Review: The Plot Thickens In Doctor Who’s ‘The Girl Who Died’

Sunday, 18 October 2015 - 3:22PM
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Doctor Who
Sunday, 18 October 2015 - 3:22PM
Review: The Plot Thickens In Doctor Who’s ‘The Girl Who Died’
Doctor Who series 9 has been off to a great start, and it's hard to believe that this year's run is already almost half way over. So far, fans have seen the return of Davros and Missy as well as an intriguing mystery that took place in 'Under the Lake' and 'Before the Flood.' And this week, Whovians were finally introduced to Maisie Williams character (as well as a host of space vikings) in 'The Girl Who Died.'

'The Girl Who Died' began with the Doctor and Clara winding up in the past where they were soon captured by vikings. When they brought them back to their village after a two day journey, the Doctor attempted to free himself by claiming he was their god, Odin. He was quickly found out as 'the real Odin' appeared as a hologram in the sky and urged the warriors of the group to prepare to enter Valhalla. The strong of the village were soon taken up along with Maisie Williams character, Ashildr, and Clara. Upon the space vikings' ship (the Doctor later reveals they're called the Mire, but space viking sounds way cooler), Clara and Ashildr find out that Odin is harvesting warriors for their testosterone, which he gulps down in front of the two. At first, Clara seems like she may outsmart the space vikings into letting them go, but Ashildr has to go and declare war on them. Odin then frees the two and warns them that the battle will begin the very next day.

The rest of the episode basically centered around the Doctor preparing the people of the village for war (remember, the actual warriors had been killed), and of course the Doctor ends up using his brains to end the conflict without any casualties. Well, except Ashildr, that is. It is then that it is finally revealed why the Doctor chose the face of Caecilius from the series 3 episode, 'The Fires of Pompeii.' Evidently, it was to remind him that he's compassionate and saves people at any cost. And so he breaks the rules, uses some alien technology on Ashildr (which evidently makes her immortal as well as at least a little bit alien) and leaves believing that she may very well be the hybrid referenced by the prophecy that was given in the first episode of this year's series.

This week's episode was good, but not quite as good as 'Under the Lake' and 'Before the Flood.' What really benefited the last two episodes was that they could stand on their own as a classic DW adventure without any major plot developments concerning the main characters or this year's overreaching arc. That's not something that 'The Girl Who Died' can boast of - without all the major developments in this week's episode, it would have just been some mediocre story that featured space vikings.

That being said, it really was a smart move on behalf of the writers to put such plot developments into 'The Girl Who Died' in particular. Because the whole space vikings thing was just a bit lackluster, this week's episode really needed something else to make it stand out. And the revelations of how Peter Capaldi's Doctor got his face and the importance Ashildr will evidently play this season were enough to do just that. The episode also ended on a particularly good note, leaving many fans dying to know more about what's to become of Ashildr.

The humor was definitely on point as well, and though there was an awful lot of cheesiness to it, Doctor Who usually knows how to make it work. Some have complained about plot holes during this week's episode, but at this point Whovians really ought to realize that those are going to come up quite often in a show like DW. After all, the show changes the rules of time travel any time it's convenient. In reality, plot holes usually aren't too big of an enemy to DW since it relies so much on the suspended disbelief of its viewers - only the really big ones should be of any genuine concern.

In the end, 'The Girl Who Died' was a good episode of Doctor Who that has efficiently accelerated the plot of this series' overreaching arc. While the Mire weren't necessarily compelling or interesting monsters, it was definitely nice to have new enemies thrown into the mix instead of going back to the fan favorites. Likewise, Ashildr is an intriguing character, and though she could have been a little better developed in her first episode, it'll be interesting to see what she brings to the show in the coming weeks. And of course DW can never go wrong with a quick flashback featuring the 10th Doctor. For these reasons, 'The Girl Who Died' gets a fair 8.3 out of 10.

Catch Doctor Who again next week at 9 p.m. ET on BBC America, when 'The Woman Who Lived' comes on air.

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