I’ve been mulling over The Girl Who Died and have decided it needs to be considered from four directions. Partly this is as it has two writers (Jamie Mathieson and Steven Moffat), mostly for reasons I’ll explain.
The four directions are: the Viking story, the Doctor’s face, Ashildr (aka the Girl who Died herself) and Maisie Williams. Here it comes, ware spoilers!
The Viking story
A straightforward if aimed at the younger audience story of jolly Vikings, silly aliens and cliché number four: train the villagers to win overnight. The set-up was suitably stark, Clara played it well (as did Ashildr) then the Doctor got distracted by some wonderful sequences of baby talk. The electric eels was on the edge of my dodgy science tolerance, never mind them being denizens of South America.
I assume this core story was Jamie Mathieson’s, in which case I preferred Mummy on the Orient Express.
The Doctor’s face
So we get a partial explanation for The Mystery of the Three Capaldis with a flashback to Fires of Pompeii. If not the most thrilling explanation I can live with it, though it doesn’t really explain Children of Earth. Yet.
[pullquote]Is Ashildr a new take on Captain Jack?[/pullquote]
Is Ashildr a new take on Captain Jack? I really like the idea of her wandering through history with the power to make another immortal but again struggle a bit with dodgy science. If immortality is that easily dished out, why is it not more common? If Clara is to die (as the series seems to foreshadow) or someone else the Doctor cares about, why not make them immortal. He may have kept some alien tech for later in the series when Clara gets wounded / nearly killed, but surely he would have offered her immortality there and then?
There must be more to it.
The only real complaint I have is the under-use of the brilliant Maisie Williams. I got to the end of the episode and had expected a lot more of her interacting with Clara and the Doctor. It started so well, then faded badly. I trust The Woman Who Lived rectifies matters!