Doctor Who Review: “The Woman Who Lived”

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Airtime: Saturday at 9:00 PM on BBC America

Tweetable Takeaway:The Doctor travels without Clara and has a brief adventure with the immortal girl, Ashildr. 


Ashildr has been alive for over 800 years (making her one of the oldest characters on ), but unfortunately for her she has felt alone most of that time. The feeling of loneliness and isolation has made her cold, disconnected, and angry (at least on the surface). When The Doctor encounters her after centuries of being on her own, she sees hope for the first time. She desperately wants to leave Earth, go on adventures and just feel something for a change (Clara Oswald anyone?). While this is another episode that feels short on story but big on character.

This episode’s story arch could more or less be summed up in 30 seconds. The Doctor finds Ashildr mid robbery. They are both after an alien jewel. After obtaining it, The Doctor finds out how much the years of immortality have changed Ashildr. Now the big reveal, she has been working with another alien all along, with hopes of leaving Earth. In the least shocking twist ever, the jewel is used to open a portal only to bring the baddies alien buddies through, for all of 20 seconds. Ashildr feels again, and her and The Doctor close the portal. End scene.

Maisie Williams felt oddly used in the last two episodes. This episode we saw the depth of character she could portray but it felt out of place. Maybe that is the by product of being a mega famous Game of Thrones actress, or just a product of misplaced lines, quips, and all around clunky writing. I can’t stress enough how the action and story fell flat. The action scenes felt rushed or out of place, followed by long drawn out dialogue that was almost forced. The writers seem to be playing the long game, without any care for the present story.

There is clearly a big build up in the character department, which is most likely going to lead to the death of Clara. This would be shocking and unexpected if it didn’t feel so telegraphed. Companions (with the exception of Rory who always came back) don’t generally die, however, Clara should be the exception. Her back-story has gone from interesting, to convoluted to unimportant. Once a character the audience pulled for, is now one that most people can’t wait to see get written off the show. The writers may have sensed this and are trying to give her a proper send off. However, what feels like a farewell season to Clara mirrors the audience feelings. It starts great, gets a little frustrating, then you are just ready to get on with it.

This is going to be a defining part of the season. They can either continue down this road and have lack luster episodes with strong character development, or they can do what Doctor Who does best, which is mix fun stories and a slow build of characters. The idea of the difference between immortals, like The Doctor, and the general human population, can continue, but the method of pulling this thread needs to be altered. The two episode story lines may be an adjusting period for the writers, but they need to turn it around. There are high hopes for the future but it is now up the writers to deliver (and maybe finally get rid Clara).

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Matt is a writer for SHOWoff and a connoisseur of all things geeky. One day he plans to dethrone Chris Hardwick as The Nerdist. 

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