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The Witch’s Familiar Review – One of Moffat’s Best Episodes

Clara and The Doctor in "The Witch's Familiar"
Clara and The Doctor in The Witch’s Familiar.


The Witch’s Familiar Review

Anyone who has followed my Doctor Who Diaries knows that I don’t always love Steven Moffat’s way of storytelling. While entertaining, it can get convoluted from time to time, and he can repeat plot lines or ideas. With all that being said, he definitely knows how to pop out a great episode every now and then. “The Witch’s Familiar” certainly proved that he can write an excellent episode when he puts his mind to it (when he isn’t focused on rehashing old stories or shouting innuendos).

Missy with the Daleks
Missy with the Daleks

Now, I knew Missy and Clara would rise from the ashes somehow (Moffat’s ‘deaths’ are rarely ever permanent), but I was glad to see the two women become sidekicks for an episode. I liked that you never knew when Missy was going to stab Clara in the back, which made for some laugh out loud lines that worked on a much better level than last week’s over the top interaction (which focused on Missy’s closeness to the Doctor). Having Clara become a Dalek (reminding us of the splintered Clara Dalek in “Asylum of the Daleks”) was just Moffat in top form. Extra credit for having the Doctor seem to care more about Clara than Missy (I still don’t get the BFF thing).

Another highlight for me went back to the Doctor being the Doctor. He created a plan on the fly that made for a fun reveal and hugely entertaining end to the climax of the episode. The Doctor taking down the Daleks with the sewer Daleks was very Russell T. Davies and I absolutely adored everything about that choice. My main critique, however, is Moffat’s choice to lose the sonic screwdriver. HATE it, and I hate the stupid glasses too. If this lasts the whole season, I am not going to be happy. I also feel like I still don’t understand why the Doctor sent out his final confession. I never got the sense he only had a day to live. This is likely a weak leftover from last week’s much weaker opener…

Davros and the Doctor talk.
Davros and the Doctor talk.

For me, what really made the episode so great came down to Davros and Julian Bleach’s superb performance. The way he spun his sad tale of looking at the sun one last time was absolutely brilliant. The conversation between Davros and The Doctor was hands down some of the best stuff Moffat has ever written. Their scenes even made last week’s premiere much more tolerable. Ending with the Doctor showing mercy to the child Davros completed this story beautifully and coherently (even if there are a few leftover questions).

Overall, I hope we have more episodes like “The Witch’s Familiar” to look forward to.

Some Questions

Anyone else wonder what is in the Doctor’s final confession? Do you think the confession has something to do with why the Doctor ran away from Gallifrey in the first place like Davros suggested?

Did anyone notice that the Doctor seemed to imply he changed the past with bringing the Time Lords back rather than that always being what happened? Still going with (other than a few changes) my Bad Wolf Theory.

What did you think of The Witch’s Familiar? Sound off in the comments…

Photos: BBC

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By on September 28th, 2015

About Autumn Topping

In second grade, Autumn wrote her first story, “The Spinach Monster,” and hasn't stopped writing since. Intrigued by the tales her grandmother told of vampires, witches, and ghosts as a girl, she's always been drawn to the fantastic. Later, Autumn studied English and Creative Writing (continuing her love for classic literature and everything old-fashioned) and graduated with an MA in Children’s Literature and an MS in Library & Information Science from Simmons College. Currently, she co-runs this lovely site and works as a YA Librarian.

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