Saturday, 24 October 2015
Doctor Who: The Woman Who Lived
"This is banter! I'm against banter. I'm on record on the subject of banter."
Hmm. I have to admit that wasn't bad. Quite good, in fact. A well-written character piece from the excellent Catherine Tregenna, in fact, one of Torchwood's finest writers. So why do I get a slight feeling of "meh"? I suspect because it's about immortality and loneliness, which to us diehard fans are such well-mined seams. It's possible that this episode may appeal to fans less than to the general public, being written by a non-fan. That would be no bad thing in the long run. But I can't shake my slight feeling of "meh". Yes, Ashildr is ageless, and thus a parallel to the Doctor. I get it. And?
Still, the plot works. It's entertaining. Maisie Williams is very good, and Peter Capaldi is amazing, at the top of his form, doing brilliant line deliveries with some quite banal, expository dialogue. But the episode didn't really engage me until the last third.
So, what to say? Well, it's a Clara-lite episode, but full of foreboding about her upcoming death. I'm unspoiled, I hasten to add, but the hints have been blatant. The Doctor refuses to take Asildr as a companion because they both need the "mayflies", who help the likes of them to see the beauty and preciousness of life. So Clara is a mayfly. Oh dear.
Oh, and on top of that Ashildr says if Clara that "She'll die on you, you know. She'll blow away like smoke." And Clara, in her little cameo, finishes up by saying "I'm not going anywhere." She's toast.
What else? I liked the powerful pathos of the simple scene where the Doctor reads Ashildr's journals. She's had to bury her own children. She's had ample time to spend on mastering any skill she cares to pursue. And she can't possibly keep all her memories in a normal-sized mind. These are nice details.
I liked the nod to The Visitation. And that reminds me: it looked as though the sonic shades weren't permanently destroyed after all. They're here to stay. And so is Ashildr, a nice touch. We shall certainly be seeing her again, and I wouldn't be surprised if it were this season. She's resolved to help those whom the Doctor leaves behind: this sounds like foreshadowing of something particular that has already been planned.
Also, nice to see Captain Jack get a mention. And nice to have a hint that Ashildr is likely one day to attract the attention of Torchwood.