The 4th Doctor – Season 17, Episode 1 – “Destiny of the Daleks” – The Limits of Logic

     “Destiny of the Daleks” is the second appearance of the Dalek’s during the 4th Doctor’s run. The first was one of my favorite episodes, “Genesis of the Daleks” that explores their origin and introduces Davros for the first time. “Destiny of the Daleks” is okay. I’ll explore why deeper into the review, but to summarize this is a story that has villains that have poor design, are never really explored and we never get to know the heroes and those assisting them. There were multiple chances to explore characters and civilizations and this episode only stuck to telling the story without going any deeper.

The episode was directed by Ken Grieve and written by Terry Nation (who as written a ton of “Doctor Who” episodes).

The story involves the Doctor and Romana materializing on a mysterious planet. From things unfold as they find themselves separated from the TARDIS. The Doctor realizes they are on Skaro as the Dalek’s are searching for Davros to help them in their stalemate with the Movellans.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Daleks – The Daleks are great. They are certainly limited by technology of when it was filmed (they can’t fly making an easy escape for our heroes at one point when they go up a ledge), but they are enjoyable in how ham the exist as a species. The design of the Daleks is distinct and their irrational hatred for anything not a Dalek (apparently with the exception of Davros) makes them hilarious in their own ways. This episode is a great example of how stupid the Dalek philosophy is. They care so much about winning and extermination they can’t even catch when a rebellion is occurring and when they are being outsmarted. On top of this they can’t go up stairs or ledges (which the Doctor uses to escape at one point) and they can only see out of their eye socket, which sticks out from the shell. The Doctor easily defeats one by putting his hat on the eye stalk leading to the Dalek panicking and being easily defeated. Surprisingly enough they do manage to be threatening early on and they are such a fun species that they were definitely a pro in this story.

Romana – This episodes doesn’t explore Romana as a character but she is always active during the episode. Most of the time she is helping the Doctor or helping to revert a genocide of some kind (The Movellans or Daleks) and it was obvious why she traveled with the Doctor. She is a character who sees the value of life and relationships and protects those around her. Her siblingesque relationship with the Doctor is great too. He is clearly the older brother as he’s been around longer but she listens and as a team they figure everything out. They are both Time Lords and there is a lot of history to get to this relationship but it is great to see in this episode.

Davros – Davros is the genocidal creator of the Daleks who the Daleks both hate and need, depending on where they are in time and space. Here their whole goal is to bring him back so they can find the Movellans. Davos is an arrogant sociopath who works because he is the mad scientist trope. Here we see that on full display as he knows his creations will rescue him no matter what the Doctor and Romana do. He is eventually defeated when they don’t see how the conflict with the Movellans could lead to a human rebellion and because of it Skaro is returned back to the status quo of inactive. Why I enjoy his character and what makes him work in this is both the Doctor and Davros are arrogant mad geniuses, but Davros is the one who has no empathy and the Doctor calls him out quite a few times in their time together. Knowing that it was this Doctor who first met Davros enriches it even more as here is where they now continue their relationship as enemies post “Genesis of the Daleks” in regards to the television stories.

The Doctor – Tom Baker as the 4th Doctor is once again shown to be one of my favorites again in this one. In this he is largely outsmarting and neutralizing foes, but he still gets a lot of good banter in with Davros, and given their history together I love how the Doctor finds humor in how unchanged the monster Davros is. It is part of what makes this episode fun. The Doctor and Davros are both intelligent, but the Doctor can think chaotically where Davros can’t and that is how the Doctor defeats both the Daleks and the Movellans as they are both logic based species trapped and consumed by it. He does the unpredictable and because of it, humanity, Romana and the Doctor win.

Okay:

The Story – The story is pretty basic. You have two logic based species trapped in a stalemate trying to use those who are more intelligent to end the stalemate. The Movellans want to use the Doctor and destroy the planet and the Daleks want to use Davros to end the stalemate. This isn’t used in any intriguing ways. We don’t really get to know any character more and the factions aren’t even explored that deeply. It isn’t awful but there is so much potential in an enemy who can fight the Daleks to a stalemate.

The Cons:

The Movellans – As said above, this episode doesn’t explore the Movellans at all. We learn they are androids but that is it. Who created them? When did they start fighting the Daleks? What are their aims beyond the Daleks? None of these questions are answered and on top of it the costumes suck. They are wearing white costumes with white bead wigs. This is an episode that basic effort was put into and it shows. There was no this was going to make great as even great actors like Tom Baker can only work with what they are given. The Movellans are such an underwritten and poorly designed species that nothing about them works. The Daleks deserved better foes. They have history behind them as to why the Doctor fears them. By the end of the episode we have no reason to truly fear the Movellans.

I would only recommend this episode to the die hard 4th Doctor Tom Baker fans. This is an average fun episode of “Classic Who” but nothing elevates it to more than that. The Movellans are just awful villains and even the Doctor and Romana aren’t given a chance to be expanded more as characters. Nothing that happens in this episode changes them and the characters that surround them, outside of the Daleks, remain unexplored. This was the return of the Davros and the Daleks and in opposition to the the Doctor they really deserved a better story and a better foe to put them in a stalemate.

Final Score:  7 / 10. In the end on okay episode that could have been so much more.

 

 

The 12th Doctor – Series 9, Episode 2 – “The Witch’s Familiar” – Compassion and Complicated Relationships

DoctorWho-TheWitchsFamiliar-Missy

       “The Witch’s Familiar” gets a lot of things right, though I found the first part of this arc superior since it felt like more was at stake, there are some things that happen at the end that take away the tension and a lot of the really cool actions that had happened before…not to the extent that it completely does away with those great conversations and character moments, but it does detract from them creating a lesser story in regards to this episode.

     The episode was directed by Hettie MacDonald and written by Steven Moffat.

Spoilers ahead

      The story involves Davros telling the Doctor he is dying and the Doctor being alone and being given the choice to end the Daleks once and for all. From here is given another choice as he and Davros talk of themselves and their relationship. Elsewhere Missy and Clara go undercover to rescue the Doctor from the Daleks.

The Pros: Missy’s Story – Missy gives a backstory on how the Doctor escapes immortal androids by using their own tech against them. It’s cool and explains how the Doctor always wins because he expects to win and it is when he believes himself in a corner that he begins playing all his cleverness to the fullest.

The Sewers – The sewers are the Dalek Graveyard as they can’t die so they just rot there for an eternity filled with hate. It’s creepy and wonderful and it’s interesting how the Doctor uses these dying Daleks against the ones above as Davros had forgotten about them and that regeneration would affect them too.

Davros –  Julian Bleach does a fantastic job as Davros, lending him humanity as he admires the Doctor’s courage for looking out for his people and takes advantage of the Doctor’s compassion to get regeneration for himself and the Daleks, though in the end he misses the details such as the sewers and the rotting Daleks there who have no loyalty to those above at all. He is the most human Davros so far and this is the only time Davros has felt like a good villain outside of “Genesis of the Daleks.”

Missy – Missy is wonderful in this and is a twisted Doctor with Clara as they work together and she uses Clara as a canary in a pit, a Dalek to kill Daleks and finally attempts to trick the Doctor into killing her until after when the Doctor tells her to run she approaches the Daleks from a place of power showing that they’ll probably work with her. Michelle Gomez owns the Master role and I’d watch an entire series of just her plots and adventures at this point. So glad she’s sticking around.

The Doctor – The Doctor is shown to be both compassionate (refuses to kill the Daleks and describes compassion as the greatest disease) and shares his isolation with Davros as they are both cut off from their people. In the end he does what the Doctor does too as he uses Davros’s own plan against him turning the undead Daleks in the sewers against those on the surface and his anger when Missy almost tricks him into killing Clara who is once again inside a Dalek (“Asylum of the Daleks” being the first time). In the end he is able to teach the Daleks the inkling of compassion too after he saves a young Davros on the battlefield and tells him of the importance of mercy and that sides don’t matter. This pays off as Daleks do have mercy as part of their vocabulary.

Okay: Clara – Clara is just kind of there, Michelle Gomez devours most of her scenes as Missy is a much more interesting character and Clara is never able to really compete. She if anything feels like an audience surrogate in the episode.

Okay/Con: Questions – Do the Daleks have regeneration now? What’s going to happen to Missy? What will happen to Davros? If the Daleks have regeneration how will they change? Will the prophecy of the Hybrid warrior go anywhere? Will the Daleks hunt for Gallifrey since the Doctor told Davros it is back? Why did the Doctor think he was going to die if all along he was playing the Daleks? I’m doing con because if these questions are dropped this season as has happened in regards to Moffat before, this overall season will go down.

The Cons: Knew It All Along – The weakest part of the episode was that the Doctor and Davros were just playing each other, this took away from the amazing conversations they had and how they found humanity in one another. In the end Davros just wanted regeneration for the Daleks and the Doctor used this to turn the undead Daleks in the sewer rotting against their counterparts above…these two things took away from the moments as it was one long con on both their parts similar to the Doctor in “Time Heist.”

   This was still a really good episode, largely for the conversations and the Missy and Clara Team-up and really any scene with Missy…but it did fall apart at the end and there are a lot of questions, which Moffat does not have a good track record of answering well. This is still a really good Dalek episode and a favorite “Doctor Who” episode, but it doesn’t reach it’s full potential in regards to Davros and the Doctor, which brings it down.

Final Score: 8.7 / 10

Final Score for the “Davros Arc”: 9 / 10. Solidly great but brought down by the final reveals.

The 12th Doctor – Series 9, Episode 1 – “The Magician’s Apprentice” – The Return of an Old Foe and a Choice

The Magician's Apprentice Doctor Who

    “The Magician’s Apprentice” kicks off a promising start to Series 9. There are some awkward moments for sure and it doesn’t appear that they know what to do with Clara this season as Missy is so front and center, but it is a lot of fun and overall a great ride. I’ll get into the details further into the review. I plan on reviewing all the episodes of Series 9, just as I did for Series 8.

      The episode was directed by Hettie MacDonald and written by Steven Moffat.

     The story involves the Doctor going into hiding as Davros has returned and he fears that their confrontation will end in his death. It takes Missy and Clara working together to find him and from there they are captured by Davros as the story unfolds from there.

The Pros: The Child in the War – The episode opens with a child in the middle of a battlefield watching and running as soldiers die around him. The Doctor throws him his screwdriver and when he asks for his name we learn it is Davros, leading the Doctor to leave him to die. It’s powerful as we know what Davros’s future holds just like the Doctor though at the same time this is when the Doctor is innocent, leading to the question of the Doctor maybe having created Davros through his fear and heartlessness.

Return to Old Sites – We return to Old Sites as Colony Sarf (a minion of Davros) looks for the Doctor. We got to the Shadow Proclamation and see them with Dragoons and they call Sarf away and we end at Karn where the Doctor is hiding with the Sisterhood. All of it is amazing, especially these 2 locations where powerful women rule.

Colony Sarff – This minion of Davros is awesome. He is a Colony of living Snakes and is a deadly foe and is super creepy and awesome. He finds and captures the Doctor’s friends and is the one who made all of Davros’s plans possible this episode. I liked the enemy a lot.

Skaro – Skaro is back and it looks awesome! Lots of Dalek buildings, the fact that they cloaked their planet after rebuilding it and it still looks like a wasteland like Gallifrey. It’s great being back here again.

Missy – Michelle Gomez really owns this role and it is wonderful as she stops all planes to hold the world hostage in order to get help from Clara to find where in time the Doctor is. It is a pretty cool scene and we see her kill multiple UNIT folks establishing she is the same old Missy and her defense of her friendship and rivalry with the Doctor shuts Clara down as we get glimpses of her and the Doctor’s childhood together in the references she makes. Later on she is shot by Daleks, but death has never stopped the Master before.

Davros – Davros is back as the anti-thesis to the Doctor and in his dying breaths wants to kill compassion in the Doctor and make the Doctor him. We see the 4th Doctor in “Genesis of the Daleks” appear and all the conversations Davros recorded of he and the Doctor together. He does this through letting his children the Daleks kill Missy and Clara though it is more complicated as he remembers the Doctor seeing him as a child…so there might be more going on. Did he send back the Doctor to kill him? Is Davros full of regret for what he’s done? I got that vibe from their conversation together.

The Doctor – The Doctor parties it up in Medieval England for a while and brings a tank and electric guitar…ti’s fun and frivolous and I didn’t like how it clashed with everything…it did show how the Doctor has been running from Davros and his regret at both probably not saving the child Davros and not killing him…as the episode ends with him ready to kill Davros the child with one of his own weapons from the future. The Doctor’s friends matter more than his core is what we see now, though with the Doctor there is always more going on.

Okay: Clara – She’s just kind of there. She helps UNIT figure out Missy’s plot and she talks Missy down but after that Missy owns the scenes and Clara is the side character (or puppy as Missy describes her) which is a shame. I don’t think the writers know what to do with Clara once again…except being the goodside of the Doctor while Missy is his darker side.

Okay/Con: The Doctor’s Party – The party is over the top and frivolous and I didn’t like it. It was okay I guess but it added nothing to the episode and took up time we could have had with Davros or Missy.

   This was as great episode, the only downsides were the party and Clara not doing all that much, but the dialogue between 12 and Davros is fantastic and Davros is finally humanized beyond a Saturday Morning Cartoon Villain. In this 2 parter we will no doubt learn how he became the way he is, and if that can be changed…as well as the Daleks being an inevitability of being created by him or if they will always find a way to exist in this Universe. Can’t wait to see what the next episode brings.

Final Score: 9.2 / 10