by DAVID CRANMER
Doctor Who: The Witch’s Familiar
Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Hettie MacDonald
How can Clara Oswald (Jenna Louise Coleman) be so gullible? The Master/Missy (Michelle Gomez) has already tied her upside down for no apparent good reason, well, other than being a sociopath freak. Then she’s handcuffed by The Master to be bait for the Daleks. So when Clara freely climbs into an empty dalek body-armor where she becomes just another emotionless machine from outward appearances, I’m thinking maybe it’s Ms. Oswald’s time to go the way of her predecessors. These scenes are watchable thanks to Michelle Gomez who is a one-woman tango, but the sheer foolishness of The Impossible Girl’s character (that I’ve admired in the past) is disheartening.
That subplot is balanced with The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) squaring off with the century’s old villain, Davros (Julian Bleach), creator of the daleks. The Time Lord is trapped without his sonic screwdriver or TARDIS inside Davros’s lair. An emotional verbal clash ensues that’s routine at first until it’s quite apparent that Davros is actually dying and seems to be extending an olive branch to The Doctor. They even share a laugh! Davros asks to see The Doctor’s face with his own eyes—eyes that had been fused shut eons ago. He then opens them pleading, “I need to know before the end … am I a good man?” Bleach is so damn convincing under tons of make-up and plays nicely off Capaldi. Hopefully both will be remembered along with Ms. Gomez when awards season rolls around.
It’s been said that Doctor Who is about a guy flying around in a blue box. Yes, but at the heart is a humanity that The Doctor exemplifies in “The Witch’s Familiar” as he desperately seeks the energy for Davros to see one last sunrise and correct his mistake of abandoning the young Davros. Of course, fans will be guessing up to the end whether this is all a trick of Davros or The Master.