Spoilers For “The Magician's Apprentice” are in play, so tread lightly... unless you're into that sorta thing.
According to popular lore (and Craig Ferguson) Doctor Who is a show about a man who values “intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism.” For the most part, this is true; however, every now and then there are times that try The Doctor's patience to the limit. The end of “The Magician's Apprentice” - Season 9's big premiere episode – pushed him to the greatest limit he's ever faced, and the question has now been asked: could The Doctor ever kill anyone, especially a child – even if it was Davros himself?
That very question is the scenario that “The Magician's Apprentice” opens up with, as The Doctor is seen to be attempting a rescue of a child. But not just any child: Davros, in his human form, before his creation of The Daleks. It's this action that sends The Doctor into hiding, and ultimately draws Missy and Clara to his side. The only problem is, they were merely pawns in Davros' evil plan – as the Daleks have allegedly exterminated them, and Davros – on his death bed – is planning on going out with The Doctor turning his back on compassion, and giving into a much darker side of himself.
This exact question links directly back to The Doctor's past, as we're reminded by the clip show Davros provided of The Doctor's many faces. In particular, he uses The Fourth Doctor's moral quandary brought up in Genesis Of The Daleks, as seen below:
Of course, this is probably just a good week's cliffhanger, designed to keep fans talking. We've seen it before with the Tenth Doctor regenerating in “Journey's End” and the Eleventh Doctor being sealed away in The Pandorica at the end of “The Pandorica Opens.” Now, the Twelfth Doctor has taken his place in the cliffhanger hall of fame. So does The Doctor pull the trigger, or does he kill his enemy with kindness? For my money, Davros isn't going anywhere next week. At least, he isn't going to be gunned down by The Doctor, because while The Doctor has been pushed to the brink many times before, I just don't think he has it in him to kill a child, or anyone really, as a conscious and intentional action.
Seeing as “The Magician's Apprentice” is the first two-parter in Season 9, we'll probably see in the first couple of minutes whether The Doctor pulls the trigger and wipes the Daleks clean out of the universe, or if he decides that even he isn't hardcore enough to murder an innocent child. If this encounter results in the same results as the other encounters where The Doctor has had the chance to exterminate The Daleks, he'll think better of himself and walk away. But we don't watch Doctor Who because they always do the “safe” thing, so perhaps next week will surprise us all even further. Next week, The Doctor returns in “The Witch's Familiar”; and we wouldn't miss it for anything.
You can catch new episodes of Doctor Who on Saturdays at 9 p.m. ET on BBC America.