They seek him here, they seek him there, they seek that damn elusive Doctor everywhere.
The Doctor is missing and nobody can find him. Colony Sarff can’t find him. Missy can’t find him. Clara can’t find him. The Doctor is harder to find than Wally (or Waldo if you are an American).
A war zone, alien in nature, with a bi-plane spitting down laser bolts. Feels like an alternate version of World War One. A boy is, for some reason in the middle of the battle. trapped by hand mines. These mines being hands with eyes on their palm, they grab hold of you and then pull you down into the ground. If the war seemed like WWII, then these mines bring a feeling of surrealism to the mix. The hand mines remind me of obscure Eastern European cinema.
The Doctor arrives. He throws over his sonic screwdriver so that he and the boy can speak but when the boy reveals his name, the Doctor leaves straight away. This is a child with whom the Doctor has a connection.
Can you guess what the boy is called? Rumpelstiltskin? Slartibartfast? Wet Eric? Nope, none of those. The boy is Davros. It is possibly safe to assume that this is the childlike form of the old crackpot we all know and adore. Yes, Davros, creator of the Daleks.
Centuries later Colony Sarff, the bizarre lovechild of Voldemort’s segway and Nagini, is looking for the Doctor with a message from his master. But can he find him? Can he heck! He visits the Shadow Proclamation’s headquarters, then a sleazy bar owned by everyone’s favourite beheaded blue oaf, and then he pops over to the planet Karn, His message from Davros being “Davros knows. Davros remembers”. But what does Davros remember? What does he know? We might think that we know the answer to this but with a story by Steven Moffat, we can never be sure. He might just recall that he left the gas on or that his car keys are on the table by his bed or perhaps he might remember that he now has the access of his legs. By the way, I predicted, after watching the story, that Davros would regain his legs by the end of this season.
Sarff has a face like one of those picture books you used to have as a child. You know the ones. They had cardboard pages cut into three and you could flip one part over to make the, for example, a bird have the head of a lion. Hours of fun if the TV was broke. Yeah, that. That is what Colony Sarff’s face looks like. Kinda.
On Twitter after The Magician’s Apprentice, one Anti-Moffateer complained about how he had Davros return from the dead unlike all the times Davros supposedly died in past episodes and then popped up again. This is typical of the Anti-Moffers in that they dislike Moffat doing things they turn a blind eye to when other writers do the same thing. Did these people complain about Davros returning from the dead when Russell T Davies did it? No, they didn’t. In any case, if the Daleks can time shift their way out of trouble, then there is no problem with Davros doing the same. Yah boo sucks to you.
Sarff reports back to Davros who is slumped in his pimped-out mobility scooter. And guess what? He still has the sonic screwdriver. Now, how can he have it now but not have it in all the previous stories we have seen him in? Oddly, none of the Anti-Moffaholics mentioned this canonical mistake. How remiss of them. They were too busy, according to my Twitter feed, complaining about how they don’t understand what is going on. I suggest they watch Peppa Pig, that might be more their level.
I should say that I am not especially a fan of Moffat but he is no better or worse than RTD. He just is. I am just anti-spitefulness. Being hateful to a show because it isn’t going your way is just the sort of thing that pole-axed Doctor Who in the late 80s. If you want to complain, fine. Just be less spiteful.
Soooo, where was I before I started grinding my axe? Ah…
Present day Earth and Clara is trying to teach the kids the joys of something they will forget as soon as they leave the room.
Jenna Coleman gives her usual big eyes and elegantness. Nothing to complain about here. But she comes alive when she gets all sassy with someone I am about to introduce in a bastardised Shakespearian verse.
But soft, what sight through yonder window breaks Clara’s concentration?
It is a plane frozen in the sky, and Missy is the culprit.
Arise, fair Clara, and visit the envious Missy,
Who is already sick and pale with madness
That thou, her best friend’s companion, art far more fair than she.
Missy was behind the sky freezing. All in a bid to get the attention of Clara (and UNIT). She needs help in finding the Doctor after he sent her his Last Will and Testament. Traditionally this is given to a friend of the Time Lord in question a day before they are to die.
Missy is the Doctor’s best friend? I know Steven Moffat has said on many an occasion that this is so but I am not convinced. I think it is more a case of Missy being the only other member of his kind that he could send the Will to. Missy sees it as part of their friendship because…well, she is bonkers.
Michelle Gomez is fantastic here. She plays the female Master like a woman possessed by illegal chemicals and a tipsy kitten.
Missy and Clara locate the Doctor in the Dark Ages and, yeah, things are pretty much the same as modern-day England except that…no, it is exactly the same still. Trust me on this, I am British.
The Doctor has replaced his sonic screwdriver with a sonic electric guitar! How do I know it is sonic? It is an electric guitar, all electric guitars are sonic. Anyway, the Doctor has misinterpreted his friend Bors’ challenge of an axe battle.
Peter Capaldi plays the Doctor as if he has got used to this incarnation, he is relaxed. He knows himself in-and-out. He gives a joyously performance at first before dialling it down to more subtle shades when he later encounters an old enemy.
Oh, and the Doctor has a tank! Did I mention that? As his predecessor might say, “I like tanks now. Tanks are cool.”
The Doctor hugs Clara, which is a surprise for Clara and doubly so for this prickly unhuggable Time Lord to be hugging in the first place. Note, he doesn’t hug Missy, his bestest friend in the whole universe.
All of this is broken up when the snake on a segway, Colony Sarff turns up with his message for the Doctor. The Doctor, feeling guilty for not saving Davros, agrees to go with Snakeboy after he collapses into a load of hissing snakes (hence the ‘Colony’ part of his name, I guess) and threatens all of the Doctor’s medieval chums. Clara and Missy insist on coming with him and despite the Doctor’s objections, they all get taken on a mystery journey to a space station…
Need I mention how cool the snake handcuffs are? Or is that taken as read?
Given that he shares the name of a criminal from The Dalek’s Master-Plan, this might not be such a surprise but Bors turns out to be a Dalek agent who finds the TARDIS and then sends it to the Daleks (whether they may be).
Our heroes (and Missy) are taken to the space station where the girls are thrown into clink and the Doctor is taken to see Davros who is dying. Given that Old Blue Eye is seen in the trailer for the next part of this story, I doubt if he is actually about to kick the bucket (or should that be nudge the bucket?).
As the Doctor has a chinwag with Davros who serenades him with video and audio clips of their previous encounters (thank goodness for that fly-on-the-wall documentary crew that followed Davros for centuries…), Missy and Clara discover that the space station is on an invisible planet. Skaro.
Oh, by the way, spoilers!
Yes, the home planet of the Daleks. And then Clara and Missy are captured by every type of Dalek you could imagine. This is not a good day for them (Clara and Missy that is) and it gets even more worse when they and the TARDIS are exterminated (all of which the Doctor witnesses).
It is wonderful to see the old Daleks intermingled with the new. In Asylum of the Daleks, they did this but they bottled out of showing us the oldies in any great detail. Finally they deliver on their promise and it is sublime to see them in a recreation of the original Dalek city from their first story… Of such stuff is fan fiction written.
In the last scene of the first episode, we see the Doctor returning to the childlike Davros. H is apparently about to exterminate him.
Now call me Mr Cynical but I don’t believe for a second that Clara, Missy or the TARDIS has been destroyed and neither do I think that he will kill Young Davros. But who knows?
Watch out for the second part this coming Saturday, same bat-time, same bat-channel…
End of Part One