Doctor Who storms back in fine form with Season 9 opener The Magician's Apprentice
Davros, Daleks and Missy – a total treat for fans
Oh Missy, how we've missed you. It's like you never left us. And now you're gone – again. But then, you hint at yet another return with your nudge and a wink "Dying is for other people, dear" to Clara.
If that's true, then is Clara gone forever? Exterminated by a Dalek? (As an aside, I've heard that the production crew contacted collectors, asking them to loan out their early models of the Doctor's ultimate enemy. And it's a nice touch to see the retro Daleks in among the newer ones – especially after the rebooted Daleks were a bit like the new, beefed up Minis. Why mess with a classic?)
But let's not get too hung up on the style of The Magician's Apprentice, what about the substance of the story? Was the whole thing an elaborate sleight of hand? After all, Missy points out that the Dalek's planet Skaro has been recreated.
So is this Davros the real deal? At the start of the first episode of this two-parter, directed by Hettie MacDonald who previously brought us 2007's crowd pleaser Blink, the audience is led to believe that the Doctor abandoned Davros when he was a small boy trapped among a sea of creepy handmines. Towards the end of the ep, it's then suggested that he may have in fact been saved by the Doctor, after all, only for Davros to go on to create the Daleks.
'Davros knows ... Davros remembers.'
So what's eating Davros? Is it really the Doctor's abandonment, or something else entirely?
We're left bereft at the extermination of Clara and Missy – who oddly is a friend (albeit a mighty fighty one) to the Doctor in this episode. Gone, too, are the TARDIS and the Doctor's trusty Sonic Screwdriver.
Doctor Who, Season 9, Episode 1 – The Magician's Apprentice. Pic credit: BBC
Meanwhile, the Time Lord is trapped with a dying Davros watching reruns of Doctor Who (I'm surprised that the GOLD TV channel reaches all the way out to Skaro, but there you go). We hear Tom Baker's fourth Doctor discussing the dilemma of whether to kill a child who would go on to be a ruthless dictator.
After Clara's shock death, the Doctor asks Davros why it is that he ever let his nemesis live. "Compassion, Doctor, it has always been your greatest indulgence," Davros tells him.
Might it also prove to be his greatest downfall, and could this explain why we started to see a meaner, more secretive Doctor emerge in Season 8?
As for Clara's death, we know from her history that she is the "impossible girl" who first appeared in among the Daleks and later as different incarnations throughout time and space.
Perhaps Missy, who is the recipient of the Doctor's mysterious Confession Dial, isn't the only one for whom "death is for other people".
But, wait. It's been confirmed that Jenna Coleman is leaving the show. If this is her exit, then death-by-Daleks is certainly a fitting departure.
Then, in the final scene of The Magician's Apprentice, the Doctor returns to the boy as he tries to escape the handmines. "I’m going to save my friend, the only way I know how," the Doctor proclaims, before uttering the word "Exterminate!"
Nothing is quite as it seems. One thing is clear, though: Peter Capaldi is hitting his stride backed up by a twisty-turny plot and plenty of nods to classic Who episodes. More of the same, please.