In a nutshell I liked The Woman who Lived, despite many flaws (see below). I got the bulk of what I wanted and there will be more Maisie Williams later this series. The episode was Clara-free, giving plenty of time for the Twelfth Doctor and Ashildr to discuss the moral and ethical implications of the Doctor’s choices and impact on the human race. There was even a Carry on Dick style ‘plot’ with Rufus Hound as Sam Swift to lighten the tone.
The good stuff
[pullquote]Cathering Treganna’s writing pulled no punches[/pullquote]
So, plenty of Maisie Williams and she leaves as not quite a friend or enemy, and will re-appear in Face the Raven along with the returning Rigsy. This was very dark in places and Ashidr (aka Me) had been through some difficult experiences. Her decaying long-term memory was a good contrast to the Doctor as were her attitudes. All along she asked key questions: Why not take me with you? Why not make others immortal? She also had pointed observations on the Doctor and I liked how Cathering Treganna’s writing pulled no punches. As a parent I did at one point wonder if the immortality had left Ashildr barren; the truth was very different and full marks to Maisie Williams for her performance.
I also liked (apart from the anachronistic language) the part about it only needing 10,000 hours to become an expert at anything (a different kind of memory from conscious?) explaining how she can have acquired so many skills. I also thought her frustration with short-lived people and the pain of seeing them die was both compelling and (obviously) talked also about being the Doctor.
I also felt not having Clara stripped back the story to allow the focus to be on the contrast between the Girl Who Died and the Woman Who Lived. I didn’t mind the silly highwayman story too much, something needed to grab the attention of a wider audience and give some pace.
I’m also wondering how much Ashildr has been in the background across the show’s history. It was pleasing when she wouldn’t get too specific as to which companions she’d met, or other adventures she was aware of.
The other stuff
I would have like this episode not to have followed straight on from last week, and perhaps followed on from the up-coming UNIT/Osgood double. What do I know about pacing a TV series?!
The journal was a good idea but so many books? And all the same look? Not sure. I also felt, at times (eg the 10,000 hours) Ashildr’s vocabulary was too modern (maybe she’s travelled in time with the Meddling Monk;-) and it grated occasionally.
Weakest for me was the alien lion man (Leandro from the Leo [sic]) and how much time, effort and money went into this character who was basically another man in a costume? That’s three weeks in a row we’ve had (in my view) one-dimensional costumed aliens.
Anyway, apart from my griping I like a lot of this story. Now, if only I could figure out a way for Ashildr to be the woman in the shop….