Do I really have to remind you that there are spoilers coming? There are spoilers coming.
I like the whole thing when they start an episode right at the end of a previous adventure, but I’m always curious of what happened there. I guess the idea has always been to portray there are more adventures than we have time to follow. Still, after averting and solving another crisis Clara and the Doctor emerge from the TARDIS in the middle of a forest to be captured by vikings. The Doctor warns them, he’s not in the humour for vikings. Too bad, vikings it is. Oh, and the sonic glasses are broken. Welcome to Doctor Who 9×05: The girl who died.
As the Doctor weakly attempts to impersonate Odin, the real fake Odin appears to take the most fearsome warriors to Valhalla. And after facing some armored forces that scan and detect who should be collected, they’re teleported off. So are Clara and a young girl named Ashildr (Maisie Williams!). Once onboard, they discover the warriors are collected for their testosterone by the Mire. The testosterone apparently makes the lead Mire leader’s brew of choice.
Props to Clara as almost swindles him into leaving Earth. Ashildr… ok, I can’t keep typing that name, let’s call her Ash. All in favor? None opposed? Ash it is! Anyways, our girl Ash convinces him that the small viking town would rather fight to the death. This seems more to their liking so they transport them back to convey the message. The town will be attacked in a day’s time.
Of course, the Doctor advices running. That is turned down, so eventually the Doctor agrees to train the sorry lot which manages to be untrainable. In one of the most honest speeches, Clara tells him to forget the training and concentrate on finding on that thing he needs to win which he always misses right up to the last minute. The town collects eels in barrels, which the Doctor only discovers because of a crying baby. Yes, they went with that Doctor-speaks-baby thing. To be honest I found it tacky until the Doctor’s translation got a bit serious.
Since Ash seems like a born storyteller, the Doctor makes her central to the plan. While the electric eels are used to disrupt the armor of the Mire, the Doctor manages to grab hold of one helmet and put it on Ash. She immediately fools the Mire projecting a giant serpent (not the best CGI but let’s go with it) to what is essentially a scary model. The forces run away in fright, with the Doctor putting the nail on the coffin as he threatens the leader to upload the shameful video to some sort of galactic YouTube.
This gives the other side of the episode which is less generic. The helmet’s feedback has killed Ash. As the town mourns, the Doctor has a bit of a crisis. Then he remembers why he put on this face. He remembers the old episode from The Fires of Pompeii where the Doctor saved a Roman merchant and his family. Back then, David Tennant was the Doctor and Peter Capaldi was the Roman. The idea is that the Doctor decided to use that face to remind himself that everyone can be saved.
The way that he saves her is to adapt a Mire health kit to human standards. He knows that will work out too well, making Ashildr immortal. So he also leaves another for her so she will be able to give it to someone she deems worthy of saving. But has he created something that he will regret in the future? Is Ashildr really meant to become “the Hybrid” of two races?
Ok episode, with some things more enduring than others. The whole save-the-village has been done enough. The explanation of the Doctor’s new face was long overdue, and it did work for me. You know that with Maisie involved, it will no doubt have some transcendence. And you know this is just the first part.
- The sonic glasses are broken. Something tells me they’re not coming back. The Doctor partially managed to make them work, but I do expect a new sonic coming soon.
- Maisie Williams did a great job playing Ashildr and you know this is not the end of it. The ending scene in which she goes from innocent idealist to jaded illustrates her passage through time. And yes, you can tell she’s the proverbial Girl Who Died from the title.
- I didn’t like the whole accidental dead-by-helmet plot device for Ash. A much better way would’ve been that the Doctor warn her that the helmet would kill her and she’d accepted that in exchange for saving her town. Same death, better explanation, but they didn’t go that way.
- I did like the explanation for the Doctor having Capaldi’s face. A reminder that anybody can be saved.
- Clara was the Doctor for a moment again, as she almost convince the Mire of leaving. We’re going to miss Jenna Coleman doing that.
- The Doctor not wanting to learn any names and nicknaming everyone. Callous, but you know that’s what he would do.
- The whole save-the-village plot has been done to death. I wasn’t invested fully in it, but that’s just a backdrop for a bigger story.
That will do for now.