A whole new season of Doctor Who is here, but is Moffat changing the story on us yet again? Warning: Spoilers ahead.
The Doctor Who Season 9 premiere has come and gone and, as is often the case, it’s left this Whovian with a few questions. While the major cliffhangers will no doubt be wrapped up in next week’s Part 2, I’m writing of more esoteric questions. Namely: Is showrunner Steven Moffat trying to teach us that we make our own enemies… or is he just changing the story for his own benefit?
This week, we were finally granted knowledge of how it all began with the Daleks. While on one of his bouts through space and time, the Doctor found himself in the middle of a war zone and soon befriended a young boy. That boy (originally unknown to the Doctor): Davros, leader/creator of the Daleks. Young Davros and the Doctor got so close, you could see the Doctor was thinking of trying to turn the young soul into a companion. Young Davros clearly needed to be saved from the war, and we all know the Doctor loves collecting humans — except, just when Davros needs saving the most, the Doctor realizes who he’s dealing with and he flees, leaving the young Davros with nothing more than the screwdriver and lost hope.
Fast forward to the present or even the recent past, and we know what becomes of Davros. He’s spent his entire immortal life trying to pay back the Doctor for yanking away the blanket of hope. All he wants is for the Doctor to admit that his compassion is his weakness. Davros says so himself: “Compassion, Doctor. It has always been your greatest indulgence.” Soon after, Davros zaps Clara (and Missy) into oblivion, and Part 1 of the premiere ends with the Doctor going back in time to save young Davros from the war and, potentially, save his frenemy.
Cool. But what are you telling us, Moffat?
Moffat loves to rewrite canon. For proof, look no further than his way of adding more regenerations into the Doctor’s life. So, I’m sure a lot of Whovians’ first thoughts were, “Why are you doing this?! Where are you going?” The Doctor has always firmly believed in the importance of not changing history, and yet we witnessed him do so in the Season 9 premiere. If he saved Davros, the creature no longer has a grudge and therefore doesn’t need to create Daleks or torment the Doctor. A ton of Who storylines should no longer exist. For what?
While I firmly believe that it’s utter BS to try to find meaning in everything someone writes for entertainment, I do believe there is a lesson to learn from Davros and the Doctor. What we witnessed tonight was how one small decision turned a potential companion into a lifelong enemy. We, as humans, lovelovelove to fight with our enemies and to sulk when we’re hated “for no reason.” But “The Magician’s Apprentice” made me wonder: Does that hate actually have a reason after all? We often forget our lackluster first impressions of people. But, just because they were lackluster in our perception, it doesn’t mean they didn’t go a different direction for the other person. Maybe the reason that one co-worker hates you is because you borrowed her favorite pencil and never returned it. Maybe the reason you felt ostracized by your peers in high school was because your shyness translated to a holier-than-thou attitude when strangers first met you. Is it right? No. But it’s a reason. And it has to do with you.
So, perhaps the biggest question from Doctor Who‘s Season 9 premiere shouldn’t be things like, “Will Clara survive?” or “What is Moffat doing?” Instead, perhaps the purpose of “The Magician’s Apprentice” is for you to question your own life and choices. Maybe I’m reading too much into it. But it’s worth considering. After all: Is a borrowed pencil worth becoming lifelong enemies with someone who has Dalek-level power?
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