The Woman Who Lived

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The Doctor arrives in Interregnum England on the search for a alien artefact when he meets Ashildr, the girl he made immortal.

The opening shot of this episode presages the eventual appearance of the alien Leandro, first seen as two glowing yellow eyes. What looks like the baleful eyes of a monster resolve themselves into the headlights of a coach.

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Leandro feels like he harks from the RTD tradition of aliens who are anthropomorphic animals, like the Judoon, the Tritovores, the Shansheeth etc. Presumably he is related to the Cat People from New Earth.He really reminds me of beardy version of Ron Perlman’s Vincent, from the 90s TV series Beauty and the Beast, which co-starred Linda Hamilton as the beauty.

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The technology that Ashildr hopes to exploit, the amulet which needs a human sacrifice to open a portal, is reminiscent of that seen in the seventeenth century scenes of Silver Nemesis (set some thirteen years prior to this tale, in 1683). Lady Peinforte uses Black Magic-like technology to travel to the twentieth century, which requires her to kill her mathematician.

Ashildr is presented very much like the Doctor here. Earlier this series Davros suggested that the Doctor did not really leave Gallifrey because hegrew bored of the dull repetition of living on just one planet and yearned for adventure. Perhaps this is why he is suspicious when Ashildr claims the same motives here. Like the Doctor when we original meet him in his first incarnation, the woman who lived is amoral, and not above sacrificing someone for their own ends. As Ashildr plans to kill Clayton, the Doctor seems ready to stove an injured caveman’s head in, in 100,000 BC.

“A man is the sum of his memories, a Time Lord even more so.”

Ashildr’s human memory  The Doctor struggles to remember everything from his long life, even relatively recent adventures like The Girl in the Fireplace. The former Viking has taken inspiration from the Doctor’s two thousand year diary to create her own part-work of her adventures. Like the Doctor, she even has missing episodes.

Like The Girl Who Died, the plot is over, but we are left with the same nagging sense of unease. Ashildr has sworn to look after those left in the wake of the Doctor’s tidal wave; but as we’ve already seen, her priorities and motivations change over time. It looks like their next meeting will be in 2015, when a few more centuries have passed for her.

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Order Series 9, Part 1 on DVD:

Doctor Who – Series 9 Part 1 [DVD] [2015]

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