"Listen, 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 Doctor (Tom Baker)
This question, first asked by Tom Baker's Doctor in 1975 is at the core of the series 9 opener. The Doctor finds himself face to face with a young Davros ans is presented with a choice. He can either save the child begging for help or let him die, saving countless other lives in the process. When we put aside all talk of time travel paradoxes, reapers or all of time happening at once the problem becomes both very simple and infinitely complex. Is it morally correct to kill one in order to save trillions? If a good person becomes evil does that cancel out any value in there life from the beginning? Can one man be allowed to decide the fate of the universe? Regardless of moral rightness could the Doctor ever bring himself to murder a child?
Let's not pretend that anyone actually thought a Moffat series opener was going to be all doom and gloom. That's just not how the Moff rolls. After Missy (who naturally isn't dead) uses Clara to locate just where the Doctor is in time and space she zaps them both there via a vortex manipulator "cheap and dirty time travel." They find themselves at in England in the early renaissance at a party thrown by none other than the Doctor himself. The Doctor rides in on a tank playing guitar. This is both very out of character for the Capaldi's Doctor and exactly the sort of thing you'd expect the Doctor to do. The Doctor has not made an entrance so perfect and surprising since the incident at Rory's bachelor party.
The rest of the episode is not a rock and roll love fest. A strange new enemy known as colony Sarff shows up and forces the Doctor to go with him to see Davros the creator of the daleks. Neither Miss or Clara can leave well enough alone and let the Doctor sort things out for himself so they force Sarff to take them too. This so does not get both of them exterminated later on. Soon they find themselves inside what appears to be a space station/hospital. This is where Davros is residing as he prepares for death. Little do our heroes (and Missy) know but the "space station" is actually a building on a planet which has somehow been made invisible. The planet in question is Skaro which somehow still exists after being completely destroyed on multiple occasions. Soon after this revelation comes the sudden deaths via daleks of Clara and Missy.
This prompts the Doctor to go back in time to when he encountered the young Davros and apparently shoot him with a dalek gun. The credits start rolling before anything actually happens so I think it would be a safe bet to say that's not what actually happens. Still you'll have to tune in next week to find out. Also you could just start a tumblr or talk to your unpopular friends.
This episode is jam packed with fun and exciting bits and pieces. The following is a brief list of highlights.
1. Colony Sarff
This character is creepy in all the right ways. Not only does he feel menacing and evil but he is literally just a bunch of snakes in a cloak. I'm not even particularly afraid of snakes and he gives me goosebumps.
2. Davros's Return
This character hasn't made an appearance since the series 4 finale "Journey's End." Davros is the kaled creator of the daleks and a Hitler stand-in if I've ever seen one. Julian Bleach plays him with the kind of macabre edge that makes you feel as if he is right there in the room with you. He's every unpleasant old person who has ever made you feel small. He's a reflection of human evil in a much more direct way than any of his creations.
3. The Shadow Proclamation
This intergalactic governing body has much like Davros not made a proper appearance since David Tennant's era, While the role they played in this episode was minimal it's always nice to see a reference to the past used to further the plot.
4. The Sisterhood of Karn
This return will quite possibly be the one that most strongly effects the series going forward. The sisterhood are Time Lords (Time Ladies). This means that the Doctor and Missy are definitely no longer the last Time Lords in the universe. It should also be mentioned that the sisterhood helped the eighth Doctor regenerate into the war Doctor making the organization especially significant.
5. Hand mines
I couldn't possibly make a list of highlights from this episode without including the hand mines. They're hands that reach out from the dirt and pull people under. While the germ of the idea may have simply come from a clever play on words the hand mines are genuinely scary and an interesting piece of battlefield biotech, It's a shame we didn't see any of them in "Genesis of the Daleks"
In conclusion the series 9 opener is a scary and exciting romp with a good bit of heart. It's high quality Who which allows Capaldi's Doctor to really shine. Considering everything I'd give it a rating of 8.5/10. Make sure to tune in tomorrow/later today for the conclusion of this two part series opener. I should have a second review up in the near future. Bye! Avoid sudden death.