Doctor Who – Series 9, Episode 6: “The Woman Who Lived”

  • As we open, we already know the highwayman is Ashildr of course, and we’re just left wondering why she has a man’s voice. She has a great attitude in this scene though, and even her dialogue in the Knightmare voice is the kind of thing that seems right coming out of Maisie Williams’ mouth – though the rest of the episode gives a whole new perspective on it.
  • I was hoping we’d have Maisie Williams in the opening credits instead of Jenna Coleman, since we’ve already been told that Clara won’t be around for this adventure.
  • For the first 10-15 minutes of this episode, I was just enthralled with what how the character of Ashildr – or rather, Me, as she is in the end credits – had been handled. First there’s the affect that such a long life has had on her memory, which is interesting and believable on its own – but we also see how disturbingly at peace Me is with it. Through the exposition scene, she recalls things in a very matter-of-fact way (“I’ve saved people too”) – and we know it’s real because when she goes to Leandro in the garden, she talks to him in the same way. She’s grown beyond feeling anything, the person she used to be left behind in her journals. The part where the Doctor is reading those journals was among the most emotional moments I’ve experienced watching this show. The acting and writing make this a fantastic character, and it doesn’t hurt that Peter and Maisie play off each other really well.
  • Not about Me saying that she ended the Hundred Years War since that didn’t end with Agincourt. Maybe that’s her faulty memory again, or maybe she didn’t actually mean Agincourt then – she decided to see what fighting for the French was like.
  • Me spends most of the burglary in the Knightmare persona, as if it’s a reflex to do so – but when the Doctor gets personal, she goes back to the blank slate she really is. And then later, we get the other persona of Lady Me to go with it. She adopts these personas quite easily but they’re clearly artificial.
  • The comedic scenes, both during the burglary and with Sam Swift in the woods, feel out of place considering how serious the episode has been up to this point.
  • As the episode continues, we see Me getting pushed into genuine emotion – which is probably unpleasant for her – and continuing to raise interesting concepts like how she has come to see life as boring, and how she can’t enjoy immortality because she’s trapped in one place, unlike the Doctor.
  • Me has been so well handled that it’s detrimental to Leandro, who seems boring and inconsequential by comparison – at least until we get the twist where he betrays her.
    Now we get Me acting genuinely shocked when she feels empathy for the first time in forever. The way she smiles when Sam Swift shouts “I’m alive!” – she understands the value of life again.
  • After the Doctor explaining his views on the ‘mayflies’, the episode had to end on a soft moment between him and Clara.

This episode was all about Maisie Williams – she’s given such great material to work with, and she handles it perfectly. The whole thing feels like a character study of what an immortal human might really turn out like. Part of me wants to see Me again – and part of me doesn’t want to risk spoiling what we got in this episode. Rating: 4.5/5.

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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