The Girl Who Died

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    Craig @craig


    Co-written by Jamie Mathieson (returning after last year’s ‘Flatline’ and ‘Mummy on the Orient Express’) and Steven Moffat, this is first part of another two-parter. Yet again it has a cliffhanger that is quite ominous and will easily keep us going with the bonkers theorising for another week.

    The Doctor and Clara encounter some unfriendly vikings but it’s not long before they encounter a bigger threat.

    There is a lot of fun in this episode, it’s quite ‘Robots of Sherwood’, and Capaldi once again revels in the comedy. It also skillfully weaves in a lot of mystery. That guest star, for example, is a character who raises more questions than answers as the Doctor seems to know who she is. Great for us!

    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    oh i have a bad feeling about this. And I don’t just mean the insane moral flaws in the Doctors decision- that I liked. Giving her the chance to give another immortality- just as flawed, I’ll take that.

    And I really liked this episode. Capaldi was great. Clara was almost like a calmed down Dalek Clara. Hints that the doctor wants her to quit for real this time, but can’t bare to lose her. The atmosphere, the dialogue, I loved it.

    Question: did anyone else think things were going to go another direction? Someone in the village saying ‘we can’t leave’, the Maise Williams character talking about this being the place where she feels at home, when she would surely have lived there all her life?

    And worry: did they establish about the power of those helmets, or are things about to get very grim in certain parts of the internet? It’s an established thing now for arguments to develop over whether its deau ex machina or Chekov’s gun, but at the moment I’m tempted to call machina. Is this an editing problem, or did I miss something?

    another question- was the doctor wrong in thinking that this moment was the decision his choosing a familiar face was telling him about, or did he get it wrong? Immortality is a hell of a thing to do to somebody, and he, the he that first saw that face, knew that from experience.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    did they establish about the power of those helmets

    I thought that was established when ‘Odin’ turned out to be a holographic projection. They took the Mire’s power to create deceiving images and turned it right back at them.

    I’m undecided at the moment. Yes, this episode has established one heck of a lot for the series arc, but the story in it left me feeling distinctly underwhelmed. I wonder how much of Steven Moffat’s co-credit is for series arc stuff, and how much is that he had to do more than the usual level of re-writing.

    Or possibly Jamie Mathieson found himself with so much pre-arranged plot, he just couldn’t make the wretched thing quite gell.

    But I’m afraid it failed my ‘I want to go and make a cup of tea in the middle of the episode’ test. 🙁 Maybe it’ll be better on a rewatch; some episodes are slow growers.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    Hmmmmm – so potentially the hybrid cometh. Early. On the other hand an obvious misdirection by Moffat, because it can’t be that simple can it.

    I’ll agree with @miapatrick. A really peculiar episode that, on the surface light and frothy, a bit of a romp. Underneath though a huge amount to talk about. Consider that in the last episode the Doctor acussed the Fisher King of interfering in the natural balance of life and death.

    And here he is, doing the same thing. Bestoing the ‘gift’ of immortality, that he has long since railled against. The Sisterhood of Karn, for instance, he managed to convince them that death should be considered a Mercy and a natural phenomenon that was necessary for change.

    The explanation of the face fits the idea that he frowned that face as a reminder of the need for compassion in the face of disaster, but the circumstances for this gift are peculiar. And troublesome when taken in context for his dialogue with Clara.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    I actually thought it was enjoyable enough though. I particularly thought the baby translation stuff worked well, echoing the dinosaur translation in Deep Breath, which the episode then referenced.

    I don’t know what it was but watching the Doctor address the parade reminded me of this from Red Dwarf. I kept expecting the Doctor to demand Heidi ‘drop and give him fifty’

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    At some point, in my less than copious free time, I need to check if the Cloister Bell is ringing whenever Clara is in danger of dying. I really don’t remember it ringing quite this much before: it used to be ‘end of the universe’ stuff.

    And if it is still ‘end of the universe’ stuff, that says rather a lot about Clara…

    bendubz11 @bendubz11

    I’m 8 minutes from the end of the episode but I’ve paused it to just voice my theory on those final 8 minutes. Please Please Please let her be Jenny, it would fit so perfectly! (I’ll do a full review in a few minutes but it’s a great episode so far)

    Juniperfish @juniperfish

    The earth history-trips are never my favourites, it must be said. I prefer being off-world!

    I liked Capaldi’s outfit however, with the checkered trousers – a sort of classic Who look mixed with a grubby punkish T-shirt. It suited him.

    My sense was, that the Doctor wasn’t in the least surprised when Maisie William’s character died after her storytelling efforts in the helmet. I figured that he knew that her human brain might (more likely than not) burn out, but it was worth the risk to save the town.

    When he saw Clara looking at him with her big eyes and dead Maisie W in her arms, however, he felt he’d made the wrong choice. So, then he over-compensated, by giving Maisie the ill-advised immortality chip, spurred on by his revelation about his face back from the Fires of Pompeii.

    The gag about the testosterone quaffing Mire, and how the universe was “full of testosterone”, whilst, sure, it made me smile, disappointed me too. I really hate it when Doctor Who plays to gender stereotypes, in either direction. I want it to educate kids, and look forward, not feed them the old crap.

    Is it me, or was it a bit of an ouch! moment for Clara, when the Doctor explained to her that now “practically immortal” Maisie W might meet someone she wanted to keep around, forever, so that’s why he’d given her the extra chip. It becomes apparent (surely to Clara) that the Doc could have given the chip to her. He may not want to lose her with one of his hearts, but the other seems ever more ready to let her go.

    I found the Doctor recognising his reflection and the flash-back to the Eleventh Doc and Donna a bit too spelled out. Whenever I get that feeling, I remind myself the show is written for kids too. But the truth is, I don’t think Doctor Who ever talked down to the child audience, when I was watching it as a nipper. Sometimes, unfortunately (as in this instance) now I feel it does.

    Despite some gripes, I particularly enjoyed Capaldi’s performance as ever. His excitement over the electric eels was most endearing, and I am looking forward to finding out just how hard it all comes back to bite the Doctor on the bottom next week.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    Just on names (a strand of theory that has never let me down, except you know, always)


    Derived from Old Norse áss “god” combined with Old Norse hildr “battle”.

    God of battle = Minister of War?


    Thoroughly enjoyed that – too much to absorb, so I’ll just say that the inversion and subversion of Matt Smith’s “I speak baby” schtick was simply delicious.




    And shame about the Viking’s horns…

    JimboMcMaster @jimbomcmaster

    <p style=”direction: ltr;”>I actually really liked this episode, despite the fact that it had some of the silliness of ‘Robot of Sherwood’, including a cartoony version of history, which I don’t like (although a lot of the funny dialogue that goes with this ‘subgenre’ I do really like, so its swings and roundabouts). What I liked was the fact that it had a certain kind of depth, something I also saw in The Magician’s Apprentice/Witches Familiar. In this case that meant dealing with the Doctor’s attitude to fighting and saving the day, and the consequences thereof. Also, the writing for the relevant scenes I thought was pretty good, particularly the scene between the Doctor and Clara after the girl died. And I like the idea that Doctor went too far, got ‘too emotional’, and now there are consequences to that (next episode?).</p>
    <p style=”direction: ltr;”>Basically, I thought the episode had a pleasing character/thematic basis as an undercurrent to what might otherwise have been a frivolous adventure, so there was a nice contrast.</p>
    <p style=”direction: ltr;”>But I wasn’t convinced by the way in which he made the girl immortal. Rather too convenient that there was a little cube thing that could apply itself on demand, and that it happened to work on humans with little modification.</p>
    <p style=”direction: ltr;”>Also, I don’t like the suggestion that the Doctor’s face can be chosen by his subconscious. Doesn’t seem right to me, doesn’t match up with how I see regeneration works. What does anyone else think?</p>
    <p style=”direction: ltr;”>Also, while I found the fact that they made a video of the monsters’ defeat by a ‘serpent’ very funny, I’m sure the villains would have at least annihilated the villagers in revenge or anger, even if their reputation was ruined. Or did I miss something?</p>
    <p style=”direction: ltr;”>But obviously those are nitpicks.</p>
    There was an interesting suggestion that the Doctor asks too much of himself – at the beginning he single-handedly saves Clara from being lost in space, having her brain eaten and stopping several battlefleets having a war (or something like that) all at once, and yet after he ‘only’ delays the war they were going to have he says ‘Its the best I could do’ in a way that suggests he isn’t very impressed with himself, almost disappointed. And then after the death of Maisie Williams’ character he basically says ‘yes I saved half a village but I am clever/knowledgeable/courageous enough to have done better and save her too.’ I think this sheds some light on his worries about being a good man from last season – but I thought he’d come to terms with that in Death in Heaven – maybe not…

    Juniperfish @juniperfish


    Good thinking Batman.

    Being hybridised with a species as war-hungry as the Mire doesn’t seem like a good idea at all.

    The Doctor pondering hybrids made me wonder, again, about Clara’s parentage. River was a hybrid, as being conceived in the TARDIS added some Time Lord to her DNA.

    I realise I will not let go of this 🙂 The truth is I am still suffering River Song withdrawal symptoms. I must get the Big Finish stories devoted to her, coming soon.

    bendubz11 @bendubz11

    Right well first things first I completely forgot about her father still being alive, so Ashildr can’t be Jenny.

    As for the rest of the episode it was a very unusual first part for a two parter, never seen it like this before. Until it actually said To Be Continued I was starting to doubt my memory of it being called a 2-Parter.

    The cloister bell went off at the start again, getting it twice in the same series is strange enough, but only two episodes after the last time, the very next story? Crazy. And when you couple that with how many nods to an impending doom for Clara that CapDoc seems to know about, you get a definite series arc.

    Yet again there was a serpent, hinting at rebirth, or as I’ve only just realised it could hint, somebody concealing their true form. Again there was Clara acting like a MetaDoctor, and a theme of trickery being used to survive, again linking to snakes.

    All in all a great episode, and i am very intrigued as to how they will tie it in to next week’s episode, excluding recurring characters.

    Juniperfish @juniperfish

    On another note – I forgot to look for Tarot cards whilst watching, but now I think about it, we had a one of swords/ a two of swords. The Doctor and Clara were the only ones to put their hands up when he was asking the remaining, un-harvested villagers, who among them had ever fought with a sword.

    Two of swords is a card of choice – the Rider Waite deck features a young blindfolded woman with crossed swords – at a crossroads. Certainly could fit with Clara.

    I also wondered about the big (illusory) snake monster. Because just last episodes, we had the big snake monster painting, curled around a ship, and now here, manifested, is a big snake monster. Is that a coincidence, or is there something running from episode to episode in the visuals? An idea, gradually becoming material?

    As for hybrids, that also seems to be running as a theme, given that the doctor created hybrid Time Lord/ Daleks on Skaro, and frankly, we know Davros has survived, because the old bugger always does, so that hybridisation is out there, somewhere…

    vrooom @vrooom

    Thoroughly enjoyed the episode and here’s my video review for those who might be so inclined:

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord


    I’m looking at the new series Big Finish stuff and wondering how much damage my bank balance can take. River Song AND the War Doctor. Bugger!

    I must admit though that the testosterone line made me laugh. I couldn’t help but think of the typical warrior race, like the Klingons and think, well, yeah.

    Funny that Who made a warrior race and made them reproduce by cloning. Asexual, and able to gene splice to create enormous amounts of lactic fluid.

    I think there may be a lesson for us all in that one. Not quite sure what it is though. 😀

    haggisthegirth @haggisthegirth

    capalldi in series 4 episode 3 , now in series 9 episode 5 looking back at why he chose that face! mind blown!

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    Oh yes! Who else gave a drunken cheer at “reverse the polarity of the neutron flow”?

    ScaryB @scaryb

    Whooo! brain firing off in all directions after that. LOT to think about. The single parter (or is it…?) surprised me and I thought it was paced pretty well for the most part.  Spookily the thought “Hang on the title is… and no-one’s d…”  popped into my head at the same time as they realised something was up with Maisie.

    I also chuckled at the testosterone gags, but it’s not just the men who have it. Maisie does too. Her bravado in the aliens’ ship is what antagonises the leader enough to respond to her challenge. (As a footnote – if the Mire can assimilate human testosterone and whatever, then their chemistry can’t be too different from ours, so it’s not too much of a stretch that their healing patches might be adaptable for humans). Sometimes the sensible thing to do to ensure survival is to run. It’s not cowardly, it’s strategic. But testosterone and pride get in the way of the pragmatic.

    @miapatrick interesting comment re  deus exes – but the Doctor refers to the Mire leader’s helmet etc as a hologram (when he’s talking to him) and also to the image of Odin at the start as a hologram/projection – it’s what the Mire do to put fear into lesser races.  But the Doctor didn’t look overly surprised that it was too much for Maisie, he looked very remorselful.  Yet again this Doctor is pragmatic, but not cold – he feels every one of his “losses” (I thought that was a lovely moment when he talked about being sick of losing).

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    So – not only did it fail my ‘cup of tea’ test, I decided to pause and do the washing up in the middle of the rewatch.

    Okay, obviously not going to be one of my favourites. 😉 But I think I’ve identified the genre: origin story.

    Some thoughts: the Capaldi Doctor does indeed think he knows that Clara is going to die on one of these adventures – he keeps giving her the same choice he gave O’Donnell. Get a new hobby, leave. And she’s wearing a blue shirt, like the figure in the serpent’s mouth last week.

    Snake theme: Colony Sarff, the serpent mural with someone in its mouth, now the virtual reality dragon.

    Things are not what they seem: Missy is (apparently genuinely) still the Doctor’s friend, Colony Sarff is really a load of snakes, the Fisher King is really dead throughout Beneath the Lake and the dragon is really a puppet.

    ScaryB @scaryb


    Oh yes! Who else gave a drunken cheer at “reverse the polarity of the neutron flow”?

    Haha yes, that was very funny.

    Some other random likes –

    Premonition is “remembering in the wrong direction”

    Hybrids – Davros referred to a hybrid of “2 of the most warrior races in the universe” – Humans and Mire perhaps…? (And not as both the Daleks and TLs were arrogant enough to assume, between Daleks and TLs)

    Home – thoughts of Gallifrey again?

    The Doctor says something about Maisie along the lines of “she’ll see me whenever she wants” – suggests he knows something more than he’s letting on – need to rewatch to get the exact line.

    Music refs also made me chuckle – “the sky is crying” “fire on the water” – that baby is pretty hip!

    Meta ref – the Doctor threatens to release the recording of the Mire’s humiliation to the universe – is that how we’re watching it?? 😉

    Loving the Doctor’s look at the moment. He looks very much at home in it, and of course i love the checked trousers.

    The sonic sunglasses demise – bit of a Raiders of the Lost Ark scimitar type moment – bet there was a cheer went up in some quarters. So… any bets in what form the sonic will take next?

    And a biggie – death as a natural part of the life process, immortality being a curse when you have no one to share it with. He couldn’t be clearer that he doesn’t want to have to say his final goodbyes to Clara, that she’s someone he can’t bear the thought of not being around any more.

    Ripples and tidal waves – sure looks like Maisie is going to be a tidal wave. But maybe not in the way we expect. This is someone who is already psychic, strange and a teller and repositary of stories. (What was it River said? “We’re all just stories in the end”?)

    oldmangeorge @oldmangeorge

    I really liked this episode. The tone varied wildly, but it all somehow held together. The way the character of “Odin” was handled in terms of acting and dialog reminded me a lot of the Captain in The Pirate Planet, which I love.

    Serahni @serahni

    I really enjoyed this!  Again, this season continues to somehow tell its stories with a little more polish to suit my tastes.  Perhaps I’m just a sucker for a good arc thread, and there seems to be a bigger one this time around than ‘who is Missy and why is she stealing dead people?’

    Did anyone watch this thinking the whole time that Maisie’s character was a Claricle or is that just me?  Or possibly an ancestor, at least.  I kept looking at the similarities between them, and now I’m all hung-up about who it might have been that Maisie gives her immortality serum to…  A daughter?

    Is Maisie Missy, gone bonkers after years of not being able to die? lol

    Also, I know the character isn’t called Maisie, my head is too full for minor details right now!

    Serahni @serahni

    I will add that for a moment, I thought his line about being sick of losing was going to end in being sick of losing Clara.  I think I have said since the start of last season that, whilst I do kind of hope that Clara goes on to a higher purpose rather than being left to a Sarah-Jane existence back on Earth, part of me feels she should die.  That there is somehow something right about it.  Or at least change.  I’m not sure I’ve ever been rooting for a companion to suffer this much since Mel.  😀  Or possibly Tegan, but I’m Australian and surely permitted…

    DoctorDoctorWho @doctordoctorwho

    “I’m The Doctor, and I save people!”


    Oh my lord, what a FANTASTIC episode!

    The Fires of Pompeii flashbacks had me screaming and the “hybrid” teasing is exciting! 🙂


    Jeff @jeff

    I just finished up the episode and came up with the idea that Maisie was given a lot of attention during this episode. I know she was the main character for this episode and I keep hearing she is a guest star but at the end of the episode she had a moment when she was travelling through time since she is immortal and it seemed as if she was as important to the doctor as much as much as Clara is. Since I we know this is Clara’s last season on the show, It feels like Maisie possibly may be taking the role of The Doctor’s companion since she is now immortal and since The Doctor’s largest fear is traveling through space and time alone.

    I really hope I’m wrong but it seems like it could be a possibility that Maisie becomes The Doctor’s new companion, with all the advertisements we see with Maisie in. Anyone disagree I beg of you. I don’t feel Maisie would make a great companion…

    DenValdron @denvaldron

    Okay, people are going to hate me for this but….

    * They didn’t call themselves Vikings. They called themselves Norse. Viking was what they did. Viking was the act of jumping in a ship, sailing off to some village, beating the crap out of everyone, stealing their stuff and making off. No big deal.

    * They didn’t actually wear horns on their helmets. That’s comic books and B-movies. No big deal.

    * Finally: Electric Eels are not actually eels. Also, they’re native to South America, not Scandinavia. That’s kind of a big deal. But I’m going to assume that they aren’t electric eels, the Doctor just heard the word eels, free-associated to electric eels, to electricity and then just decided to use the electric eels shtick as his way of messing with Clara, while actually channelling energy from the Tardis through his remaining sunglass. Call it implausible deniability. Either that, or the Monk actually did introduce Electric Eels to Scandinavia in the Doctor Who universe, because he thought it would be fun, presenting a conundrum for biologists a few thousand years later.

    DenValdron @denvaldron

    @jeff Maisie’s all tied up with Game of Thrones for the foreseeable future, so no, I don’t think she’d be available as a companion.

    DenValdron @denvaldron

    Not a bad episode, overall. Some nice moments.

    ichabod @ichabod

    @bluesqueakpip  Who else gave a drunken cheer at “reverse the polarity of the neutron flow”?

    Me!  I absolutely whooped with delight . . . I loved this, thought it was a wonderful rush of energy and ideas.  The playfulness here worked beautifully with/against the on-going problem of Clara and the Doctor’s absolutely necessary loss of her and v.v. in future.  I have some thoughts about that, but they go on Spoilers, right? Meantime, I loved the completely unrealistic baby language (what, do babies participate in the human collective unconscious until they start to talk, maybe?  Where the hell else would “fire in the water” come from?).  And of course truth to tell, the baby saved the day!

    I thought the nod to Pompeii/face was exactly right — not a huge deal, but provided a working context for “I’m the Doctor — I save people!” line.  “Choosing” his face is interesting, since he also doesn’t know where they come from or why, he said in Deep Breath, I think.  But we do have this multi-dimensional Doctor, the personality running about the universe in a particular guise with variable limits on what he does and doesn’t know about the future; and, apparently, a core-Doctor self that stores away his knowledge and throws out useful hints now and then, and that’s the “I” in “It’s like I’m trying to tell myself something.”  He doesn’t just see the universe in multi-dimensions, he’s multi-dimensional himself, as a sapient being.

    And that finish — well, it looks to me as if the Doctor has in fact *become* a “rebel TL” (x2, as an old Punk Rocker,) in the form I was maundering on about yesterday — he’s declared his rebellion now against not only the TLs’ non-interfering monitoring (?) of time’s ever rolling stream, but against time itself: against Entropy.

    And that way, madness lies; and, sooner or later, deadly destruction (returning to the future to find it irrevocably changed, and yourself possibly not having existed since you messed about with somebody’s death).

    As to Miss Restored to Life, well, I suspect that — spoilers for next time, I’ll go there.  I do have an odd feeling about the resurrection of Ashildr, though; the Doctor speaks as if he knows exactly what he did to and for her with this gift, and understands quite well that she’s not going to be happy with immortality because, well, nobody ever really is in DW, I think, and certainly the Doctor’s own experience has been bumpy.  Did he just read about the Mire’s resurrection trick in that book he was referencing, is trying out their chip-trick, and waiting to see how it works for Ashildr before considering doing the same for Clara?  Waiting to hear from Ashildr about how it went, later on, to try to be sure there’s no hidden trap in it for humans?  Has he got another chip hidden away to use with Clara, if it goes well — but probably, given her, um, temper and touchiness, not without asking her first if she *wants* it (which he couldn’t do with Ashildr)?  Does he want to see whether Entropy (“anybody listening”) strikes back at him for screwing with death (not as the Fisher King did, but still, this is clearly a transgression on his part and he means it to be)?  Or worse, strikes in some way at Ashildr instead, making the gift a poison pill?

    I thought the episode was a wonderfully entertaining, engaging, moodily promising episode, much better than I’d expected.  And *full* of stuff to chat about, as observed above.  Basically — loved it.  Will see how it holds up on re-watch.



    CountScarlioni @countscarlioni

    That struck me as a deadly serious and deep episode disguised as a romp. Lots of very thought provoking stuff about the nature of stories, the endings of stories and a story within a story to help defeat the Mire. The Doctor also likes to remind us he himself is a story.

    The face of the lion in the stagecoach with (we now know it’s) Ashildr that we saw in the pre-season trailer promises another story within a story in the next episode as the lion is surely a character from a story (like the serpent in The Girl Who Died). How has that come to be? Has the now immortal Ashildr burst the bounds of her imagination to be able turn her own stories into reality? Doctor, what have you done??

    As well as the overt stuff from Fires of Pompei, Waters of Mars seemed in play too, with the tenth Doctor’s willingness to break the rules. Adelaide Brooke had the sense to shot herself after the tenth Doctor messed up and he saved her (but in so doing threatened a tidal wave as the twelfth Doctor puts it). Ashildr has not taken the same route and so, due to the Doctor’s (misplaced) compassion, this hybrid threatens to become a tidal wave. Davos did warn him.

    Or at least that’s what it looks like after one viewing.

    Like others on the list, loved the “reverse the polarity of the neutron flow” moment and I really enjoy these little callbacks to earlier Doctors.

    lisa @lisa

    This episode seemed odd to me. I guess I was expecting something different from the guy
    that gave us Mummy and Flatline. Jenna seemed like she had very flushed cheeks? I read
    that someone else thought her voice sounded rough. If she was ill then her performance
    didn’t show that. Also, as far as the Mire go they were not as threatening as they were
    advertised. I think the Doctor had a few interesting revelations about himself and
    life generally and that was really what saved this one for me. It felt mostly like a set up
    for Ashildr. There will probably be an Ashildr spin off or a book or a radio series maybe a comic.

    jphamlore @jphamlore

    Long life might be sad or not to whoever has it, the danger is when they think they are right.  Because we have seen what happens when another long-lived being thinks he is right and has the time to try and enforce that view on the universe: Davros.

    Now what would an immortal Earth person who dreams do with her time during the centuries when Earth is too primitive to have its own advanced tech.  She would go and try to steal whatever alien artifact was on Earth.  And who knows what that might be, perhaps as I speculated Moffat’s version of the renamed Hand of Omega.  Let us hope that Ashildir or whatever she will call herself in the future does not think she is right, or the universe may burn.

    If there is any consistency in the story, when Clara ceases to be a companion, especially if it is a tragic circumstance, the Doctor should consider having time-limited ones.  I have a sudden vision, a Christmas special with Kate Stewart as a companion and two others, the children Kate Stewart mentioned she had when she introduced herself to Missy last season.

    jphamlore @jphamlore

    And now for the immediate candidate for quibble of the week’s episode:  The existence of technology that can grant near immortality with such a simple procedure as implanting a chip makes ZERO sense whatsoever, and some way needs to be found to expunge this from the Dr. Who universe.  It wasn’t even tuned to native Earthlings before the Doctor hacked it for heavens sakes, and he is not a good doctor.

    In last season’s Time Heist we have seen there is a thriving market in all sorts of tech.  So how exactly would the knowledge of this immortality chip be kept secret?  Why wouldn’t Madame Karabraxos have heard of this and used it to repair herself and remain fairly young and beautiful?  Why wouldn’t the Daleks use it on themselves?

    There is a way around this that is found in innumerable science fiction stories, particularly short ones.   Unfortunately the light-hearted nature of this episode and possibly the next preclude this solution.  The obvious answer why no one should want this tech is that the chip repairs, oh yes, constantly.   Every minute it repairs, every second.  And when it repairs it destroys and rebuilds, painfully.  Every second of one’s existence one feels incredible pain, pain that one would given anything to have taken away, especially by death.  Have Ashildr be searching for the one alien artifact that can give her release from the curse the Doctor has given her.

    Alas, I strongly doubt that will happen.


    jphamlore @jphamlore

    There is an out that would explain why Ashildr did not wake up screaming in agony:  Adrenaline numbs the pain temporarily.  That would explain why she might become something of an adventurer, perhaps she is almost literally an adrenaline junkie.

    Ozitenor @ozitenor

    So many thoughts. Bah!!!

    i loved this episode. All sorts of callbacks. I second the comment above about being reminded of Douglas Adams’ Pirate Planet episode. It was the first thing my mind went to when I saw the Odin projection in the sky. I let out an audible squeeee!

    and i feel like the last 10 minutes is going to need a half dozen rewatches by me to figure this all out (if that is even possible). I feel like we are on the verge of some huge reveal about Clara: something the Doctor has been clued into for a while now. I feel like Ashildr is tied up in Clara’s story, and perhaps River too, and almost certainly Missy. I cant wrap my brain around a bonkers theory just yet, but I actually feel like the Doctor in the midst of figuring something out: I know there is something I am missing, there is something I am not seeing… Missy chooses Clara; River guides Clara to become the Claricles; Clara convinces the Time Lords to give the Doctor new regenerations; Clara is now, i presume, some kind of hybrid having been in the Dalek shell when the regeneration energy entered all the daleks; Ashildr is a hybrid, immortal, a storyteller … I just cant wrap my brain around this yet…

    as for immortals, we have had Capt Jack become immortal via Ms Bad Wolf shenanigans; but is Ashildr truly immortal? Not in the same way. She has tech that constantly heals her, but a disintegration blast from a Dalek (for example) would kill her, as it would disintegrate the healing mechanism too. I presume any sufficiently destructive explosion would kill her. There must be a limit to what the healing tech can do.

    ScaryB @scaryb

    More random thoughts…

    It’s all Donna’s fault! (Though it was great to see her again in the flashback).  Now the Doctor has to live with the consequences of “saving just one”.

    So who is Ashildr going to reward/curse with the other “chip”?  Wild thought – what if she gives it to Clara? I could be (ie probably am) wrong but I thought Clara was giving off a slightly envious vibe at the end when the Doctor explains what he’s done and produces the second chip.  What if that is Ashildr’s revenge/gift?  So it’s not Clara’s death he has to deal with (which we think is what is being foreshadowed), but her (endless) life…?

    @jphamlore Agreed that if this piece of tech existed then it would be priceless on the black market. Maybe it is! Interesting though about it causing endless pain – very Grimm 😉  I thought I picked up that it only worked on humans after the Doctor had tweaked it and the everlasting life thing was a side effect of that.  TBH I was surprised they introduced it, why couldn’t the Doctor use a bit of regeneration energy which has been shown before to have healing properties (River, Davros) without the immortality downside. He could then have misjudged the dose to create the same end result. Although there wouldn’t then be the dangling end of the spare chip.

    @denvaldron Thanks for the info – I didn’t know that about Norse/viking. I did read a theory that the Vikings (sorry, Norse) roamed all over the world, inc S America, and could have brought the electric eels back themselves.  Since their homelands would be too cold for the eels outdoors they’d need to store them in barrels, indoors. As we saw. So there you go – there’s always a way to reconcile if you want to! Or indeed the Mad Monk


    ScaryB @scaryb

    @jphamlore Re the everlasting chip on the black market – you have to get them off the Mire first. Presumably there doesn’t need to be many of them if they can endlessly rejuvenate themselves.  So it would be very, very rare indeed.

    ScaryB @scaryb

    @juniperfish Sorry, for some reason I missed your post about Clara’s envious look – completely agree

    jphamlore @jphamlore

    As for the Doctor’s limits working with time, isn’t the real limitation what the Reapers as shown in Father’s Day will do?   Don’t they feed on time paradoxes?

    jphamlore @jphamlore

    @scaryb: The episode goes out of its way to show the Mire’s technology is nothing special relative to other space-faring races.  It also says their reputation for being the deadliest warriors is simply part of their story.

    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    @Bluesqueskpip, @scaryb fair point over the machina and I hang my head- to be fair a lot of it was foregrounded- she thought of stories and worried that it would make things happen, she made weird puppets, there was a projection of an illusion. I suppose I was as confused as the baddie was, (and in my defence, it’s not my tec!

    thing is I did really enjoy watching it, but the bad feeling remains. As @phaseshift says. the immortality is troublesome.  (And also- god of war/minister of war? that’s brilliant.)

    He’s sick of losing people. If anything, the changes he made to history in the last episode might have suited the choice of face better. And I think the immortality chip could have been foregrounded. For example, the Mire get to masquerade as gods because they have this tech to make them indestructible. Clara almost does an eleven and gets them to turn away, but they have this? And I’m disturbed by how quickly he makes such a terrible decision. Perhaps because we’ve had two parters so far, and this is in fact a one parter in terms of the story (as @bluesqueakpip says, an origin story). That said, this season has been especially about losing people. He thinks Clara is dead, then he almost kills her, then he loses a team member, Clara is mourning Danny in a disturbing fashion. Its also been about changing history, and the two come together here.

    @jeff Maise plays the apparently unkillible character in a television show which kills anyone. So its not impossible, but she might be set up as a recurring character.


    Anonymous @

    Mostly a pretty typical but pretty good episode, certainly nothing bad (and I tend to find historical episodes weaker), and would be a little ineffectual without the end, which is where the meat is. But it’s good. I agree about the convenience of the electric eels, but the electromagnet plan was nice.

    Also, as everyone’s noted, the character arcs and themes are really coming to the fore now.


    God of battle = Minister of War?



    I found the Doctor recognising his reflection and the flash-back to the Eleventh Doc and Donna a bit too spelled out. Whenever I get that feeling, I remind myself the show is written for kids too.

    I think more to the point is that it’s written for people who aren’t super-fans too. Most casual viewers aren’t going to remember that Capaldi played a Roman in a Tennant episode, if they even saw it, and many would have even forgotten the face stuff in Deep Breath.

    Missy @missy

    Well, well, very interesting. Could this be Clara’s replacement?
    Why didn’t he do the same for Clara?
    Was it because he wants her to live a normal human life? Or does he know something about her which makes it impossible?
    These stories are becoming curiouser, and curiouser.


    Starla @starla

    Hi! I’m new here, and have been reading everyone’s  wonderful theories for the past few weeks! Love it. Decided to sign up and go a bit bonkers. ☺

    So…. my husband and I think perhaps Clara is still being effected somehow by the Dalek nanobot/gene thingies (sorry if I stuffed up the terminology!) and part of using the sonic sunnies is to keep an eye on her, noting any changes.  This might account (potentially) for why the Doctor couldn’t use the Mire’s healing device on her – maybe it’s not compatible with dalek tech?

    I’m still hearing the occasional oddity from Clara that makes me think of Daleks – e.g the very start of this episode when she says ‘Explain’ on a fairly curt voice to the Doctor. I’m sure it’s probably nothing, but it caught my attention.

    Anyway, I can’t post often, however I will continue to enjoy reading the crazy theories,  and if I think of anything especially bonkers I won’t hesitate to share. If that’s ok! 😆

    Juniperfish @juniperfish


    No worries 🙂 Great minds and all that…

    I loved your thought that we are watching Who episodes because the Doctor (or maybe one of his companions) has uploaded their live recordings of his adventures to the “Galactic Hub”. Maybe that’s why this Doc breaks the fourth wall and talks “to camera”! Very meta indeed.


    Missy chooses Clara; River guides Clara to become the Claricles; Clara convinces the Time Lords to give the Doctor new regenerations; Clara is now, i presume, some kind of hybrid having been in the Dalek shell when the regeneration energy entered all the daleks; Ashildr is a hybrid, immortal, a storyteller.

    I know – perhaps Ashildr is the clue though which the Doc twigs the nature of Clara.

    I too am wondering, as I think @bluesqueakpip and others were last week, about a big causal loop re Clara. That line of hers; “I was born to save the Doctor”, has always struck me as odd. I wonder if she was engineered to save the Doctor. How could, after all, a purely human girl jump into a Time Lord’s time stream and get fragmented into living parts whose mission, in each case, was to keep the Doctor safe?

    Maybe River and Missy conspired, over some time, to engineer Clara to save the Doctor. If so, the Doctor is going to be very, very cross when he finds out…


    You made me laugh – all good points, but are you trying to steal @pedant‘s moniker?

    Check this out – a find from an archaeological dig in 2009 in the north of Scotland which suggests the Vikings may actually indeed have worn horned helmets, as per the Victorian fancy. Of course, I don’t know if the Doctor planted this article, just recently, having meddled with time more than he should have done again…

    Anonymous @

    OK, wow: “reverse the polarity”

    Tennant and Noble, “I know why I have this face. I remember”

    The girl who lives -Ashildr is a traveller an “ARDIS” -relative dimension in space. Whoa!

    “I’m sick of losing. Losing people”

    “I look at your eyes [Clara] the anger, and then I will….? lose you..and then I’ll run and run”

    It had me nearly in tears. Capaldi as usual beautiful. Clara,  too: a sore throat for the actress herself? She sounded changed, anyway: older, mature, not a motor-mouth. A more grown up Clara which I enjoyed. When she placed her hand on the Doctor’s cheek, it was lovely  gesture.

    The Doctor speaking baby: “I am frightened mother. Look at me. Look at me and I will sing”

    Absolutely gorgeous writing in my opinion, particularly in that section.

    So tomorrow I shall read all the wonderful posts and read about the serpent dragon  -about which frankly I still don’t understand its ‘realisation’ thru the helmet?



    ScaryB @scaryb


    Ha! And thank you for the Orkney Vikings/Norse link. Hmm… Orkney is not much over 200 miles from the coast of Norway. Just saying 🙂 . Maybe the Doctor’s still hanging around the north of Scotland (Caithness last week).

    A bonkers thought – maybe Ashilde turns out to be Clara’s mum. That’s why the Doctor has to go with making her immortal (despite his knowing/suspecting that a lot of not-good will come from it) – otherwise Clara will cease to exist, and that’s too high a price tag for the Doctor.


    @Purofilion – they were able to transmit Ashilde’s concept of the serpent through the helmets because that’s what the helmets did – see the projection of “Odin” at the beginning. I like them being defeated by stories.

    Incidentally that’s 2 stories in a row which have had monsters as holograms; and electromagnetism (last week’s ghosts were explained to be electro-magnetic holograms – hence being able to pick up metal objects).

    ichabod @ichabod

    @jphamlore  In last season’s Time Heist we have seen there is a thriving market in all sorts of tech. So how exactly would the knowledge of this immortality chip be kept secret?

    That was definitely done too hastily, but my impression is that this was tech held by the Mire exclusively, and that as they’re such fearsome warriors, nobody had yet dared to grab it from them.  But I agree, much more should have been made of this before it suddenly appeared to save Ashildr.

    @juniperfish  The gag about the testosterone quaffing Mire, and how the universe was “full of testosterone”, whilst, sure, it made me smile, disappointed me too. I really hate it when Doctor Who plays to gender stereotypes, in either direction. I want it to educate kids, and look forward, not feed them the old crap.

    I thought that was pretty funny, and given the amount of war, invasion, and general machismo the Doctor has encountered in his travels (and taking “testosterone” as an umbrella term for macho-type aggressiveness wherever found, which is on the face of it nonsense), I kind of liked Clara tossing it out there as a cheery rebuke to the STFU haters out there who dismiss DW as irredeemable misogynist.  The lightness of tone on the surface of the story floats the foolishness reasonably well, I thought; it certainly didn’t interfere with my enjoyment of it, but there will be howling about this (as there would be howling anyway from those quarters, no matter what is or isn’t shown).

    Is it me, or was it a bit of an ouch! moment for Clara, when the Doctor explained to her that now “practically immortal” Maisie W might meet someone she wanted to keep around, forever, so that’s why he’d given her the extra chip. It becomes apparent (surely to Clara) that the Doc could have given the chip to her. He may not want to lose her with one of his hearts, but the other seems ever more ready to let her go.

    Not just you.  But set that against “Clara, what have I made of you”, a remark with large implications: can what traveling with him has made of her ever fit in anywhere else but as his companion (well, *he* certainly doesn’t fit in anywhere, and he’s “made her” like him, so . . . )?  Does his resultant “duty of care” extend to the rest of his, and/or her (potentially very very long) life now — in which case a) do either of them really want that?  Would the Doctor even consider “giving” Clara this (or any) kind of immortality without exploring the issues involved first (which I think, in a way, he’s trying to do by way of “trying it out”, without discussion, on Ashildr).  I can certainly see Clara giving him massive hell for just *doing* that with/to/for her without even obtaining her opinion first.

    As for Ashildr herself, something is clearly going on there that’s not been revealed — he’s solved the riddle of his own face, but replaced it with another: why is he so struck by his initial sight of this “viking” girl?

    @jphamlore  There is an out that would explain why Ashildr did not wake up screaming in agony: Adrenaline numbs the pain temporarily. 

    I think the model is our own self-repair and immune system, which does a good bit of its “daily” fix-it work well below our pain threshold, so it’s not an issue; and she’s young and healthy seeming, so there’s probably not that much big, ouchy stuff to be fixing in her.

    @ozitenor  Feel similarly about the ep, warts and all — totally jazzed by it.

    I actually feel like the Doctor in the midst of figuring something out: I know there is something I am missing

    Yes; there’s this Something Big looming over everything, smart talk and all . . . And he’s thinking, but not telling Clara (or us) everything about what he’s thinking, probably because he doesn’t know yet.

    is Ashildr truly immortal? Not in the same way. She has tech that constantly heals her, but a disintegration blast from a Dalek (for example) would kill her, as it would disintegrate the healing mechanism too.

    Exactly; it’s more like vampire life, toddling on until the stake or a bullet to the head makes the body decisively non-viable any more.  Even the Doctor has his limits in this regard.  A “scientific” view of the universe pretty much makes god-like immortality impossible, since science recognizes the basic significance of entropy.

    @scaryb  So who is Ashildr going to reward/curse with the other “chip”? Wild thought – what if she gives it to Clara? I could be (ie probably am) wrong but I thought Clara was giving off a slightly envious vibe at the end when the Doctor explains what he’s done and produces the second chip. What if that is Ashildr’s revenge/gift? So it’s not Clara’s death he has to deal with (which we think is what is being foreshadowed), but her (endless) life…?

    I am so with you on that!  Think about the Doctor’s motives in using the 1st chip on Ashildr: it’s apparently, “I am so fed up with losing the people I can’t save.  So I’m gonna save this one even though the time’s progress has just killed her, through my use of her to save these other people.”  Does that sound a little bit — *selfish* particularly from someone who knows the down sides of long life pretty well?  And how selfish would it be with regard to Clara, someone “dear to me” so he’s got skin in that game to a much greater extent?  Worse yet if he’s doing a sort of dry run on Ashildr for “saving” Clara this way.  Problematic, much?  No shit.

    And a note on the Pompeii connection — we never have seen anything about the “future” consequences of saving that family instead of letting them die as scheduled, have we?  He didn’t make them immortal (so far as we know) even on conditional terms, but he did tear a rent in time to unlawfully (?) postpone their deaths . . .

    Re explaining those eels — there’s always a way to reconcile if you want to!  Indeed; that’s why I don’t care to  get hung up on the smaller over-reaches.  It’s a story — like the stories Ashildr tells (“and then I *kill* the monster, gah, gotcha!”); artistic license is part of the deal, though of course hearers of the story each draw the line for themselves.

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