Despite receiving some bad news earlier this week regarding the departure of a member of Team TARDIS, Whovians can rejoice because ‘Doctor Who’ is back again. And just as the show tends to do, the new season kicked off with a bang. But the episode titled ‘The Magician’s Apprentice’ did more than crackle and spark like your run of the mill party popper. No, the beginning of season nine erupted like a majestic Fourth of July fireworks extravaganza. But unfortunately we have to wait until next week to get the exciting conclusion of this two-part opener (unless you were in attendance at the premiere in New York City on Thursday night where they showed episodes one and two).
Everyone is looking for the Doctor. UNIT, Clara, and the mischievous Missy are among those on the lookout for the madman with a blue box. But they’re not the only ones because a devious and unexpected foe from the Time Lord’s long and storied past is searching in every corner of space and time as well to have one last standoff with his old adversary.
For the record, this episode is incredibly difficult to review without giving away spoilers. I’ll do my best to work around it though. So keeping that in mind, let’s start with Michelle Gomez. Forget for a minute what happened to her last season and just enjoy that she’s back for the time being because she’s an absolute treasure as Missy (AKA The Master). The things she says are so terrible, yet the way that she says them is so entertaining. For instance, when she meets up with Clara and says, “How’s your boyfriend? Still dead?” Absolutely brutal. But something about her makes you want to know more. The best way that I can describe my fascination with Missy is to compare her to the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of Loki. Both villains have so many layers that you want to peel back and explore. Hopefully Missy gets to stick around for a bit this season so we can do just that.
The Doctor was pretty fun in this episode too when we finally tracked him down. The scene where he’s at the end of a three-week long party is full of gems. I mean, the tank joke still has me smiling no matter how corny it was. But almost as quickly as the Doctor strums a few bars of ‘Pretty Woman’, that jovialness was replaced with Capaldi’s signature intensity. It’s always good to see a wide range of emotions from the Doctor.
Finally, the last thing that I can really talk about without venturing into spoilers is Steven Moffat. He’s always been one to play fast and loose with the mythology of the long-running British sci-fi series and we get a taste of that once again. But rather than spend an overabundance of time on exposition (even though there was some), I feel like Moffat made this episode for fans of Classic Who. In fact, I could see how this episode may alienate newer viewers that aren’t super familiar with the show’s lore because of how steeped it is in the pre-revival era. But whether you’re an old school fan or someone only familiar with NuWho, Moffat provides plenty to be excited about in this episode. But I could’ve done without the showrunner’s commentary seeping through the characters and imploring the audience to keep an open mind as we really got into the story. Instead of telling us flat out, give us a good reason to get into the episode.
Overall, ‘The Magician’s Apprentice’ doesn’t even feel like a season premiere. With that huge reveal right off the bat and the insane ending, it feels more like a season finale. But lucky for us, there’s still nine more episodes to go. Let’s just hope that Moffat and his team can keep up this level of craziness for the entirety of season nine.
What did you think of ‘Doctor Who: The Magician’s Assistant’? Now that you’ve read our review, watch/relive the entire episode below and give us your thoughts about the episode!