Category: Series 9


Following “The Girl Who Died,” Ashildr is back in England and in 1651. She can’t age but luckily seems to be pretty good at learning and adapting to new accents and ways of speaking. And she’s also not doing very well coping with her ability not to die. So how is “The Woman Who Lived” as a sort of sequel to “The Girl Who Died?” Let’s find out.

SPOILER WARNING

I’m not sure if this story needed to be told directly after Ashildr found out she can’t die. The only real connection is her and I’m assuming they may do something with her character later in series 9, which is why they wanted to get this one out of the way so early on. But in England, Ashildr, who decides she doesn’t want that name and simply calls herself Me or as

the-woman-who-lived

She’s a thief and he, well, he’s trying to look cool

people know her, The Knightmare, a thief. But no ordinary thief. Instead, she’s a thief looking for an alien artifact, called The Eyes of Hades. More on all this in a moment.

If you’re wondering why Ashildr is going by Me, it’s because she doesn’t see herself as that person anymore, or any of the other people she has been, instead, she’s just her, or rather, Me. The main story basically deals with her dealing with not being able to die, which ends up feeling a little drawn out since we’ve had the Doctor go on about it a lot during the David Tennant era, so hearing it again isn’t as interesting. However, Maisie Williams is still solid in her role, so at the very least, when these specific scenes come up, they’re still well done.

It is fun to realize she became rich somewhere along the way, perhaps through thievery, but probably just had the time to get to that point. She has also become cold to the world. By not being able to die she has stopped getting close to people (she previously had children, but they all died during the Black Death, so, understandably, she’s not in the best of places right now).

Back to the alien artifact. Both Ashildr and the Doctor are looking for the same artifact, but for different reasons, and here comes the antagonist of the story: Leandro, a lion guy, like literally, it’s a lion that’s a person (Doctor Who does enjoy a future universe full of cat people).

We learn the artifact is Leandro’s way of creating a portal between his world and Earth and for his people to come and attack Earth. It’s not very exciting. However, the artifact requires a sacrifice, and Ashildr decided to sacrifice Sam Swift, a rival, or rather just another notorious thief in the area. And then after she realizes what’s going on she knows Leandro never intended to help her explore the galaxy like he promised/tricked her

Woman-Who-Lived-3

See, more cat people

into thinking, and as such she turns against him. Through a series of events he is defeated and everyone is happy. Except Swift, who was sacrificed, but if you recall, another one of those devices that brought Ashildr back is still around.

So what happens? Well, AShildr decides to stop being quite so cold to the world and she saves Swift and now he too can live forever, which really isn’t so exciting, but hey, it works to get her back on track emotionally.

Noteworthy, Clara is absent from this episode. It’s actually a bit of a relief to do without Clara for a little bit. For some reason her writing has made her somewhat overbearing. I still like her, but a break was nice.

Overall, I’m not completely into this episode. The problem is the interesting parts (relationship with the Doctor and Ashildr) end up being pushed aside some for the less than exciting story with Leandro. I do enjoy that Ashildr is set up to come back for future episodes, and I suppose this story was needed to show what she’s been up to since being a viking. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still entertaining to watch and you will want to know what happens, but looking back on series 9 so far, it does not hold up to the previous two two-part stories (possibly due to this being a setup episode for Ashildr for a future story, in which case, I do want to know what has become of her).

However, I am interested to see what happens in the upcoming two-part Zygon story, which I will be reviewing as a whole, so below are both trailers:

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Vikings, gods, aliens, and Maisie Williams… yeah, Doctor Who is weird. But weird is fun and interesting. “The Girl Who Died” has a much lighter tone than the previous two episodes, and it’s a nice change of pace.

SPOILERS AHEAD. YOU HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED.

Basically, the Doctor and Clara land on Earth quite some time ago and are instantly captured by vikings and are taken to the viking village. Simple and tidy setup, nothing wrong with that. The Doctor tries to show off his power and act as Odin, one of the gods the vikings pray to. Just as he’s doing this, a giant image of a man in the sky, who the villagers know as Odin, appears and he claims to be Odin and is sending his troops down to bring the best warriors of the village up to Valhalla.

So crazy it just might work. Left to right: Clara (Jenna Coleman), Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Ashildr (Maisie Williams)

So crazy it just might work. Left to right: Clara (Jenna Coleman), Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Ashildr (Maisie Williams)

Well, it goes rather poorly, as the men are killed, but Clara and Ashildr (played by Maisie Williams, best known as Arya Stark from Game of Thrones) are also brought to the ship referred to as Valhalla, but they are not killed. Ashildr, much like Arya (really, if you know Game of Thrones, you’ll notice similarities in the two characters), declares war on the alien posing as Odin. By the way, they happen to be one of the other million deadliest alien races (seriously, is it the Daleks, Sontarans, or this new race called the Mire?).

No matter, the village has 24 hours to get ready to fight the most fearsome beings in the universe. Easy, right? Maybe, that is, if the village’s soldiers weren’t just killed off.

This is where the tone changes compared to the rest of the series 9 so far. We get a series of funny scenes of the Doctor trying to train the villagers how to fight. It seems getting normal townspeople to use swords is harder than you may think. These scenes are a welcome change to the more dramatic nature of the past four episodes.

Admittedly, I do think the episode starts to fall towards a little more silly territory, but then ties it all in with a couple serious scenes to balance the tone. We are given a nice scene between the Doctor and Clara the night before the battle is to begin. The two of them seem more like friends this year and don’t have the awkwardness that sometimes came up last year.

As with Doctor Who, all ends well in the end, and I won’t give any of that away, but it is somewhat anti-climactic. But that’s not important (though, it does hilariously use The Benny Hill Show’s theme tune). What is important is the Doctor remembering why he chose his face, which has been hinted at since his first episode. He chose it to remind himself to always save someone and to not just give up. In this case it is Ashildr, who was integral to securing their victory over the Mire, even if it cost her life.

The Doctor doesn't look overly intimidated by his new enemy

The Doctor doesn’t look overly intimidated by his new enemy

This is where the episode becomes important and more than just a standalone story. The Mire have technology to revive them during battle, and the Doctor took it from them once they were defeated (two tablets to be exact). He revives Ashildr with one, and while she lives she too cannot die (Captain Jack says hello). At this point, only the Doctor knows this and it sets up the story for next week’s The Woman Who Lived.

Before that, I would like to note this episode, despite its silliness does something welcoming for a story in a Steven Moffat led series: establishes the background and develops a new character who will likely show up throughout series 9. Ashildr has a well established character. She’s loyal to her village and its people. Not only is she loyal, but she likes the people and isn’t just loyal because she has to be. However, now we get to see how she develops as the people around her die and she continues to live forever. Unlike the Doctor she can only run so far. These are things we may find out in The Woman Who Lived, and I hope we do. River Song was Moffat’s big character, but her development, well, never really developed and she just ended up showing up to say “hello sweetie” and “spoilers.” Boring, very, very boring. Now we have a character who isn’t annoyingly in love with the Doctor, and instead has to cope with going through the decades, seeing the world change, and having to be an observer, never really there.

I’m excited for the rest of series 9 and am really interested in seeing where The Woman Who Lived takes us. Until then, here’s the trailer:

Doctor Who: Under the Lake Review

After the fantastic story to open series 9 of Doctor Who, I had my doubts about a base-under-siege story as a followup. However, after watching “Under the Lake,” I can safely say my concerns were not needed and that series 9 continues its mark of excellence.

SPOILERS AHEAD

Typically, these sort of stories result in a lot of running around and a somewhat rushed ending and they usually get kind of

Doing some sort of stuff

Doing some investigative stuff

boring. I can’t say what the end result is since this is a two part story, but I can say the cliffhanger has me wanting more.

Basically, the Doctor and Clara end up in an underwater base located in the midst of a flooded town in the not-so-distant future. Here’s the catch (so punny): there are ghosts roaming the halls of the base. To make matters more interesting, there’s a spaceship they discovered in the town that they brought aboard the base, and it has some sort of writing on it that sort of subliminally conveys a message to all that have looked at it.

Here’s the mystery: where’d the ship come from, what is the writing, where is the ship’s captain, why is one of the energy cells missing from the ship, and where is the body being transported in it (suspended animation chamber or something, can’t recall exactly what it’s called)?

These are a lot of questions that normally wouldn’t be around if the episode was only 45 minutes. This is why I enjoy two part episodes. The writer is able to fully develop the story, creating little parts and details that otherwise would not be able to make the final cut.

Speaking of the writing, I love how the characters are written in this story. Naturally, there’s a crew on the base, and as some background, in the opening credits one of the dies and becomes a ghost. Instead of being hostile towards the Doctor – and in turn killing about 10 minutes of the Doctor trying to gain their trust – they basically just go with it (and a little help of the psychic paper saying he’s from UNIT helped as well). The crew isn’t yelling at each other or anything. Instead, they’re trying to figure out how to approach the situation and actually listen to what the Doctor has to say. I rather enjoy how these professionals aren’t a bunch of bumbling fools, which is something that bothers me in a lot of sci-fi when a team of supposedly intelligent scientists turn into a bunch of clueless characters existing just to be killed off, which is basically lazy writing.

Clara is arguably the best dressed teacher on any show ever

Clara is arguably the best dressed teacher on any show ever, and Rose could take some style advice from her

There is one annoying character, a businessman who is over-the-top in it for the profit, but luckily he gets killed off and becomes a ghost (not a big spoiler, you see it coming a mile away).

Perhaps my favorite character is Cass, who is deaf and has her interpreter, Lunn (the sexual tension is strong between these two). Whereas in the the pre-Moffat era, having a diverse character meant banging it over the viewer’s head until the entire planet knew there was a diverse character, Cass exists as an actual character and not as an agenda or political correctness. I don’t believe it was ever pointed out that she’s deaf. Which would make sense since the Doctor and Clara travel the universe, so if a deaf person is their biggest surprise, well, there’s an issue. And Cass ends up being the one in charge of the base, which is great in terms that it shows her disability does not define her and for all the people complaining about Moffat’s apparent (at least to some people, I don’t see it as much) lack of ability to write a female character, he has writers who can write strong female characters.

Cass and Lunn

Cass and Lunn

Also note, Lunn was not killed by the ghosts when he was cornered by them. Why is this? I think that is something we’ll have to wait to find out. I don’t want to give away why he got in this position, but just remember it. This is something I like about a two part episode, they can have these mysteries all come together as things get resolved in the second part, or at least that’s the hope.

Even more interesting, the ghosts are mouthing words, which the Doctor concludes are coordinates to a building in the town. What is the significance of the building? Well, the Doctor believes they are a signal, but a signal for what?

The Doctor gets tired of not knowing why the town was flooded (well, he knows a dam broke, but what happened around that time) and all the previous mysteries noted (ah, they also found the suspended animation chamber, which is now just chilling in their main room, because why not?), so he decides to go back to the TARDIS and to when it all started. Except the ghosts get smart, and begin to lock down the base, so as they’re all running to the TARDIS, the Doctor and Clara get separated. Clara ends up with Cass and Lunn and the Doctor gets O’Donnell and Bennett (also the sexual tension, but again, enjoyably written characters).

Then, the cliffhanger: the Doctor and them fly away and Clara and her group make it back to the main room, look out the window, and see the Doctor as a ghost. Except, unlike all the other ghosts who are mouthing the same words, the Doctor is saying something different. What happens in the past that caused this? What is he saying? Just add more questions to the list.

So where are we now? The Doctor’s a ghost, adding to the total count of now four ghosts (one original, then a crew member, the business man, and now the Doctor), what’s in the suspended animation chamber, where is the missing energy cell, why did the town flood, what’s the mysterious writing on the spaceship, and who is the first ghost that didn’t die at the base?

I guess we’ll find out in part two “Before the Flood.”

Skaro, Davros, Daleks, Missy and Clara dead or alive, so much was left with last week’s cliffhanger, and rest assured, “The Witch’s Familiar” resolves everything in a pleasantly satisfying and entertaining manner. Without further delay (please excuse me posting this after “Under the Lake” aired, I will have that review up within a much more reasonable time frame) here is the review of “The Witch’s Familiar.”

THERE ARE SPOILERS, REPEAT, SPOILERS AHEAD.

Clara and Missy apparently were killed last week, or that’s what the Daleks thought. Of course they weren’t (contracts and all that good stuff dictate they live) and we now know how they are alive. Missy tells Clara of a story when the Doctor was trapped, about to be shot by a bunch of robot assassins, and in a fraction of a second, used the energy from their laser beams to teleport out of his less-than-desirable position. Similarly, Missy uses the energy from the Daleks’ laser beams to poof her and Clara (remember, their vortex manipulators are linked) out of their situation. They end up outside the city where the Doctor is and must trek back, which is mostly done off screen, so more time for the Doctor and Davros.

An old rivalry lives on

An old rivalry lives on

It’s worth noting, Missy and Clara are surprisingly great together. Or rather, I think Missy would be great with anyone. Michelle Gomez plays the part perfectly, always keeping the viewer on edge, never quite knowing which direction the character is about to go in. Unlike Steven Moffat’s previous female “equal” for the Doctor, River, Missy actually has a personality beyond saying “Hello Sweetie” and showing up to cryptically say how everything is out of order and this is the first time or this is the last time or this is somewhere in-between. I feel like there’s a whole mystery left to unravel with Missy, such as how she escaped Gallifrey, and even though we know about a lot of her past, there’s still room to explore. If it ever is explored is another topic of discussion, but for now I’d like to hope it will be explored at some point.

The majority of the story is based around the Doctor and Davros talking. Even though Davros is evil and is destined to always be evil, it was interesting to see him act with some humanity. Attempting to trick the Doctor into thinking he was going to die soon, Davros was able to play on the Doctor’s emotions, and “trick” him into using some regeneration energy to allow Davros to see one final sunrise. However, Davros anticipated this compassion, and tried to harness the Doctor’s regeneration energy (to make Dalek/Time Lord hybrids, at least it’s cooler than human Daleks and pig people), but then the Doctor countered that, and used his sonic sunglasses to do some sci-fi stuff. Little did Davros think, the regeneration energy would go through the whole city.

While Missy and Clara trek back to find the Doctor, they are in a tunnel, that’s actually a sewer, that’s actually a catacomb, where apparently the decaying Daleks are tossed down in. So the regeneration energy also went to them, and since they were pretty annoyed for being thrown away, they used the new energy to rise up and take down the city. Yeah, it was weird, but the real highlight of the story was the Doctor and Davros talking. Throughout, parallels are again drawn between the Doctor and Daleks. At one point, Davros seems to be glad Gallifrey survived, and that both he and the Doctor try their hardest to continue the existence of their people. This continues throughout the majority of the episode, and aids in further developing Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. By the way, Capaldi is absolutely fantastic in series 9 so far. It seems the writers, or at to this point, Moffat, have figured out the way he plays the character and catered the writing towards his strengths and personality.

Glasses are cool, Clara, I have sonic glasses now

Glasses are cool, Clara, I have sonic glasses now

We also get flashbacks to “Asylum of the Daleks,” with Clara once again finding herself inside a Dalek. Though, this time she is in there as a disguise and has full, telepathic control of the movement and weapons of the Dalek. This is mainly done as a plot device, in which the Doctor has to figure out if it is really Clara or an actual Dalek, at which point he threatens to kill the Dalek and Clara makes it say mercy (note, the Daleks were created by Davros, and in turn cannot say certain things, so when she wants to say it’s Clara it translates and is conveyed as “I am a Dalek”). Of course then the Doctor has to figure out why the Daleks would be able to say mercy, and realizes he made a mistake all those years ago, leaving Davros to die. Watch for yourself what happens then, but I’m sure you can guess if you have not already watched. It’s actually a really nice scene, so yes, do watch it if you have not already.

Whereas “The Magician’s Apprentice” faltered with pacing and tonal issues, “The Witch’s Familiar” doesn’t miss a beat, and keeps your eyes stuck on the screen until the final credits role. The performances from the cast are all great and for once in a long time I can say Moffat did a very good job wrapping up a story.

Here’s to hoping next week’s base-under-siege “Under the Lake” keeps the the same high quality as these two episodes did. Here is the trailer for “Under the Lake:”

 

Here we are, Doctor Who is back with the dramatic opening scene of “The Magician’s Apprentice.” Is it good, bad, or a little of both? I’m going with the latter, read on to find out how the 12th Doctor’s second season began.

Brace yourself, SPOILERS AHEAD.

After Clara and the Doctor told each other the truth in last year’s Christmas episode, they went their separate ways, with Clara being a schoolteacher and the Doctor doing whatever it is he does, and that leads us to the dramatic beginning of the episode, on Skaro. There’s a big war going on, and for whatever reason the troops on ground have bows and arrows and the opposing forces have early era airplanes, but ignoring that, this is a war on Skaro. So far so cool. As the previews showed, there’s a young boy here, and the Doctor pops in, as he does, and attempts to save him. Until, spoiler, he finds out it’s a young Davros. Davros, as in, creator of the Daleks, that Davros. Fast forward a bunch of years and Davros is seeking the Doctor because he all of a sudden remembers what happened all those years ago and is dying in a hospital. Worth noting, he is being sought out by Colony Sarff, a colony of snakes that create a humanoid being and is a loyal follower of Davros.

Things are looking a little bleak

Things are looking a little bleak

Cut to intro title/credits scene.

Back to the show.

For the next ten to fifteen minutes we may as well forget the Doctor is doing much of anything because it turns back into the Clara show as all of the airplanes on Earth stop and Clara is pulled out of her classroom and brought to UNIT Here she is apparently more competent than all of UNIT, including Kate Stewart, who is in charge of UNIT, but I’ll conveniently ignore that. After a few minutes of not much happening other than Clara telling Kate what to do, Missy comes back. Hold up, what, but she died, right?

Wrong. So that means there’s an explanation for how she didn’t die, right?

Wrong. Because, well, Moffat has tendency to not explain these sort of things (I’m looking at you Sherlock) and expects everyone to go with it, so fine, I’m going with it.

After some time, Missy, who didn’t turn good mind you, ends up helping Clara and UNIT find the Doctor. Key things to note, the Doctor left Missy his last will and testament in case he dies and Missy is his best friend, which we all kind of knew if you watched some of the Classic Who stories, where there were some rather fun scenes with the two characters. Sure, we don’t know how she came back, but she escapes death all the time, it’s her thing. I’m good with it because I really enjoy her character. She’s so dark and ridiculous, I always look forward to seeing what she is going to do next. She doesn’t play the role of the strictly villainous character, she actually has a dimension to her character, which I sometimes feel is lacking in characters Moffat creates. So more Missy the better.

So much sass

So much sass

Then things get a little confusing, at least for me, so forgive me if I missed anything explaining this. They look at a big map of the world that UNIT has and search for keywords to try and find where the Doctor is. Somehow Clara figures out he’s in 1138 AD, so I’m assuming the map accounts for all of history. Strange, but alright, it gets the plot going so Clara and Missy can make their way to the Doctor. And I’m not even going to begin to ask or wonder how the Doctor, who came to an “ax fight” with his electric guitar in 1138 AD (funny, but a little bit of a tone killer for this episode) also had a tank, he can’t simply drive one out of the TARDIS doors. Missy and Clara get here via a vortex manipulator (if you recall River used one). What’s more confusing is how Colony Sarff a) knew to look in 1138 AD and b) how they even got to 1138 AD. Even more confusing, and this part I just can’t look past because it makes zero sense according to the lore of the show:

Colony Sarff is presumably using a Dalek ship to go around the universe looking for the Doctor. This would mean the ship has no time travel, because the Daleks only manage to temporal shift to a random place or end up somewhere by accident (or make pig people and human Daleks). So, we are now left to wonder how Colony Sarff a) time traveled backwards and b) time traveled forward without the use of time travel (vortex manipulators only work on the person who is wearing one). And this is important, because Davros is assumed to be dying in 2015 AD (Clara is the same age as the previous season and is a schoolteacher, so it matches the timeline, which at most could only be off a couple of years). So they now need to go forward to 2015 AD. None of this is ever explained, and we are still left to assume the Daleks don’t have time travel because Missy herself said so at the end of the episode.

So Moffat, if you read this, I would appreciate some clarity.

Luckily, the rest of the episode is pretty good.

Yeah, so, that was a thing

Yeah, so, that was a thing

We end up back at the hospital where Davros is, Clara and Missy are kept in waiting as the Doctor confronts Davros, who recognizes the face the Doctor currently has, as it’s the one that he saw all those years ago during the war. This part was pretty great, as it brought in Classic Who moments and tied them all together with the current show and it brought back the drama and seriousness of the opening scene of the episode. Then the big reveal. They’re not on a medical ship as originally assumed, but rather, on Skaro. And not just Skaro, but one that has been rebuilt since the war.

In the final moments, Missy and Clara are left to perish at the hands (figuratively speaking) of the Daleks, as they then turn their attention toward blowing up the TARDIS.

All very heavy stuff and all very good. The time travel still is an issue with Moffat, but I like where this story is going. It’s big and ambitious and brings in the lore of the show. I loved the performances of the entire cast. Each character really hit their stride in this one and the closing minutes had me on the edge of my seat, waiting for more. While I enjoyed last season, it felt like it was lacking something, and even though this is only the first episode of this season, I have a feeling it’s going to provide what I was looking for.

I for one cannot wait for next Saturday (well, Sunday, I think I’ll be doing Halloween type things already on Saturday at a haunted asylum, also a good idea for a Doctor Who story), and I am fully on board for this season. Yes, there was some bad, but overall, I want to see what happens next, how will Clara and Missy be saved, how with the TARDIS be saved, how will the Doctor get out of this one? So I’ll leave you with the trailer for next week’s story, “The Witch’s Familiar.”