Doctor Who - Series 9, Episode 6


Or: How Reece Morris-Jones has to defend himself because he liked an episode the internet hated with The Woman Who Lived...

You know how I've treated the past two episodes? As somewhat silly episodes trying to couch crunchy complex ideas inside a gooey outer layer of comedy. Someone has been trying to stuff nuts in my marshmallows again!

I think it's the massive tonal shifts that have thrown everyone about this episode, which follows of from last week's The Girl Who Died. The Doctor comes across Ashildr hundreds of years years later in the 17th century, who now has forgotten her past names and simply refers to herself as 'Me'. As the Doctor tries to track down an alien artefact with Ashildr's help, other plans are in motion and it seems his temporary companion may not be all she seems...

First up, those tonal shifts. Maisie Williams sells the hell out of the scenes given to her that let her stretch her dramatic range, though she does look a little silly trying to pose as a lady and highwayman when all of the other actors in the show are at least half a foot taller. It's those scenes, which cover what it's like to be an immortal only able to travel through time in a linear path, that are the most compelling. Williams gets the characterisation just right, so we empathise with her situation, even as we see her commit horrible acts, and her scenes with the Doctor are by far the highlight of the episode.

The episode does add some levity to what would be otherwise an very morose 45 mins by adding in some scenes with Rufus Hound playing Sam the Swift that are broad comedy. They don't quite work, especially when you add a sudden world ending threat that gets wrapped up in about 30 seconds, but Rufus Hound is funny and his scenes are actually quite funny as he spars with the Doctor to save himself from the his death.

What doesn't work is how flimsy the plotting is – it may as well not exists. To be honest, I could have done without the flame breathing Lion-man with his plot to take over the world...somehow? Had more time be spent instead on covering the key themes of the issue it probably would have been a better use of the episode's running time.

Overall as a throwaway episode it was light and forgettable. Not the greatest, not the worst and at least we have the promise of more Maisie Williams.

Image - BBC