DOCTOR WHO: “The Witch’s Familiar”

Stop being cute, Moffat. Just call the episode “The Sonic Screwdriver.”

Previously, on Doctor Who!

He fell in a nest full of vampire monkeys. But that’s another story!

– Missy

Two episodes in, and the best thing about Season Nine is still Missy. Best not to dilly-dally, as she might say (swoon); let’s get to the recap!

That Missy Can Spin A Yarn

Back on Skaro, we discover Missy (yay!) and Clara (boo!) are still alive (color me shocked); the Master uses her charm to explain to the Most Annoying of Companions how that might be possible: the former details how the Doctor similarly escaped a rogue of assassins by using the same frequency on his teleport as they used for their weapons. It made sense when she said it, and Missy was far punnier. The point is, the Doctor always assumes he is the most clever in the room, and that he will win. But now, without companions (or so he believes) and TARDIS, all hope is lost. The ladies must face the fact that they’re on their own; this time, they are the Saviors of the Doctor!

The Doctor SMASH

Here’s the thing; toy with the Doctor, claim to have a plan to destroy the Universe, all is fine — that mess is his jam. But kill his friends, and you unleash the beast below within. Believing his gals to be toast, Eyebrows literally tears Davros in half and takes his wheels. Riding into the hub of the Daleks on an iron horse, so to speak, the Doctor is fired upon by his embittered foes…but we know from Missy’s tale what might happen. Being as paranoid as ever, Davros must have protected the chair, and so the Doctor lives to goof another day….for about twelve seconds. Then Snakey McSnakester captures him and liberates the Doctor of his new wheely-toy.

Davros provides the Doctor with an actual chair (the only other one on Skaro…ha!) and relates how the Dalek creator is connected to every living one on the planet, ensuring his long life span. He then uses his time with the Doctor to shout philosophical reasons why the latter will always fail; his major weakness is compassion…blah…blah…blah. (I feel like I’ve witnessed this scene in countless hero/antihero stories. But I digress.) Because of Davros’s connection to the whole of the Dalek empire, the Doctor could wipe them all out in a moment, but that is just what the former wishes: to bring the Doctor to his knees, to reduce him to shame and guilt and fear and hatred.

Of course the Doctor does not do it! This is not the War Doctor. Or Nine. This is Eyebrows! And he’s all about the one-liners and electric guitar playing. Davros switches tactics, turning to the confession dial (which was confiscated upon the Time Lord’s arrival), but the Doctor just grabs his sunglasses and fools it up. He relates how Gallifrey is safe from both of them, and Davros tugs at the heartstrings – relating that he is happy. Grandpa Dalek just wants to connect with the Doctor (Psh! Like anyone is buying that!) and opens his real eyes, adding a tear for effect (or affect, as it were). “Protect your own, as I have sought to protect mine.” (Doesn’t exactly have the same weight as the Face of Boe’s demise, but it works nonetheless.) Davros begs to see the sun one last time, and so the Doctor uses some of his regeneration energy to give the old kook one last peek with his real peepers.

Thelma and Loser-ese Or The Miner and the Canary (I had two equally fun headlines for this one)

Clara and Missy escape to the tunnels (sewers?) and spar about who might kill the other one if given an opportunity. These are no ordinary sewers: more like a graveyard of decaying Daleks. Yummy! The Master uses Clara as bait to draw out a Dalek so they can use his lift. (Poor little guy! We barely got to know him before the aforementioned decaying ones swallowed him up, looking for a way out.) Clara climbs into the bucket left behind, and Missy hooks her in. Clara Oswald, a Dalek once again. And how! Once inside, controlling the machine with her mind, Clara realizes it is not exactly lack of emotion that fuels the Daleks — it is an excess of emotion. (I am not one hundred percent sure Moffat knows how profoundly impactful this scene is when read on its face. Imagine, the Daleks through the years crying out for help, and those exact cries being the object of destruction for those with which they are pleading aid. It’s heavy, and inspired. Here’s hoping this moment is on purpose!) Missy relates that while Cybermen suppress emotion, Daleks “channel it through a gun. That why they keep yelling ‘exterminate.’ That’s how they reload.” (Wow.) The lady duo head to the Dalek hub. Missy flirting, even with the Daleks, you know how she do. The Master demands to see Davros, and offers the Daleks a “lovely little gift” in return: Clara.


The Doctor hooks himself up to the heart of the Daleks to aid Davros, but of course, that is just what the latter planned (told you). The Doctor is trapped as energy to revive Davros to full power! The regeneration energy stops all of the Daleks in their tracks, freezing those in the hub from harming Missy or Clara. The Master senses the problem and runs off to save the Doctor.

The Daleks begin to wake up, realizing they have been renewed, but there is a rub. The decaying sewer-Daleks? Turns out they’re back, too. And a little peeved at being cast aside. “From beneath you, it devours.” The Doctor had a plan, after all. He revived the old ones on purpose. The ground starts a-shaking, and the Doctor and Missy RUN! Well, right into Clara-Dalek, whom, of course, Missy blames for “killing Clara.” So that the Doctor will kill it. Er…her. Of course there is no way Clara can relay to the Doctor that she’s inside: every time she says “It’s me!” or “I’m Clara,” it comes out “I am a Dalek!” Somehow, however, she’s able to say: “Mercy,” and the Doctor tells her to think “open,” and Missy has egg all over her face. “Look at that. There’s a surprise.”

The Doctor and Clara run to where the TARDIS was parked, but of course…it was redistributed, and in the new lowest moment (lower than even poor Martha Jones) in Who history, the Doctor uses his SONIC SUNGLASSES to reassemble it. That’s right, Kiddies: sonic f-ing sunglasses. Le Sigh.

Everyone gets away, Missy using the Dalek energy for her transmitter a la earlier, and Clara and the Doctor look on as Skaro 2 collapses. He will not reveal what was on his confession disk, but he does realize how Clara was able to say “mercy.” He goes back in the TARDIS to child Davros …and saves him, instead killing the hand mines. Mercy.

And so we launch into Season 9 headlong. I’m game.

One thought on “DOCTOR WHO: “The Witch’s Familiar””

  1. I’m really loving Missy this season. I found her quite boring at the end of last season, but she’s really caught me. I really really really can’t wait till Clara dies off. I was hoping she’d get left behind in-
    dalek. Makes me wonder if we’ll ever see her join the Starship Alaska.

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