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Recap / Doctor Who S35 E1 "The Magician's Apprentice"

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"Davros made the Daleks, but who made Davros?"
Click here to see the Radio Times magazine poster for this episode: 

"You see, if someone who knew the future pointed out a child to you and told you that that child would grow up totally evil, to be a ruthless dictator who would destroy millions of lives... could you then kill that child?"

The one where the Doctor became a rock god.

And a Special Weapons Dalek that actually lights up and speaks with a booming voice!

Written by Steven Moffat. The first episode of Series 9 (Season 35) of Doctor Who, and the first part of a two-parter, aired on 19 September 2015. "Prologue" and "The Doctor's Meditation" are preludes revealing what the Doctor has been up to while the opening act of this episode unfolds.

Some time after the events of "Last Christmas", the planes have frozen, and Clara must help UNIT find the mysteriously absent Doctor to solve the crisis. But it's not just Kate Stewart who's back — Missy is alive and well, and she somehow possesses "a confession dial, the last will and testament of the Doctor". All of them are seeking the Doctor, but nobody knows where he is. Not even his best friends.

Elsewhere in the galaxy, there are the Daleks. Their creator is dying. And Davros has one last request to be fulfilled. He must see the Doctor, because he knows. He remembers the first time he saw him.

Where and when is the Doctor? Why has he vanished? What does Davros want? What is threatening Earth, and how can it be stopped?


  • Actor Allusion: The Doctor's entrance references Peter Capaldi's time as the lead singer of a punk rock band in college (alongside Craig Ferguson).note 
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: The Doctor, for Clara's life. It doesn't help, since Davros doesn't control the Daleks.
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • Invoked by the Doctor. During his time in 1138 AD, he's introduced the word "Dude" into the English language several centuries early, somehow procured a tank and guitar equipment to make terrible "axe" and "fish tank" puns, and has been doing these things long enough that his audience is not the least bit surprised and actually seems to think it's a little annoying at this point.
    • Lampshaded when Clara and Missy arrive to find the Doctor:
      Clara: Okay, how do we find him? How do we know what we're looking for?
      Missy: Anachronisms, the slightest, tiniest... [screaming guitar solo] ...anachronisms.
  • Ancient Evil: When Colony Sarff reveals that Davros is dying, Ohila points out that he should have already died centuries ago.
  • Arch-Enemy: The fact that both Davros and Missy have a claim on being this to the Doctor is lampshaded. Missy's not happy about sharing; after all, the Doctor himself used to introduce the Master as "That's my best enemy!"
    Missy: Hang on a minute, Davros is your archenemy now? I'll scratch his eye out!
  • Artificial Gravity: Subverted. As the Doctor and Missy realize, the supposed space station they're on has natural gravity, which a space station shouldn't have. Ergo, it's not a space station, it's a building on a planet.
  • The Assimilator: Bors becomes a Dalek Puppet when one of Colony Sarff's snakes bites him.
  • Back from the Dead:
    • Missy, to no-one's great surprise.
    • Davros as well, having last been seen screaming at the Doctor as a space station blew up around him. Of course, it was never explicitly said that he didn't get out of there at the last minute.
  • Badass Boast:
    • Made by the Sisters of Karn to Colony Sarff.
      Colony Sarff: Where is the Doctor?
      Ohila: Where he always is. Right behind you, and one step ahead. Tread carefully when you seek the Doctor, Colony Sarff, or he will be the last thing you find.
    • The Doctor gets one in himself when he encounters Sarff.
      Colony Sarff: Are you so dangerous, little man?
      The Doctor: You want to know how dangerous I am? Davros sent YOU. You know how stupid you are? You came!
    • Clara indicating to Missy that she's willing to order UNIT snipers to fire at her.
  • Benched Hero: The story's opening stretch: with UNIT unable to get in touch with the Doctor, Clara must help figure out where he's gone off to. The prequel shorts establish that he's having The Last Dance.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Clara is generally depicted as a kind and gentle soul. However this episode reveals that not only does she have authority to represent the Doctor with UNIT, she even carries enough authority — and, apparently, the will — to command UNIT snipers, and is prepared to order them to execute Missy.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Two of the Doctor's deadliest enemies appear, with one of them choosing to work with the heroes rather than the other Big Bad.
  • Big Entrance: The Doctor arrives for his duel with Bors standing atop a tank wearing Cool Shades and playing a killer solo on an electric guitar.
  • Bilingual Bonus: "Sarff" is Welsh for serpent.
  • Bizarre Alien Senses: Both Gallifreyans can tell that the gravity doesn't feel artificial. Missy says that artificial gravity would "smell" wrong.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Kanzo, the (presumably) Kaled soldier, is the first character to die in the episode.
  • Break the Believer: The entirety of Davros' plan. He traps the Doctor on Skaro, destroys his TARDIS, and kills both Missy and Clara just to prove a point: that his compassion is wrong.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Missy does this a lot anyway, but she says "No, I've not turned good!" in an imitation of the Doctor's accent.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: The episode ends with the Doctor saying "Exterminate!" as he targets a young Davros...
  • Call-Back:
    • The Fourth Doctor's choice of killing the Daleks in their infancy in "Genesis of the Daleks" is replayed here, as the Doctor considers going back in time to kill Davros and stop the creation of the Daleks again.
    • When he hugs Clara, the Doctor repeats his rationale for never trusting a hug from "Death in Heaven".
    • The Doctor tells Clara that he always sees her. This is a call-back to her line in "The Name of the Doctor" when Clara notes that while she's always saving the Doctor, he usually doesn't even notice her, and to "Deep Breath" when the Doctor begs Clara to "see me" after his regeneration. (It's also a Call-Forward to a later episode.)
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You:
    • Played with when Missy invites Clara for some tea so they can discuss rescuing the Doctor. After she kills a couple guards for sport, Clara gets her to stand down and free the planes by pointing out that she needs Clara to find the Doctor, so she'll have to work on Clara's terms for now.
    • Subverted. Missy tells the Daleks that they need her knowledge of the TARDIS in order to use it. Having no intention of doing that, they just atomize her.
  • Cardboard Prison: The only thing keeping Clara and Missy inside the building in the Dalek city is a fake airlock. Davros seems to have been counting on them escaping, since it helps prove his point.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: The Doctor is doing everything possible to avoid taking his impending death seriously:
    Missy: Well apparently, you think you're going to die tomorrow.
    The Doctor: Well, I've got some good news about that.
    Missy: Oh yeah?
    The Doctor: It's still today!
    Missy: Oh, that's right.
  • Character Development: Although this episode (and its prequels) suggest the Doctor's Lighter and Softer demeanour — which includes now hugging Clara of his own accord, lightly flirting with her and complimenting her on her appearance which he used to insult regularly — is a case of O.O.C. Is Serious Business, in fact these changes become permanent and, a few standalone moments notwithstanding, the Doctor is depicted as kinder and funnier — not just to Clara, but to other characters — for the remainder of the season.
  • Chewing the Scenery: The Doctor bursts into the story with a TANK. Jamming away on a guitar. And rocking sunglasses. In 1138.
  • Cliffhanger: One hell of a cliffhanger here, as Clara, Missy and the TARDIS appear to be exterminated in front of the Doctor. Davros laughs at him afterwards, then the Doctor goes back in time to exterminate Davros when he was a child. Doubles as a rare cliffhanger where the villain is in trouble of being killed.
  • Come Alone: Inverted; Missy insists that UNIT send eight snipers, because Clara wouldn't dare meet with her otherwise.
  • Continuity Cavalcade:
    • In the scene where the Doctor and Davros meet in the Dalek city, clips from the Doctor's previous encounters with Davrosnote  are shown, and the Doctor's hypothetical debate from "Genesis of the Daleks" about killing a child who would become a ruthless tyrant becomes a pivotal plot point.
    • The Daleks' group appearance features a ridiculous number of previously-seen Dalek types, including a 1960s silver and blue Dalek that first captures Clara and Missy, a Special Weapons Dalek from "Remembrance", and the "bracketed" Dalek Supreme design from "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End". The only one that doesn't appear is a New Paradigm one, which in itself could be a subtle reference to the negative reception the multi-coloured New Paradigm Daleks got.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The title alludes to "Time Heist", when the Doctor informs the Teller that he was aiming for minimalism with his current incarnation's costume, but "ended up with magician". It also refers to Shona comparing the Doctor to a magician multiple times in "Last Christmas", and the fact that in the prequel short "The Doctor's Meditation" Bors actually regards him as one.
    • In the cold open, a large portion of the episode being set on Skaro is teased by the soldiers' Schizo Tech including Gas Mask Mooks with bows and arrows, and biplanes equipped with lasers. In "Genesis of the Daleks", Harry Sullivan suggested that this would eventually happen during the war thanks to technology regressing.
    • A soldier on Skaro mentions that "Clam drones are two miles away", which is likely a reference to the much-derided giant clam from "Genesis of the Daleks".
    • Child Davros is confused when the Doctor asks what planet he's on. The adult Davros believed there was no life on other worlds until he first met the Doctor and his companions.
    • Clara is still teaching Jane Austen to her class, now apparently having met Jane Austen and found out how great a kisser she was.
    • Missy announces her return in a nod to her last appearance. The Doctor also plays the melody of the song by way of introducing Missy to the audience at the castle.
    • Missy refers to her Vortex Manipulator as "cheap and nasty time travel".
    • Missy (née the Master) has a history involving hijacking aeroplanes.
    • Missy's comment about looking for "the subtlest, tiniest anachronisms", only to have the unseen Doctor break into an electric guitar riff, isn't just a nod, it's a parody of how the Meddling Monk's presence in medieval times was betrayed by an audible anachronism (a record of Gregorian chants skipping).
    • After Clara asks the Doctor how he could pick her face out of a crowd, the Doctor says "When do I not see you?" Clara's ability to finally "see" the Doctor she knew under the face of the new Doctor is a major dialogue point at the end of "Deep Breath".
    • Even Missy gets terrified when she realizes she's on Skaro, which makes perfect sense: aside from whatever the Master went through in the Time War, we know for a fact that they've been executed there at least once before.
    • Missy's refusal to explain her surviving being shot by the Brig beyond "Dying is for other people" echoes Anthony Ainley's Master and the numerous Hand Wave lines about how he survived his last predicament.
    • The Doctor's anachronistic partying persona is reminiscent of an apparently drunk Tenth Doctor inventing the banana daiquiri 200 years early. (The Doctor says he's going through his past selves as part of the party.)
    • While UNIT is searching for the Doctor, mention is made of three possible versions of the fall of Atlantis; the classic series gave three incompatible accounts of the fall of Atlantis, in "The Underwater Menace", "The Dæmons" and "The Time Monster".
    • After Missy kills two guards and threatens a third, she tells Clara to "Say something nice," which is what she previously told someone she wouldn't kill them until he did. Clara flatly refuses, and Missy does not kill anyone else.
    • Missy invokes a catchphrase from a popular children's programme when she contacts UNIT. Past episodes have established that the character is fascinated by children's TV shows.
    • The last time the Doctor was being held prisoner by Davros and the Daleks, they threatened to kill his companion and destroy the TARDIS, and he wound up desperately begging for their life, as well.
  • Continuity Porn: Blimey, where to start? We see the Maldovariumnote  and the Shadow Proclamation again (respectively featuring an Ood, and the Shadow Architect and a Judoon); Karn and its Sisterhood return; Daleks from multiple eras appear as well their Puppets from "Asylum of the Daleks", and a significant portion of the episode is set on Skaro where the Dalek city from "The Daleks" has been rebuilt. The credits list the creators of the Kahler, Skullions, Hath, Blowfish, Sycorax, and the aforementioned Judoon and Ood. And then there's UNIT, Kate Stewart, Clara returning to the Tower of London, a brief recap of what happened to Missy at the end of "Death in Heaven", the Doctor referencing several past regenerations, and there is a sequence in which audio is played back from virtually every previous episode (going back to 1975!) in which Davros appeared.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Teases the prospect that Davros became a psychopath because the Doctor abandoned him as a child.
  • Cross-Referenced Titles: Part Two of this story is titled "The Witch's Familiar". For those keeping track:
    • The Doctor is the magician.
    • Missy is the witch.
    • Clara and Davros are each apprentices to the Doctor in different ways.
    • Clara is the familiar to Missy.
  • Cuddle Bug: Much to Clara's surprise, the Doctor seems to have become huggy.
  • Deadly Deferred Conversation: When Clara calls out the Doctor for knowing or hoping that Missy was still alive, she tells her to make it up to him at some point. At least from the Doctor's perspective, by the end of the episode she's dust.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Missy is in fine form, even snarking at the Daleks.
    • Davros of all people, telling the Doctor that he approves of his new face as it's more like his own.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Perhaps. Clara's and Missy's deaths and the TARDIS's destruction for the Doctor, resulting in a cliffhanger that sees him apparently deciding to kill Davros in his childhood...
  • Diegetic Soundtrack Usage: When entering on the tank, the Doctor is playing a song that sounds like a mix of the bassline of the Doctor Who theme song and Queen.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Clara continues to be cemented as this to the Doctor. Aside from acting as the Doctor's Number Two with UNIT, she also pulls a rather Doctor-y move by choosing to brush off Missy murdering several UNIT agents for the sake of the "mission", which in this case is to locate and potentially rescue the Doctor.
  • Do Not Go Gentle: Clara quotes the Trope Namer when she realizes that the Doctor is having The Last Dance.
  • Double-Meaning Title: The Doctor is the magician, and both Clara and Davros can be seen as his apprentices given their respective roles in the story.
  • The Dragon: Colony Sarff (not a Dalek) is Davros's head minion. He's the one looking for the Doctor and bringing him to Skaro.
  • Driving Question: Why is the Doctor having The Last Dance at a time like this?
  • Easily Forgiven: Despite learning for herself that not only is Missy still alive, but that she got sent the confession dial and not her, Clara chooses not to be angry at the Doctor and instead simply asks that he make it up to her by coming back to her. Likely the Doctor forgiving her actions in "Dark Water" was a factor, but in hindsight it's Foreshadowing for the rest of the season.
  • Enemy Mine: Missy takes a (slightly) more benevolent role here as she assists UNIT and Clara in the search for the Doctor. Given that she's had genuine concern for a universe without the Doctor before, this isn't surprising.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Played with. Missy is a whole deli's worth of ham, but she's the Token Evil Teammate in this story. Davros is more subdued than he's ever been, but no less frightening for it.
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: The hand mines have eyes on their palms.
  • Fantastic Racism: Missy insists that, while she's the Doctor's best friend, Clara (and presumably other human companions) is the equivalent of a puppy on a leash. Takes on added meaning when you remember that Missy is the woman in the shop from "The Bells of Saint John". What better way to make nice after a spat with your bestie than getting him a cute new puppy? note 
  • Foreshadowing: Missy's description of her relationship with the Doctor sounds like a good description of what Clara's relationship with the Doctor will be by the Season Finale, though of course with a more romantic slant. "A friendship older than your civilization, and infinitely more complex."
  • For the Evulz: To prove she hasn't turned good, Missy disintegrates a UNIT agent whom she thinks was married and had a baby, then does the same thing to another agent.
  • Ghostly Glide: Colony Sarff moves with one — not because he's a ghost, but because he's a collection of snakes.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Very briefly from Clara, when she learns that she isn't considered close enough to the Doctor to be worthy of receiving his confession dial. Averted later when she displays no jealousy when the topic is brought up with the Doctor.
  • Handwave: On seeing Skaro a shocked Missy says that "They've built it again!", explaining its destruction in "Remembrance of the Daleks" and reappearance in "Asylum of the Daleks". Given the scale of planetary engineering of which the Daleks are capable, rebuilding a planet could well be easy. But where did they find the chair? More importantly - *why* did they get the chair after they found it?
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Missy, of course! She starts off by freezing every plane on Earth, then says she wants help to save the Doctor, then kills two UNIT agents to prove that she's still not good, but then releases the planes to show she cares, and then tries to ally with the Daleks.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Defied by Missy, who disintegrates two people (one of whom she could tell was married with children) to illustrate the point that she hasn't changed.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • The Doctor is shown entering this state after Clara is apparently vapourized.
    • It is strongly implied that the whole "preparing for death" thing and the Doctor's general shutdown after leaving young Davros to die is a grand mal version of this. Illustrated by the Doctor appearing to shut down and refusing to look at Clara or speak to her for a few moments at the castle.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Look for something anomalous. Like an electric guitar and amps in 1138 CE.
  • Historical Person Punchline: The episode begins with the Doctor reaching out to save a young boy caught in a minefield on a war-torn hellscape planet. The episode ends with the reveal that the planet is Skaro in the distant past and the boy is Davros.
  • Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act:
    • At the end, it looks like the Doctor will take the chance to kill Davros before the latter grew up and created the Daleks.
    • There's also a Call-Back to an earlier time that this trope was used, back in "Genesis of the Daleks", when the Fourth Doctor wonders if he should smother the Daleks in their cradle. Davros uses this to deliver a serious What the Hell, Hero? to the current incarnation of the Doctor, who was willing to abandon their creator as a child when he realised who he was. (Of course, the poor Doctor doesn't need to be told to feel bad about this — it's why he's willing to die now.)
  • Hope Spot: After the Doctor and co. are taken by Colony Sarff, Bors goes off and finds the Doctor's TARDIS, with the music suggesting he is going on a rescue mission. Except Bors has been converted into a Dalek puppet and was only procuring the TARDIS for his Dalek masters.
  • Huge Holographic Head: Missy uses one to send Clara the invitation to meet her. It's a fairly small Huge Head, fitting inside a room, but gets show-off points for baffling UNIT's scientists by being projected from a screen that wasn't designed to do any such thing.
  • I Have a Family: An inversion by Missy, when she orders a UNIT soldier to get on his knees.
    Missy: Oi, you, sweaty one, on your knees. Let's have a goodbye selfie for your kids.
  • Improbable Weapon User: The Doctor mentions that he defeated Bors in a broadsword duel by using a daffodil.
  • Incoming Ham:
    • The Doctor makes quite an entrance: his first scene in Medieval Essex shows him riding into the arena on a tank, playing an electric guitar.
    • Missy typing her theme song lyrics for UNIT, followed by her giant head floating as a psychic projection.
    • Averted with Davros, who's dying and lacks the energy, making him come as a Deadpan Snarker. The Doctor makes up for it in their shared scene.
  • Insult Backfire:
    • Davros' attempt to insult the Doctor about his reasons for agreeing to meet with him.
      Davros: Do you know why you came, Doctor? You have a sense of duty. Of guilt, perhaps. And certainly of shame.
      The Doctor: You flatter me.
      Davros: A pity. I intended to accuse.
    • A subtle one. Missy insults Clara's relationship with the Doctor several times, yet it's Clara the Doctor sees first when he arrives on the tank, and he plays "Pretty Woman" for her.
  • In the Hood: Colony Sarff's habit conceals the snakes he is made of.
  • Invisibility Cloak: One done over an entire planet, save a single building on it, to make onlookers think it's a space station.
  • It's All About Me: Missy is quite put out when the Doctor declares Davros is his greatest enemy.
  • It's All My Fault: The Doctor's willingness to die stems from his guilt over abandoning young Davros and the resultant tragedy of the Daleks' existence.
  • Joker Immunity:
    • Missy's gets lampshaded when Clara asks how she can possibly be alive.
      Missy: Death is for other people.
    • Played straight with Davros, who's alive (but also dying of old age) with no explanation.
  • Just Think of the Potential!: Missy tries to invoke this with the TARDIS, which the Daleks just plan to destroy. They ignore her and exterminate her.
  • Karma Houdini: Missy cold-bloodedly kills several UNIT soldiers, but not only is Clara still willing to work with her after, it's Clara who suggests Missy go with them to Skaro, and she makes no reference at all to the deaths when she meets the Doctor.
    • In a real-world scenario, a sniper would have shot Missy the moment she killed the first agent, orders or no, so even with Clara and Kate willing to be patient, Missy got off lucky. On the other hand, it can be assumed UNIT has trained their snipers extremely well, so that they wouldn't do useless things. What would a sniper shooting at her even accomplish, since she wouldn't die (all eight snipers would have to take the shot)? She would probably be angry after that and kill everyone in the area, snipers, UNIT soldiers, Clara and possible civilians included. Would you risk that from a known psychopath? Plus, the "information" about eight snipers shooting in those preise area being necessary to kill a Time Lord was provided by Missy herself. How does UNIT know that she isn't lying, as the Master has been apt to do throughout their lives? Plus, Missy still had her vortex manipulator, showing that even if she was truthful about the number of snipers and where they have to shoot to kill her, she still had an easy way to extricate herself from that situation anyway.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • When Clara asks if Missy is "turning good", Missy responds by blasting a UNIT soldier into dust and remarking about how he was a husband and father. She then blasts another and says she'll kill everyone around them if she feels like it.
    • Missy also brings up Danny's death just to upset Clara, and even includes the details of his "second" death.
    • The Doctor begs Davros to let Clara go. Davros points out that he doesn't control the Daleks and then gloats about how the Daleks, as predators, are waiting for their prey to run just for the opportunity to exterminate her.
  • Kneel Before Zod: After killing two UNIT soldiers, Missy orders this of a third one, intending to kill him as well. The man complies, and it's only through Clara's intervention that he survives.
  • Lampshade Hanging: When last seen, Missy had just been disintegrated by a Cyberman. Disintegration ain't what it used to be. Now Missy greets Clara and airily notes she's not dead, she's back, and never mind how.
  • Large Ham: Missy, once again chewing the scenery like there's no tomorrow, even with the Daleks.
  • The Last Dance: The Doctor is in the midst of this, as revealed in the prequel shorts, and that's why he's not around to help UNIT. It turns out to be because Davros is having one of his own — death is finally catching up to him, but before he goes, he's going to lure the Doctor into one last trap.
  • Lighter and Softer: Beginning with this episode, the Doctor's characterization becomes warmer and less hard-edged than in Series 8 and "Last Christmas".
  • Meaningful Name: A colony is a group, and Sarff is Welsh for serpent — Colony Sarff means "Group of serpents", which is exactly what he is.
  • Mercy Lead: Maybe it's an explanation why the Daleks miss half the time. They're enjoying their victim's fear too much.
    Davros: See how they play with her. See how they toy. They want her to run. They need her to run. Do you feel their need, Doctor? Their blood is screaming kill, kill, kill! Hunter and prey, held in the ecstasy of crisis. Is this not life at its purest?
  • Million to One Chance: "Your chances of survival are about one-in-a-thousand. So here's what you do—you forget the thousand and you concentrate on the one." Given that Davros grows up to be a Mad Scientist clinging to life after being crippled by an atomic explosion and determined to survive at all cost, it's a case of giving the right advice to the wrong person.
  • Mind Hive: It's implied that the various snakes making up Colony Sarff are each sentient and independent, with the biggest one simply The Face of the group.
    The Doctor: What are you doing?
    Sarff: Voting. We are a democracy.
  • Mood Whiplash: Once again, Steven Moffat uses this trope like a rollercoaster. At the beginning, we see the Doctor realizing he saw Davros as a kid, in the middle, we get a huge comedic scene where the Doctor rides in on a tank while shredding a guitar and suddenly begins acting all charming and cuddly with Clara, and by the end, Missy, Clara and the TARDIS are exterminated after the Doctor has a Freak Out about saving Clara, and the Doctor apparently plans to kill the child Davros!
  • Mundane Utility: Missy casually stops time for every aircraft on Earth just to get UNIT's attention. Once Clara comes to meet her, she unfreezes time just long enough to make one of the frozen passenger jets provide shade for their table.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Davros feels this way for the Daleks, which are the case of Gone Horribly Right.
    • The Doctor has this moment when he realizes the little boy he's trying to save from a deadly minefield is his deadliest enemy Davros. Since he can't bear to kill or save the boy, he simply leaves, but this only leaves him with a massive guilt complex, having since realized that this third option was probably worse.
  • My Greatest Failure: The Doctor clearly sees not saving young Davros as this, and that's why he surrenders himself to his greatest enemy without a fight. This is the only way he make it right with himself.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Missy tickling a Dalek half-sphere while making a sexual joke brings to mind the last time the Master specifically dealt with those "bumps". It was in a Moffat-penned special, no less.
    • Davros making an unexpected return from certain death and toying with the Doctor by forcing him to watch his friends mentally tortured and killed, causing the Doctor to apparently decide to kill him is similar to the Big Finish audio drama "Terror Firma".
  • Niceness Denial: Missy, a female incarnation of The Master, is helping UNIT look for The Doctor. Clara, suspicious, acidly asks Missy if she's "turned good". Missy demonstrates otherwise by vaporizing two UNIT soldiers and remarking on how she knew one had a newborn child at home.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: The "no hugging" part clearly no longer applies to the Doctor as for the first time (based on Clara's reaction) he instigates a hug himself. While he's at it, he also breaks the "no flirting" rule allegedly put in place ahead of Series 8 by complimenting the hell out of her (which in itself is a marked change from his tendency to insult her in the previous season). Although the episode implies these changes are due to the Doctor preparing for his apparent death, they actually become permanent character changes for the Doctor, at least with regards to Clara.
  • No-Nonsense Nemesis: The Daleks: instead of trying to take the TARDIS, they simply try and destroy it as soon as possible. Rather than being taken in by Missy's big speech about how they could use the TARDIS and thus need her, they simply shoot her the moment she stops speaking.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Clara kissing Jane Austen.
    • The Doctor fighting Bors' broadsword with a daffodil, and winning.
    • Missy makes mention of Davros having one mechanical eye, implying the two may have met.
    • Missy asks if it's still the same Dalek Emperor, telling the other daleks to "tell him the Bitch is back!"
    • Missy references the "Cloister Wars" and a night when the Doctor stole the Moon and the President's wife, though one of those incidents (or her suggestion that the Doctor was once female) is not actually true by her admission.note 
    • Though no specific incident is discussed, it would appear that since rejoining the Doctor, Clara has worked with UNIT enough to not only be accepted as a surrogate for the Doctor, but to be given command authority over its personnel.
    • From an in-universe perspective, the episode ends with Clara and Missy none the wiser as to what exactly happened to the Doctor to get him to send his confession dial to Missy; we, the audience know, but not the characters.
    • Related to the above, we never do find out how or why the Doctor ended up on Skaro early in Davros' life to begin with. The fact the Doctor is shown in his more-casual Series 9 outfit — but not with Clara — suggests this to be a very recent event for the Doctor, who is implied to have not been in touch with Clara for some time.
    • Missy apparently once threw someone out of an airlock and discovered that they look like Jam when they explode in the atmosphere of space.
  • Not So Stoic:
    • The Doctor has now taken to hugging Clara and even flirting with her, both of which she flags as new developments and reflecting his current state of mind.
    • His Freak Out when Clara appears about to be exterminated, complete with him begging Davros on his knees to intervene save her.
  • Number Two: By this point in their relationship, Clara has become this to the Doctor, to the point where she is clearly authorized to act on his behalf, up to and including UNIT giving her authority to negotiate with Missy and even command UNIT snipers.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Somehow the Doctor won a swordfight with a daffodil.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX: The actor playing Colony Sarff created the character's distinctive slithering movement with one of those two-wheeled "hoverboards."
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Missy and the Doctor have one when they realize they are on Skaro.
    • The Doctor and the viewers have one when the boy says his name is "Davros".
  • Ominous Floating Spaceship: Not spaceships, but Missy does this with passenger planes by freezing every flight in the air over Earth as a way of getting UNIT's attention. The frozen planes cast ominous shadows on the ground.
  • One-Steve Limit: When the child identifies himself as Davros, the Doctor immediately equates him to the famous one. It's possible after hearing the name the Doctor paid more attention to his surroundings and realized where he is, or that "Davros" is a rare name, but the episode never explains if this is the case.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • Clara suspects this of the Doctor when she sees him being flippant and making lame jokes, and knows something's off when it's the Doctor hugging her for a change. And flirting. And he's stopped insulting her, too. (Ultimately, though, these changes actually end up being more or less permanent.)
    • Davros is usually a Large Ham, but his performance here is subdued, befitting a dying man's lethargy. If anything, it makes his threats all the scarier.
    • The Doctor begs Davros on bended knee to save Clara. Easily dismissed as overreaction taken on its own, in the grand scheme of Series 9 this is the first manifestation of the Doctor's growing obsession about protecting Clara at all costs.
    • Missy practically wets herself at the sight of Skaro. Missy/The Master is never afraid of anything, so seeing her terrified is very serious business.
  • Overt Operative: Clara openly mentions UNIT in front of her students and a fellow teacher, right after talking about meeting Jane Austen.
  • Power Nullifier: When Colony Sarff tries to attack the Sisterhood of Karn, he's unable to leave his human form. They then boast that he's powerless against them and might as well deliver whatever message he has for the Doctor, which they'll pass on.
  • Pun: The Doctor makes a series of lame puns in 1138 AD, all of which fall flat thanks to them being based on parlance that won't enter common usage for centuries.
  • Quicksand Sucks: When the hand mines grab people, they drag them beneath the dirt, which ripples as if it's water.
  • Redemption Quest: Exaggerated: The Doctor is determined to face the consequences and perhaps atone in some way for abandoning the boy Davros and causing the universe-plaguing evil of the Daleks to come to pass, even though he's quite aware that it will probably be a case of Redemption Equals Death.
  • Red Shirt: Kanzo, the soldier in the opening who gets sucked into the ground by the hand mines while trying to save the child.
  • Relationship Upgrade: It's subtle, due to both BBC guidelines and The "I Love You" Stigma, but interviews with Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, and Steven Moffatt done around the time this episode premiered revealed that between Last Christmas and the prologue to this episode Clara and the Doctor did reveal their feelings for each other and were in a relationship.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Davros' new Dragon Colony Sarff is well known to both the Sisterhood of Karn and the Shadow Proclamation, but not the viewers.
  • Save the Villain:
    • Averted with Davros, who is dying and summons a meeting with the Doctor, but tries one more attempt at a final victory instead of asking the Doctor to help save him.
    • Played straight in the end of the episode's cliffhanger, but with a twist. The Doctor returning to young Davros may be a way to save Missy, along with Clara and the TARDIS, by murdering the boy — he has a weapon, but he says he's saving his friend — singular. In the prequel shorts, he notes that "An enemy's just a friend you haven't met yet" and that he let down a friend that day... so he might be saving Davros with a little firepower to get him out of the hand mine field. Which will it be? (All that said, given his panic over wanting to save Clara, and his events in the following episode, it's clear the friend referenced is not Missy, nor the TARDIS, it's Clara.)
    • Clara notes that the Doctor sending Missy his confession dial means that the Doctor knew he hadn't killed her in "Death in Heaven". The fact that (as revealed in the next episode) Missy used one of the Doctor's old tricks to do so confirms it.
  • Schizo Tech: The war shown in the intro has played havoc with civilization's technological level. Laser-shooting biplanes are strafing gas mask-wearing soldiers who are defending themselves with bows and arrows. Also, mines are hands that drag you underground. Lampshaded by the Doctor in the opening of the episode. The war has gone on so long that people are doing whatever they can with whatever they have.
  • Security Cling: The Doctor's sudden hugging of Clara, complete with him talking into her shoulder, has the appearance of this.
  • Seen It All: When the Doctor brings a tank to his medieval duel, Bors' reaction is less "What is this metal beast?" and more "Not again." It's implied the Doctor's been pulling these kinds of hijinks for three weeks.
    • Missy's reaction is just an annoyed sigh because she's been through so much with the Doctor that he's become that predictable to her.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The cliffhanger reveals that the Doctor apparently has a chance in Part Two to correct his mistake of abandoning young Davros... trouble is, there would seem to be only two ways to do it: by saving him, and risking the evil of the Daleks anyway; or killing him, which would be a crossing of the Moral Event Horizon for the Doctor and create a gigantic paradox...
  • Shipping Torpedo: Missy attempts this with the Doctor and Clara, first by rubbing in the fact that the Doctor sent her his Confession Dial instead of Clara; then by claiming that the Doctor sees Clara as no more than a pet. Obviously, Missy is way off in all directions.
  • Ship Sinking:
    • Missy has a good go at sinking Doctor×Master, as a sexual thing at least.
      Clara: Mmm! Must be love.
      Missy: Oh, don't be disgusting. We're Time Lords, not animals! Try, nano-brain, to rise above the reproductive frenzy of your noisy little food chain, and contemplate friendship. A friendship older than your civilization, and infinitely more complex.
    • Missy attempts to futily sink any sort of Doctor-Clara ship too, by going on to call Clara little more than the Doctor's puppy, only for the Doctor to undo this by hugging and flirting with Clara (both of which are big deals when compared to Series 8), and Clara's later "now you owe me" statement delivered with "heart eyes".
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: The first half has Missy snarking her way back into the spotlight and the Doctor's whimsical approach to The Last Dance. But then Colony Sarff arrives to claim the Doctor and good-natured simpleton Bors ends up a Dalek puppet. The rest of the episode is a downward slide into despair that even Missy's quips can't do much to brighten.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The title recalls "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", a folk tale (known to many modern audiences as the Mickey Mouse Bit in Fantasia) about someone who creates an army of inhuman servants that he finds himself unable to control. Davros created an army of inhuman servants which, as he reminds the Doctor in this episode, he found himself unable to control.
    • The setting of part of the story is the year 1138.
    • When the Doctor first sees Clara in the 1138 scene, he plays the riff from "Pretty Woman" directly to her. (It is often misread that he plays the tune for both Clara and Missy, but in fact he does not; he plays "Mickey" — Missy's theme song — for that character. "Pretty Woman" is just for Clara).
    • This exchange between Davros and the Doctor echoes one from The Sound of Music between Captain von Trapp and his neighbor Herr Zeller:
      The Doctor: You flatter me.
      Davros: A pity. I intended to accuse.
    • Like Marty McFly, the Doctor jars an audience in the past with metal guitar solos.
    • Missy's broadcast starts with a paraphrase of the Toni Basil hit "Mickey" (which she previously invoked in "Death in Heaven"). Later on, the Doctor belts out its chorus on his electric guitar when he meets Missy in 1138 A.D.
    • Missy's first spoken words are "Today I'll be talking to you out of the Square Window" (upon which a psychic projection of her head comes through the monitor screen into the UNIT base). This is a shout-out to the BBC children's programme Play School, where arched, circular and square (and later, triangular) windows acted as portals onto the wider world.
    • This episode features a time-travelling guitar hero in medieval times who uses the word "dude" a lot. Where have we seen that before? Ironically, the Bill and Ted films were themselves spoofs of Doctor Who, making this a meta shout-out.
  • Shown Their Work: The scenes on the surface of Skaro match its previous depictions very well:
    • The rebuilt city is largely based on the original seen in "The Daleks", with the interiors being an almost exact replica.
    • The scenes set during the Thousand Year War match up with its portrayal in "Genesis of the Daleks"; with the uniforms, gas masks, and scanners of the (presumably) Kaled soldiers being a slightly more advanced version of those seen in "Genesis", fitting with the plot point of technology regressing as the war goes on.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Near the end of the episode, as the Daleks threaten to destroy the TARDIS, Missy makes a misguided attempt at "reasoning" with them, effectively trying to guarantee her own survival by giving them the keys. The Supreme Dalek's response?
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: How Missy views her relationship with the Doctor:
    Clara: He can't be your friend. You keep trying to kill him.
    Missy: He keeps trying to kill me. It's sort of our texting. We've been at it for ages.
  • Snake People: Colony Sarff, who is made up of multiple snakes.
  • Somebody Else's Problem: The Shadow Proclamation really doesn't seemed alarmed that Davros is up to his old tricks again.
  • Stable Time Loop: The Twelfth Doctor abandons a young Davros on Skaro because of the things he'll go on to do. It's heavily implied that said abandonment helped make Davros the man that earlier incarnations of the Doctor would then meet, and come to hate.
  • Staying Alive: At this point, the show makes no effort to explain Davros or Missy's survival. They even joke about it.
  • Take a Third Option:
    • Tragically subverted when the Doctor chooses to abandon young Davros rather than save or kill him. Saving him would have been best for everyone; abandoning him may have been the reason he became evil. As of the cliffhanger, the Doctor intends to return to the original two options, but he's been pushed to the Despair Event Horizon...
    • Clara does this when she confronts the Doctor about the fact Missy is still alive. Rather than become angry at him about it (something the Doctor clearly expects), instead she smiles, gives him "heart eyes" and says all he has to do to make amends is to return to her.
  • Tank Goodness: The Doctor enters the next round of his friendly duel with Bors on top of a tank. Not loaded, of course; he bought it for his fish.
  • Time Stands Still: Missy freezes time for every plane on Earth. She needed to get their attention somehow.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Bors tried to eat a marble at least once.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • Played straight: The general Series 9 trailers and press have plenty of clips and information of/about later episodes from this season that confirm that neither Clara, Missy, nor the TARDIS have been Killed Off for Real as of this episode's cliffhanger.
    • Averted: the "Next Time" promos for "The Witch's Familiar" only feature the Doctor, Davros and the Daleks, so how the others figure into that episode remains to be seen. The plot hinges on the Doctor believing that they are lost, and how this informs his subsequent actions.
    • Also averted in the promotion for this episode, which never once revealed Davros was coming back. Steven Moffat later came to regret this decision, because without being able to bring up Davros it was impossible for the trailers to give any sense of what the story was about.
  • Trap Is the Only Option: The Doctor knows that being asked to see Davros is this, but goes anyway. Davros turns out to be on Skaro.
  • Unexplained Recovery:
    • Missy glosses over how she survived being vapourized in "Death in Heaven". This is keeping with a classic trait of the Master (especially the Anthony Ainley version) who would recover from seeming demise with no explanation. It's lampshaded, for once:
      Missy: Okay, cutting to the chase: Not dead. Back. [sarcastically] Big surprise! Never mind.
    • Likewise, Davros, who we last saw in "Journey's End" apparently dying in an exploding space station in the Medusa Cascade, which oddly doesn't get mentioned. Then again, since Davros shares Missy's Joker Immunity, it's really not important how he survived in the long run, just that he did.
  • Warfare Regression: As predicted in "Genesis of The Daleks", the soldiers are reduced to bows and arrows.
  • Wham Episode: The Doctor comes across his deadliest enemy Davros as a helpless child, and abandons him halfway through a rescue attempt, most likely causing Davros' Start of Darkness in the first place. When that fateful decision comes back to bite the Doctor on the ass, the episode ends with him travelling back to shoot young Davros. Oh, and Clara, Missy and the TARDIS get exterminated... stay tuned for Part Two!
  • Wham Line: Two of them. The first is before the opening credits, when a boy on a battlefield tells the Doctor his name is Davros. The second is the final words of the episode, where the Doctor goes to change the past.
  • Wham Shot:
    • The reveal of Davros.
    • The pullback shot in which the planet comes into phase, revealing they're on a reconstructed Skaro.
    • The Doctor arrives for a 12th-century duel... riding a 21st-century tank.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: Clearly, UNIT and Clara consider contacting the Doctor to be more important than the lives of those poor UNIT agents Missy vapourizes, even the one Missy reveals had a baby.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Davros gets a magnificent one, calling the Doctor out for abandoning him as a child. What's more, he uses a recording of the Fourth Doctor from "Genesis of the Daleks" to deliver it, playing the Doctor's own words against him.
      Fourth Doctor: If someone who knew the future pointed out a child to you and told you that that child would grow up totally evil to be a ruthless dictator who would destroy millions of lives... could you then kill that child?
    • Clara gets one when she asks the Doctor if he sent his Confession Dial to Missy because he knew she wasn't dead, or worse, hoped she wasn't.
    • Inverted when Davros attempts to criticize the Doctor for having a sense of duty and the capacity for guilt and shame. The Doctor calls it flattery.
  • Wicked Stepmother: The Doctor calls Missy this as a joke.
  • The Worm That Walks: Colony Sarff, who is a giant snake surrounded by smaller snakes he can control. They claim to be a democracy.
    The Doctor: Is that supposed to frighten me? A snake nest in a dress?
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Davros attempts to invoke this on the Doctor, telling him he likes his new face, as it is very much like his own.
  • You See, I'm Dying: Davros is dying, which is why he wants to see the Doctor.