Doctor Who Review by John Keegan

Doctor Who 9.06: The Woman Who Lived

Doctor Who 9.06: The Woman Who Lived

Written By:
Catherine Tregenna
Directed By:
Ed Bazalgette


I wasn’t expecting this to be an episode without Clara, but I can’t exactly say that it was a problem.  Ashildr is a fun character to explore, especially considering that it strikes directly at the question of The Doctor’s consequence management (or lack thereof).  Oh, and also what he can be like when he’s on his own, without a companion, which is perhaps a kind of foreshadowing all its own. 





The theme in this episode is once again the terrible loneliness of immortality, even if one of the not-so-minor plot points is that Ashildr has never used the means that The Doctor left her to deal with that particular problem.  It’s actually the point; just like The Doctor tends to get when he’s on his own for too long, Ashildr has turned bitter and aggressive.  Who was there to be Ashildr’s conscience?


Ashildr came to the conclusion a lot of people would probably arrive at: there was no one worthy, in her mind, of sharing an immortal existence at her side.  And let’s face it, that’s a valid point, or she would have no doubt had a string of companions herself.  She chose to stay alone, and that meant hardening herself to the everyone struggles of human beings.  Even a string of relationships over the centuries might have helped her retain perspective.  





The Doctor’s companions don’t just keep him grounded or remind him of the finite nature of life; they also allow him to re-experience the wonder of the universe over and over again through a fresh set of eyes.  But therein lies one key difference: The Doctor has all of time and space to explore, again and again.  Ashildr had the struggles of living on Earth.  She loved, had children, watched them all die, and couldn’t bear to go through it again.  Ashildr is not exactly in a good psychological space.


As bad as it would have been for The Doctor to let Ashildr travel with him, I would have liked to have seen The Doctor struggle with the consequences of his actions a little longer.  They would have perhaps reinforced certain negative personality traits in each other, but wouldn’t that have value, in a season devoted to exploring the ways in which The Doctor and The Master are similar?  If nothing else, a reminder that he’s terribly bad at sticking around after forcing a change.  For that matter, she still is, because she’s dedicated her future to helping deal with all the things The Doctor failed to manage.






Which makes her presence in that picture of Clara at the end so interesting.  Just how much is Ashildr going to have to fix in the “present day”?  I wouldn’t think that would be easy.  Maybe hooking up with Captain Jack Harkness would be just the thing for Ashildr.  (Come on, that would be a killer spinoff right there!)  Frankly, Ashildr is such a character with possibility, in terms of a living, breathing indictment of The Doctor’s methods, that it would be a shame if she never returned.

Our Grade:
B+
The Good:
  • Ashildr needs to come back as soon as possible!
  • I love how consistent the themes have been this season
The Bad:
  • If we’re going to have to say goodbye to Clara soon, it’s hard to have episodes without her

John Keegan aka "criticalmyth", is one of the hosts of the "Critical Myth" podcast heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @criticalmyth

Doctor Who by - 10/27/2015 1:04 PM136 views

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