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Who Review: The Witch's Familiar

So. Bright Like the Sun; and Dark, and Kind

The first thing I thought was "Oh, my - [personal profile] elisi  must be going mad with joy. What a feast for her."
Other things that occurred to me:
* Moffat's writing in this is some of the best he's done in years. Not a wasted word, not an excess phrase, nothing but strong and beautiful language. Whether it's the brutally witty discussions and poisonous badinage between Missy and Clara, or the communication between the Doctor and Davros, it is all completely top drawer from a technical point of view, and it has a sun's worth of life and heart from an artistic point of view. 
* Moffat's universe is one based on kindness and mercy. His universe always, always yearns and tends toward life. But he's willing to explore the desire of life turned toxic. The sewer as graveyard? That's a brilliant explanation of at least part of why Daleks are impossible to stamp out. They think of death as the ultimate filth. 
* That kindness and mercy - why do you think Darvros called the Doctor precious to all of the Daleks?  Sure, it could be his regenerative energy, but I
 think it's more. What is the Doctor? He's the only creature in the universe that ever showed them any kindness and mercy; that's my guess, although Davros and the Daleks wouldn't recognize it. Then again, perhaps Davros did. Even though he meant it to be a trap, a betrayal, it's pretty clear that some of what he said, he meant. 
* Moffat's universe is one that both acknowledges the erosion of time and the regenerative possibility of time's circularity. When I saw Clara strapped into that shell, I almost screamed. 
* Moffatt wrote Missy right; she's murderous, witty, petty - what do you think she felt when she heard the Doctor threaten an entire world in an effort to bring him back his true friend? Not a canary in a coal mine, not a puppet - and not an operationally, psychopathically, unpredictably jealous brother/lover/enemy/lost soul. Why do you think she tried to trick the Doctor into killing Clara?
* Oh, the elegance of the language barrier that Clara had to deal with, and which limits Daleks so much.
* This episode showed how Moffat's cleverness can work when he does it right: the explanation of "exterminate," for instance. 
* I'm sure I can think of all kinds of other things to say, but I may wait for 
[personal profile] elisi  to say them better. 
* This was brilliant. 

This entry was originally posted at http://kaffyr.dreamwidth.org/380074.html?mode=reply, where there are currently comment count unavailable comments. You can comment there or here; I watch both.


( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 28th, 2015 03:55 am (UTC)

As I have said to others...the echoes along the timelines. Poisoned truths, that are truths, even as they are poisoned. The hybrid that has ALREADY happened. The strange relationships we can forge and the jealousy over relationships lost.

This was a gorgeous two-parter. This is what I have been waiting for...for two years!!

Sep. 28th, 2015 02:58 pm (UTC)
The hybrid that has ALREADY happened. T

You know, I hadn't thought about the hybrid, or the idea that it might be Oswin — because, apparently, I can't connect the dots much better than a one year old with a big fat crayon — but you're absolutely right!

And yes, I think this two parter is wone of teh strongest pieces Moffat has created since S06.
Sep. 28th, 2015 06:10 am (UTC)
I had more pure enjoyment of this episode (without eye-rolling, without sighing, without scoffing) than I've had for years of this show. Of course there are still little parts I could pick at (for example, I still don't understand the point of the snake person, nor how it makes even the tiniest amount of sense), but overall I actually loved this episode - for all the reasons you said above, and for Capaldi's just beautiful, on-point acting. I could watch this Twelfth Doctor allll the time. (And I believe he's always this Doctor, but IMO sometimes the writing obscures him.)
Sep. 28th, 2015 03:01 pm (UTC)
(for example, I still don't understand the point of the snake person, nor how it makes even the tiniest amount of sense),

In story, I simply figured he was another bit of genetic experimentation that Davros did; a creation that he enjoyed employing because, well ... one gets bored after centuries in the same chair, with the same creations around one. And outside the story, looking at it from a structural, or even meta, angle, the idea of snakes as the ultimate betrayers (at least in, say, the Jewish or the Christian mythos) would fit in with this story of Davros and betrayal.

Sep. 29th, 2015 05:16 am (UTC)
You made a good point about Colony Scarf. If you look at it from a symbolic way, the character holds more meaning than just being another creepy evil thing for the Doctor to deal with.
Sep. 29th, 2015 01:05 pm (UTC)
Yup - and knowing how enamored Moffat is with symbolism, it almost becomes something the lack of which would have left a big hole in the story.
Sep. 29th, 2015 01:22 pm (UTC)
It concerns me that I'm more accepting of what is going on in Doctor Who episodes after I have it explained to me on LiveJournal.
Sep. 29th, 2015 07:25 pm (UTC)
Just go with it ... it makes it more fun. Heh.
Sep. 30th, 2015 01:39 pm (UTC)
Yeah. I didn't mean to sound like I'm freaking out. Lucky I have people like you to help me put things in perspective. Sometimes I get a little too emotionally invested. I'll just focus on the special effects or something like that.
Sep. 29th, 2015 05:49 am (UTC)
I grant that it makes sense that Davros would have wanted to experiment some more. That helps.

As for the Judeo-Christian imagery of the snake, I certainly felt the resonance - I just couldn't see any intra-story reason why Davros would.

Edited at 2015-09-29 05:50 am (UTC)
Sep. 29th, 2015 01:20 pm (UTC)
I just couldn't see any intra-story reason why Davros would.

I actually can agree that it undoubtedly owes more to Moffat wanting a cool new creep factor than my fanwankery admits to. Heh.
Sep. 28th, 2015 06:34 am (UTC)
I was so glad to watch this episode. I agree with others who have said the two-parter probably would have worked better as just one tightly-written episode, but the second half was so good that I can forgive the first half most of its shortcomings.

The Doctor/Davros scenes were excellent, Missy was fascinating in her interactions with others, and Twelve was brilliant. I hope the rest of the season lives up to this.
Sep. 29th, 2015 02:46 am (UTC)
. I agree with others who have said the two-parter probably would have worked better as just one tightly-written episode,

I wonder if that would have been possible, given how well paced the second episode was, whether putting everything into one episode might have left it feeling rather overstuffed.

Twelve was so fantastic in this; I couldn't take my eyes off his face.
Sep. 29th, 2015 05:52 am (UTC)
Ha! Fair enough. Then I just wish I'd been able to like the first part as much as I liked the second.
Sep. 29th, 2015 01:12 pm (UTC)
Heh. I understand that; the first part was far more of a muddle than it should have been. They could have left out the planes, and UNIT, as much fun as it was to see Kate Stewart again. It was the kind of bit that would have played, read, and felt more integrated in a Big Finish novel, rather than an actual episode.
Sep. 29th, 2015 01:30 pm (UTC)
"I couldn't take my eyes off his face". I love that you think this.

The Twelfth Doctor is quite nonchalant with his feelings compared to his previous incarnations, so you know he means business when he gets emotional about something on a personal level.

Sep. 29th, 2015 07:27 pm (UTC)
Bingo - and it helps that in his own way, Capaldi has quite as rubber a face as Matt.
Sep. 30th, 2015 01:46 pm (UTC)
The Twelfth Doctor doesn't sugar-coat.
Sep. 28th, 2015 06:00 pm (UTC)

I'll get there. Why doesn't anyone pay me to write meta? ;)
Sep. 29th, 2015 02:47 am (UTC)
Because we're all poor, and don't deserve you?
Sep. 29th, 2015 06:06 am (UTC)

Sep. 29th, 2015 01:22 pm (UTC)
 photo youaredoinggreat_zpsqlr80txc.gif
Sep. 29th, 2015 02:07 pm (UTC)
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Mine ran along much the same lines, but you've expressed them in more articulate terms than I could have. Taking the two parts together, I thought the plot was a little shaky, and there were set pieces in part one that IMO didn't accomplish much. But there was a lot of payoff in part two. I had that same physical jolt when Clara was in the Dalek casing: that was a real "holy shit!" moment. It was almost like something had come full circle.
Sep. 29th, 2015 07:34 pm (UTC)
I definitely agree that the first episode was the shakier of the two. I think that's surprising, given that Moffat's two-parters often start strong and end muddled.

The Clara moment was the "Meta Scream" moment for me, outstripping even the "OMG, that kid's Davros" or the, "Waitaminit, it's fucking SKAROOOOMG!" moment.
Sep. 30th, 2015 02:33 pm (UTC)
I must be jaded, because I knew they were on Skaro right away.

Clara-in-the-Dalek really worked because it was presented in such a nonchalant way. Missy: "Get inside." Clearly it had to be Clara because she's the smaller of the two. I think the Doctor knew instinctively something was amiss, especially when Missy was so very keen that he kill this particular Dalek.

Another interesting parallel is that the only other time we've heard a Dalek say the word "mercy" was when that one in "Big Bang" was begging River for it. (heh, that sounds dirty) I need to go point this out to Elisi!
Oct. 6th, 2015 08:46 pm (UTC)
A belated question - I hope you did point it out to her!
Oct. 8th, 2015 02:23 pm (UTC)
I did, and of course she had already noticed, cos she's brilliant. : )
( 27 comments — Leave a comment )

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