The Girl Who Died begins the third consecutive two-parter in this series, which will be followed next week by the conclusion The Woman Who Lived, so you can see the connection there.
It began with an irrelevance of Clara’s floating about in space, with a “love sprite” crawling through her spacesuit after she’d (offscreen) been through the spider mines. The love sprite nearly killed her, and the Doctor materialised her into the TARDIS to sort that out, but again it’s the case that what we DON’T see is often more interesting than those we DO.
Still, she complained about her time with him: “You never tell me the rules.”
The Doctor: “We’re time travellers. It’s okay to make ripples, but not tidal waves.”
These were words that were about to haunt him.
At first it looked like the source of this week’s hassle for the pair would be some Vikings after they get kidnapped by a group, with one of them snapping his Sonic Sunglasses in two. Taken back to their village, they see a young girl called Ashildr (Maisie Williams – Game Of Thrones, Cyberbully), who he hasn’t seen her before, but states he has a premonition, which he follows with one of his pointless loquatious continuations that that means “remembering in the wrong direction.”
Presuming the Vikings are braindead yokels, he pretends his yoyo is the sign of Odin and tries to win them over, but is beaten by the fact that Odin, himself, appears in the clouds, and tells him that their day of reward has arrived: Their mightest warriors will feast with him in Valhalla!
Clara susses out: “That’s not Odin is it?”
The Doctor replies: “No, they haven’t got a yoyo”
With that deft exchange, since, of course, it’s not Odin and they’re not going to Valhalla, this enemy have come to harvest the strong of the Vikings, despite looking a bit like Deep Thought in the dire movie version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. Clara and Maisie also end up teleported into ‘Valhalla’ yet it’s a prison where you’ll soon end up dead, either by electrocution or by being crushed. Once they’re alone with Odin, on an industrial-looking vessel, like something the Vogons left behind, and they’ve only been spared because they inadvertently brought half of the Sonic Sunglasses with them. Clara then tried to reason with Odin while he dranked mashed-up Vikings as some sort of health juice, which he classed as “testosterone”. Still, never mind all that as Ashildr was a feisty one and invited a war from this supposed God.
Back on Earth, they learned from The Doctor that these baddies are “The Mire” – one of the deadliest warrior races in the galaxy and they’re coming back the next day to kill everyone in the village, and he told everyone to get out of there: “Go. Fly like a bird. Run like a nose. That’s probably a Viking-saying. I haven’t checked that one.”
The script then drifted again when Clara said how “He speaks Baby”, as he was claiming to know what a crying baby is saying, rather like the baby translator in The Simpsons. “The babies think that laughter is singing. Do you know that?”, he continues. There was really no reason why this episode needed to last 50 minutes if this was going to be part of its structure.
But like I said, Ashildr is a feisty one and wanted to stay to fight. So did Clara, but The Doctor countered that if they kill The Mire, Earth becomes a target of strategic value, and The Mire will return with more baddies. Still, they pressed ahead with it anyway thanks to a plan which came out of nowhere, as there was seemingly little which drew The Doctor to come up with the phrase “Fire in the water” and instantly know that there were electric eels in the nearby boathouse. WTF?!
Oh, yes, that plan. As Clara earlier said to Maisie, “He hasn’t got a plan yet, but he will have. And it will be spectacular”, and it’s this which featured in the series trailer before the first episode was broadcast.
Go to page 2 for more thoughts on this episode.
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.