Season 9 of Doctor Who is underway; It’s the Doctor and Clara Oswald in the TARDIS, and they’ve got a whole lot of running to do! Let’s take a closer look at the most recent episodes, The Girl Who Died and The Woman Who Lived.
I’ve been enjoying Season 9 for the most part, and I’ve liked each episode/two-part story better than the last. The season is only getting better, and I’ve got to say that these past two episodes totally rocked! I thought that the story was great and we finally got to see the best of Capaldi’s Doctor.
The actors had excellent chemistry in these episodes. Maisie Williams is a fantastic actress, and it was so fun to see her play a different character than on Game of Thrones. The shot where the camera went completely around Ashildr was amazing, and it was so cool to see her expression slowly change as she realized what she had become. There were also some excellent flashbacks, including a canonical reason for the Doctor choosing the face he did, and even a shout out to Captain Jack Harkness!
To talk more in-depth about the flashback to The Fire of Pompeii, I’m happy that they brought up Peter Capaldi’s past appearance on Doctor Who. What we’ve seen of the 12th Doctor so far is basically the opposite of what Donna Noble brought out in the Tenth Doctor. Maybe a reason that the Twelfth Doctor is coming into his own is because as a character he is being reminded of his own best attributes. It was also great to see the humor in this episode, and a lot of characters had some snappy one-liners. The Doctor did make a lot of pop culture references in these two episodes, which I’ve previously complained made The Doctor seem too modern when he is really a character out of time, but the references he made were pretty random and also not all from the last 10 years. For me, that made more sense and added to the feeling that he belongs both everywhere and nowhere.
Speaking of the great jokes in the script, a large part of why I liked these two episodes was the writing. The Woman Who Lived was written by Catherine Tregenna, who is actually only the second woman writer since the revival in 2005! (Note to the show-runners: you’ve had problems writing woman characters in the past. Sometimes you’ve been really really bad at it. These two episodes featured an amazing character who happened to be a woman and I’d like to see more characters like that. Get more women writers, because while The Girl Who Died was co-written by Moffat and Jamie Mathieson, it was The Girl Who Lived that really let the character shine). Episode 10 is also being written by a woman, Sarah Dollard, so I’m looking forward to that.
The transformation as Ashildr became Lady Me was beautifully done. I thought the conversation between Me and The Doctor was amazing; it was great to see the two immortal characters interact and relate to each other. The addition of Ashildr’s diaries, existing because she cannot remember her own life, was heart breaking, as was the flashback to the empty cradles.
Moving on to other details, let’s talk about the sonic sunglasses again. I like them a lot better when they’re being worn and being used to look at and analyze things through them, kind of like Cyclops’ Visor. As long as the sonic sunnies aren’t stuck into a computer again any time soon, I won’t have a problem with them, although I’d still prefer the screwdriver. Not only did a screwdriver imply the Doctor was fixing things, it’s just plain fun to wave around. Although, while I don’t own a replica sonic I DO own a pair of wayfarer sunglasses… hmm. You know what, maybe the sunglasses are okay after all.
The only thing in the episodes that I thought was strange was when The Doctor tried to teach the viking villagers how to fight. It was just very weird to see him in that role, but it did contribute to the overall story. There was a lovely amount of camp involved in the Viking village, too, what with the horns on the helmets and the electric eels in barrels and whatnot, but hey that’s Doctor Who for you.
In summary, after two seasons that I thought were less than amazing, it’s great to finally have one of my favorite shows back again. What did you think of The Girl Who Died and The Woman Who Lived? Let me know in the comments!