Title: Doctor Who S9.E01 “The Magician’s Apprentice”
Released: 2015
Series:  Doctor Who

Previously on Doctor WhoNick Frost was Father Christmas, and Dreamception occurred (thanks to the facehuggers from Aliens).

It’s been a while, fellow Whovians! But the Doctor has returned to our small screens, and we’ve just been given a season opener that excites, educates and exterminates.

Before we jump into the discussion, I want to make note of a few changes to the recap format. You’ll notice two new categories below: Fantastic! and We’re All StoriesFantastic! is where I’ll highlight the biggest “holy shizz!” moments of an episode. We’re All Stories is where I’ll list the episode’s winners and losers, whoever they might be. I’ve also removed the Companion Annoyance Level category, which basically turned into me complaining about Clara more often than not last series—and since it’s official that Jenna’s leaving the show, I’m going to try my hardest to give her another chance—and changed the Best Doctorisms section to something more witty.

With that …

Here We Go Again

While a mysterious slithering character goes around the universe looking for the Doctor, Earth finds itself with a problem: all planes, everywhere, have suddenly frozen in time. Turns out this problem is all thanks to Missy, who is very not dead and needs Clara to help her find the Doctor, who’s gone on walkabout and apparently thinks he’s about to die. All roads meet in a medieval arena, and then merge to lead to Davros—the creator of the Daleks who’s also about to die. But before he does, Davros needs to have a chat with the Doctor about their first meeting … which, if I’m reading into everything correctly, was the impetus for Davros to become an evil villain.

(In case you missed it, and for more background on why the episode starts where it does, you can watch the Series 9 Prologue here and the mini prequel episode “The Doctor’s Meditation” here. The second video hasn’t been released officially, so watch it while you can …)


Certainly, the most “holy crap!” moment of this episode was when the child in the battlefield (surrounded by Hand Mines, which, yick!) announced that his name was Davros. Although I wasn’t the one making the choice, I certainly shared the Doctor’s obvious moral confusion in that “WHAT THE EFF DO I DO NOW” moment.

Don’t Blink or We’ll Exterminate

  • I wasn’t sure what to think about Colony Sarff at first—the “guy” looks like he’s wearing rubber bands around his face. But then he split up into his many snakey parts, and it made sense that he spoke about himself in third person. For people who are afraid of snakes, he might have been a freaky monster, but as someone who’s not Indiana Jones, he wasn’t really that menacing. He got even less so when the Doctor called him a “snake nest in a dress.”

  • The Daleks were their typical, single-minded killing machine selves.

  • Davros also makes an appearance, but he doesn’t really get to be evil until the end. I’m sure we’ll see much more of his evil nature next episode.

(For those who weren’t familiar with Davros, the episode should have cleared it up, but here’s more history if you’re interested.)

We’re All Stories

Winners: Peter Capaldi. The Twelfth Doctor got to make what is likely the best entrance of any Doctor Who episode ever: Riding into a medieval duel area through fog, on a tank, playing an electric guitar while wearing Ray Bans. I’d say he’s the big winner of this episode, regardless of what came later.


  • Missy, Clara and the TARDIS. Although we saw all three characters “die” this episode, knowing the show, and the nature of the characters, none of them are dead-dead, but I’m sure it was supposed to make our hardened hearts feel something made the Doctor a bit upset.

  • The universe. If this episode is to be believed, the Doctor is essentially the grandfather of the Daleks. Thanks?

Words from the Madman

Doctor: “Your chances of survival are one in a thousand. So, here’s what you do: You forget the thousand and concentrate on the one.”

Doctor: “I try never to understand. It’ll called an open mind.”

Doctor: “We’ve partied. I helped you dig a well, with a first-class, child-friendly visitors’ center. I’ve given you some top-notch maths tuition in a fun but relevant way. And I’ve also introduced the word “dude” several centuries early.”

Doctor: “I spent all yesterday in a bow tie. The day before in a long scarf. It’s my party, and all of me is invited.”

Special props to Jac (Jaye Griffiths), for her “Pardon my sci-fi, but …” comment. I plan on adding this as a preface before many of my conversations from here on out.

Keep Moving

I really liked the connections this episode made to previous seasons, both the obvious ones and the offhand comments the Doctor made. But, unlike other people on the Internet, I wasn’t completely blown away by the episode. It was fun, but nothing that totally renewed my faith in the show, you know? (Of course, that’s not going to stop me from watching.) I can’t help but wonder if my disconnect is due to not having the same connection with Davros as older fans …

But, what did you think of “The Magician’s Apprentice”? Let’s discuss in the comments.


Mandy (she/her) is a manager at a tech company who lives in Austin, TX, with her husband, son, and dogs. She loves superheroes and pretty much any show or movie with “Star” in the name.