The Woman Who Lived is an episode I had high expectations for. They’d brought in their biggest guest star of the series in Maisie Williams, showing up in The Girl Who Died as… the girl who died, whilst living in a Viking village, and giving her just a very so-so storyline.
This time round, she’s become a highwayman (or woman) a la Dick Turpin, but calling herself The Knightmare, yet with no beady-eyed non-blinking stares and a signing off command of “D… I… S… M… I… S… S…” (yes, I'm referring to this ), but instead wearing a not-very-face-covering mask whilst accompanied by a creature that growls. But what’s with the deep voice she’s putting on? “Practice”, she says. But by doing that, this episode was dangerously entering Blackadder territory.
When things calm down, she tells The Doctor how she’s almost completely forgotten her past, and claims Ashildr is no longer her name and that she barely remembers it, along with the rest of her time in the village. She now calls herself “Me” and has lived for 800 years since they last met, her time inbetween including passing herself off as a man during The Battle of Agincourt. Well, those eyebrows need a trim…
Also in the intervening decades, since she has “an infinite life and a normal-size memory”, she can’t remember most of it, so she keeps journals, whilst dealing with everyone dying as she stays the same. A number of pages have been torn out, in order to block out the bad memories, so why keep the pages that remind her of her three children who died? (oddly, seemingly, exactly at the same time) It’s to remind her not to have any more.
The Woman Who Lived was such a dire episode – a classic case of 98% with nothing happening but talking and pontificating, leaving 2% left for “something to happen”.
Following a brief attempt at humour with The Doctor turning up during the opening robbery and saying, “I’m passing through like fish in the night… sorry, ships.”, adding to Ashildr, “At least I show my face. What’s wrong with yours?”, when she revealed herself to be the girl from last week’s episode, she replied, “What took you so long, old man?”
However, there were countless pieces of abominable dialogue. Ashildr gets across that she knows more about the Doctor than he does, and despite wanting to travel with him, she moans endlessly about how he runs away from those who accompany him, including her, especially since he made her immortal:
- Doctor: “I saved your life. I didn’t know your heart would rust.”
Ashildr: “You didn’t save my life. You trapped me inside it”.
- Doctor: “What happened to you?”
Ashildr: “You did, Doctor.”
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.