The Witch’s Familiar – A Little Too Familiar

No reason to bury the lead. I didn’t like THE WITCH’S FAMILIAR. I didn’t hate it either. The word “disappointed” comes to mind once again. Just as last season, the episodes I disliked the most seemed to be the most popular. If the few reactions to Season 9, episode 2 are indicative of most people’s opinions, I am in the minority. Even critics who found last week’s episode “poorly paced” and “tired”, have called The Witch’s Familiar a “vast improvement.”

Well, color me confused. Whereas The Magician’s Apprentice had a confidence to it that I enjoyed quite a bit, the entire first half of TWF was nothing but cocky. The kind of voice that Moffat has been employing in many of his scripted episodes. There is an overwhelming attitude of, “Look at this! Tom Baker! William Hartnell! The Doctor in Davros’ chair! A random cup of tea! Missy can poke holes in a Dalek!” My question is…who cares?

Missy’s explanation of how she and Clara escaped the Daleks was a waste of valuable story time. Instead of getting right into things, we’re given a James bond-esque prologue which means nothing. She simply could’ve said, “We escaped because I was able to tune a sonic device to the exact frequency of the Dalek’s blasts. It transported us out of there. It’s a trick I learned from The Doctor. Let’s get moving.” It would have conveyed the exact same information and gotten things moving. But no, we have a 5-minute flashback that is only there as fan service. I’m a fan. And I couldn’t care less.

Much of the episode was loud and obnoxious. Desperate for our attention. When things started to quiet down, The Doctor and Davros having a heart-to-heart, that’s when I became engaged. Two ancient beings of the galaxy really connecting. Their performances were top notch. This should have been the entire episode.

Then comes the inevitable “betrayal.” One that makes little sense. After Davros explains that his life support system is connected to every Dalek, did he REALLY think The Doctor would give up some of his regeneration energy WITHOUT a plan? We’re meant to believe that these two are practically intellectual equals, and that Davros WOULDN’T know The Doctor had figured out his intention? This illogical “twist” practically destroys everything good about the episode because it is so stupid.

The ending also ruins the tension of the previous cliffhanger. We see The Doctor about to murder a child. He’s reached a limit we never would have expected. This is something new! Not once did I believe he would kill lil’ Davros, but I couldn’t wait to see how he got to that point. Now seeing that he went back to save him (no real surprise) AFTER the story was over, reveals the cliffhanger for what it really was – a cheat.

Well, Doctor, you built me up, and you let me down. Now I’m back to where I was before the season began.

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