Doctor Who “The Magician’s Apprentice” Review (Season 9, Episode 1)

Doctor Who The Magician's Apprentice Season 9 Premiere 2015 (1)

Are there limits to how benevolent and kind the Doctor truly is? Is there a limit to who and how far he’s willing to go to help someone? It’s the main question at the center of “The Magician’s Apprentice,” the series nine premiere of Doctor Who, and while it’s definitely a question that’s been asked before, it’s always interesting to see a new Doctor facing the question.

In this case, we saw the Twelfth Doctor faced with what was essential the Hitler dilemma: if you could go back in time and kill Hitler as a child, would you do it? For Doctor Who, that meant the return of the ultimate maniac Davros, the madman who invented the Daleks, as a child. When faced with the chance to save the boy, the Doctor froze, leading to a tense confrontation with his longtime rival in the present.

Though never confirmed dead following the events of “Journey’s End,” I found it funny how this episode saw the return of two presumed-deceased villains. In Davros’ case, it was good to have the baddie back, and at least he didn’t return as quickly as his genocidal creations, who were back on the show just as soon as the production team could manage. By letting Davros linger in the shadows so long, it let his return over half-a-decade later have some impact.

As for Missy, well, she returned even faster than the Daleks did, but it’s hard to be upset when Michelle Gomez is having so much fun in the role. She just brings a fun, chaotic energy to the show, and her carefree madness serves as a good counterpoint to Davros’ focused insanity. It lets us see a contrast between the Doctor’s two greatest foes, and gives the Doctor/Clara dynamic a shake-up.

Speaking of Clara, I continue to be amused by how the show seems to reconfigure her character every season. This time out, she seems more comfortable than ever in her role as Earth’s liaison with the Doctor, which also gives the show an excuse to bring UNIT back into the picture. If nothing else, it makes it clear that the show has a clear idea of what to do with the character in her final year, which will hopefully build up to a solid finale whenever she does officially depart.

It’ll be an interesting season, given how many two-parters are ahead of us this year. It makes it hard to give a fully-formed opinion of the overall story, especially how much of this hour was dedicated to set-up. However, I’m excited to see where things go next week.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments!