So, after a fairly odd first part to our third two parter of the series, how does it's second half match up?
Let me start out by saying that, after last week episode I openly wondered why these two episodes were a two parter. There first half finishing quite conclusively and then the second half being set in a completely different time period, with the first being an alien invasion plot and the second seeming from the previews to be a romp through post-Civil War England, they didn't seem to fit very well. I thought maybe it would be a better idea to have them as connected episodes separated by a few episodes in-between. That was my opinion last week.
However, I now understand why they wrote these episodes the way they did. I can't say that this episode was anything special story-wise and it did have a number of poor quality moments (the first Sam Swift scene and the Doctor's arrest scene both spring to mind), but these were over-shadowed by the main part of this episode, the point to it all and the reason why it actually now makes sense as a two parter, how Asheldr coped with immortality.
Each of the conversations between The Doctor and Asheldr on the subject of her immortality were put together so wonderfully, in fact the entire first 20 minutes was superb. Her forgetting her name and her monologue on the fact was a great way to draw the viewer in and make them empathise with her. Then came the discussion on her memories and her writing of diaries, which was coupled with some well placed and moving flashbacks as the Doctor reads the aforementioned diaries. Those 20 minutes were a masterclass on how to write that sort of TV. Later on we get into the more moral discussions on why the Doctor made Asheldr immortal and what effect that had on her psychologically and, again, these scenes are brilliant.
Now, as I've said, there are some bad points to this episode. The lion guy looked pretty naff if we're being honest (my Dad turned round at one point and said he couldn't take him seriously because he looked like something straight out of Thundercats) and his whole fire-breathing was a horrible effect that didn't look convincing. Secondly, this is the second time in two episodes that Asheldr has done something stupid to start an alien invasion of Earth. Did you forget about that too? I also have to acknowledge Sam Swift, whilst I enjoyed the puns, they were so bad I wouldn't even try them. And finally, the climax of the story was weak. That win was way way way too easy and if it was that easy, why didn't the Doctor just take the circuit from Asheldr as soon as the portal opened and revive the dude there and then. She'd have learnt her lesson when the Lion King betrayed her (hakuna mattata guys) and all the explosions would have been saved.
But all in all, those few things didn't really spoil the episode. They stopped it from being perfect, but it was avery good episode in it's own right. The questions it asked about immortality were interesting and not a cliche as you might think, so that gets it points.
And lastly, we have to talk about the Elephant that wasn't actually in the room. Clara wasn't in this episode, well, until the last 3 minutes. Hmmm. I see why they did that. She wouldn't have fit well into a story that focused mainly on a conversation between two immortals about immortality and I don't think the episode would have gained anything by her being included, but, and brace yourselves here, I actually kinda missed her. She was the best thing about last episode and whilst the interactions between Asheldr and The Doctor were great, it didn't feel like a Doctor- Companion relationship, which I guess was the point as the Doctor didn't want Asheldr to come with him. I never expected to ever say I missed Clara in an episode, but there you go. I just hope she can justify me saying this next week.
And with that.