“She’ll die on you, you know. She’ll blow away like smoke.”
Another week, another great episode of Doctor Who, which is a streak almost unprecedented in the show (and might be at an end with the return of the unbearable Osgood next week). This week’s episode wasn’t as good as the Under The Lake/Before The Flood but it was still a fun and yet again thoughtful episode with another great performance from lead man Peter Capaldi.
Like last weeks The Girl Who DIed, Maise Williams popped up once again playing the immortal viking girl, but now it was 800 years later and a lot had changed. Last week I said she wasn’t anything special as Ashildr, the ever so slightly annoying viking girl, but in this weeks episode she gave a much better performance than last week, and possibly than she has ever given in Game of Thrones too. Living 800 years had obviously changed Ashildr and Williams showed this perfectly, managing to be the same character while simultaneously being completely different. The stuff about her losing her children and everyone else she’s ever loved could have been so ridiculously depressing that it would’ve been hard to take seriously. But between Williams’ and Capaldi’s acting, and the wonderful script by Torchwood regular Catherine Tregenna, the whole debate about death and immortality was pitch perfect, straddling the line between actual metaphysical debate and good fun, Saturday night telly.
Fortunately though, things never got too deep, which was illustrated with appearance of Leandro (or Lenny the Lion as The Doctor called him) a ridiculously awesome half man half lion alien. Some people might think his design was a little silly and comical for an episode dealing with such heavy themes but I disagree. His ineffective fire-spitting was a cool effect and the make up and prosthetic work was top-notch. Excluding perhaps the too whimsical forest episode from last season, the Capaldi seasons have so far managed to blend well written humour and deeper themes. The scene this week with Rufus hound’s Sam Swift cracking jokes when he’s about to be hung is the perfect example of this. The same macabre effect could have been achieved with a couple of crap puns but with the show’s knowing wink and surprisingly well written characters, plus a great pair performances from Capaldi and Hound, the scene was funny and touching and you bought it; you really didn’t want Sam Swift to hang.
The Woman Who Died was yet again another stellar episode of Doctor Who. The characters were well written and perfectly acted, especially Maise Williams’ Ashildr who was much better this week. The script was brilliant (I really appreciated the Capt. Jack nod) and the direction was up to the great standards we’ve come to expect from the last few seasons. hopefully the season can stay this good for the next half but as the unbearable Osgood is back next week, I’m not holding my breath.