Doctor Who Recap: Whose Line Is 'Exterminate!' Anyway?

You never expect to see Doctor Who‘s titular protagonist pointing anything more powerful than a souped-up screwdriver at his enemies.

Which made the final seconds of the show’s Season 9 premiere all the more startling.

Sure, The Doctor was making a last-ditch effort to save his BFF — sorry, Missy, not you, gurl! — and rid the world of a truly evil power in the process, but you’ll have to forgive me if I wait until next Saturday’s installment before I vote to indict our fearless Time Lord on charges of murdering an adorable, very frightened moppet.

I am, however, willing to declare The Doctor guilty of giving me flashbacks to my one visit to Medieval Times back in the mid-’90s. (I’d reach the same verdict regarding Missy’s Bitchery in the First Degree, but she doesn’t really need the encouragement.)

With that said, let’s recap the action from “The Magician’s Apprentice” in five pithy bullet points:

* The hour opens with The Doctor encountering a boy stuck in a horrifying field of “Hand Mines” — five fingers surrounding a horrible eye that reach up and pull their victims beneath the surface — and shoring him up with the instruction, “Tell me the name of the boy who isn’t going to die today!” But when he learns that name is Davros — his mortal enemy from the future (AKA leader of the Daleks) — he flees the scene, leaving the child weeping in terror.

jb_DW9_1477* Many many many years later, a hooded minion — whom we later learn is made almost entirely of snakes — comes looking for The Doctor, with the news that not only is Davros dying but he “remembers.” This prompts our protagonist to send to Missy his will — a metallic sphere that can only be opened upon his death — and leads to a deliciously twisted tea party between the sociopathic (and somehow not dead) villainess and the Doctor’s current companion Clara. (Best line of the hour: Missy to Clara, as an in-love duo walks past with their dog on a leash — “See that couple over there? You’re the puppy!”) But they wind up tracking their Time Lord pal to a medieval court, where The Doctor is amusing himself with futuristic literal-isms like playing wicked guitar solos as part of an “axe fight.” To be honest, the attempts at comic relief in these scenes are laid on heavier than mascara on a Kardashian, but it all ends with the arrival of Davros’ messenger — and Clara’s shocked realization that her buddy’s face is registering (perhaps for the first time?) shame.

* SnakeFace McGillicuddy transports the Doctor, Clara and Missy to what appears to be an ICU unit of a spaceship where Davros lays dying — but it turns out, it’s just a building on Skaro, home planet of the Daleks. The Doctor winds up posing a vital question: How scared do you have to be to seal your people inside tanks? But the answer is a brutal one — as scared as a child abandoned to die in one of the worst places in the known universe.

* Turns out, Davros’ plan is to kill Clara and Missy, kill The Doctor, and destroy the Tardis (which has been procured by those good medieval folks, or rather, Daleks in disguise). When Clara declares the Blue Phone Box-shaped time machine is indestructible, she gets a valuable pearl of wisdom from Missy: “Did The Doctor tell you that? Because you should never believe a man about his vehicle.” Before long — and much to The Doctor’s horror — the Daleks zap Missy, and then a frightened Clara (her sprint to save herself dubbed “life at its purest,” by Davros) — into oblivion. “Compassion, Doctor, it has always been your greatest indulgence,” hisses Davros, victorious at last.

Doctor Who Season 9 Premiere* Or is he? In the final moments of the episode, The Doctor returns to that damnable Hand Mine field, where young Davros is still crying for help. “I’m from the future,” says The Doctor, who then lifts his weapon and points it at the sweet-faced little fella. “I’m gonna save my friend the only way I can: Exterminate!” It’s a doozy of a denouement – putting the Dalek’s battle cry that we’ve heard hundreds of times now into the mouth of the man who is forever trying to stop them, without succumbing to their ways. Surely, next Saturday’s hour, “The Witch’s Familiar,” will un-kill Clara and Missy, and reveal a hitch in The Doctor’s plan that doesn’t involve actually pulling the trigger, but until then, it’ll be a tense seven days of waiting.

What did you think of the Doctor Who Season 9 premiere? Take our poll below, then sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. DarkDefender says:

    So many call backs and tie-ins to previous series and storylines and WOW. If this is just the tip of the iceberg with respect to Series 9, well.. we are in for one crazy ride. I can’t even begin…. I.Am.Speechless.

  2. Bender says:

    If that’s the season premiere, then what does the season finale have in store

  3. technotreegrass says:

    Oh the emotional roller coaster this episode put me through. Elation at seeing all my favorite villains, Kate Leftbridge-Stewart, (R.I.P. Sciencey ;_;), the epic tank scene, and then my nightmare fuel for the next week in the final scene. Didn’t even flinch when Clara bit the dust after all her false goodbyes last year. That would be a fitting way for her to go through, since we met her as a Dalek.

  4. jrex says:

    Fun twists on the relationships with Missy and Davros as well as Clara, but the cliff-hangers were over the top.

  5. Annie says:

    This was a great episode. Much better than anything that happened last season. I love the callbacks, especially since Genesis of the Daleks is my favorite story in the history of Doctor Who. I love the questions that were raised during that series, and the Doctor’s reasons for not destroying the Daleks.

  6. Tom says:

    It’s definitely going to be interesting to see what happens next. This is Moffatt in top form from the days of Blink and The Girl in the Fireplace. And can we all agree the hand mines are way creepier than the Weeping Angels? Same for the dude made of Snakes *shudders*

  7. A great cliffhanger ending. After a while, I realized something. Of course he’s not going to kill a kid, even if he’s Space Hitler and is responsible for billions of deaths. I seriously doubt they’re going to bring back Nine’s silly evil time enforcer pterodactyls, so he’s probably going to shoot all the hand mines with his egg beater rifle and try to instill morals in the boy by spending time with him. Somehow, it won’t change anything except for Missy and Clara being spared.

  8. Bark Star says:

    I really hope Moffat can undo all the damage he has done over the years but I doubt it. One bird doesnt make a summer.

  9. I loved the premiere. I was laughing hard at the Doctor playing guitar. Loved the callbacks to earlier eps. Can’t wait for next week’s episode.

  10. Eva says:

    After another copy of weeping angels in the opening scene, and another scene where everyone around her is dumbed down just to make Clara look like a genius, I thought her conversation with Missy was a sign of the episode getting good. But during the idiotic medieval scene I just had to turn it off. I know, I know, I’m the only person who hates Moffat’s brilliant ideas… but while RTD’s Doctor was fun and eccentric, Moffat’s Doc just seems mentally unstable. Just like his storylines. And not in a fun way. Have fun, you guys, I’m gonna sit quietly and wait for another showrunner.

    • TrudiV says:

      Agree with you. I am tired of the Daleks who are wiped out and totally destroyed in every season – yet they are not.

      I am still waiting for an explanation of Danny and Clara’s great grand progeny that she and the Doctor met at the end of the universe yet Danny is dead.

      This episode was meh for me.

    • owenherbert says:


  11. LEP says:

    My observation: there is always more going on than we know. Like any good magic trick, misdirection is key. The Doctor has proven time and again to be a fine magician.

    • LEP says:

      Also, news of Jenna Oldman leaving the series this week was also a magic trick made to make us think this is the point where Clara leaves the series. While I’m sure she’s leaving and has indeed filmed her last scenes, I seriously doubt this is her end. They are usually much more emotional goodbyes. Another misdirection by our producers of Doctor Who.

      And finally, those hands were indeed quick creepy.

  12. Matt says:

    Please reconsider your practice of spoiling episodes just for a cheap click on your web site. Case in point “Doctor Who Kills Davros Boy Dalek.” I was looking to watch the episode not be told about it from a site I never visit. Rosebud is the sled. How do you like it?

  13. The Watcher says:

    I found I was able to feel the story unravel rather well anticipating the boy being Davros and the planet being Skaro though I felt the realisation to be more excitement than disappointment. Looping back to that moment in Genesis was fantasic actually putting the moment into the Doctor’s path and making him actually answer that question: Would you kill that child? Who actually created Davros?

    Admittedly the new city represented a lot of what The Dead Planet depicted (except the petrified forests of course but it was a recreation, not the actual planet right?) The opening scene capturing the first scenes of Genesis of the Daleks. Even the architecture of the Kaled (yes the city was originally built by the native Kaled race later overcome by the Thals) buildings were clean and alien yet as it was remembered from the moment we first saw the planet Skaro.

    We’ve seen the Doctor in his “crisis mode” with The End of Time so this should not be a surprise to have more twisted version this time around. His relationship with Missy and Clara expertly depicted by Missy’s quote of the couple and the dog.

    This is a cathexis, a predisposition, we know that it’s the alternative to what is to build out the season and perhaps restore it? All in all it managed to capture nearly 50 years of canon and set it on course to all that we’ve already known.

  14. Ed says:

    this is a nice “hook” episode…how many Moffet 2nd episode in a season (or 2-parter) have been let downs? almost all of them

  15. Maggie Symes says:

    What on earth has happened to the sound quality on the new series of Dr who series 9? So much background noise and quiet dialogue from the actors that it completely spoilt my viewing. I’ve tried twice to watch it but still can’t hear all of what is being said. Is it my TV set – which isn’t an old one by the way – and should I call in an engineer, or is it some new sound whizz kid at the BBC with fancy ideas on new background atmospheric noise. What a dreadful disappointment!

    • Skyler says:

      I think you might just have a hearing problem… it sounded fine to me. Seriously, the sound was fine. Maybe try subtitles?

      • Fred says:

        No – the sound quality is appalling. Background music track far too loud and drowning out dialogue. Atmospheric music effects are supposed to be just that – should not be anywhere near as noticeable as in the first two episodes. I’m fed up of rewinding to follow the plot / pick up the speedy witty exchanges.

        • Michelle Beck says:

          I’m having a similar issue. I can hear other shows just fine but the music is drowning out the dialogue for me on Doctor Who only. This doesn’t happen with any other show or even in the clips for the show during the interviews.
          I am desperate to fix it because I’m missing a lot of the episodes just because of sound.

  16. lrdslvrhnd says:

    All I can say is, I would not have done well in the days of the serial. Not well at all.
    (And no, I’m not NewWhovian, I just didn’t discover the show until I caught it on PBS in college 5 years after its cancellation. Sarah Jane is still my Companion, but Four has had some serious competition from Ten for the title of my Doctor for a few years now *g* )

  17. Skyler says:

    The hitch is clear already. How could the Doctor kill someone who created the device he intends to kill said someone with. Its a paradox. The Doctor may pull the trigger, but once Davros is dead, then there is no way the Daleks would be created therefore leaving The Doctor without a trigger to pull. Its time travel 101.

  18. The only thing that annoys me about time-travel stories is the idea that “If we can change the past, we’ll make a better future.” Just once, I’d like to see the opposite: the Doctor changing the past only to give birth to something worse than Daleks.

  19. JeffDJ says:

    As a big fan of Julian Bleach’s performance as Davros at the end of Series 4, and of the updated make-up for him, I was very pleased that Moffat chose to bring both back here. It was also cool to see Ohila on Karn again, last seen in the 8th Doctor’s mini episode “The Night of the Doctor” a couple of years ago. I did think the Doctor’s rock star schtick was ridiculous and went on far too long, but otherwise a pretty good start to the new season.