotten in the future, relegated to being a legend.  When the Doctor confirms it, he says that it’s better that way.  Robin Hood says that though he might not see himself as a hero, if he acts as one, it will be true.  Clara had told Robin all of the Doctor’s stories, and Robin says that he is indeed a great man.  The Doctor goes inside the TARDIS.  Clara tells him to admit that he liked Robin Hood.  The Doctor smiles and says that he left him a present.  As the TARDIS fades away, there is a woman standing there.  Indeed, the woman from the dungeons was Maid Marian.  Robin Hood kisses her, and then he shoots an arrow into the air and thanks the Doctor.

This was a fantastic episode.  I think that a return to good storytelling is exactly what the Doctor Who franchise needed.  Obviously there is something happening with all of the robots this season, but it’s a welcome departure from the past seasons.

What did you think of tonight’s episode?  Leave your comments below!