Doctor Who – Series 9, Episode 5: “The Girl Who Died”

  • The dramatic already-in-the-adventure beginning may not have occurred with every Moffat episode, but certainly enough for us to be adjusted to it – and the Doctor and Clara’s casual treatment of it afterwards feels typical as well.
  • So the theme for this episode is why the Doctor, when saving the day, only does so much – interesting thing to explore. And it proves that way: having discussed it in other contexts before, the Doctor reminds us that he is a Time Lord and is thus required to look at the big picture.
  • Plenty of fans were excited about Maisie Williams being in this series (if I ever met her in real life, I fear I’d annoy her by accidentally calling her Arya all the time), and she fits in very well. Ashildr is certainly a compelling character: you can tell a lot about her just from her first few lines – she’s a worrier, but she still has a light-hearted side. And later, we see her innocence in how she makes up stories. Aside from her medieval appearance and a reference to girls thinking she was a boy, she’s a very different character from Arya Stark, so Williams is free to show off her acting range.
  • At this point, it’s actually quite surprising for the bad guy to reveal themselves and their motivations so early in the episode.
  • Training the villagers – not the most original of concepts.
  • Our two main characters remain consistent: the Doctor and Clara have their usual chemistry, Clara has her usual faith in the Doctor, and Twelve has his usual brutal honesty.
  • Electric eels? In Europe? Presumably these are just the generic fantasy electric eels that already had roles in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
  • I like the means by which the villains are ultimately defeated – it may not be entirely plausible, but it solves the whole ‘coming back’ problem, and it’s pretty hilarious too. It’s so funny, in fact, that the subsequent mood whiplash is practically to be expected, given there’s still 10 minutes to go.
  • The Doctor has lost plenty of people before without reacting as strongly as this – maybe he just reaches breaking point after a certain number.
  • The concept of the Doctor’s face being identical to Capaldi’s character in The Fires of Pompeii may come back a bit randomly, but it’s still handled brilliantly. It’s hardly likely that Capaldi was chosen for the role just for that callback, so the writers just had to work with what they had – and they gave us an explanation which is both acceptable and ties in very well with the episode’s story and theme.
  • If it’s possible to use a kind of technology to make yourself immortal, shouldn’t more people in the universe do it? It’s not like Captain Jack, who became immortal under unique circumstances which would be very difficult to repeat.
  • That final scene of Ashildr’s expression gradually changing as the years go by is really good – more brilliant acting from Maisie.
  • This may be a two-parter, but unlike the other ones we’ve seen so far this season (and indeed, most others in any season), it seems to be designed to work as a single episode, aside from the twist with Ashildr at the end.

Another fun adventure which stands well on its own, as well as promising cool things for the next episode. This has been a very strong season so far. Rating: 4/5.

About R.J. Southworth

Hi there. I've been blogging since January 2014, and I like to talk about all sorts of things: book reviews, film reviews, writing, science, history, or sometimes just sharing miscellaneous thoughts. Thanks for visiting my blog, and I hope you find something that interests you!
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