HomeAll postsDoctor Who s09e02: The Witch's Familiar

Doctor Who s09e02: The Witch’s Familiar

A review by Nalini Haynes

‘The Witch’s Familiar’ is part two of ‘The Magician’s Apprentice’ (review here). Warning: if you haven’t seen the first episode of the story, stop reading here. Spoilers for that story follow.

At the end of the first episode, Missy and Clara were vaporized by the gentle, loving daleks. The Doctor is furious and distracted by Davros dying so, of course, the Doctor takes risks to help Davros, ending up fulfilling some Gallifreyan prophecy we’ve never heard of before. Apparently the Doctor wasn’t a failing student who set out to explore the universe with his granddaughter, treading on pompous arrogant toes in the process. He was escaping a self-fulfilling prophecy instead, because that always works out so well.

Wild guess: Missy is the witch and Clara is the witch’s familiar. And, can I say, coolest familiar yet — and I’m not even a Clara fan. Some of the conversation around this was also very illuminating regarding the daleks; if you’re interested, read my dalek-related rant in ‘The Magician’s Apprentice’ for some of my dalek opinions. No reference was made to the ‘Asylum of the Daleks’ although perhaps this is Moffat’s explanation for Soufflé Girl. Dun, dun, DUNNN.

‘The Witch’s Familiar’ is just as pantomime-y as ‘The Magician’s Apprentice’ except Missy’s finished with the singing and dancing and floating in space and there’s no cabaret performance for this episode. It’s as devoid of logic as part 1, especially with the Doctor violating who-knows-how-many taboos and common sense to express compassion for the dying Davros. Not to mention the end of the story. The end is nice for all the children watching and it’s meant to evoke warm fuzzies in family audience. There is no attempt at reconciling the logic or plot holes.

The Doctor traded his sonic screwdriver in for some sunglasses that look like a poor imitation of ray bans. Lots of people at conventions will now wear these sunnies instead of fezzes or bowties but ugh. Need more style. Also, they’re impractical for inside use. I expect more [tap glasses][magic/pseudo-scientific shit happens] sequences.

The Doctor stealing Davros’s chair was kind of cool but, even though Davros’s upper torso was left on the floor with mechanical tentacles flailing, Moffat obviously forgot THERE WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN LEG ROOM FOR THE DOCTOR. D’oh. And the way that sequence ended? [headdesk]

I loved Star Trek: The Next Generation, and waited with anticipation for every new episode. New Who is like that for millions of people, especially families and science fiction fans worldwide. New Who is also a cause for rants. If light-hearted fun with a bit of adventure and mild scaries are your thing, then ‘The Witch’s Familiar’ will make entertaining viewing. If you enjoy watching with friends and being the peanut gallery, hurling insults or script advice at the screen, then this could be a great group-watch event. If you’re more interested in performance and personality than plot, you’re going to love this story. ‘The Witch’s Familiar‘ is for you.

Director: Hettie Macdonald
Writers: Steven Moffat (story)
Character creator: Terry Nation
Stars: Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Michelle Gomez
Running time: 50 minutes (approx.)
Watch this if you liked: the new Basil Brush Show

Witch's familiar

Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


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