JReviews: Doctor Who Series 9 Episode 6- The Woman Who Lived

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.

JR Out.


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5 Responses to JReviews: Doctor Who Series 9 Episode 6- The Woman Who Lived

  1. dreadyacht dreadyacht says:

    Yup, it was a good episode. I actually, though, still think of this as a separate but connected episode, like 2013’s Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS and The Name Of The Doctor (The latter features scenes from the former), or 2005’s Dalek and 2014’s Into The Dalek (Both feature a moral Dalek who is restrained somehow).

  2. dreadyacht dreadyacht says:

    I still think they’re two connected standalones.

  3. jack bitz jack bitz says:

    Not enough clara

  4. Avatar Malfar says:

    The people here create the impossibly great art which is totally impossible without the good use of imagination – and still they refuse to use it even a bit when watching this totally perfect show. Horrible, not convincing special effects? Oh come on, that was a freaking fire-breathing lion! Like, a walking lion who breathes fire, if this is not awesome then I’m the Sultan of Finland!

    Imagination! That’s what made people run in panic when the black and white train appeared approaching on a black and white screen under some piano music. That’s what many years ago made you see enemy knight in your 7-year old buddy wielding a stick. That’s what made you see wonders of the worlds far away when playing the videogames 20-25 years ago. That’s what made people see alien monsters in the guys wearing rubber suits, see magic spells and lightning bolts in badly drawn flashes, or alien armadas in cardboard UFOs hanging from a thin rope. It was hard to use it back then, you had to use it a lot, and now you complain when you had to use a tiniest fraction of it? What’s wrong with you people! You read the books and see the characters and action even when the book has no pictures. So why can’t you do it with movies?

    This has to be in the next season of Doctor Who. Some force from space which robs people of their imagination.

    Also, not being an American I can’t understand why those puns are bad. I find them funny.

  5. JR19759 JR19759 says:

    @Malfar- You know, I was considering defending myself for a second there, but you know what actually, you can feel free to leave if you are going to take that attitude with me. You picked up on one thing I said, about one tiny bit of the episode that literally happened twice, and decided to rag on me for two paragraphs. Dude that is not cool. Yes there’s a walking fire-breathing lion, but even with the best will in the world, when the fire doesn’t even look like it’s coming out of his mouth you can’t help but think “student movie project” and that never looks good even if you have the greatest imagination in the world. Also, I’d like to think that we’ve progressed a bit since a) we were children and b) since the days when moving pictures were a new thing and it was easy to freak people out with just a train coming towards them because they hadn’t seen anything like that before except in the real situation. Nowadays we see so much stuff on TV that we can imagine a lot more impressive things than a lion with fire not really coming out of its mouth.
    And with that guys, I am actually going to close this thread to anymore comments. Sorry but this is what being an idiot gets you, so everyone round of applause for Malfar.
    And for the record I’m not American, I’m British and I never said the puns weren’t funny, just that they were bad. A pun can still be funny if it’s bad because puns are meant to be bad, unlike jokes which are meant to be funny.