Doctor Who – The Girl Who Died / The Woman Who Lived

While I’m not planning to go into a lot of plot details, it’s likely that the random mutterings that follow will reveal some things you might prefer not to know if you haven’t seen the episodes yet, so in my usual way, I’ll include this warning:

Here be spoilers!

Now that was interesting. Two episodes by different writers, but with titles implying a link. Not billed as a two-parter, but as it was widely known that Maisie Williams would be in both, there had to be a deep connection of some kind. And so there was.

The Girl Who Died was pretty much a normal 12th Doctor and Clara adventure. Indeed, it could have worked in much the same way for the previous Doctor and quite a few others. The Doctor and Clara arrive somewhere, get into trouble with a load of Vikings just in time to deal with some nasty aliens doing the old “pose as local gods” routine and have to sort it all out. But as they’ve been separated from the Tardis, and much to the relief of a vociferous subset of viewers, the Sonic Shades have been broken, this is a bit of a challenge. It’s made even more of a challenge when one of the locals, Ashildir, a young woman with a very powerful imagination challenges the invading Mire to a battle. This is a wee bit impetuous, what with all of their actual warriors having been killed off already. So the Doctor comes up with a Cunning Plan, which deals with the Mire quite nicely, but has fatal consequences for Ashildir.

So far, so normal. But it’s at this point that the Doctor finally works out why he regenerated with the face of a Roman he’d saved from Pompeii – it was to remind himself that sometimes the rules have to be ignored. You may not be able to save everyone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t save someone.

I’m the Doctor, and I save people!

Which, it has to be said, is a lot less scary than an earlier incarnation’s rant about the Laws of TIme being his and subject to his will. But it has consequences, just the same.

Using a bit of borrowed Mire technology, the Doctor restores Ashildir to life, which seems like a good enough thing to do, except there’s a bit of a catch. What with it being quite advanced technology, it may well have made her essentially immortal. And if you think that’s not so bad, the Doctor has a thought on the subject:

Immortality isn’t living forever. It’s everyone else dying.

Which is a suitably chilling thought to end on. No cliffhanger as such, so you could think of it as a single episode, but in The Woman who Lived, the Doctor is faced with the consequences of his actions, so perhaps it’s a sequel rather than a continuation. Or maybe we no longer know what a two-parter really is, curse you Moffat!!!

Anyway, travelling alone to Cromwellian England in search of an alien artefact, the Doctor interrupts a highwayman in mid robbery, only to discover that he is in fact her. Hundreds of years have passed and Ashildir now calls herself Me. Because there’s nobody else, they all died. The years haven’t been altogether kind and she’s become ruthless. The Doctor asks what happened to her

You did, Doctor

Which gives hime one of those periodic shocks he needs to keep him as grounded as he’ll ever be. There’s more to the story, with a bit of comedy, a duplicitous alien threat, and all that kind of thing, but that’s all subsidiary to the real meat of the story – the Doctor changing people’s lives and running away before he has to face the consequences. Only this time, there will be consequences – Ashildir/Me is determined to watch over those affected by the Doctor. Including, it would seem, Clara…

Maisie Williams was quite bloody brilliant in her dual role as the same person, and having set her up for further appearances, it would be a great shame if we don’t see her again. There is the usual speculation that she’ll be the new companion, but who knows? Well, Mr Moffat no doubt does, but he’s not telling.

Next up, we’ve got more fun with those pesky Zygons and the return (or is it?) of Osgood, last seen being vaporised (or was she?) by Missy. Unless it was her Zygon copy who was on duty that day, of course.

I’m having loads of fun with this series so far – Peter Capaldi seems to have settled into the part and shows every sign of having the time of his life. Especially with the guitar…