DOCTOR WHO: The Magician's Apprentice
( Meant to post this earlier, things happened and did not, doing so now )
The Doctor, looking for a bookshop instead finds a war and makes a decision. Clara and Missy go in search of the now missing Doctor (who has run off because he expects to die because of his decision). Unfortunately they are not the only ones looking for him.
I really liked the episode. There are problems with it, but for the most part it is very good, if a bit exhausting. After the pre-credits reveal that the young boy the Doctor meets on the battlefield is "Kid Davros" (instantly becoming one of the best show openings ever), we get hit with one major reveal or incident after another in such a short amount of time that it gets a bit overwhelming. Kid Davros, Missy is back (because she wouldn't do anything as pedestrian as stay dead), the Doctor acting un-Doctor-ish setting up the entire story, snake guy, old Davros, the reveal of Skarro, and on and on and on.
Some folks online are criticizing the episode as overly padded fluff, and I disagree. Not that there isn't fluff or padding, but while some some are arguing the initial snake dude searches for the Doctor and the entire stopped plane sequences are unneeded, I look at them not so much as unexciting bits as breathing room. Besides, revisiting old haunts is now tradition. On the other hand, the world wide news and media blitz coverage of the latest invasion / whatever montage has gotten a bit tired.
While that doesn't really bother there was one thing that did. Not surprisingly (for those that know me or have read my thoughts on the show before) it involved Clara.
During the plane crisis Clara is shown to be a tough bad ass. Which is fine. Given the character's history, proud/smug, bad ass is not an unreasonable. Unfortunately this was done by making Kate Stewart incompetent, needing a civilian school teacher to metaphorically hold her hand through the crisis, telling her obvious information and explaining what to do. If there had to be a "character who needs everything explained to them so we can spoon feed the audience info" AND they didn't want it to be Clara, why make it the leader of a paramilitary organization trained to deal with exactly the kind of situation they were in? It's not like they didn't have minor UNITers with speaking roles who could have been portrayed as idiot nubies.
I'm also a little confused by the shock at the reveal of Scarro, since Matt Smith's Doctor was shown visiting Scarro, so we kinda already know it survived both the time war and being blown up by Doctor 7.
On a more positive note, Clara and Missy play very well off of each other and their scenes together where very good, with Michelle Gomez doing an especially good job, putting an interesting light and her and the Doctor's friendship. A friendship that as she puts it, is older than our civilization.
The ending of the episode is getting some criticism because obviously / presumably Missy and Clara are not dead, so setting it up that they are is not effective drama. Eh. Maybe, maybe not. A lot of the drama of the show is based on putting the Doctor I life and death situations and we as audience full well know that the doctor is never going to "really" die (though actor may change) and that normally isn't complained about too much.
At the moment it seems the decision that causes this latest crisis was the Doctor walking away from Kid Davros, neither saving nor killing him. Given Old Davros's determination to get the Doctor to refute compassion, and the Doctor did not show him compassion as a child, I'm wondering if the show, as usual is only giving part of the story and there's much more it than abandoning the kid and (as shown in the teaser) returning to the scene of his "crime" with a gun.
I'm looking forward to finding out more in the second half of the story.