Airtime: Saturday at 9:00 PM on BBC America
Tweetable Takeaway: Vikings, aliens, and emotions bubbling to the surface. Doctor Who delivers on characters but in a predictable story. Tweet
Since the 12th Doctor (Peter Capaldi) has burst onto the scene in DOCTOR WHO, the show has taken on a different tone. Gone are the days of the happy-go-lucky 11th Doctor (Matt Smith) and the boyishly charming but sometimes moody 10th Doctor (David Tennant). What we are left with is a raw, more emotional version of the Time Lord we have grown to love. This episode had that change paid off in spades. We saw a deep emotional Doctor. One whose travels and losses have begun to take a toll, which the Time Lord cannot longer hide. In a story that once again felt predictable, the character development and addition of Ashildr (Maisie Williams of Game of Thrones fame) made this a truly enjoyable episode.
The story arch in this half of the two-part episode can be summed up like most Doctor Who episodes. We start with Clara floating in space with a creature in her space suit and we cut to the Doctor to see him under fire from some alien crafts. After some witty banter the TARDIS materializes around Clara and The Doctor saves her and smashes the weird alien with his boot. The Doctor lands the TARDIS to “wipe off his heel” and he and Clara proceed to get captured by Vikings. In a moment in which many fans must have rejoiced, the Viking leader grabs The Doctors sonic sunglasses and smashes them!
Cue the predictable story. Alien (the Mire) come down and take and kill all the Viking warriors. While Clara tries to talk the Mire out of attacking the rest of the village, Ashildr, in her Viking way, incites the Mire and challenges them to a battle. The Doctor and Clara are then left to train the remaining villagers in order to fight this fearsome alien race. Just when things look hopeless, The Doctor comes up with a brilliant plan, which basically just a very clever trick that avoids any real fighting. His plan (mostly) works and he sends the Mire off with out creating any ripples or tidal waves in time, yet.
That leads us to the real heart of the story. While the Viking village is saved, Ashildr has died. Doctor Who has been very conscientious about setting up the rules of time travel again, and trying to establish what The Doctor is and isn’t allowed to do. Finally, with the death of this young innocent child The Doctor snaps. He no longer is a man who tries to hide his emotions and pretend everything is going to be alright. The Doctor decides to disregard these “rules” and challenges anyone in the universe to stop him if they don’t like it. The Doctor goes back and implants a Mire device into Ashildr to save her. However, by saving her life this leads to one side effect, immortality. The Doctor explains that this is not a gift but a curse. The curse of having to watching everyone you love or care about (Clara?) die.
What is interesting here, this more or less concludes the story in just the first episode of the two episode story. This leaves us to follow Ashildr into a darker place in the next episode. We can explore the ripples and tidal waves of change The Doctor may have caused and the repercussions that will follow. One should note that Moffat does not have The Doctor do anything haphazardly or for no reason. The Doctor gave Ashildr a second device that can grant someone immortality, Jack Harkness anyone? We can only hope that one of the great companions of all time, Captain Jack Harkness, will return to Doctor Who in this upcoming episode or sometime this season. In a refreshing take on Doctor Who, Moffat is not afraid to go back and look at past Doctors and companions and tie them back into the story. Plus with the tidal wave of change that the 12th Doctor just created, anything is possible, right?
Matt is a writer for SHOWoff and a connoisseur of all things geeky. One day he plans to dethrone Chris Hardwick as The Nerdist.
Matthew Hatkoff | Contributor