TV Review: Doctor Who Season 9 Episode 2 “The Witch’s Familiar” (UK, 2015)

After last weeks huge season opener, “The Witch’s Familiar” had a lot to answer for – we needed to know what the Doctor decided to do regarding boy Davros, how Missy and Clara would come back from the dead (because they have to), and what would come of Skaro – the planet of the Daleks that has suddenly come back to life?

Given what was left to be resolved in this episode, there was potential for huge revelations about the character of The Doctor and his relationship to the Daleks. Just as I was beginning to think that Moffat had gotten his charm back, I was unfortunately proved right once again. This episode epitomises Moffat’s inability to write a third act.

Instead of killing young Davros (as we were led to believe at the end of episode one), The Doctor instead opts to “exterminate” the hand-mines, saving the child and teaching him the definition of mercy, thus saving Clara from being killed. This had potential for a real sweet Doctor-moment for Peter Capaldi, however it came off as rushed and as if little thought had gone into the ending, opting for sentiment over substance.

As for Missy, we apparently had the question answered that was posed in season 7 – why is Missy keeping Clara and The Doctor together? The answer is incredibly underwhelming. Missy explains that “This is why I gave her to you in the first place, to make you see. Friend inside the enemy. Enemy inside the friend. Everyone’s a bit of both.” Ugh. Just ugh. Besides the fact that this literally makes zero sense (How is Clara an enemy? Through posing as a Dalek? Not buying it), the suspense that has been created around this idea of the ‘mystery woman’ keeping them together called for a real explanation, not a lovely heartwarming revelation. The Doctor and Missy are already getting along, so I think he already knows that there is an “enemy inside the friend”, as Missy puts it.

Long story short, Missy and Clara survive their ‘death’ due to a poorly executed last minute plot line. Upon their survival, they set out to save the Doctor as according to Missy, the only time the Doctor loses is when he thinks he will, which – you guessed it – he thinks he will against Davros. When we head back to the Doctor, old-boy Davros is still getting heaps philosophical, yapping on about how Daleks are the best and all that classic Dalek talk (they’d be heaps fun to go on a date with). For some reason, The Doctor obtains Davros’s chair and apparently also his forcefield. This idea is quickly shut down as five minutes later, The Doctor is captured again and Davros gets back his magical chair. What a subplot.

If we switch over to The Adventures of Clara and Missy, they’re hanging out in a Dalek sewer which also doubles as a Dalek graveyard. Missy kills a Dalek and pops Clara into it’s shell as a means of disguising the two of them. When Clara talks and says “I am Clara” the Dalek body transforms her words into “I am a Dalek”. So basically, everything Clara says is in Dalek form. I think this might be important down the road, guys.

Davros and The Doctor chat a bit more and actually kind of become friends. Eventually, because The Doctor’s a really nice guy, he gives him a bit of regeneration energy so he can see the sun for one last time (????????). But what do you know?! Davros is actually still as evil as ever and it turns out his nice-guy scheme is actually a plot to steal The Doctor’s regeneration energy and pop it into all the Daleks to make them stronger. Missy and Clara turn up and save the day, and The Doctor explains that every Dalek is getting stronger and (guess where this is going), all those sewer Daleks are turning into proper Daleks again, and they are REAL pissed at The Daleks for their indalek treatment of them. The gooey Daleks proceed to kill all the other Daleks and Davros screams as his plan is foiled, once again. Better luck next time Dav.

Missy, The Doctor, and Dalek-Clara are all hanging out and Missy – being the badass evil timelady that she is – tries to convince the Doctor that Clara is dead and that Dalek-Clara was the Dalek that murdered her (I’m so tired of writing ‘Dalek’). But because Dalek-Clara can’t speak Clara and is speaking Dalek, she can’t tell The Doctor that it’s her. But then the Dalek-Clara says one word that has never been in the Dalek vocabulary – MERCY!!! And so everything comes full circle and The Doctor saves Davros and teaches him the value of mercy so that Clara can live. Oh, and the TARDIS wasn’t actually destroyed and the sonic screwdriver are now actually sonic-sunglasses. Yep, okay.

I’ve got three words that encapsulate this episode – WHAT. A. LETDOWN. Moffat – you’re cooked and I want another writer. Overall, the episode was incredibly lazy, bringing in last minute plot devices to solve the issues posed. If you don’t know how to solve a problem, maybe make the problem more simple. Ugh. Just ugh. Until next week.

Review Score: ONE STAR (OUT OF FIVE)

Doctor Who is available every Sunday on ABC iView coinciding with the UK premiere, with an extra screening at 7.40pm on ABC TV. 

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