Second Opinion – Season 9, Episode 02 “The Witch’s Familiar”


Jerry: So episode two is…

Brent: “The Witch’s Familiar”

dw-witchfamiliarJ: OK. I am completely clueless as to what the meaning is behind that episode name. Do you have any idea?

B: I do. It relates to both parts of the story: the first episode was “The Magician’s Apprentice” and the second episode is “The Witch’s Familiar”. I think they can be interpreted several ways. To start, I think it could be interpreted that Clara is both roles, because she is the magician’s assistant. with the magician being the Doctor. There were several times last season when he mentioned that his coat and his new regeneration made him feel like he turned into a magician. Then Clara is paired with the female version of the Master (Missy, short for “The Mistress”) in this episode. I think their comedy hijinx duo, was great even considering the fact that Missy killed Clara’s boyfriend last season, I think their relationship…

J: Wait, does she know that Missy killed her boyfriend?

B: Yes she does. So she was upset about the boyfriend, Danny Pink. She was very upset. In fact, she basically told the Doctor if you don’t kill her, I will. Right as the Doctor gave in and went to kill her, someone else shot her, and Missy vanished.DWs9-Witchsfamiliarpix9

So I think Clara could have been the witch’s familiar, or the witch’s assistant in this one. But ultimately, I got to thinking about the other day and I think honestly in the first episode, the real magician’s assistant is Davros, because after all these years of coming up with these grandiose plans to annihilate the universe and to control reality and this and that and the other, he finally almost won by displaying the traits the Doctor displays, of compassion and humanity and guilt. He basically used the Doctor’s own tools against him, almost defeated him with them. So I think actually Davros was the magician’s assistant.

J: For me, in this episode, it just seemed to meander for about 35 to 40 minutes. Then it felt like they flipped a switch and cranked up the intensity. The last 15 to 20 minutes were pretty intriguing. It kept my attention.

B: I feel like since they’re doing a whole season of two-parters this year — something they have not done before; they had the occasional two-parter sprinkled throughout the seasons before — I think they’re going to play with pacing a little bit. You’re eventually going to watch it as a two-hour event or a two-hour story, so some of the peaks and valleys might fall in a different ti
me compared to a normal episode. I think they’re just trying to be a little different this year.


I like a lot of the little oddball touches in this episode. I love that Capaldi rode in at one point in Davros’ chair; that was a big iconic visual that we’ve never seen before. I think it was a neat little reveal, much like his playing the guitar on the tank last week. It seems that they’re trying to bring back just a little bit of that oddball zaniness that was there when Douglas Adams (author, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) was a script editor back in the 1970s. You have these really serious moments that are undercut by a moment where you’re like “OK, what just happened?”. Such as when the Doctor pulled out the cup of tea, when he was sitting in Davros’ chair, and he said, “The real question is, ‘Where did I get my cup of tea?’ I’m the Doctor, you’ll just have to accept it.” I think it’s their way of winking and saying things are going to be crazy, so just lay back and enjoy the ride.

So for you… Daleks? Anything?

J: I still have a hard time taking them seriously. I mean, they’ve got plungers for weapons.

B: This is true. And those plungers came in handy this week.

J: Yes, but it’s just one of the things that draws me to science fiction is you see progress over the various iterations of the given show or series. In Star Trek, we saw the ships get sleeker with more details. With the Daleks and Doctor Who, it seems stuck in 1963.

B: To some degree, it does.

J: I know that the Daleks are popular. I understand people like them. But to me, the Cybermen have moved forward, from what I’ve been able to pick up.

B: Yes, they have evolved a lot more.

J: But the Daleks have their one shape and form, and haven’t moved from there since.

B: I think it’s mainly because of the the whole Dalek-mania of the 1960s, when there were movies, Christmas books, trading cards, toys and things featuring just the Daleks as a separate property from Doctor Who. They kind of had their own life beyond the show, as kids just love the Daleks. You spend your first years as a Whovian lamenting how goofy they are, then years later you have an entire shelf devoted to them.  I think it’s just one of those shapes that’s been ingrained into the pop culture sensibility of everybody that has watched it for so long, that to change it too much would be a travesty.

J: OK, so am I to understand the brown ooze stuff is what the occupants of the Daleks really looked like?

B: Yes, but as they’ve decayed. As it stands, when they are fresh in the can (so to speak), they look like a one-eyed octopus kind of thing with tentacles. What we saw in the sewers were just millions of years of ones that hadn’t died, so they were kind of petrified and poop-like, I gup0338bsdess you would say. But that brought another iconic moment though, when the Daleks all started to regenerate with the glowing energy. I really feel like they are picking big memorable moments, and then stringing them together with a nimble plot this time.  There are all of these big iconic visuals that will linger forever in the meme-gutters of internet-town.

For the hardcore nerd, there are these little treats. Like when Davros opened his real eyes for the first time in this episode. That had never happened before; I really didn’t know his eyes could open. So there are a lot of little moments where the producers are saying, “Here’s a little treat for the hardcore fans.”

J: Now, one thing I wondered, and why I was asking about the occupants of the Daleks. We saw Clara get conned into sitting inside of one of the units to help the Mistress get through the headquarters. We also saw that no matter what Clara was saying, it seemed like the Dalek was operating on its own program or messages. Clara would say one thing, but the Dalek stuck to it’s standard messages. So, are the creatures in the Daleks willing participants? Or are they just fuel to drive the machine forward? Are they all united in a group think? I just wonder if there’s programming that does all of the talking for them, why even have someone inside?

B: Right. Well, I’m not sure it’s ever been specifically said, but I get the feeling that over the years, with Davros being a brilliant scientist and geneticist, he has effectively bred it the force of will and choice in the species as it has progressed. I’m sure, in the beginning, there were some beings that were trapped inside but I think over the years they’ve just adapted. It’s like the Klingons. Occasionally, you will have a good Klingon, but most of the time, they’re just ready to do battle and get down to business. I think that’s the way it is with the Daleks.

Another thing that you may have missed out on, with not being a regular watcher. The easiest way to tie this all up without getting into too messy of an explanation is this: In Doctor Who, a lot of the time you don’t see things in the order in which they happened, or are important for the order in which that they happen.

There was a time when Clara was traveling with Eleven. she had to step into his timeline to fix it. One of the villains have gotten to the Doctor’s timeline, and as a result, every time the Doctor was supposed to have a victory, he instead had a failure. So with his whole timeline is breaking down, Clara stepped into his timeline. The act of doing that splintered her into hundreds of versions of herself, who then went out into the universe and sealed the wound each time the villain caused a scar. So out there in the universe, there are hundreds of versions of Clara, helping all the doctors that have existed throughout time so she’s became this kind of Uber character.  A “mega-companion”.DoctorWho-TheWitchsFamiliar-Doctor-Clara

But the very first time we meet her as a character in Jenna’s first appearance on the show, she’s one of the “Clara” splinters, and she is a human that has been turned into a Dalek. She’s not aware of it; she thinks she’s just a human trapped in a space pod. But at the very end of the episode, the reveal is “No, you’re actually a human that’s been turned into a Dalek.”

So this episode had a lot more foreboding and danger for the regular watcher, because we’ve already met a version of Clara who had been irrevocably turned into a Dalek. With this story, with the main version of Clara, it was creepy to see her in a Dalek again, after having seen her give her life previously as a Dalek slave in another lifetime. Very complicated, it gets way deeper than that, but that’s the simple version, if you can believe that.

J: I’m trying, but you are making my head hurt. So let’s look at bringing this towards a close. The tease for next week – do we know anything that’s going on? Does any of that seem familiar? Because when I got nothing out of it.

B: They do love a good base-under-siege story. I have a feeling that it’s going to be one of those with some sort of supernatural twist. I will say I did not think it looked as exciting as what I found the last two weeks to be. But I am always on board.

J: Just from the little tease we got, I fully expect to hear the words, “Hey! Who turned out the lights?”

B: You never know, we might.

Real quick – sonic sunglasses! Yay or nay? Did you appreciate the new addition to his accoutrements?

J: It’s different. I think we would probably need to see them more in action. We only saw them used once or twice. It seemed like he had to lift them up to make them work. So I don’t know that it’s necessarily more efficient. It might make them look more stylish.

B: Very true. I know it’ll eventually change when we get another Doctor, so I kind of feel like it’s just a transitionary fun thing. I read an interview when Capaldi first became the Doctor, and he said that his main wish was that any child, anywhere can dress up and be the Doctor without having to go buy something from the store. So that’s why his costume is very subdued and not outlandish. Kids can find a navy blue jacket and some black pants. Now they don’t even need to go out and buy a screwdriver; they can just borrow their dad’s sunglasses and be Doctor Who. From that aspect I think it’s kind of neat.

J: But I’m willing to bet that at some point, you will be able to buy some Doctor Who branded sunglasses.ThatTimeOnDrWho 92

B: I see a merchandising opportunity for Ray-Ban in the future. Yes, $99.99 Doctor Who sunglasses.

J: Yeah. And be honest. You’ll probably buy them, right?

B: Probably! Would have to be extra big to fit over my existing glasses though.

J: All right, for people wanting to get more of their Doctor Who fix, they can go look for That Time on Doctor Who?

B: Yeah just Google That Time on Doctor Who. We’re on Pinterest; we’re on Twitter; we’re on  Facebook; we’re at your grandmother’s table eating dinner. Why aren’t you?

J: You know things about my grandmother that I don’t know.

B: Let’s keep it that way.

J: All right. Come back next week for the Second Opinion on episode three.

       B: Hey, for kicks, here’s the “bonus” #ThatTimeOnDrWho that will post across the web this weekend…we’ll call it “Week 92”.  Just think, all of you new to #ThatTimeOnDrWho people only have 91 to catch up on!

#ThatTimeOnDrWho is created mostly weekly by Brent Kincade for Word of the Nerd Online!

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  1. I’ve Got Issues — How I Learned To Stop Generalizing And Love The Madness Of DC (After Dark Edition) | WORST. COMIC. PODCAST. EVER!

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