I didn’t get around to reviewing last week’s episode The Girl Who Died so I’m going to do both parts of the story now.
Actually I found last week’s instalment, The Girl Who Died, a fairly slight but still agreeable story. Basically some aliens called the Mire are attacking a Viking village. The Doctor has to help save them in a Magnificent Seven kind of way. He gets help from a young girl called Ashildr who is played by Maisie Williams, who of course is well known for playing Arya on Game of Thrones.
Long story short, she dies. The Doctor initially is going to let her die but then there’s An Important Flashback to the Pompeii episode from the Tenth Doctors time. In that episode Capaldi played the father of the Roman family that Donna convinces the Tenth Doctor to save. So apparently that is the reason for the Twelfth Doctor choosing the Capaldi face.
Remembering this he resolves to save Ashildr by using some alien medical technology from a Mire helmet. This saves the girl but later the Doctor confesses to Clara that Ashildr will be pretty much immortal now as the alien technology will keep repairing her.
So overall it was an entertaining episode with the added bonus of seeing why the Doctor chose the face. But it’s pretty much just a set up for the second part of the story, The Woman Who Lived.
Here the Doctor arrives in the seventeenth century and encounters Ashildr again, only now she is a highwayman and goes by the name “Me”. She says she can hardly remember being Ashildr as she has lived so long. Indeed she has a library full of diaries which are her “memories”. Some have pages ripped out and says they are too painful to “remember”. She tries to convince the Doctor to take her with him on his travels but he refuses.
Much of the story deals with Ashildr and the Doctor trying to retrieve an amulet of alien origin but it’s really just a backdrop for them to discuss immortality. Ashildr seems dismissive of ordinary humans as their mayfly lifespans make them little more than smoke to her. The doctor has to try to convince her otherwise. So it’s an interesting dynamic to have with the Doctor talking to someone much like himself for once.
One of my favourite scenes had Rufus Hound as a rival highwayman Sam Swift who is about to be hanged. He’s practicing some (literally) gallows humour to keep the crowd entertained in order to delay the inevitable moment of his execution. The doctor is trying to save Sam’s life as well so there’s an impromptu double-act even down to some doctor-doctor jokes. Capaldi makes the unlikely premise work.
At the climax of the episode there’s some guff about the alien amulet opening a portal to another world to allow some lion aliens to attack. This eventually makes Ashildr realise that she cares for mere mortals after all.
Later she and the Doctor talk some more and he says he can’t take her with him as they both need the company of ordinary people to makes them appreciate life. Ashildr promises to keep an eye on the Doctor throughout history. He’s not quite sure if it’s a threat or not.
Later the Doctor is back in the Tardis and Clara arrives. She shows him a photo of herself with a pupil. The Doctor notices a contemporary Ashildr in the background looking into the camera. Apparently she has been keeping her promise to keep her eye on the Doctor.
So overall I quite enjoyed these two episodes. Some of the Doctor/Ashildr dialog was very good. And Capaldi is on top form.
Plus no Missy.