26th Sep2015

‘Doctor Who: 9×02 – The Witch’s Familiar’ Review

by Paul Metcalf


In last week’s review of The Magician’s Apprentice I was worried, I doubted Steven Moffat could conclude the story in a fitting way, or one which I wanted at least. What he gave us with The Witch’s Familiar was something surprisingly good, that not only respected tradition but reminded us this is a new Doctor Who, and one here to stay.

It would be hard to say much about the episode without spoiling it, but I’m sure I can say that The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) is trapped with Davros (Julian Bleach) on the Dalek home planet of Skaro. With seemingly no help coming can the Doctor survive?

My problem coming into The Witch’s Familiar is the fact that this story takes one of the most important storylines and character traits of Doctor Who and threatens it. As a devoted fan of Doctor Who, especially old school stories, I don’t want the history rewritten just to make this version of the Doctor work. Without saying much about what happens, thankfully I can say that Moffat respects his source material and brings a freshness to Doctor Who in an impressive way. He even manages to add a Whedon homage into this episode, keep an eye out for it.

What The Witch’s Familiar actually does is remind us that this is a new Doctor, this is Peter Capaldi, and times change. Capaldi is very good in this episode, there are moments you see him at his acting best. What may surprise some though is that he has met his match in this episode in the form of as Davros.

While the character of Davros hasn’t really been given a chance to truly shine in previous stories, this is the ultimate coming together of the two enemies. He knows the weaknesses to use against The Doctor, and Bleach performs Davros in a way that he even wins the audience over, and that is truly impressive.

There are many things that I’m sure fans will love from this episode, and one of them will once again be Missy (Michelle Gomez) I for one hope she doesn’t leave the show anytime soon. Working perfectly with Capaldi, her insane evilness is quickly making her one of my favourite forms of the Master, and yes, I would love to see her as The Doctor’s new companion, if that was possible. I doubt The Master and The Doctor can last long together though.

While The Magician’s Apprentice was a worrying episode, The Witch’s Familiar is the perfect ending. We see The Doctor we know and love, and we see a very impressive focus on Davros and the Time Lord for most of the episode. At times feeling more of a character study of the two, this is a very good start to a new season of a very good show.

In many ways The Witch’s Familiar is a fitting start to Capaldi’s reign as The Doctor, finally in the form that he wants to be. Where last season’s Time Lord was haunted by his past we’ll finally see him at his best now. Capaldi feel comfortable in the role, and it feels like he’ll truly shine in the role now. Now we just have to see the writing of the episodes live up to the character we see on the screen.

***** 5/5

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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