Doctor Who Recap: “The Witch’s Familiar”

The second episode of the new season of Doctor Who aired Saturday night and somehow the unholy alliance struck between Missy and Clara managed to hold across the span of the two-part premiere. Almost. We come upon the two hanging out (Clara more literally than Missy) in the desert of Skaro with a view of the Dalek capital where the Doctor is being held by Davros.


Deciding whether to employ her as an ally or as lunch, Missy tests Clara’s knowledge of the Doctor with a riddle-like quiz similar to the one Madame Vastra gave her when Clara first became the Doctor’s companion. Of course, Clara passes and the two set off to save him, armed with one pointy stick between them.

At first, the Doctor doesn’t appear to require saving. He’s already relieved Davros of his ride and is sipping tea in the company of multiple frustrated Daleks. But things don’t go as he planned.


The great thing about Missy is that she always has a plan. Her current one is to enter the Dalek city through their sewer system, make her way past former Daleks, now rotting yet unkillable sludge, and ultimately use Clara as bait to attract a functioning Dalek whose armour she’ll steal and install Clara into. It’s a pretty solid infiltration strategy. Unfortunately for Clara, becoming a Dalek (again, sort of) isn’t much fun. When she says her name, it comes out “Dalek”, when she says “I love you” it comes out “Exterminate!”


Back in Davros’ company, the Doctor demands to know if Clara is alive but instead of an answer, he’s given a chance to orchestrate the genocide of the entire Dalek race after Davros reveals exactly how he is connected to his creation. Refusing, the Doctor admits that his compassion may one day be his downfall—a statement Davros attempts to make real by engaging the Doctor in a conversation about Gallifrey and congratulating him on restoring his own planet. When he tells the Doctor he’d like to see one more sunrise with his own eyes before he dies, the Doctor offers to help him by using some of his regeneration power to restore Davros’ eyesight.


But this is Davros we’re dealing with, so obviously it’s all been a ruse. As the Doctor’s powers of regeneration are stolen from him and piped across the entire Dalek race, Missy finally comes to the rescue, freeing him—though not before a bit of Time Lord has been injected into every Dalek on Skaro. What Davros didn’t count on, however, was the effect that regeneration would have on every Dalek on Skaro—including the rotting ones in the sewers. “Your sewers are revolting” was perhaps the best double entendre ever uttered in Who history.

All that’s left now is to free Clara from her Dalek cage, recall the TARDIS using his new wearables (those shades!), and leave Skaro behind for good. Only the Doctor doesn’t know that Clara is in a Dalek and she can’t tell him because everything comes out “I am a Dalek!” and “Exterminate!”—exactly the way Missy planned it.

What she didn’t count on though, was the Doctor returning to the battlefield where he first encountered a young Davros to teach him (and the Daleks) a very important word: mercy.