To make matters worse, the episode falls foul of the two most common stumbling blocks for Doctor Who writers: maintaining the balance between the Doctor and his companion, and making sure the stakes feel believably high.
"Magician's Apprentice" is a confident hour of television... and it proves once again that Moffat is great at situating a bold new Doctor Who direction within the half-century mythology of Doctor Whos past.
The Magician's Apprentice was not perfect, but its strengths outweighed its weaknesses, and in leaving us with the image of our non-violent, absolutely moral protagonist pointing a Dalek exterminator at a small child, it made for compelling television.
Mad, funny, creepy, original and dramatic, 'The Magician's Apprentice' is a bold, mostly successful attempt to be all of Doctor Who, all at once, in just 46 short minutes. Its execution isn't faultless, but you certainly can't fault its massive ambition.
Is the Doctor capable of killing a child, even if doing so could save millions of lives?...With Clara's very existence in peril, Peter Capaldi's Doctor tonight at least appears to have reached a decisive conclusion to the age-old debate: "Exterminate."
"The Magician's Apprentice" begins the second season for Peter Capaldi's Doctor with a swaggering production whose confidence is quite remarkable... The opening hook is one of the most impressive the series has ever produced.