Doctor Who : The Witches Familiar

I wasn’t that impressed with the opening episode of Doctor Who’s brand new series but you can’t judge a two-parter on the basis of its first episode without giving it a chance of redeeming the story in the second!

Though I do always feel Doctor Who, when doing two-parters, should have each individual episode as watchable without the other as any other episode. But that is a discussion for another time.

Davros by far was the best part of the last episode, Anna and Lucius both talked at length about the episode itself not being good enough for Davros and his story and this week I’d have to agree.

If you took all the Doctor and Davros parts of the story out and edited them together you’d end up with such a chilling look at two iconic characters. In the Whoniverse they kind of resemble Hitler and Chuchill the way you are brought up to see them. Davros is a product of war and hatred and as such knows very little about compassion and love and has created warriors without compassion or love. The Doctor is the polar opposite in that he believes in freedom and equality. At school you are taught that during the war both Hitler and Chuchill are polar opposites in a war that has a very obvious good and bad side. As you grow up and learn the intricate details of the two men in question, the war itself and everything surrounding it you learn not to look at the world in such black and white terms.

This story does that perfectly. Of course being a fantasy/Sci-Fi show it reverts to Good and Bad guy by the end but there are so many moments where even though Davros still ends up being the Bad Guy you can still look at what he’s said and think “actually…”

Their whole conversation deserved a more quiet and dramatic episode then we got, Davros playing with the Doctor’s compassion just to turn it around on him was the perfect game play for Davros.

It still wasn’t enough to make me like it. The ending was weak and Missy was just completely miscast. It was like people loved her so much last season that Moffat wanted to bring her back no matter what the story demanded, she was shoe horned in and it made me uncomfortable watching the two episodes remembering that these are two of the Doctors biggest enemies, two men/woman who he holds nothing but contempt for. He, in his way, forgives the Master more then Davros because the Master IS a Time Lord whereas Davros (obviously) is the creator of his biggest foes and the MOST evil beings in the universe, the Daleks, but as men (/women) both singularly have brought just as much pain, death and horror to the universe as each other.

So why is it, especially after she “died” and her “non-death” status just was shrugged away, the Doctor just accepts that she’s there, accepts that she’s with Clara and never questions anything? Then when he see’s Davros he goes all “you are the evilest thing in the world” moralizing on him whilst he’s skipping around the place with possibly the second most evil person if not THE most evil person he knows?

She added nothing to the story other then a few stupid accents, a few silly moments and a pointy stick.

The ONLY moment for me that she FELT like the Master was at the end when, after putting Clara in a Dalek shell in the middle of the episode, she then tried to convince the Doctor that this Dalek, who was really Clara, had killed Clara so that the Doctor would himself kill Clara in the Dalek shell. The problem was instead of playing it LIKE the Master she ended up completely missing the tone of the moment. Add to that the fact that I felt like Capaldi really wasn’t playing the Doctor at all in most of Episode 1 or 2 and definitely not in this scene, what could have been a great scene and was absolutely wonderfully acted by Coleman, ended up on the outside of the Dalek Shell to be the biggest swing and miss of the century!

If I had been directing the episode, even with the dialogue for Missy the same, I would have told Gomez, who is a such a talent, to mock not only the Doctor and his companion in the same tone that Davros had been but to deadpan it. I know many people will tell me she has to play it like her own Master but then what is the point of the Master if he doesn’t read the situation right? The Doctor, in any other regeneration, would never have listened to the Master the way Twelve was and not only that but seeing as Missy was just so over the top he’d have shot at her for being annoying.

To be honest this story should have been companion free. Both episodes got bogged down by both Missy and Clara. Every part of the story that had to leave Davros and the Doctor was a waste of a scene that could have been used to explore both much better.

So with all that said when it comes to thinking of this story as a whole I’m completely torn.

Underneath it all there were a few great strands of story. The moralizing over whether or not to kill a child to prevent their future, the question of how can you tell whether a man is good or not and the bigger question of what good is compassion if it destroys just as much as hatred does?

These stories or questions were started or asked but nothing was forthcoming thereafter.

Capaldi’s Doctor STILL feels incomplete. For all the fans who moaned about Smith being whacky and whimiscal all the time he had a character set in stone. He had great moments of darkness, great moments of laughter but stayed the same all the way through. I would have LOVED to have seen Matt tackle this whole conversation with Davros because I feel he would have added the emotions that were really lacking from Capaldi. At times he can be so dark, other so sarcastic and up in the air but then moments like these two episodes he’s just a man reciting words that he’s read off a bit of paper. Its a shame because some episodes he’s so good but others its just painful to watch.

The next episode though looks like a belter so maybe I’ve just moved past being able to care for Moffat and his scripts, something isn’t working for me though and its terribly sad to say that Doctor Who is far behind in my mind at this moment in time.

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