The Witch’s Familiar

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    Kharis @kharis

    @bendubz11  Right?  Silence in the Library was the only Doctor Who episode to creep me out.  It’s just I can’t remember which episode I put the theories under, it could be either one, since I found things to support the big theory in both.

    I think Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead are two of the best Doctor Who of all time.

    I’m loving this new season too.  The Witch’s Familiar was awesome.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    Could people try to spell out at least some part of the episode names unless they are in an absolute, tearing, have to be out the door in the next two minutes hurry?

    Currently TMA is giving me flashbacks to the Open University (@Miapatrick will understand), SiTL sounds like a small village in Poland and I keep reading FoTD as ‘fetid’.

    Many thanks. 🙂

    Mudlark @mudlark

    @blenkinsopthebrave  This is beginning to get confusing. You posted #43624 before I had finished mine above.

    So, to continue, the Doctor may have been able to make an informed guess as to what Davros might want of him, and no doubt his preparations included exhaustive research into all things Skaroene, including the sewers, but I still don’t think that he went in with a fully thought out plan of action.  His strengths are his flexible thinking and the speed of his reactions and, as every soldier knows, once the battle begins, the detailed plan of action will probably go out the window anyway, so why bother with one in the first place. Far better to let the enemy hoist himself with his own petard (to mix a metaphor)   🙂

    bendubz11 @bendubz11

    @bluesqueakpip SitL = Silence in the Library, FotD = Forest of the Dead, the Vashta Nerada eps

    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave


    Thank you for your forbearance. I appreciate it. Everything you say makes a lot of sense.

    Part of the problem (or perhaps, my problem) is that given rule#1–the Doctor lies–it means one is never quite sure if his reactions (horror at the re-appearance of Skaro) or actions (willingness to give Davros some of his regeneration energy) is real or feigned.

    Still, Moffat writes, not for me, but for children who instantly understand. I am reminded of the Groucho Marx line: “This thing is so simple, a six-year old child could do it. Someone run out and get me a six-year old child.”


    Mudlark @mudlark


    I am reminded of the Groucho Marx line: “This thing is so simple, a six-year old child could do it. Someone run out and get me a six-year old child”.

    Oh, yes!  Those (not least certain trolls who infest the Guardian CiF comments) who dismiss Doctor Who as ‘just a kids’ show’ in a derogatory manner, clearly have very little comprehension of just how much a child is capable of understanding and appreciating.  I can only suppose that their own childhood has either been obscured in an amnesiac fog, or must have been very restricted and stultifying.  Lack of experience may make a child’s interpretation different from that of an adult, but in place of experience there is a generally a more open receptivity and a sharper and more vivid perception.  To stray a little off topic, my mother mentioned to me once that she had read Charlotte Bronte’s Villette at the age of seven (her family had very few books because they could not afford them, so my mother read all that were in the house).  When I asked whether she had enjoyed or understood any of it she said that, yes, she had enjoyed it and it had made a great impression, although what she had understood and got out of it then was very different from what she had understood reading it again as an adult.

    Kharis @kharis

    @blenkinsopthebrave great quote!  @mudlark completely agree.

    The show is complex and creative, just like children

    geoffers @geoffers

    what a fantastic start to the new season! i was fearful that moffat’s other commitments might have somewhat watered down his plans for our favourite (time and) space faring alien (and perhaps last series was compromised, a bit). but i’m glad to see the show running full-speed, from the start…

    my only contributions (everyone else is doing a great job of helping me understand what is going on, and i thank you all for that!), are:

    i don’t think the sonic is gone, for forever. i’m betting something will happen further along to necessitate its return (perhaps the sunglasses get accidentally sat upon by clara, or get lost in the tardis’ couch cushions, or something)…

    am i the only person who immediately thought, “where the heck did missy get that sturdy rope?!!” it didn’t manage to knock me out of the story, mostly because that whole scene was extremely entertaining, and very insightful (regarding the doctor’s cleverness). but do time lords and ladies have pockets that are bigger on the inside, or what? 🙂

    and lastly, the tardis’ new ability to re-assemble itself from its scattered atoms. a new feature that the doctor has come up with on his own (perhaps by working out calculations all last season, on blackboards)? or just a big cheat?! lol… it was a great effect (and we all knew it hadn’t been blown up), but the d in HADS used to be “displacement,” right? now it’s (also?)  “dispersal?”


    i am so happy to have the show back… and this forum!

    Kharis @kharis


    Agree, what a start!  It’s going to be a great season.  Also agree that the screwdriver will make a comeback, just like hugs and jelly babies.  I don’t think it’s possible for the show to eliminate the screwdriver yet, mainly because we still have not seen the future version handed to River in Forest of the Dead.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    do time lords and ladies have pockets that are bigger on the inside, or what?

    Yes. Remember Vampires of Venice, and Matt Smith removing the biggest torch in the world from his pocket?

    The Doctor drinking a cup of tea gag can probably be explained by those ‘bigger on the inside’ pockets.

    the tardis’ new ability to re-assemble itself from its scattered atoms

    It’s not a new ability – it’s from Frontios and it’s well over thirty years old, in fact. Though I admit I would never have remembered where I’d seen it before if it hadn’t been for one of the Graun’s BTL’ers mentioning Peter Davison and the roundels scattered around various walls. Yeah, the TARDIS has done this before.

    Kharis @kharis

    @bluesqueakpip Makes sense, it’s the Tardis version of playing dead.

    There are a lot of episodes where random things came out of those pockets.  The squirt gun was a favorite.

    bendubz11 @bendubz11

    I think someone predicted the use of HADS on the TMA thread, I can’t remember who though

    Kharis @kharis

    @bendubz11 What are HADS?

    bendubz11 @bendubz11

    @kharis Hostile Action Displacement System, it’s the name for what the TARDIS did to survive

    Kharis @kharis

    Thanks!  (:
    <div class=”bbp-reply-author”><span class=”useratname”>@bendubz11</span></div>

    Timeloop @timeloop

    Hello fellow theorizers,

    Thank you for the warm welcome @scaryb @spider @arbutus, I’m happy to be back too. Sorry I couldn’t answer sooner – I also felt like nothing I could say would bring anything new to the discussion.

    In retrospect and on a second watching – especially with this new episode the 3 week long party for himself was fun.

    @spider Funny how just last episode you pointed out how different the Doctor is to humans when I felt specifically in this episode that the Doctor seemed very caring. It is like Moffat tired to show off the complexity that is the Doctor.

    So I’ve watched this episode 1,5 times – once I saw it and once I listened to it while I was falling asleep. I havent read what you guys think of it so far so my opinion is not influenced by outside influences (sorry for the repetition).
    In some ways this episode reminded me of Sherlock funny enough because it did the same kind of thing, I feel. It was a service to fans, it made everyone pull their hair, incredulous. Surely Moffat cannot rewrite all that is Doctor Who- again. So once Davros behaved like he was supposed to it all fell into place. He’s been “out of it” so long Moffat wanted to give the younger audience a refresher course in how evil Davros is, who he is and what he had done -where he comes from.  I liked that.

    Other than that I feel like very deep, complex issues have been touched which made -hopefully especially the younger generation- thoughtful, defining friendship and enemies. That not all is black and white – that there are a lot of different opinions and that things change over time. I also feel like Moffat lay a foundation of a possible future female Doctor.

    All in all I have to say I liked this episode, Missy and Clara were superb. Sadly, I cannot come up with any good big theory right now, looking forward to episode 3!

    lisa @lisa

    @geoffers Baker Doc had the most lovely things coming from his deep pockets
    Magical folks always have amazing pockets 🙂

    nerys @nerys

    I’m reading through everyone’s posts and gaining even more understanding of the episode. I really can’t add to the wonderful insights everyone has posted. I found Clara being trapped inside a Dalek (echoes of her Oswin incarnation) absolutely chilling. I feared that, as this was where we first met Jenna Coleman, this might be our parting of ways. I’m happy that didn’t happen … though not for lack of trying by Missy.

    Stellar acting by everyone. The reactions of the Doctor as Davros appeared vulnerable were so believable. While I figured that Davros was pulling a deception over the Doctor, it was a masterful one … though not quite masterful enough. I think the reason Davros could pull it off so well is because he truly believes some of it (though which part is anybody’s guess). This seemed to reflect the overarching theme that no one is solely good, or bad. We’re seeing those shadings in Missy.

    Favourite line: “Your sewers are revolting.” Love the double-entendre!

    Meisiluosi @meisiluosi

    As with the first episode – I liked it, but didn’t love it.

    Maybe I’ll change my opinion after I watch both Apprentice and Familiar again, for now I find them worse than the sum of their parts… I loved bits and pieces (Colony Sarff, Weeping Song in the background, friendly banter with Davros, Missy – and more…), but I’m not quite as smitten as I’d like to be.

    Curious (and somewhat worried) as to where Moff is going with that prophecy thing.
    I find the notion of sonic sunshades very…MTV (but that is my problem with Moffat’s era in general). I guess the screwdriver is probably gonna come back at some point and even if it didn’t I probably wouldn’t mind that much (iconic it may be but these things come and go) – but this was…kinda ridiculous, really.
    (Just a minor nitpick, though.)

    Absolutely loving Capaldi.

    Still not a fan of Clara. (Though that bit with her trapped inside of a Dalek WAS brilliant. Chilling indeed. I always appreciate these trips ‘into the dalek’…)

    Very much looking forward to the next week’s episode, the teaser looked quite promising.

    geoffers @geoffers


    thank you, i had no idea it’d been done before. i have watched a good deal of BG episodes, but ‘frontios’ is not one that i remember. i guess i could tardiswiki it, to refresh my memory…


    i’m certainly not magical, then. all my pockets produce are tons and tons of lint! (perhaps this might come in handy, if there is a magical creature that subsists on lint? lol)

    Arbutus @arbutus

    Lots of great ideas here as always. (Can I just say how happy I am that on this forum, people come on and say what they liked or didn’t, what worked for them or didn’t, as opposed to simply “sucked” or the equivalent?) Here are some thoughts that your thoughts inspired in me.

    @hudsey     If Moffat had really changed Davros or the Mixmaster in any serious way, he would have been accused of retconning and disrespecting continuity, etc., and with some justification. We can’t have a good Davros or Master, any more than we can have a bad Doctor. But others have pointed out the various tiny insights we have been given into those three, even without any resulting left turns in character.

    @miapatrick      Even before Into the Dalek, we saw successful resistance of “Dalekization”: Tasha Lem, and of course, Oswin Oswald. (I was sure that Clara was going to express some kind of memory of having been Dalek Oswin!) I think that the Daleks will be far more interesting as a species with the potential for things other than xenophobia and slaughter. Moffat or future writers could take this in interesting directions.

    @supernumerary     But the existence of the episode, and indeed the existence of Doctor Who as a whole, could be justified solely by the Doctor riding and spinning around in Davros’ transport!   Well said!

    @phaseshift      Maybe a Dalek retrospective might be in order? There could be some other Dalek eps worth including.

    @serahni    I liked the Sonic Sunglasses, mostly because they surprised me and made me laugh. Which was possibly the point of them. I waited when he said that sonicking the TARDIS would bring it back, wondering if that was a genuine miscalculation on his part, and was delighted when he said the words “wearable tech”. But I will admit to being easily amused.

    221BadWolf @221badwolf

    I’ve seen quite a lot of “Clara is CAL”-esque theories all over the web, (I think someone on this thread also mentioned it) and it may be just my nitpicking, but- if CAL was one of the Claras which were a result of her entering The Doctor’s timestream, then shouldn’t her name also be Clara, instead of Charlotte Abigail Lux? Furthermore, the Clara fragments were “born to save the Doctor”- I don’t particularly remember CAL doing anything which protected/saved the Doctor, although she did help in “saving” River.

    By the way, I’m not quite sure if this post belongs here as it doesn’t really have to do with TWF, so apologies if it doesn’t!

    Arbutus @arbutus

    @jphamlore     competence rose from Leela the Savage to Romana the peak to Nyssa who was very good, and then what I consider to be a rather abrupt precipitous decline until finally Ace could at least blow things up.   😊   This is hilarious.    Re “Davros remembers”, I think it’s more likely that Davros simply didn’t realize it was the Doctor until he became aware of the Doctor’s latest face.

    @blenkinsopthebrave.   I am officially subscribing to the overdue CD theory, but I wonder which Big Finish Doctor he favours? Which story was so entertaining that he couldn’t give it back? (And I’m glad to hear that someone beside me was giggling at the revolting sewers line!)

    @purofilion  You would hardly be expected to either recognize anyone under all those prosthetics, or guess that a respected classical musician was playing an ancient maniacal SciFi genius on TV!

    @mudlark.    Yes, it was lucky for the doctor that missy arrived before he actually lost all his regens. I suppose he might have thought it a fair trade, and maybe after a whole cycle is less concerned about living on and on than he used to be. I agree with @blenkinsopthebrave, though, it seems a little foolhardy.

    lisa @lisa

    @221badwolf I believe it is Kharis that put out that theory. I have been thinking
    about the idea and I can only come up with the fact that River said she was psychically
    connected to Clara in the Name of the Doctor. Also River was born to kill the Doctor
    and Clara was born to save the Doctor which might imply that CAL who was all about
    saving people in the Library might therefore have some connection to Clara? Its all
    I got right now. But I would also like to hear more impressions about that from everyone.

    Anonymous @


    I don’t think anyone here suggests Clara is from the Library -as you suggest, not possible. That she was a claricle, was still an idea -but that story is put to rest already. I believe.

    @meisiluosi I loved these 2 episdoes. I would argue they are the best Who has ever produced. On further look -at the next week episodes, my boy and I said, “oh no, back to individual adventure stories, when like this 2 parter, it can be so much more”. But, on balance, it must to appeal to family viewing.

    Love the wearable tech.


    totally agree regarding our indiv differences and interests. I’d be surprised if ppl didn’t all out love this set of episodes, though it’s generally respectful, diligent and well thought out, which is rare and rather nice. Good to see you back here -after a short absence. Back to school etc…after the Summer Break?

    Kindest, puro.

    Arbutus @arbutus

    I must admit that the Clara as daughter idea is not that interesting to me. But @bluesqueakpip’s idea of the Doctor’s son and the Master’s daughter producing Susan could be interesting. @lisa, personally, I hope they steer right clear of that loom business as I have never cared for it! (My personal ARSE moment)

    A lot of people here and elsewhere think that Missy expected the Doctor to guess that Clara was inside the Dalek casing. I don’t agree, I think she wanted to see Clara dead at the Doctor’s hand. It’s actually more interesting, although admittedly horrifying, and along with her willingness to make use of Clara while continually belittling and threatening her, paints a very scary picture! We really aren’t being allowed to like her for more than a few moments at a time. One of those very personable psychopaths, and in that, more like the Roger Delgado Master than any that have come between. (Interestingly, Big Finish’s current incarnation, played by Alex MacQueen, has a lot of that same quality, and I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve heard of his portrayal.)

    Arbutus @arbutus

    @purofilion     Yes, a little bit of life interference this week, and unable to keep up with some very interesting chats that I saw taking place here. (I will have to try and get over to the Music thread as I see lots of cool posts have appeared there!) Indeed, back-to-school– Arbutus Jr. has just started grade eleven, with loads of homework and various sports. Also soccer has just started up and as team manager, I have been banging my head against a wall for two weeks because people just won’t do their jobs in a timely way!

    I will be out of touch for a few days next week as well, as we head off to the wilds of Alaska (family visit) and probably won’t see next week’s episode until Monday. So happy to have new episodes to watch!  🙂

    Anonymous @


    I understand what you’re getting at about the ‘tough love’ with students and their professional teachers. But this could be seen as an outmoded behaviour which, in my mind, is most decidedly not Western (in the way we view what is nominally Western these days): my version of that doesn’t include the Russians or the Chinese particularly during the hey day of Communism where art dominated the landscape of the intelligentsia and ensured propagandist focus lit certain avenues for competition whilst the working class were sabotaged by sub agricultural repetition or mindless factory occupations.  🙂

    I can also sympathise with the theories of Clara being in some way a relative of Missy and the Doctor -or even a CAL but I believe these are little herrings -sharp, vinegary and addictive 🙂

    In no way would Clara be a descendent of say, Missy and CAL is most definitely a separate story entirely which is sadly at an end: it’s lovely to be reminded of this however as those episodes form some of the most delicious and clever plots Who has ever offered. In my mind, now displaced by these recent episodes!

    @scaryb indeed. An anti-merchandising metaphor as @bluesqueakpip and others mentioned. I also was blown away by this 2 -parter. Speechless (virtually). I really can’t add much in the way of ‘analysis’ because a) it would bore people and b) it’s already been said.  Still: the clever colour palette was interesting and didn’t Peter look haggard? No doubt intended as a way of ensuring his misery regarding Clara’s death was communicated appropriately but also showing the continuous blue/greys of Davros’ life -mimicking the endless war he’d experienced even as a child. There was a moment where, in the atrium/dodgem parlour, the Daleks looked to me as if they were taken straight out of my memories of the ’70s: minimalist, clean lines, simple features and colours. My memory has failed me probably but there was a reminder of that period in the sharpness and focus.

    @pedant this is a very clever spot  – -re magpie!

    DenValdron @denvaldron

    Hmmm. Okay, so roughly half way through the second part of a two part episode, we are introduced to the bit of information necessary to have the plot hang together. Information which is neither particularly consistent with what has gone before, nor especially rational based on what we knew of the Daleks. But this piece of information is absolutely vital to the resolution of the plot. It’s like a murder mystery where the character who turns out to be the murderer is introduced two chapters before he’s identified as the murderer. I must necessarily cry foul and ill use. Technically, this is bad storytelling.

    Oh, and it seems that Clara’s intelligence varies directly in respect of the requirements of the script. We’re shown an early scene where she hears the Dalek casing directly mistranslate her words, causing astonishment and frustration. But then, in a critical meeting with the Doctor later on, the girl famed for being quick witted and fast on her feet forgets all that and stumbles about incoherently.

    Oh, and the entire episode is about Davros lying to the Doctor to get him to fall into his trap, and the Doctor actually enfolding Davros with an even bigger lie, and turning the trap around on him and the Daleks. Which is definitely a clever concept.

    I dunno.

    Highlight of the episode is Michelle Gomez, whose ‘Missy’ in this is pugnacious, ferocious, and ever so clever and witty without letting up on the evil one bit.

    Anonymous @


    very much enjoyed your analysis of this episode. I also read Vilette at a young age -the library had little else. I loved it but couldn’t understand it in the way “I was supposed to” and yet that didn’t bother me. Quite so: children are remarkably receptive. My Boy enjoyed these “cerebral” episodes and so wishes that such treatments would make the bulk of Who: he was sitting very quietly and taking every element in. When he saw next week’s teaser, he was a little disappointed.

    But I think we’re all enjoying the colour and tone Capaldi is bringing to the role this season. He fully fits now: and I’m beginning to think his professional hold on the Doctor is possibly the best I’ve ever witnessed. “the eyebrows,” indeed 🙂

    I liked Missy’s determination that “they’re all the Doctor to me”. It suggested an addition or further evidence of how we, as humans, view ourselves through a one sided coloured lense -where appearances seem to be everything and yet we know they’re deceptive. No wonder the Doctor claims Clara is “younger than she looks. She looks so old. So old” 🙂

    This 2 parter convinces me, that despite Tennant’s desperation to appear romantic and human, that the Doctor is anything but  -his Missy is also much closer in substance and style (in their early days) than we were lead to imagine in some of Simm’s early work in 2007, in my opinion.

    lisa @lisa

    New bonkers theory. Missy was telling the truth about saying to the Doctor
    ‘the friend inside or the enemy and vice versa’. I’m going back to the Name
    of the Doctor when River tells Clara if she goes into the time stream she will die.
    So what if she did die. Who came out? Is there some other incarnation hiding/lurking
    inside Clara? Is this a piece of the puzzle of what happens to end Clara this season?
    Why did Missy say she chose Clara? Because she knows what is lurking inside Clara. She
    apparently has been up and down her time stream. we all know that we are losing Clara.
    I wonder if its possible that she dragged something out of the stream? Interesting we had
    Clara masquerading as a Dalek. Last season the Doctor pretended to be a mechanical man
    in Deep Breath. The Matrix pretends to be heaven. So what is ‘pretending’ to be Clara?
    I think we will find out by episode 9 which is when I think Clara maybe leaving.

    Kharis @kharis

    I’m a terrible writer.  I didn’t mean to say in any way I thought Clara was related to anyone, I don’t think she is.  I do think she’s CAL, but that’s a separate subject and I don’t think she’s related to anyone like Missy.  Clearly I’m not good at conveying my thoughts.  I was not condoning or putting down “tough love”  just pointing out it happens all the time and people are complex, and good characters are complex, and it’s hard to say what Missy was doing.  That’s all really, no theories, no judgements,  just saying it may not be completely black or white.


    Kharis @kharis

    @lisa  This is also where my mind was going.  I think you’re right.

    Anonymous @


    I think what @bluesqueakpip meant, was the people should refer to the full names of any episode within their individual posts  all the time (or where possible)


    Now, why “necessarily“?

    It’s like a murder mystery where the character who turns out to be the murderer is introduced two chapters before he’s identified as the murderer. ..Technically, this is bad storytelling. 

    It seems that Clara’s intelligence varies directly in respect of the requirements of the script. We’re shown an early scene where she hears the Dalek casing directly mistranslate her words…But then, in a critical meeting with the Doctor later on, the girl famed for being quick witted and fast on her feet forgets all that and stumbles about..”

    To take your second point first, we know Clara is utterly frustrated and scared being inside a Dalek casing and unable to communicate. She’s feverish with terror. Later, her utter relief causes her to rattle on somewhat. Relief at living tends to startle one into intense episodes of frequent verbal “stumbling” and is quite common amongst us humans. 🙂

    As we said last week, she met her match and the hubris of being a consultant for UNIT is seen as rather foolish: not as a human (she’s about right at that!) but in comparison with the intelligence, cleverness -and foresight, which we see with both Missy and the Doctor this week.

    Clara says, “Doctor, you don’t have your sonic?” Is this “incoherent?” And why? Should she have known this? She last saw the glasses when he was playing electric guitar: a common false flattery presumed invented by arrogant rock musicians. But it certainly directed UNITs attention so that he’d be located with relative ease. Inside the Dalek she’s terrified the Doctor will kill her at any moment. Or worse, leave her to be attacked by the “revolting sewers.”  When the Doctor triumphantly mentions the HAD system, she isn’t particularly stunned or “stumbling.” She takes things on board in her usually quick witted way  -and in a trusting manner (remember “Listen”).

    With respect to this:

    “nor especially rational based on what we knew of the Daleks”

    We know that the Daleks in Season 5 Big Bang begged River for “mercy” and we’re also reminded of this barely 1/3 of the way thru this episode when Davros states that “the Daleks inherited mercy from their father, a design flaw.” So I think it’s especially rational and rather a clever alteration: without changing any previous stories. This isn’t a retcon as much as a change of perspective.  A combined awareness of something quite awful. Who knows, like the Cybermen when their tech and software is corrupted, and their amygdala hasn’t been circumvented, what these imprisoned beings inside a “mini-tank” are really screaming all of the time?

    We see in the minisode that Ohila says disparagingly to the Doctor that “he owes nothing to this creature”  -so  we understand both ‘viewpoints’ -one being that the Daleks express mercy through careful placement of such a “flaw” by the Doctor and that this “creature,” Davros is still exactly that. But the Doctor holding truth cards to his chest like the best of poker players, refuses to look at Ohila, lies a lot (a typical Doctor trait in the past four seasons at least) and cryptically speaks about “friends and enemies” with a bit of hand waving and ‘pondering.’

    On your first point, Davros is clearly foregrounded as evil and isn’t the slightly simpering and obsequious frenemy confessing something mighty on his death chair. Again, as Colony Sarff ‘abducts’ the Doctor, Davros, lying in a bundle on the ground states very clearly: “Tonight, Colony Sarff, we entrap the Time Lord.”

    Remembering the conversation on Karn and knowing always that the Doctor has fought Davros and the Daleks many times before, is to know Davros must have hatched a vivid entrapment that will involve a new element: something that could be seen as the Doctor’s burden or weakness; compassion. The Doctor, I believe, is aware of this and so must fold Davros into an even bigger lie: to be utterly convincing because anything else simply wouldn’t persuade Davros of his own success. To best an excellent liar, one has to be outstanding at it, said Hercule Poirot.

    As he drives his dodgem into the arena, the Doctor grumbles in response to the Daleks crying “the Doctor doesn’t use weapons” with “Oh, doesn’t he?” followed very quickly by this: “All the power he had [Davros] is mine.”

    “All the power…is mine” implies that the Doctor will use Davros’ plan against him and indeed is several steps ahead in the knowledge that Davros really believes that the Doctor’s compassion will kill him.

    But to bestow even more clarity, Davros says “Oh, compassion, Doctor, it will kill you in the end.”

    Doctor: “I wouldn’t die of anything else”

    Davros then replies, calmly “You may rely on it”. Even the camera angle, the pause, the evident motivation, tells us that Davros will attempt to defeat the Doctor and the Time Lords.

    The Doctor is further revealed as understanding Davros plan, and through that so do we, when he bravely and arrogantly puts on his “wearable tech” and says “by now that [my behaviour], should make you very nervous.” But caught up in his own magnificence and so close to victory, Davros ignores these signs. And clues.

    Even when the Doctor rambles on about how the basement is “where we dump a smelly old uncle… a mad scientist,” we receive another broad stroke or hint that the Doctor knows the game is up. That Davros is a scientist, and quite possibly mad, is pretty clear to the Doctor -not that the Doctor wouldn’t object to a handshake and an understanding if it were offered sincerely but it couldn’t be – considering the finale of The End of Time. Though, mercy, well that is an element of character, a criteria, that Doctor responds to (unlike River Song evidently).

    The Doctor knows who the villain is: he knows all the way back to Ohila’s involvement and her stated awareness of how often the Doctor lies. But he loves to play at being obtuse. When he speaks of friends, yes there’s a deeper level of traction: nothing is revealed as simply black and white (“everyone’s a hybrid, Doctor”), but the Doctor knows that this enemy is not his particular enemy rather the Doctor and Gallifrey are most certainly Davros.’

    Such understanding is resolved at the end when the Doctor quietly says to Child Davros “I’m not sure any of that really matters [friends; enemies] so long as there’s mercy” and he takes young Davros’ hand and walks across the battlefield.


    Anonymous @


    you’re quite right in asserting its not completely B&W here -so many little clues: “the enemy inside a friend, the friend inside an enemy”; the quality of mercy and its discussion, and how to differentiate good from bad was a huge part of this block of stories.

    I’m interested in your CAL theory -I doubt it (as something that Moffat would keep going) but knowing his penchant of bringing things back and turning things on their head, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised. 🙂

    So you had a tough piano teacher too? I sympathise! Mine was a little old Czech lady. But the “little” and the “old” was kind of like Davros -really tough on the inside and so brittle. I’m surprised I continued playing. I think it was because of the torte and coffee at the end. I was 5 and not supposed to drink coffee but as Mrs V never had children, I don’t think she realised!

    And there began my coffee obsession (and my dislike of Dvorak: which is unreasonable given my job). Even now, without a morning cuppa I get a stunning headache by lunch time -addiction much? 🙂

    Hah, it could be a lot worse (as I see on Oz ads to do with ‘ice’)

    Arbutus @arbutus

    @denvaldron   @purofilion

    It seemed to me that Clara, knowing perfectly well that her words were being translated into something unrecognizable, tried desperately to say whatever she could in hopes that something of her essence would leak out and be heard. It must have been as clear to her as it was to us that this Dalek’s repeated announcement, “I am a Dalek”, over and over, was striking the Doctor as very odd. And she finally managed to hit on words that would be translated into the one thing that made the difference– “Mercy.”

    Kharis @kharis

    @lisa @juniperfish Watching ‘The Witch’s Familiar’ again I started to wonder about the sisters of Karn.  Like Missy they are unpredictable.  Maybe Missy works for them, maybe she’s the familiar?  Just a random idea while in bed with bronchitis.   (;





    Kharis @kharis

    @purofilion Actually it was a ballet teacher.  I was the one with the scary ballet teacher.  It taught me that people are extremely unique and complex.  I thought she was cruel and one time when she humiliated me about my feet I ran out crying and swore in my mind she was a psychopath who shouldn’t work with young people.  Turned out when we became colleagues years later that she thought she was doing me a good turn.  She thought it was better to harden me at home than to send me off innocent and soft to a big city ballet company.  Oddly enough, as a colleague she is very kind.  She did jam my feet under the piano to stretch them and left me there like that for an hour and when I got up I couldn’t walk properly.  Naturally, I thought she was heartless, until I found out her motivation years later.  Russian ballet teachers are known for this.  It’s terrible and I completely hate that style of teaching, but in the end her motivations were complex.

    Missy seems way more screwed up, but maybe she is really trying to get a point across? Not that I’m saying she is, but it’s a possibility.

    Kharis @kharis

    @purofilion    I really don’t think Clara is related to the Doctor, nor do I think the Massie Williams character is.  Just for clarification.

    I do on the other hand believe he play out the tarot cycle all the way to ‘The World’ which would clearly symbolize Gallifrey on his journey.

    Serahni @serahni

    I am on my phone so I have no capacity for a long response, only to say when the hybrid was first mentioned, I immediately thought it was a misdirection to make us assume it was Timelord and Dalek when, in fact, it is really human and Dalek. Davros mentioned two warrior races, I think? And so far the hybrids have been with humans; Rose activated one, Oswin became one, the whole Manhattan thing …and there we have Clara masquerading as one. Or is the prophesy less precise and Davros has interpreted it to include the Daleks when it is really about humans and Timelords? Is Clara a bit of both? Are we revisiting the idea of the Doctor being a bit of both? Either way I can’t help but wonder if we have been intentionally mislead!

    DenValdron @denvaldron

    @arbutus I’d like to buy that. But this is a woman who time and again has been proven to think very fast on her feet. Consider the moment where, all alone, she’s confronted by a Cyberman, something she has never met, but which is quite intent on killing her instantly, and she talks her way out of it. Then there’s scenes in Flatline and Mummy on the Orient Express where she’s entirely improvising as she goes, but improvising well. We’re supposed to just go with this fast thinking, fast talker, who understands the limitations that the Dalek casing is putting on, isn’t instantly thinking of ways to work around them. Sorry, not buying it.

    When it initially bothered me, I thought perhaps Clara couldn’t hear her ‘dalek voice’ talk, and so she didn’t realize she was saying ‘I am Dalek’ over and over again. But in fact, that doesn’t seem to be the case. When she’s with Missy, and learning to operate the Dalek, she is hearing the Dalek voice, she finds it weird, and she finds it increasingly disturbing when it dalektranslates what she says, to the point of freaking out.

    If Clara couldn’t hear the Dalek voice, I’d buy it. She doesn’t know and doesn’t understand what’s going on. That would make the scene work.

    But, actually, she does know, and she does understand what’s going on. It’s simply that in a pivotal moment, she dumbs down, in order for the scene to work in a certain way. This is simply writing the character to the demands of the script, no more, no less. The script requires Clara to be stupid at this point, so she is stupid. I would call that a moment of lazy writing on the part of Moffat.

    Meisiluosi @meisiluosi


    What I like about individual stories is the variety it affords.
    Whether it’s less or more, that entirely depends on how good the individual stories are. A good short story is sometimes better than a convoluted novel. More and bigger plot doesn’t always a better story make. :-]

    This two-parter looks like something that will probably get a lot better upon repeated viewing, so I might (and probably will) change my opinion yet. Not likely I’ll ever be tempted to call it the best Who ever (or even my favourite TV episode), though.

    DenValdron @denvaldron

    @purofillion I’m not really concerned about the ‘mercy’ issue. The Dalek that River Song encounters clearly knows the word. Daleks have historically been manipulative and can be quite convivial doing it.

    I’m not even worried about Davros. In his first appearance in Genesis of the Daleks, he shows himself to be capable of cordiality when it suits him and advances his interest. He’s only a hysterical monster when he’s free to be himself.

    What annoys me is the revolting sewers. That’s not established anywhere in Dalek history, there’s no background or provenance for it. The notion that Daleks simply do not die, and instead get relegated to the sewers to decompose slowly is nicely horrific. But it’s introduced halfway through a second episode and then becomes the key to the Doctor’s triumph fifteen minutes later. That’s crap (no pun intended) writing. You introduce the key plot point that allows the hero to triumph barely fifteen minutes before it comes into play? Come on.

    Now, it’s possible that we could turn around and say ‘Ah, but like pull the moon, plot and rationality come second, because we want a genuine emotional payoff, that’s what the episode really is about.’ Well, okay. But… if we take that tactic, we come face to face with the fact that there is no genuine emotional payoff.

    Instead, the entire episode is about dishonest emotions – the Doctor’s crisis of conscience and fatal depression, Davros need for final words, the Doctor’s sympathy for the dying Davros, the moment of empathy and connection…. No, none of that is genuine. It’s all shuck and jive. The Doctor is playing the mopery because he knows Davros is after him, Davros plays the dying invalid because he knows the Doctor is a sucker for that, the Doctor knows that Davros is playing him, so he plays Davros right back, enfolding his lies with bigger lies… all so that the Doctor can bring the sewers into revolt.

    The only ones who are fooled are the audience. We’re expecting that what we see is honest, but really, it’s just two hustlers hustling each other.

    So then is it about the hustle? Well, by process of elimination, that’s all that’s left to the A story. And if that’s all that’s left, then we’re entitled to dissect the plot mechanics, including the fact that the key McGuffin is only put in place minutes before it’s pulled out. Well, oopsy.

    Now, B story? Sure, I can assess some genuineness there.

    Not from Missy, who is a trickster-villain, in the same manner that the Doctor is a trickster-hero. The Doctor perpetually lies for good. Missy perpetually tells the truth because it makes her mayhem more fun. I can even acknowledge that in taking Missy in this direction, it may actually make sense of the rather confused motives and motivations of the Master in previous adventures. I’m thinking things like Time-Flight or King’s Demons, but hell, stuff that goes all the way back to Delgado. The Master/Mistress is not really a conquerer, so much as a trickster, an enthusiast, a hobbyist. Missy’s role here is a chaotician.

    Clara on the other hand is really the only one who is taking proceedings seriously. Something which amuses Missy to no end. She’s the only one who has an actual genuine emotional payload, who isn’t either faking it as they go, or outright mocking. But she’s got nothing to do but be a foil.

    But sorry, I don’t really buy the ‘Clara got scared and froze up’ when she’s been in far worse situations and behaved with the cool of OO7. Yes, yes, of course she got scared and froze up, that’s obvious, and it’s irrelevant. The series has spent three years showing us she is *not* the sort of person who gets scared and freezes up. But no matter, all that went out the window, because Moffat wanted to play a scene a certain way.

    A character’s actions should be driven by their revealed personality and attributes, when the personality and attributes are altered arbitrarily because the plot or a scene requires them to act in certain ways, it’s a failure of writing.

    DenValdron @denvaldron

    @purofilion /sorry about the misspelling.

    ichabod @ichabod

    @braddy  I feel the doctor let slip to Davros that Galifrey had survived. Maybe both will have a race through time and space to locate it. Now that Davros has tasted the doctors powers, the hunger for more could trigger a Time War part 2. Destroy Galifrey for the last time and drain all time lords creating the hybrid army. This could be an amazing story arc.

    Yes!  I like the sound of that!

    @mudlark  Davros awareness of the Doctor’s compassion enables him to use it as a weapon against him, but it is interesting that after all this time he also remembers and understands enough about sympathy and even empathy to be able to feign them with remarkable conviction. Interesting also, that he retains at least a vestige of a sense of humour and can make a joke.

    Good deal of discussion about whether Davros was faking empathy or not; I’m in the camp of seeing that intimate little conversation + shared laughter as absolutely authentic — these are the tiny points of light still extant in Davros  the survival of which make his treachery not just awful but sort of tragic, really — you see that gleam (as the Doctor sees it, too) of common humanity, and it lightens your heart, two old enemies sharing a moment of mutual recognition not loaded with rage, for once; and then you see Davros’s fear steam-roller that glimmer, because the Doctor got it exactly right before — “Imagine how frightened you must be to seal every one of your people up in a tank!”  Davros’s evil (like most human evil, if you trace it down deep enough) is rooted in fear; mania trumps intimacy and empathy.  So what’s he really afraid of?  I’d say compassion and intimacy — which carry huge, though mostly illusory or transitory risks: rejection.  Betrayal.  Loss of control.

    The Doctor, at the end, is facing the same choice, and he makes what’s always the Doctor’s choice (although sometimes mistaken, or with haywire consequences): he chooses compassion, now, in this moment and situation, and hopes for the outcome he wants in the future.  That’s what makes him a hero, IMO: the Doctor’s choice.

    @kharis  I have checked every Who forum and article and no one has mentioned the tarot correlation? It can’t be just me.

    Can’t find your post on this, Kharis, but an image just jumped into my head:  the Doctor as The Fool (in one meaning at least, the one who acts from his or her truest, deepest impulses and intuitions, no matter how crazy or marvelous), who is often pictured carrying his bindle on a stick (his “house” or — Tardis?) about to step off a cliff — with his little white dog skipping at his feet, looking up at him.

    As for tough love, well, yes — but there’s usually a lot of hate mixed in, where Missy is concerned!

    ichabod @ichabod

    @juniperfish  I like your conclusion — a bit of good eked out of a massively destructive confrontational node for all our main players . . . even Davros got something, a dash of warm contact with the Doctor, out of it.  And yes, yes, yes, “The Chariot” = the Tardis — the vehicle that takes you where you need to go!

    @kharis  Of course, The Hanged Woman — damn, I was wondering what the blazes that was all about.  I’ve seen it interpreted as *willing* sacrifice, which certainly fits the Clara we know.

    @blenkinsopthebrave  I can understand how all the Doctor knows is that he is walking into a trap. I am less clear as to how he knows it is to gain his regeneration energy.

    I’m with you on that; I think he had no idea of what the trap was, but being The Fool, just walked on in, prepared for a battle of wits.  He certainly had no intention of giving up any of his own energy to all the Daleks on Skaro, for any reason, IMO.  Saying he’d known all along what Davros was up to struck me as the childish bravado he sometimes displays.  It was Missy who knew about the sewer/graveyard; I didn’t spot any indication that the Doctor did.  She really did save the day — the friend in the enemy.

    But that could just be me, shying from the successful carrying out of truly baroque plans into the future.  I have too much respect for chance and error, even with fantasy.  And maybe I just like a bit more of the Fool in the Doctor, a bit less of the Magician . . .

    Serahni @serahni

    @denvaldron  Is it possible, and this is just a wild theory, that Clara is terrified most of being inside the Dalek because a part of Oswin lingers in her timestream?  She is, as far as we are aware, Clara Prime.  She may not recall explicitly things that happened to the fragments of her scattered through The Doctor’s timeline, but perhaps there is enough subconscious recollection for her to have a very personal reason to be horrified at the loss of her identity in this way.

    Just a suggestion.

    ichabod @ichabod

    @mudlark  There, you just said it so much more concisely!  Yes, the Doctor plans — but when it comes to the crunch, he ends up improvising brilliantly, because a) that’s what happens to even “the best laid plans”, and b) brilliant improvisation is one of his strongest suits.

    @purofilion  you’re quite right in asserting its not completely B&W here -so many little clues: “the enemy inside a friend, the friend inside an enemy”; the quality of mercy and its discussion, and how to differentiate good from bad was a huge part of this block of stories.

    We got an early set up in the Prologue: “An enemy’s just a friend you don’t know yet”, more or less, a line delivered quickly, almost a throwaway, but wow.  So a friend is a person who seems to like you but actually comes loaded with hatred and betrayal?  Yes, that’s him being “cynical” all right; it also refers back to the post-volcano dialog in Dark Water — “yes, you betrayed me” + “do you think that betraying me would make a difference?”  Which sounds (now) like, “Sure friends betray each other, nobody’s perfect; but true friendship, from depth to depth, accepts betrayal, survives it, and transcends it through hope for better loyalty from now on.”

    @denvaldron  It’s simply that in a pivotal moment, she dumbs down, in order for the scene to work in a certain way. This is simply writing the character to the demands of the script, no more, no less. The script requires Clara to be stupid at this point, so she is stupid. I would call that a moment of lazy writing on the part of Moffat.

    Completely disagree.  She’s shut up in horrible, stinky Dalek armor that transforms her into a monster, to the outward eye (and ear).  The Doctor is in a fury because he thinks Clara is dead — so he’s not thinking clearly.  Missy is lying to the Doctor, and Clara knows that the Doctor has old bonds with her, and seems to be believing Missy’s lies — and Clara panics.  Her being unable to think of thinking “open” reads very clearly as *panic*, not stupidity.  I’m a reasonably capable and intelligent person, and I’ve had my brain choke on me in much less horrifying situations.  So I do buy it.

    And I don’t see all of the episode as lying and pretending; far from it.  It’s characters under stress making plans as they go along, while losing control of everything they thought they controlled.  To me, this is The Fool’s Progress, not a chess game.  But that’s because I much prefer the story of `a Fool to any number of masterminds conning and out-conning each other.  It’s in the many slips between cup and lip that true connection can occur, and those moments of intimacy are what I value most in art at any level.  What you see as a “failure in writing” I see as the potential for life-like depth and flexibility in a character; but then I see characters as fallible creatures, not plot-pawns that malfunction if they don’t fit exactly into a prescribed story-function.  As a writer, I’m a gardener, not a designer of highways or bridges.  My one experiment in outlining a book froze the whole project for ten years, before I could find my way back to the creative impulse I’d begun with.

    Well, you and I are (from what I see) very different in our outlooks, so it’s not surprising that we diverge so much in the ways that we read this episode.

    Missy @missy

    All your posts are so entertaining, I’m sure most of you could write an episode yourselves. Unfortunately I haven’t

    got the talent for speculation – which is such a bore!

    Very sadly, my OH decided to watch part two with me last night. when it was finished he said, and I quote:

    “What a lot of crap (sorry), I don’t know what you see in it.” *sigh*

    I feel sorry for him. *big grin*


    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    @221BadWolf- Dalak Clara was actually called Oswin Oswald. No Clara in her name. and by saving River she did help save the doctor in The Name of the Doctor.

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