By Thomas Gillen
After the fairly uneven season eight that saw Peter Capaldi make his debut as the Twelfth Doctor, season nine of Doctor Who promises to excite the senses with “The Magician’s Apprentice.” Season nine premiered on Sept. 19 and found the time Lord facing off against one of his greatest enemies, Davros, creator of the Daleks.
As the episode opened, we were thrown into a war between two unknown factions. Suddenly, the Doctor appears in an attempt to save a boy stranded in a minefield. As he promised the child salvation, the Doctor realized he was talking to a young Davros, creator of the Daleks, a sinister alien race.
This situation presented a great moral decision for the Doctor. By saving Davros, he knowingly brings about the creation of the Daleks, who will cause chaos throughout the galaxy. The outcome of this decision has such an effect on the Doctor that he travels to the Middle Ages to bring about his death.
Clara Oswald, the Doctor’s companion, is back in present day earth deeply in need of the Doctor’s help as planes have suddenly frozen in the sky around the world. Before long Clara and UNIT (United Nations Intelligence Taskforce) discover that the perpetrator is fellow Time Lord Missy.
Missy is the newest incarnation of the Master, one of the Doctor’s oldest friends and enemies, who was seemingly killed at the end of last season and returned for unknown reasons. When planes are suddenly suspended in midair, Clara and UNIT discover that Missy is behind this latest horrific act. It is only when Clara confronts Missy that we see two powerful and resourceful women carry the first half of the episode. Missy reveals to Clara that the Doctor bestowed on her his “confession dial,” a sign that he plans to die. Before long, they join forces and find the Doctor in 12th century England.
Though brief, the interaction between Missy and Clara was a great dynamic. They were together for a good portion of the episode, sharing some witty dialogue particularly before meeting the Doctor. Their interaction was also a major departure from the show’s formula of companion versus villain. After a heated discussion regarding the Doctor and his whereabouts, Missy and Clara agree to work together to find the Doctor. Missy releases the suspended planes and together they travel to the Middle Ages to rescue the Doctor.
There were also some great nods to past seasons of the rebooted version of Doctor Who and Classic Who. One particular moment occurred during a conversation between the Doctor and Davros where archived footage is shown of past encounters between the two.
Upon Clara and Missy’s arrival to 12th century England, the three are subsequently captured and brought to the planet of Skaro, home world of Davros. The episode ends with a cliffhanger, which raises the bar for the rest of the season and begs to be watched to discover how it’s solved.
New episodes of Doctor Who will air Saturday nights at 9 p.m. on BBC America.