In the second episode of the ninth series ofÂ Doctor Who, THIS WAS GREAT. Intrigued? Then itâ€™s time for Mark to watchÂ Doctor Who.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of genocide.
So much to talk about! But let me just say that this was both a lot of funÂ andÂ emotionally intense. Bravo on the balance,Â Doctor Who.
Look, I think it would be a crime to have Michelle GomezÂ notÂ use her brilliant sense of comic timing, so I appreciated that amidst a fairly terrible atmosphere, she spends the bulk of this episode enjoying the chance to be chaotic. More than ever before, she feels like the Trickster, a character who exists solely to keep everyone else on their toes. Sheâ€™s perfect at it, too, and I daresay say that keeping her alive after series 8 was a damn fine choice. I do want to see her get her own storyline, though, especially if she can interact with the Doctor in a way that will shed light on their past. DID SHE MAKE REFERENCE TO A DAUGHTER IN THIS EPISODE? Like I said in the video, I am not all that knowledgable aboutÂ Doctor WhoÂ canon as Iâ€™d like to be, so THIS CAME AS A SURPRISE. Tell me more!
Hubris and Debris
Okay, I am both utterly disturbed and immensely impressed with the introduction of the Skaro sewers. What a gross way to show us how flawed the construction of the Dalek society is. Because the Daleks are genetically designed and bred for one purpose, it makes sense that over time, Dalek bodies had to doÂ something. They donâ€™t ever die if theyâ€™re killed, but theyâ€™re also not constructed to be invincible. Thus, Skaro is built over a living graveyard; Dalek bodies break down until theyâ€™re nothing more than a web of goo that lives undergroundÂ forever. FOREVER. Of course Davros doesnâ€™t care about it, and neither do any of the Daleks. Itâ€™s just evidence of their hubris.
I know that Iâ€™ve not been the biggest fan of the Daleks in recent series. I feel like itâ€™s a challenge to write them in interesting stories because there is just SO MUCH CANON. How do you write new stories with antagonists that have thousands of hours worth of material behind them? So, hereâ€™s me appreciating the fact that Moffat found out how to write about Daleks by putting a person inside of a Dalek shell. Which might not be a new thing inÂ Doctor WhoÂ canon, of course! I DONâ€™T KNOW EVERYTHING, THERE IS SO MUCH Iâ€™VE MISSED. But seeing how the Dalek technology filtered out emotion and individuality was super fascinating, yâ€™all.
It does mean, however, that Clara gets no real growth herself. Thatâ€™s a problem with her characterization in general over the course of her tenure on the show. A lot of times, I feel like stories happenÂ toÂ her, rather than her being involvedÂ inÂ them. I know thereâ€™s a thin line between the two of them, and I donâ€™t need a character to constantly evolve with every appearance. However, does this episode change if you remove Claraâ€™s story? Only sort of; until the Doctor interacts with her in the Dalek shell, Iâ€™d say it would unfold exactly the same. She does influence the Doctorâ€™s decision to offer mercy to Davros. But what else? I definitely want a more personal story for Clara this season.
The strongest element of â€œThe Witchâ€™s Familiarâ€ is the theme. At the end of the last episode, the Doctor ponders whether or not Davros is right about compassion. Long ago, the Doctor did not offer Davros compassion when he came across him as a boy. Now, in the present, Davros is on his last breath. Look, I BELIEVED IT. I bought it without question. Julian Bleachâ€™s performance as Davros was so convincing that I never doubted that I was watching the final moments of Davros. On top of that, Capaldiâ€™s moving performance as the Doctor led me to believe that I was watching something special. Despite that the Doctor had fought Davros for centuries, despite that his arch-nemesis had killed billions of Time Lords, and despite that there was no reason for it, the Doctor gave Davros compassion in his â€œfinalâ€ moments. He helped him to see the sun rise on Skaro on last time.
Of course, it was all a ruse so that Davros could steal the Doctorâ€™s regeneration powers for the Daleks, but that doesnâ€™t negate how meaningful those scenes were. I say that because the end of â€œThe Witchâ€™s Familiarâ€ shows us that the Doctor knows that compassion is his weakness, and he doesnâ€™t care. If this had not been a trap, I think the Doctor would have behaved the same way. He would have given Davros kindness before he died. Why? Because it doesnâ€™t matter what side heâ€™s on, as long as there is mercy.
BUT LETâ€™S ALSO TALK ABOUT HYBRIDS. Because I really hope there isÂ someÂ future story to address them. What a fascinating concept! Did the Doctor create the Hybrids? Some other Time Lord? What do Dalek/Time Lord Hybrids evenÂ lookÂ like? PLEASE TELL ME MORE, Iâ€™D LOVE IT.
The video for â€œThe Witchâ€™s Familiarâ€ can be downloadedÂ here for $0.99.
Mark Links Stuff
– I am now on Patreon!!! MANY SURPRISES ARE IN STORE FOR YOU IF YOU SUPPORT ME.
– IÂ will be at numerous conventions in 2016! Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often.Â My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be Death NoteÂ andÂ Neon Genesis Evangelion. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
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