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The Witch's Familiar was the second episode of the ninth series of Doctor Who produced by BBC Wales. It probed the reason why the Doctor had fled from Gallifrey and gave a needed explanation as to why Skaro had returned after it was shown to be destroyed in Remembrance of the Daleks, as the Daleks were said to have remade the planet anew. It also divulged how Missy had escaped her death in Death in Heaven through the use of a device to teleport away nanoseconds before she was shot by a cyber-converted Brigadier, which made it appear that she had been disintegrated.

This story was further notable for exploring several new narratives with Davros. It was the first time he was shown outside of his chair, and this revealed that he has no legs at all and both his spinal column and defunct left arm are a combination of robotic Dalek technology hooked into the machine. The episode also shows Davros turn off his eyestalk bulb and open his own eyes for the first time in all his appearances, and toyed with the possibility of him dying an indisputable death as well as him possibly regretting his actions. The story was also the first to show Davros cry.

In that same respect, the mechanics of a Dalek were given an in-depth look, showing how they control their casing functions, the weaponry and how their capacity for speech is filtered and conditions them so they must not utter anything which betrays their basic functions of hatred, as well as giving a rational explanation for why they repeatedly shout, "Exterminate!" in the bulk majority of their appearances.

In addition, having given the young Davros his sonic screwdriver and it wearing out with age, the Doctor decided against carrying around another screwdriver and instead revealed that he now has a pair of sonic sunglasses.

Synopsis

As he's trapped in a terrifying Dalek city, the Doctor is without his sonic, and without his TARDIS and is all on his own.

Can the Doctor resist his greatest temptation, and will he show his greatest enemy compassion?

Plot

On the outskirts of the Dalek City, Clara awakens to find herself suspended upside down in the air by rope and Missy sharpening a stick nearby. Missy tells her they'll probably have to hunt for food, hence the stick, and that Clara is tied up "in case there's nothing to hunt". She quickly explains how they survived being shot.

She recalls how the Doctor once faced Android Assassins who almost killed him had he not used the energy from their blasters to activate his teleport and escape. Missy then states the Doctor then found himself in another trap with vampire monkeys soon after but that it was a story for another day. Clara realises Missy copied what the Doctor did with their vortex manipulators, except the results of which has burned them out.

Missy frees Clara from her restraint and both stare at the city, knowing they have to return to help the Doctor with just a sharp stick. As they begin to approach the city Clara asks if she can have a stick for herself only to be told to make her own.

Meanwhile the Doctor searches the infirmary and finds a gunstick, grabs it and threatens Davros, aiming directly behind his head. The Doctor tells Davros to get out of his chair, and soon the Daleks see on their screen that "Davros" is leaving the infirmary. As they inform Davros to stay in the room Davros call them for help and tells all Skaro Daleks to find the escaping Doctor. A Dalek finds Davros on the floor, as the Doctor rolls into the Dalek room in his wheelchair, stating that the Daleks have had "this exact nightmare". He demands to know where Clara is, but is attacked by Colony Sarff, who hid in the chair, and knocks out the Doctor.

Meanwhile, Missy and Clara are standing in another area on the outskirts of the City, having heard the Doctor's call for Clara, they enter a Dalek sewers, Missy pushing Clara down into it; they wanted to find out how deep it was, which was 20 ft. As Clara reawakens, she finds Missy standing in front of her, grabs her stick and threatens her. However, Missy reclaims her stick and enters the main sewer area, explaining that all the "nasty stuff" they see on the walls are old decaying and angry Daleks that have been left to rot and liquify. Missy soon cuffs Clara to a security camera, which spots her and sends a Dalek to collect her. As a Dalek approaches, Missy attacks it, using her brooch to poke holes in the casing, allowing the old Daleks to enter it and kill the new Dalek as revenge.

Back in the infirmary, the Doctor awakens to find Davros back in his chair. Davros tells him to be grateful as the chair he sits on is the only other chair on Skaro, and that the Doctor should be privileged, but he quickly picks himself up. Unbeknownst to the Doctor, Colony Sarff is hidden amongst the tubes of Davros' life-support. The Doctor learns that Davros is "vampiring" off the Daleks to stay alive; so long as the Daleks' hearts beat, so does Davros'. Davros shows the Doctor that he took the confession dial and sunglasses, wondering why he came. The Doctor explains that he came because a sick, dying man asked him to. Davros asks to see the Doctor with his own eyes, shutting off the implant in his forehead and opening his true eyes. Realising that Davros is indeed dying, both the Doctor and him have a laugh that he isn't a really good doctor after all.

In the sewer, Missy has Clara sit in the Dalek's armor, closing it. She has Clara attempt to say kind things, but they all come out as "exterminate" or "I am a Dalek"; she then explains that unlike the Cybermen, who cut out their emotions, the Daleks harness it to charge their weapons. They proceed into the hospital, where a Dalek questions Clara as to why an intruder is in the city; however, Missy takes control, explaining the Dalek had better inform the Supreme Dalek that "the bitch is back".

In the infirmary, Davros wonders about how both the Daleks and Time Lords fought in the Time War, but now only Gallifrey is gone. The Doctor explains that he saved Gallifrey, but cannot find it. Davros congratulates the Doctor, as he himself was not able to save his species. Davros begins to show remorse for all his terrible deeds and asks whether he was a good man. Davros says all he wants is to see one last sunrise, but cannot open his eyes now. As the sun looms on the horizon, the Doctor says "not to tell anyone about this", having his hand glow with regeneration energy. However, the moment he touches the life-support, Sarff binds him, and the cables begin to drain more energy from the Doctor, transmitting it to the Daleks. renewing them. Davros laughs, commenting that regeneration energy is "The ancient magic of the Time Lords.", and remarking that he thought he would have to vivisect the Doctor to take it from him. He gloats that the Doctor's compassion has driven him to open his veins freely, allowing all Daleks to "Drink the blood of Gallifrey."

In the Dalek's command room, both Missy and Clara watch as the Daleks freeze and begins leaking regeneration energy. Missy runs off the infirmary, where she frees the Doctor. Davros gloats the Daleks have gained new strength, and his life has been prolonged; however, the Doctor has two words for him "moron; sewers". At that moment, all the decaying Daleks begin attacking, causing an earthquake; the Doctor and Missy flee.

In the hall, Clara finds them, but cannot tell the Doctor that she's inside the Dalek shell, due to it not speaking what she wants. Missy tries killing her, by tricking the Doctor into thinking that the shell killed Clara. However, when Clara begs to Doctor not kill her, she cause the casing to say "mercy". The Doctor lowers the gun and asks the Dalek why it hasn't killed him, and Clara causes the casing to say "I... show... mercy" opens the shell, glaring at Missy for trying to trick him; she runs off while he and Clara head back to where the TARDIS was destroyed. The Doctor then reveals that the HADS broke apart the TARDIS to save it; using his new Sonic sunglasses, the Doctor brings it back together, allowing him and Clara to flee. Missy is caught by the Daleks, but tells them that she has an idea.

In the TARDIS, the Doctor wonders why the Dalek shell was able to say "mercy". He then realizes what he must do. He returns to young Davros, shooting the Handmines with a Dalek gun, telling him it doesn't matter what side anyone's on so long as there's mercy. He then begins guiding Davros back home.

Cast

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Make-up and prosthetics

Movement

Casting

General post-production staff

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Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.


References

  • When speaking to the Dalek that comes down to the sewer, Missy taunts it in a Texan accent.
  • Missy mentions she had a daughter.
  • Missy has a pendant made of a dark star alloy.

Story notes

  • Missy is seen in a sewer. Previously, in the Doctor Who spoof The Curse of Fatal Death also written by Steven Moffat, an incompetent version of the Master was shown falling into an absurdly vast sewer three times and taking three hundred and twelve years to climb out each time.
  • Davros says the Doctor is privileged to be able to use the only other chair on Skaro. This was similarly brought up in the spoof The Curse of the Fatal Death, where the Doctor and his companion were tied to chairs by Daleks; when his companion asked why the daleks had chairs, the Doctor promised to "explain later."
  • A dying Davros telling the Doctor that he wants to look at him with his own eyes is very similar to a scene in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi when Anakin Skywalker says he wants to look at his son Luke with his own eyes as he is dying, and, like Davros, has been hooked up to mechanical apparatuses after suffering crippling injuries, including a mask over his face as part of his Sith identity as Darth Vader.
  • On 27 September, the day after the episode's broadcast, the two-part opener was broadcast on BBC One and BBC One HD as one single feature-length episode.
  • This episode saw a rare use of the mild expletive "bitch" on the series, spoken by Missy. This is notable as the episode premiered pre-watershed hours on BBC One and Doctor Who is often considered a family-friendly television series. To further denote the rarity of this language on the show, the expletive was last heard in the second episode of Series 1, in TV: The End of the World by Rose Tyler, over ten years ago.

Ratings

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Production errors

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.

Continuity

Home video releases

DVD releases

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