The fact that ‘The Woman Who Lived’ isn’t the strongest episode of series nine just shows what an amazing season it’s been so far. Last week episode ‘The Girl Who Died’ had left me worried that, after a strong start, series nine might be losing its way. How wrong I was. Whereas that episode felt rushed and under developed this one was wonderfully paced with great additions to the overall story arc.
The only major criticism I could throw at the episode is that the opening scene could almost have been ripped off from the ‘Blackadder Three’ episode ‘Amy & Amiability’. That aside ‘The Woman Who Lived’ was full of great characters, wonderful dialogue, and cleaver set pieces.
Last week Massie Williams’ Ashildr felt like a passable typecast of her ‘Game of Thrones’ character Arya. Here, with a name change to Me, she bristled with personality and a world weariness beyond her years. Her exchanges with the Doctor were more than enjoyable giving a sense of depth to their immortality. I wouldn’t be surprised if the character isn’t reprised again and again. If not in the TV series then at least in the books and Big Finish episodes.
Rufus Hound as Sam Swift offered the comic relief to the more serious exchanges between Ashildr and the Doctor. The gallows humour stand up routine worked really well as did the fight in the forest between him, Ashildr, the Doctor, and Swift’s accomplices.
The game of spot the references to past ‘Whos’ continues to be fun. The mention of ‘Captain Jack Harkness’ raised a smile. Although the scene where Ashildr questions if she started the ‘Great Fire of London’ was probably the reference ‘Whovians’ enjoyed the most this week. With the Doctor mentioning that the fire was caused by the Terileptils; this being a reference to the Peter Davison episode ‘The Visitation’.
‘The Woman Who Lived’ managed to make up for any problems that arose with the first part of the story. Whereas the ‘The Girl Who Died’ felt like a prologue this felt like a step forward in the continuing story of the overall ‘Doctor Who’ universe. Introducing us to a new heroin but, I doubt the next companion.
Rating out of 10: 8.5