Doctor Who: The Witch’s Familiar

Perhaps the hardest bit of these posts is coming up with something for spoiler space when I advertise them over on Facebook or G+! This evening I’m all out of random witty thoughts to share, so hopefully a couple of sentences saying that will suffice.

SPOILERS AHEAD! Hover mouse over text to read, or read on entry page:

It seems the moral of the story is “don’t do what you’re told”, particularly if it’s an ancient sociopath that’s doing the telling … a sensible idea. But overall a reasonably subversive set of messages we’re being sent so far this season. If you’re shown something, don’t believe it; if you’re given an order, don’t blindly obey. Or perhaps just: think for yourself.

Obviously Clara and Missy survived, and the Doctor didn’t kill Davros-the-child, nor Davros-the-old-man. Although I suppose the implication is that the Dalek sewers/graveyard are going to kill Davros and all the Daleks, but that’ll just be a localised problem that they overcome easily and off camera before the next story they show up in. I wasn’t actually that keen on the reveal that the Doctor had somehow planned to give his regeneration energy to the sewers to spoil Davros’s victory. I know they had to come up with some way to have the Doctor win in the end and escape, but I thought that undermined the difference between Davros & the Doctor that was set up – that the Doctor can have compassion even for his enemy. Though maybe it wasn’t really the Doctor’s plan, maybe he was just using the “cat defence” when he realised he’d been tricked – “I totally meant to do that”.

J was right – Clara was the Witch’s Familiar, with Missy in the role of the Wicked Witch. Another compare & contrast set up – again we’re shown that no matter the Doctor’s faults, the point is that he cares and treats people as people not just as particularly useful pointy sticks. Another parallel between the two halves of the plot is neither Clara nor the Doctor being all that convincing with their “how dare you I’ll kill you” threats. Although the Doctor at least didn’t actually utter the threat just tried to imply it without saying it. But the Daleks didn’t believe him any more than Missy believed Clara.

Seems the season arc this time is about why the Doctor really left Gallifrey, although I’m guessing that just as we never found out the Doctor’s name we won’t find this out either. But we’ve had Missy rubbing it in Clara’s face about her shared past with the Doctor (did she really say “when we had a daughter”? I only half caught that). And Davros overtly mentioning it too. Moffat also clearly wants us to remember the confession disc/last will & testament or whatever that disc really is. (I did like the double fake out with that – the Doctor grabs the glasses and Davros & we assume him to be playing the fool, then it turns out the sunglasses are the new screwdriver (at least for now)). Oh and the ring the Doctor is wearing … called to our attention several times towards the end of the episode. I can’t remember if he wore a wedding ring before or not but it couldn’t’ve been pointed out more if it had had a flashing neon sign above it this episode.

Nice call back to Clara’s initial story with her inside the Dalek. And I liked thematically the idea that Daleks are all about taking emotion and feeding that energy into negativity & destruction. For me it fits into the “think for yourself” theme that these two episodes have – after all how many times does one see a picture or headline in the media or in a widely shared facebook post that’s designed to tug at the heartstrings or generate outrage, and then the story attached encourages the reader to hate “those responsible”. And often if you take the time to look into the story properly it turns out to be bobbins – but it served its purpose in getting people worked up and their hatred pointed in the direction the original authors wanted.

Curious to see if the title of the next episode (Under the Lake) continues to be significant … though that may’ve just been a thing for that two-parter. All “Under the Lake” makes me think of in that sort of context is Excalibur, and nymphs, so perhaps just literal this time. (No spoilers for that episode in comments please, J prefers to remain totally unspoiled.)