AKA remembrance of things that might be retconned
So yes, it’s just like I said in my last review. Lo and behold, with The Magician’s Apprentice we get the double bill return of Missy and of Davros. No sweating on slow burn mysteries, Steven Moffat is leaping straight into the big themes of the season: reaping what you sow and a variant on Hitler’s murder paradox. In saving a boy does he help create Davros and the Daleks? Or, The Doctor, by leaving him to his fate, does he do the same? Is there any interference he can run, which wouldn’t create the person we know as Davros the Dalek creator?
If last season was about demonstrating how war shaped Danny Pink into a regretful, but ultimately heroic teacher/warrior/ saviour type who also saves the boy, then this series or at least this episode, suggests war can result in the opposite too. For every hero created, war also deeply damages people, and would particularly traumatise a small, lost boy. This episode explicitly demonstrates how Davros’ fear created the Daleks.
Danny and The Doctor, faced with similar situations must make difficult choices that change their lives and the lives of others.
Also, I don’t believe for a second that Missy and Clara are dead. Because time can be rewritten and because, basically, no.
So many shout outs
Alien bar with call backs to all sorts of aliens, well that’s a shout out to Star Wars, but also A Good Man Goes to War (2011).
Looking for The Doctor by stealing/following his companions – happened with Rory and Amy with Asylum of the Daleks (2012), but also with The Stolen Earth (2009) and pretty much any episode with Daleks – like Parting of the Ways (2005).
Speaking of which, the Judoon and the Architect of the Shadow Proclamation, also appear as a call back from The Stolen Earth (itself part of the Time War).
Then Davros starts playing his own call backs, to Tom Baker’s fourth Doctor describing implications of the Grandfather Paradox as applied to the destruction of the Daleks, from Genesis of the Daleks (1975).
Then there’s UNIT, (whose name dropping Kate Stewart somehow needs Clara to explain how dangerous planes can be as weapons). Nice to see them anyway, suppose.
The gravity question was a call back to The Beast Below (2010) with Amy – the water didn’t move so there were no engines. On this ‘ship’ the gravity was like that of a planet. And so it came to be.
Who is which, or is Missy the which?
The question is who is the magician and who is the apprentice? Is the Doctor the magician, with his forced anachronisms and abilities to muck up time lines? Or is he the apprentice, learning to do bad from Davros, who perhaps, learned to do worse, from his saviour, The Doctor?
Apprentice and Magician – could they be Missy and Clara? The school teacher and the basically immortal psychopath. This relationship is fascinating, what with being mortal enemies but also reliant on each other, and brought together with their connections to and history with, The Doctor. We’ve seen that Clara has graduated – she can be the kind of Doctor type leader without him now. I wonder what she can learn from Missy then?
The clever writing regarding Hand Mines (did Moffat miss-hear some kid talking about land mines?). But I love even more the performance of them and how they look, and how terrifying they were.
I liked the set up. The war with laser biplanes and bows and arrows. Could have been a messed up Earth in a wonky version of WWI. But no, it was scarier.
I liked the snake emissary. Weird, scary, odd and snake-like. The art department gets a big well done for this episode.
I like Karn and the Sisters of the Comfy Sofa or whatever. More of them, more Timelord Lore.