Doctor Who 9.02 – ‘The Witch’s Familiar’

Doctor Who logoThroughout time and space, the Doctor and the Daleks were always at odds, never on the same side. What would they have in common?

Maybe there is something, but not what fans would expect. That was the final point in this weekend’s episode, “The Witch’s Familiar.” It was yet another unusual look at Daleks, which involved the Doctor becoming a “good Dalek”, while Clara literally became one…recalling something that looked very familiar.

SPOILERS AHEAD…

Instead of showing whether the Doctor really does kill young Davros as last week’s episode indicated, it shows that, sure enough, Missy and Clara did survive after all. Those rays actually zapped them  to the outskirts of Skaro. So, like it or not, Clara and Missy have to help him somehow. They’re a team, Missy insists, because “every miner has a canary.” They’re in a Dalek sewer where old Daleks wind up when they die, except they don’t. The sewer is really their graveyard, and a living Hell.Doctor Who Witch's Familiar A

At every turn, Missy uses Clara to her own ends, while Clara is completely outgunned. She’s pushed down a hole, used as bait to kill a Dalek, and then forced to literally become a Dalek by attaching herself to a Dalek casing. It’s the dark side of the Doctor/Companion relationship.

It’s also a chilling callback to “Asylum of the Daleks”, where a familiar-looking girl wound up as a Dalek. To long-time fans, though, it will bring back memories of another companion that inpersonated a Dalek more than 50 years ago.

The Doctor, meanwhile, surprises the Daleks by riding in on Davros’ wheelchair. “Admit it, you’ve all had this exact nightmare,” he tells them . He wants Clara or else, although the Daleks claim she’s dead. Davros winds up getting the upper hand because Colony Sarff was inside the wheelchair, and his snake-like form traps the Doctor.

From there, Davros tempts him with the possibility of being no better than a Dalek. Davros is connected to every Doctor Who Witch's Familiar CDalek, and is kept alive that way. He says the Daleks don’t mind because they have some mercy, an annoying flaw. The Doctor can break it and kill them all, but he won’t do it. He has compassion, also annoying to Davros.
Yet it’s that compassion that Davros exploits. He claims happiness that the Doctor saved Gallifrey, then wants to see the Doctor one last time before he dies. This convinces the Doctor to use his regeneration power on him…which is all part of the plan.

In a surprising twist, it’s revealed there’s a prophecy that a hybrid would develop between Dalek and Time Lord, and the Doctor was tricked into fulfilling it. Some fans who are familiar with the history between the Doctor and the Daleks may be upset by this ret-con, especially when it’s shown that it could have been the reason why the Doctor left Gallifrey. It would have been better if it was a bad idea someone considered rather than a prophecy.

As for Missy, she presents Clara-Dalek to the other Daleks and wants to see Davros. She doesn’t believe in mercy, just herself and whatever evil needs she has. Not even a bunch of Daleks upsets her.  Maybe she shares that “I’ll survive somehow” mentality the Doctor has, Clara, meanwhile, is the victim rather than the resourceful Companion she usually is, due to being with the wrong Time Lord.

When the prophecy is fulfilled, Missy has to save the Doctor, but the damage has been done….but not what Davros thinks. Yes, he and the Daleks are revived and stronger. So are the dead ones, and they want to kill their descendants. That was also part of the Doctor’s plan. Compassion wound up as a weapon against the Daleks after all.

Doctor Who Witch's Familiar DMissy, however, hopes for a victory by tricking him into killing Clara-Dalek, but she manages to say “mercy” over and over again. That’s something unexpected to him, and it winds up saving her. Missy’s not sorry, of course. She claims it’s proof that the friend can be the enemy and vice versa, and just walks away. Again, she thinks mercy and compassion are for suckers. She clearly thinks she’s a better Dalek than even the real thing.

Maybe that’s why she’s not worried when she’s surrounded by them at the  end.

As for the Doctor, he’s replaced his sonic screwdriver with sonic shades, which helps him reassemble the TARDIS. He still wonders how could the Daleks have even the slightest bit of mercy in their DNA.

Then we finally go back to young Davros, and the Doctor saying “exterminate”. He meant the handmines that surrounded the boy in that battlefield. That’s when he understood, as do we, that even between enemies and friends, there should be mercy.

Come to think of it, didn’t Davros ask for mercy when the Daleks shot him towards the end of “Genesis of the Doctor Who Witch's Familiar BDaleks”? Of course, he came back, and maybe he’ll be back again. He’ll still say “mercy” is a defect, just like Missy does.

After this first story, Peter Capaldi has adjusted his portrayal of the Doctor as still serious, but still able to be off the wall a bit. It was shown in his “ax battle” last week, and his introduction of “sonic shades” this week. It’s a good start to what should be an eventful season.

Just a reminder that Jenna Coleman will be on Conan Monday night. She’ll likely talk about her impending departure from the show, and what will be next for her.

 

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Post Author: David Mello

Worked nearly eleven years at a radio station as a board operator, news reader, and assistant producer for baseball broadcasts. Have been a staff writer for Whedonopolis since July 2008