Saturday saw the premiere of the ninth series of Doctor Who with the episode “The Magician’s Apprentice.” This episode introduced both new and old elements and with them a new possible theme: spit shining classic Who characters and locations while introducing new elements to create a fresh twist to the universe we have come to love. The reintroduction of Davros shows us the link to the past, while having him shown as a child introduces a new dimension not only to his character, but also to the Doctor’s character. The fusion of classic Who with Who nouveau is a very exciting match up that will no doubt make series nine more thrilling than ever! Establishing more than just a fresh perspective, the premiere posed several intriguing questions. Below is a list of important questions raised by “The Magician’s Apprentice.”
6. What Other New Monsters Will We See?
The series nine premiere introduced some very familiar metal faces, the Daleks, and some new ones. Well, maybe they were not faces and more like hands with eyes in the palms. These creatures were introduced as “Handmines,” and they were hands that were under the ground that would pop out without warning, detect movement and pull their unsuspecting victims down to their deaths. These are the first new monsters we’ve seen so far, but the very fact that a new alien was introduced in the first episode of the series is a good indicator that there could in fact be an assortment of new faces.
5. How Will the Doctor Save Clara and Missy and Is He a Good Man?
Hot on the heels of Missy and Clara’s extermination one automatically thinks, “No, the Doctor will save them. The Doctor has to save them.” With this thought in mind, and armed with the knowledge that this season will be Clara’s last, can we accept her extermination in the first episode as her official death, or do you believe in the magic of the Doctor—that he is in fact a good man with a flying box capable of fixing anything? Doctor Who has a lot of magic left to give, and a death this early and sudden is so 11ish.
4. Will There Be More Connection to Classic Who?
Davros, Skaro, and Daleks, and this is just episode one. Although the introduction of Davros as a child is a new idea that explores a new dimension of the Doctor’s character, the Daleks, their inventor and their city are not new concepts, they are, in fact, quite old. You could argue that the Daleks are one of the original nemeses of the Doctor. If the show’s writers have seen fit to resurrect the city and planet of the Daleks, then what else or who else will they dust off? Maisie Williams, of Game of Thrones fame, has been a confirmed addition to this series cast. The show’s writers have remained tight lipped as to her role but perhaps she will be a character from the classic Who universe with a fresh twist, not unlike the introduction of Davros as child.
3. Who’s Next?
Now that the Daleks have been shown to be the primary creature villain of the series, that begs the question who or what will emerge as the primary monster? We are all familiar with the idea that in the Who universe there are always various villains that are active simultaneously. These villains range from monsters like the Dalek and Cybermen, to more human antagonists like River Song or the Master; at times even the Doctor’s companions can be seen to disrupt his plans. Nonetheless, these various villains are always in play during each series. Back to the original question, with the Daleks being introduced first we know that there are going to be other elements that will test their might or their wit against the Doctor. The fun bit is speculating the why and the how, the who will be answered in time.
2. Is Something Old Still Old?
One question about the series premiere that may have gotten lost with the Doctor is, how will this encounter with the Daleks be different from the many encounters we have seen throughout the new series, and for the die hard Whovians, the classic Who universe? The Daleks are one of the oldest monsters in the Doctor Who cannon. We have seen them come against the Doctor in every series, so how will this time be different? Given that the Daleks were introduced so early in the new series allows the rest of the episodes to focus on other creatures or other world struggles that may or may not be linked to the Daleks and Davros’ schemes. What is interesting is that in this episode we see the Daleks and Davros as two separate entities, because Davros himself claims no control over the Daleks. Perhaps this is where we will see some new development or new depth to their relationship with the Doctor.
1. Who is the Apprentice?
Perhaps the most obvious, and potentially the most complex, question of the series premiere rests in the identity of the apprentice. The most logical explanation for the identity of the apprentice would be Clara, as we have heard (on many occasions) the Doctor being referred to as the magician, and seeing as Clara aids the Doctor on many of his exploits it would appear to be a reference to her. However, with the series just beginning, and knowing the twisty nature of the show, it would be fun to think for a moment who else it could be. There are many people who have helped the Doctor, some for good and some for rather the opposite reasons. Maybe an underlying theme of this series is throwback or revisitation (the Master, Davros, Skaro), or maybe the identity of the apprentice is someone we have not met yet. Either way, to find the answer to this question we must keep watching.