JReviews: Doctor Who Series 9 Episode 5: The Girl Who Died

Umm, don't expect too much from me here, because honestly, I have no idea on this one.

So, we'll start out with the usual question, was this episode good? I don't know. You read the plot synopsis, "The Doctor and Clara have 12 hours to train the residents of a small Viking village into warriors after a villager declares war on an alien warrior race called the Mire", and it sound like a complete mess. Fortunately that part wasn't as much of a mess as it should have been because it was handled as believably as it could have been. Actually, who am I kidding, that was not believable in any way, but it was entertaining. The fact that the Vikings conveniently had some electric eels lying about for the Doctor to use as traps and to make magnets out of anvils from was utterly preposterous. Also, have to give mad props to the Doctor for rewiring that Mire helmet to both receive thoughts and then project them into the other Mire helmets, I honestly completely missed that until I just sat down and thought about it. It took all of 2 seconds whilst there was all this other stuff going on to distract the viewer (including a wonderful diversion in the shape of an Old Who quote) and, of course, to keep everyone in the dark as to what the plan was there's no hint as to what he's actually doing outside of aforementioned quote, which is just throw away technobabble. So yeah, that's all a mess. But a fun mess, and quite inventive in how the situation was felt with, although you'd have thought that one of the greatest warrior races in the galaxy (presumably behind the Daleks and the Sontarans) would not have been scared off so easily.

Then the rest of the episode is littered with bits that are really odd. The start is completely random (although major cheers happened when the sonic sunglasses got snapped in two). The aliens looked really fake when not helmeted, especially compared to last weeks villain. The guy drinks testosterone made from minced Viking warrior as well, yuck. But the most confusing bit, no actually the second most confusing bit, was Ashildr herself. See was both really annoying and really anonymous. She was really stupid at the start. I know you've just seen a load of your villagers killed and you're angry, but do you really have to declare war on a people that have just annihilated your best warriors with technology that only the Doctor understands. Bad move girl, and Clara was doing so well. And then for the rest of the episode they try to make her out as something special, but she's just kinda there, not really feeling all that special. Shame, hopefully she's better next episode.

But the real most confusing bit about this episode is that it's a two parter. Why? It's just a reason to have a guest star back again really. This episode would have been fine as a single episode. The next story looks completely different. It's just odd, after we've had two two-part stories to have two stories as a two-parter. It's weird.

But, final few things. 1) They explain Peter Capaldi appearing in Doctor Who twice in the most inconsequential way possible, but in a fine scene. 2) Clara. Clara, Clara, Clara, Clara. You were terrible in the last episode. You have no right to be good in this episode. But you were. You actually were. This was her finest episode I.M.O.

So yeah, you see why I don't know what to make of this episode. It was entertaining but afterwards I was just left with a feeling of "what just happened?" So, yeah, I'll just wait for next week.

And with that...

No wait, actually, one last thing. If that's what babies are actually saying, then I'm so freaking glad I don't speak baby. That was stupid I'm sorry, easily the worst dialogue I've heard on the show.

And with that.

JR out.

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6 Responses to JReviews: Doctor Who Series 9 Episode 5: The Girl Who Died

  1. dreadyacht says:

    Yes, I was happy when the sunglasses broke. Let’s just hope he doesn’t have a sonic eyepatch from now on…;)

  2. Malfar says:

    Oh come on, Sonic Sunglasses are cool!

    This episode is actually very, very good and it has a complete sense to be a part of a two-parter. Because it’s clearly not enough to just say that “The girl is immortal now” and ditch her like the guy from season 1 was ditched (the one with a chip in his head, he returned in an epic comic as a supervillain, but still). The next episode is a logical sequel.

    The scared “Great Warrior Race” makes sense too – most probably the helmet didn’t just create an image, it could very well induce some emotions too, like fear.

    About Ashildr…well, she makes sense, too. We are often shown some “special” guys and gals, who are incredibly smart, brilliant. But not all people are brilliant. Especially kids, sorry. That’s just the most realistic part of the episode.

  3. JR19759 says:

    @Malfar- About the whole two part episode thing. Yes it makes sense in that you have an immortal character and you’re showing them in two different time periods. That is fine. But it doesn’t make sense as a two part episode, because apart from that fact, nothing else shows it to be the same episode just in two parts. If they’d have done this episode as a stand alone then had another two part episode and then come back to Ashildr, that would have been fine. At the moment it just smacks of last minute TV board room executive planning.
    “Ok, we’ve got scripts for all but two of the weeks for this years series. Any suggestions?”
    “We had ideas for two episodes. One set in the Dark Ages with Vikings and one set in Georgian England with Highwaymen.”
    “Great but we’ve committed to making this a series of only two part episodes.”
    “Well, why don’t we make them into a two part episode anyway, we’ll just have to add a character that can carry between the two stories.”
    “Yeah, and why don’t we get in a guest star from a TV show that all the kids love these days to play that character.”
    “Ok, sounds great, but didn’t you say that these two episodes were set in two different time periods? How’s the new character going to be in both of those time periods? We’ve done adding a new companion for an episode, we’ve got rid of River Song and we aren’t using any other Time Lords except Missy.”
    “Why don’t we just have the Doctor use alien technology to make her immortal by accident?”
    “Yeah, that sounds like a great idea.”
    That’s basically how this episode felt to me. They had ideas for two episodes, didn’t want to give up on the two-parter theme, so the character and their immortality felt like an after-thought.
    And no, the Sonic Sunglasses are not cool. The sonic screwdriver was cool because a) it didn’t look like a screwdriver and b) it was more akin to a technological magic wand, so it could do anything. The sunglasses on the other hand a) are just sunglasses and therefore just look like a money saving prop and b) don’t give off any sort of feeling that this is something wonderful that could do anything, it’s a pair of sunglasses, you wear them, the suns brightness doesn’t hurt your eyes, end of. You do not fix things with a pair of sunglasses, you do not open things with a pair of sunglasses, you do not tinker with things with a pair of sunglasses. You laze around on a beach in a pair of sunglasses and that is not something I ever expect to see the Doctor doing. They are too everyday to be impressive and the screwdriver looked impressive because it looked alien. And that is why they deserved to be snapped in half by a Viking and preferably thrown into the same production bin the Who-mobile was.

  4. Malfar says:

    @JR19759 about the two-parter I think it actually does make sense as a two-parter. Exactly as a two-parter, because separate these two episodes – and I can clearly see you and dozens of other reviewers say “Oh come on, it is totally clear that the girl will return later/much later/in the final episode”. Without separation though the episode is much akin to “The girl who waited”, although a two-parter. It makes a good and completed story without unnecessary complexion and time jumps which are good when they are not used too often.

    Yes, sonic sunglasses are cool. Not every piece of the Doctor’s equipment must look like super-scientific mumbo-jumbo. Come on, his main mode of transportation doesn’t look like a space ship or mega-sci-fi time capsule (at least from the outside). It’s a police box. At different time periods he used a special scanner (10th Doctor) which looked like cheap paper 3D glasses; a car which was a car and not a walking robot, and lots of things that were meant to be something out of sci and fi but looked totally real. That’s not a sin. And the Sonic Sunglasses are cool. I hope he gets the spare.

    The thing with sunglasses – in some ways they make even more sense than Sonic Screwdriver. In some ways. For example, The Eleventh Doctor used to often stare at his Screwdriver after using it. What did he stare at, there were no displays! Oh yeah, that was explained as a psychic link. This looks a bit awkward. Now the sunglasses. You scan something – you get the results on the screens before your eyes. Totally logical, although less sci-fi-ish.

    About all this “You do not %action% with %item% – strange, it doesn’t look that this is your first episode of Doctor Who. The theme of this entire show is – you do. And you think you don’t. Well let me continue your thought. You don’t threaten aliens with jelly babies. You don’t travel time in a police box. The mannequins and fat people are not homicidal (most of the times), a statue of an angel is not going to move when you blink, and getting several shadows means that you stand under several light sources, so shadows won’t eat you. But that’s just it – surprise! – this show focuses on what you don’t get in real life, like stopping planes, alien invasions and giant bats (although to me it was more like a fairy dragon) in the Moon.

  5. Skoul says:

    I have a feeling that this was a planned two parter. For me there was too much reference to the past and possible future for it to be a mash of two plot lines. I don’t know if anyone else got the same feeling that the second med kit he gave Ashildr might just be more important than you think. I think we can agree that the doctor will not be able to regenerate on his own next time, especially considering episode two, so I’m thinking the second med kit is possibly going to be the next regeneration kick-starter. Although wouldn’t that make the doctor immortal? Or would it convineintly only be a one use on a time lord?

  6. dreadyacht says:

    Actually, the whole series WON’T be two-parters; Face The Raven and Sleep No More will be standalone episode