Check out our recap of Doctor Who‘s second half of the two part storyline for Ashildr, the immortal Viking. See where Ashildr has ended up, and check out our thoughts on the episode below!
Don’t need the Doctor Who episode recap for The Woman Who Lived? Click here to jump directly to Violet’s thoughts on the episode!
To see Josh’s thoughts on this week’s Doctor Who episode, The Woman Who Lived, click here to get directly there!
Doctor Who, Season 9 Episode 6: The Woman Who Lived
This episode of Doctor Who opens with a stage coach being held up by a man. The Doctor, meanwhile, has landed nearby in his TARDIS. Using some sort of tracking device, the Doctor ends up moving into the the stagecoach, and the stage coach robber is not happy with the intrusion. Using the tracking device, the Doctor wants to look into the trunk on the back of the stage coach. But as the Doctor and this mystery robber argue, the stage coach takes off. Then this robber reveals who they are to the Doctor–it is Ashildr.
The Doctor tells Ashildr that he is looking for some alien artifact, and Ashildr seems hurt that he didn’t come for her. But Ashildr also doesn’t recognize her own name, and it seems like a long lost history. Her new name is “Me” apparently. Ashildr tells the Doctor to come help her pack.
At her new home, they talk more, and she talks about her adventures, which have lasted for 800 years. She has participated in several European historical events. She talks about her diary, and how she can’t remember everything she has done. She asks the Doctor to take her with him, so she can feel something new. Ashildr offers to help the Doctor find this mystery amulet he is after. The Doctor takes a look at some of her journals, and sees some of the tragedies that Ashildr has gone through over the past centuries. She even lost some children to the plague.
Outside, Ashildr talks to a humanoid-like cat, who she promises to get the amulet for. Back inside, the Doctor asks Ashildr about torn out pages in the diaries. She says the unbearable memories are torn out. The Doctor tells her that he can help her find who she used to be, but Ashildr is resolute to stay emotionless to the world. The Doctor and Ashildr head out to find this amulet, and the humanoid cat follows them from the shadows.
They break into the woman’s house who Ashildr was trying to rob, to find the amulet. The Doctor talks to her about being human, and needing companionship, but Ashildr just wants to get the job done. They locate the mysterious amulet, and the Doctor calls it the “eyes of Hades.” The Doctor and Ashildr move to sneak out, but the Doctor makes some noise, alerting someone in the house. Ashildr moves to take out the person, but the Doctor refuses to let her take the shot. While hiding, Ashildr asks why Clara isn’t immortal, and warns the Doctor that he will lose Clara. She then asks how many “Claras” he has lost.
Outside, the Doctor and Ashildr are jumped by what seems to be another group of Highwaymen. They hold the two of them up, but Ashildr is able to disarm them. After some horseplay, and the gun transfers back and forth between Ashildr and the Highwayman, Ashildr seems to finally keep the upperhand. Ashildr instructs the Highwaymen to run.
Back at Ashildr’s home, she is all dressed up. The Doctor talks about the history of this amulet, and ponders its name, and if that means the mythology of Hades originated on another planet. Ashildr asks the Doctor again to take her “flying,” but the Doctor refuses still. His reasoning? “It wouldn’t be good.”
Outside, we hear a cat growl, and the humanoid cat comes into Ashildr’s dwelling. His name is Leandro. The Doctor tells Leandro to kill him if he plans to harm this world, so that he feels justified in attacking Leandro back. Leandro says that the amulet is his means of travel, and Leandro had crashed on this planet long ago, losing his family. To use the amulet, Leandro reveals someone must be sacrificed. Leandro threatens to use the Doctor as the sacrifice, but Ashildr refuses for it to be him. But Ashildr is irritated with the Doctor for not helping him. The Doctor tells her that he didn’t know all this bad stuff would happen to her when he saved her life. The Doctor warns her that working with Leandro will eventually end with her head “bitten off,” but she doesn’t seem to care.
Then some soldiers come in, saying they caught a highwayman, and she also accuses the Doctor of helping out the infamous Highwaymen she has been disguising herself as. Ashildr tells these soldiers to guard the Doctor. The Doctor is able to trick the soldiers into letting her go, by bribing them with more money than the bounty on his own head is worth.
The Doctor rides for the town square, where they plan to hang the captured highwayman, Sam Swift, who was the highwayman Ashildr and the Doctor encountered earlier in the episode. The clock rings, indicating its hanging time. Hiding in the stagecoach, Leandro tells Ashildr, “it is time.” Ashildr heads to the noose, and puts the amulet onto the man. The Doctor runs up at the same time. The highwayman has some banter back and forth with the Doctor, and the crowd seems to be enjoying the comedy. The Doctor heads to the noose as well, and uses his psychic paper to present a pardon to the hangman. But Ashildr decides to bring out the gem, and places it on the highwayman. The portal opens up, and Leandro tells Ashildr she isn’t going anywhere. It turns out Leandro’s plan was to bring his spaceships to Earth through the portal. The alien ships begin shooting through the portal, and Ashildr begins to freak out about the havoc she has caused these people. The Doctor comes up with a plan, which is to reverse the death of this man with the amulet on him. Ashildr takes out the other device that the Doctor gave her centuries ago, that she was to use on a companion when she chose one. This device brings the highwayman back from the dead, and the portal closes.
At what looks to be a pub, Sam Swift, Ashildr and the Doctor talk, and he seems to not remember much before he was brought back to life. Ashildr asks if he is immortal, and after some dancing around the question, he answers that he thinks he is. Ashildr asks about going with him again, and the answer he gives is to appreciate the mortals, as they know more than they do.
Interestingly, in their discussion of immortality, Captain Jack comes up in conversation. Ashildr then resolves to protect the people from the Doctor. The Doctor asks if they’re enemies, but Ashildr says they are friends, and that you have to look after your friends more than your enemies.
Back aboard the TARDIS, the Doctor is strumming his guitar, and Clara shows up. Clara shows the Doctor a selfie of her and a student, and in the background of the image, we see Ashildr hanging out. The Doctor tells Clara that he missed her, and she says, “Don’t worry Doctor, I’m not going anywhere.”
Josh’s Thoughts: Doctor Who, Season 9 Episode 6: The Woman Who Lived
I am falling off the wagon for Doctor Who I feel like. I thought these episodes discussing immortality versus mortality would be philosophically interesting to me. Death is something that is pretty scary in my head, but at the same time, living forever seems to have its own things to fear, namely loneliness, which seems to be the exact thing that Ashildr is dealing with.
To the episode’s credit, it did make me think about this a lot more. If you lived forever, would you eventually begin to forget things? Just thinking about 30 years ago I have a hard time remember what it was like being a toddler, and even up through elementary school, things are a bit fuzzy. Living 800 years would leave me with massive gaps in my memory I would imagine, and like Ashildr, I probably wouldn’t be the same person as I aged, and learned new experiences. Certainly, dealing with the melancholy of death would make one a pessimist, as Ashildr had become. I guess I am a little more intrigued by the episode than I originally thought.
It looks like Ashildr might now have a companion to spend her eternity with though. I wonder how their relationship will last. I would imagine spending a few hundred years with the same person could get a little old fast. I would be interested to get some sort of snippets as to how their lives progressed. In the selfie we see at the end of the episode, I didn’t see Ashildr’s new companion, so I wonder how close they are in the “present.”
As for the selfie, this seemed to be Ashildr’s way of showing the Doctor that she is in fact looking out for the people that the Doctor helps. I guess this makes sense. The ripples that the Doctor makes could have unforeseen circumstances, and I guess Ashildr can do her best to protect the people who are in the way of these ripples. I wonder if we will see Ashildr again, and if it will be again this season.
The one last interesting bit to the episode was Captain Jack. I wonder if the means we will see him again. The actor, John Barrowman, hasn’t seemed to indicate this is the case, but it would be nice to see him at least guest star on a couple episodes eventually.
Violet’s Thoughts on Season 9 Episode 6 of Doctor Who: The Woman Who Lived
As you may remember, aside from the discussions that the Doctor and Clara had, I wasn’t a big fan of last episode. I liked this one better, except for the lion. He seemed weird and out of place, and just thrown in there. However, I thought Maisie Williams gave a great performance this episode, which was very emotional as we realize what she has been through these past several hundred years. Last episode, it almost felt like she was that little annoying girl that Arya was at the beginning of Game of Thrones, but this episode, you can tell that the character has matured, and indeed felt more like a woman than a little girl.
It did feel a bit odd that they made up some excuse that Clara wasn’t there. But I suppose we wouldn’t have gotten as much interaction and meaningful discussion between Ashildr and the Doctor if Clara had been there, much less any discussion that got the Doctor thinking about why he never made Clara, or any other of his companions, immortal. In the end, the show once and for all puts to rest any notions fans may have had about Maisie Williams becoming the next companion when the Doctor explains why they shouldn’t travel together. He says basically that two immortals would lose perspective, and that they need mortals. Indeed, we have seen this, especially with this Twelfth Doctor, and how Clara has helped him along.
On the other hand, Captain Jack Harkness has traveled with the Doctor on and off, though never alone as the Doctor’s sole companion. The Doctor even brings up Captain Jack (a sign that we could see him again on the show soon?? I hope so!), so it’s possible that Ashildr could join the Doctor on adventures from time to time. This may not be the last we’ve seen of her. I hope we get to see what becomes of Sam Swift. Maybe he and Ashildr will grow close eventually.
Overall, a decent episode, though again I more enjoyed the discussions between the Doctor and Ashildr more than what else was going on.
Scenes from Doctor Who, Season 9 Episode 7: The Zygon Invasion
Here are scenes from next week’s Doctor Who episode titled The Zygon Invasion: