The first episode of Doctor Who’s Season 9, The Magician Apprentice, has finally premiered. I’ve awaited this episode with some trepidation. I have not been a fan of Moffat’s showrunning as of late, and even less of his writing. Last season was very hit and miss, mostly miss sadly, but not because of Peter Capaldi. I’ve enjoyed him as the Doctor. It’s Clara that’s been my biggest problem. I’ve never come to like her as a companion, and thankfully I’m not the only one. I wasn’t too thrilled with Missy last season either. I don’t subscribe the “new who” version of the Master being a madman, so learning she would be back, and in the opener didn’t fill me with anticipation.
Fortunately, one of these problems turned out to be not so problematic. While Missy’s miraculous return wasn’t explained (and I don’t expect it to), she was back to being the Master I missed. No longer the raving lunatic who kills for no reason, she was the calculating genius who killed with a purpose, even if that purpose was just to prove a point. More importantly, she was back to help the Doctor, as his friend. This is the Master I remembered from the Classic series, and fit my head canon that he and the Doctor had been close friends, but ideological differences (one wants to rule/destroy the universe, one doesn’t) kept them at odds. And all through this episode, this is exactly what we see. Missy comes to Earth because she can’t find the Doctor, but knows Clara can. The banter between Missy and the Doctor is classic in the literal sense of the term, and even the chemistry between Capaldi and Gomez was perfect. I liked her with the Doctor more than Clara.
Unfortunately, Moffat has to put the Doctor into a moral dilemma that there is no good answer for. It’s the Hitler question; If you could go back in time and kill Hitler as a child, would you? Only this time it’s personal for the Doctor as the Hitler in question is Davros. The thing that really bothers me is that the Doctor already faced this with the Genesis of the Daleks, and decided killing the Daleks wasn’t the answer. If he is the same man, as Moffat beat into our brains last season, then he should make the same decision. Despite all the evil the Daleks do, there is still good that comes from it.
As an opening episode, this ended pretty badly, because you know nothing that happened can be real. That means either it’s all a dream (ugh) or hitting the big red button to reset it all (double ugh), It’s become a really cheap way of getting an emotional response from viewers, but nothing lasting comes from it. It actually does the opposite. But, sadly, it’s all that can be expected from Moffat.