To be honest, I never felt that the two episodes featuring Davros in the David Tennant era, “The Stolen Earth,” and “Journey’s End,” were all that great. In fact, basically no episode featuring Davros since the Tom Baker era were ever that great. I truly wanted Davros to be retired for the remainder of the series as nobody could do his character justice, and no actor could work alongside him as well as Baker. Thank God, Steven Moffet did not agree with me. “The Magician’s Apprentice” and “The Witch’s Familiar” are Peter Capaldi’s best episodes thus far, and some of the best from Steven Moffet yet.
The story revolves around a dying Davros searching for the Doctor so he can make his final peace with him before he dies. “The Magician’s Apprentice,” the first episode in the two-part premiere, also reveals that the Doctor abandoned Davros on the Skaro battlefield when he was just a child, causing him to descend into madness. Also returning from the dead is the Doctor’s other longtime nemesis, the Master. Missy, played by the returning Michelle Gomez, steals the show whenever she is on screen. Rather than working against the Doctor, Missy instead decides to work with him as she is worried that this might be the Doctor’s last adventure. Seeing the two work together rather than fight each other is a welcome change of pace, and I hope that the episode shows more of it as the series. progresses.
Where the premiere truly excels is in the scenes of dialogue between Davros and Capaldi. The two don’t fight each other, and, for the most part, do not demonstrate any aggression toward the other. As they talk about the events that led them to this showdown, the premiere has some brilliant, downright beautiful moments between the two. As they sit with each other, they don’t act like enemies wishing the other destroyed, but more like tired, old warriors that just want a moment to show a mutual respect for their longtime enemy. Capaldi is so brilliant in these episodes, that I hope that the show brings back other villains from the past such as the Rani.
Unfortunately, the premiere did have one major issue, Clara. Clara’s first season on the show with Matt Smith, was decent. Her season with Capaldi was mediocre as it mainly focused on her who, let’s face it, is not as interesting as a 2,000-year-old time traveling alien with the ability to regenerate into a new person if his life is threatened. Every scene with Clara where she is the focus seems beyond forced. I think I speak for all fans when I say I would much prefer a season of the Doctor and Missy bouncing off each other as the last two Time Lords rather than I would like to see another season of Clara’s issues with boys.