On The Hazards Of Reviewing Part 1 Before You’ve Seen Part 2

You’ll remember (especially since it was only last week) that I was disappointed in Doctor Who‘s prior episode, “Under the Lake.” After the fantastic opening that was “The Magician’s Apprentice” and “The Witch’s Familiar,” the storytelling in this Part 1 just didn’t seem to measure up by comparison.

But it’s been a long while since we Whovians have seen a season built entirely on multi-part stories, as Series 9 has promised. When a narrative is allowed to unfold over two or more episodes, you have to look at the parts in the context of the whole. And when you do, things that might not work in the beginning make a lot more sense by the end.

Which is to say that I appreciate “Under the Lake” a lot more now that I’ve seen “Before the Flood.”

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Speechless, But Speaking Volumes

I wanted to like this week’s Doctor Who much more than I did. It’s not a terrible episode ([insert random snark about “Let’s Kill Hitler” here]), but after Twelve’s rock-idol return in “The Magician’s Apprentice” and the beautiful character scenes of “The Witch’s Familiar,” any story would have to be really special to even hope to measure up. And this one wasn’t quite there.

But even if the great moments of “Under the Lake” didn’t add up to a great episode, they were still great moments.

Especially one.

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A Game Of Old Men Who Have Lived Too Long

It’s relatively minor, I’ll admit, but one of the things I enjoyed about this week’s episode of Doctor Who was that now I don’t have to be so circumspect about what happened in the season premiere. So, spoilers away…

When we last left The Doctor, he was in another very dark place. Trapped on Skaro by his ancient nemesis Davros, with his three closest friends seemingly exterminated before his eyes, he looked truly broken, desparate enough to throw away his greatest rule: the rule of compassion.

Exterminate?

And so ended “The Magician’s Apprentice,” a dazzling beginning to Series 9. But this was a two-parter. And we all know how hard it is for the second part to live up to the promise of the first.

Except this time, it was even better.

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Tonight, You’re Going To Break Your One Rule

Good men don’t need rules. Today is not the day to find out why I have so many.

As good as Matt Smith was as The Doctor – and he could be very, very good – his time on Doctor Who gave Eleven few moments where he could be well and truly dangerous. (The above quote, from “A Good Man Goes To War,” is one of those few.)

That hasn’t been an issue with Twelve. From “Deep Breath” on, Peter Capaldi has taken the character to those dark places only hinted at before. He’s borne the weight of the horrible things The Doctor has seen, the horrible choices he’s had to make.

And he’s nowhere near done.

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With Apologies To Everyone Who Has Ever Written For Doctor Who

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(This post was inspired by the above meme. If anyone knows the original artist, please let me know so I can properly credit them.)

(Twelve sits at a sewing machine. Needless to say, he’s a little cross.)

TWELVE: CLARA!

(Enter Clara.)

CLARA: What now??

TWELVE (waving at the machine): It’s the thing. I can’t do the thing. I need you to do the thing.

(Clara gives him That Look.)

CLARA: It’s a sewing machine.

TWELVE: I KNOW it’s a sewing machine. But I can’t make sense of the damn thing. The last time I tried I ended up with that hideous coat… oh, the colors…

CLARA: Doctor, you have a box that’s bigger on the inside and travels through all of time and space. You have a screwdriver – a SONIC screwdriver, I might add – that does everything but wood and turkey. And you’re having trouble with a sewing machine?

TWELVE: It… doesn’t like me.

CLARA: Well, *there’s* a shock…

(To be honest, I really haven’t thought out the story beyond this piece of it. But I can confirm that Clara does not do the thing.)