I’ve come to almost fear two-episode story arcs on television for the simple reason that the concluding episode is almost always disappointing. Having compared “The Magician’s Apprentice” to the Season 6 premiere “The Impossible Astronaut”, I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that the last time a concluding episode delivered relative to the first on Doctor Who, in my opinion was “The Impossible Astronaut”/”Day of the Moon,” the latter episode being every bit as engaging and satisfying as the first installment, if not even more so. While I wouldn’t go that far in describing “The Witch’s Familiar” (or “The Magician’s Apprentice,” for that matter), I was certainly pleasantly surprised by how no momentum was lost between the first two episodes of this season. Indeed, “Familiar” possessed several qualities and raised several questions that the previous episode did.
“The Magician’s Apprentice” relates to “Deep Breath,” Peter Capaldi’s introductory episode as the Twelth Doctor in a simalar way to how the Eleveth Doctor’s second season premiere “The Impossible Astronaut” relates to Matt Smith’s debut episode “The End of Time.” In both cases, Steven Moffat uses the episode introducing the new Doctors is a classic Doctor Who one-off episode establishing the new Doctor and his relationship to his companions while using the following season’s premiere episode to tell a sprawling, complicated, and complex narrative that will theoretically make more sense by the time the entire season unfolds. I don’t mean this derisively at all; I trust Steven Moffat as a storyteller and as a showrunner, and I’m encouraged by the connection between “The Magician’s Apprentice” and ‘The Impossible Astronaut’ because Season 6, the season that ‘Astronaut’ kicked off, is my favorite season of the series so far. Continue reading