The Witch’s Familiar is the second episode in Series 9, and I was so hoping for a return to form, of sorts, after the disappointment of the much-hyped series opener, The Magician’s Apprentice. Did it succeed? Erm….
Well of course, Missy and Clara weren’t dead after all, but were stuck on Skaro just outside of the main town, aka Davros’ complex, with the latter hanging upside down, and the former sharpening a stick, explaining they might have to go hunting… and that Clara is tied up in case there’s nothing to hunt.
Meanwhile, there’s a bit of exposition about how the Doctor is being chased by 50 android assassins and about to die. How did he survive? A “teleport thingy” which he stole from an android. And so when he was shot at, he harboured the shots as energy to make his teleporter function, and that’s how the two women also survived. All sorted, then. Well, except for the vampire monkeys…
Clara deduces, “He always knows there’s a way to survive”, but then why did he throw a party when he thought he was about to die?
Post-opening credits, and after he and Davros have had a chat, The Doctor’s escaping and the Daleks are going after him. As usual. However, the Doctor’s pulled Davros out of his ‘tank’ and is now roaming around in his ‘tank’. But why is he drinking a cup of tea? The Doctor fields that one: “Where did I get the cup of tea? I’m the Doctor. Just accept it.”
The Doctor asks, while pointing an extracted plunger at the group of Daleks: “If Clara is really dead, then you’d better be very careful how you tell me.”
Dalek: “Clara Oswald. is not. Alive.”
And they’re also surprised about his stance since “The Doctor doesn’t use weapons”.
In assuming the usually-chaired one can only speak when he’s sat down, Davros’ voice comes over the speakers.
Doctor: “Davros, you’re up? Sorry, this chair’s taken”
But this victory is short-lived, as Davros employs the use of Colony Sarff’s snakes to entrap the Doctor.
Meanwhile, as they get back into the complex, Missy throws Clara down a well to see how deep it is. Well, she never was one for subtlety, but once the young heroine comes round, picks up Missy’s stick and points it back at her, she snatches it back and retort, “In future, if you’re going to take my stick, at least do me the honour of killing me”.
But what’s with the smelly sewer? They’re actually in a Dalek graveyard, full of bodies that can’t die, such is their genetic programming.
And as if her first actions weren’t horrible enough, Missy handcuffs Clara to the wall to use her as bait to bring the Daleks down to them. Clara Oswald handcuffed…. just think about that for a moment.
Anyhoo, once one comes along, Missy stabs the hapless Dalek with a brooch, even though they’re supposed to be heavily amoured. WTF?* And as such, the not-quite-dead Daleks try to seep into the regular Dalek, causing it to go mad and then explode. Even though it’s still in one piece, a moment later.
(*BTW, thanks to Laurence Olethros Roberts for confirming the brooch is made of dark star matter, something that’s been mentioned before in End Of Time, and is an incredible dense, rare material which goes through armour plate like knivees through people. Hopefully, it can slice out th nonsense from Moffat’s scripts as he was getting Missy to babble ten-to-the-dozen, making it look like he writes scripts by simply bashing the typewriter with his fists.)
In similar style to Davros’ chair, they take the tank and Clara has to get in and control it. She learns that emotion fires the weapons. And while she says a lot of things that the Dalek repeats, if she goes to say her name, it actually comes out as “Dalek”. And when asked to say “I love you”, it becomes “Exterminate” as do other similar strong emotional phrases.
Clara then ushers Missy along as if she’s a prisoner, but when challenged by a real Dalek as to her still existing, Missy says: “Is it still the same Supreme Dalek? “Tell them the bitch is back!”
And when they’re back in the Daleks’ chamber, Missy wants to meet Davros, and she has a lovely gift for the Daleks if they allow this. The gift? Clara. What a turncoat! Well, she’s Missy!
Go to page 2 for more thoughts on the episode, plus conclusions.
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.