Monday, October 19, 2015

Doctor Who, Season Nine, Episode Five: The Girl Who Died

Clara is floating in space and she is in conversation with Doctor, who is taking fire on the Tardis. The Doctor tells her that she is next on the priority list.  Clara reports that there's something in her suit and the Doctor tells her that it is probably a love sprite from spending too much time in the mines. The Doctor tells Clara not to worry and that the sprite is just hungry.  The Doctor asks Clara about the stars and nebulae that she can see and Clara answers but adds that she can feel the sprite on the back of her neck.  The Tardis materializes around Clara and the Doctor pulls off her helmet before the sprite can asphyxiate her. The Doctor stomps on the creature and Clara questions if the aliens they were trying to save came through okay.  The Doctor heads outside to wipe the sprite guts off his foot and explains that the invasion was stopped for now and that the next time, the species they were trying to help will be ready for an attack.  Clara is not pleased with his answer but the Doctor explains that this was the best that he can do.

The Doctor snarks that he's not actually the police and it only says so on the box.  Clara says that he is always telling her what he can and cannot do but never tells her the rules. Whoa....hold up a sec....Clara is the longest serving companion in NuWho and she has never had a conversation with the Doctor about the rules? Okay, I guess better late then never. The Doctor tells Clara that they can make ripples in time but not waves.

Their conversation is cut short when they are surrounded much to the Doctor's lament by Vikings. When the leader declares that the Doctor and Clara are coming with them, the Doctor puts on his wretched sonic sunglasses, claiming that he is wearing technology which is better than humanity will manage over the next nine million years.  Giving the Doctor a lesson in shooting off his mouth, the viking simply takes the glasses off the Doctor's face and breaks them in two.  Thank goodness! Good riddance to the sonic glasses and may they never ever be rebuilt.  I am know I am not the only one celebrating their destruction. The Doctor turns to Clara and informs her that they are going with the vikings.

The Doctor and Clara are taken to a viking settlement where Ashildr happily awaits the return of the warriors.  It seems that Ashildr had a dream that they had all died.  Clara tells the Doctor that he can do something anytime soon and the two bicker about whether or not the Doctor has a plan.  The Doctor stares at Ashildr when they go by, causing Clara to question if he knows her.  The Doctor answers that he has never seen Ashildr before and that it's a case of too much time travel.  The Doctor explains that premonition is simply remembering in the wrong direction.

The Doctor's big plan is to pretend to be Odin because to the primitive mind, advanced technology can seem like magic.  The Doctor pulls a yo-yo out of his pocket and hits the leader in the forehead with it. The warriors pull their swords as the Doctor tells the vikings that he is very cross and disappointed with them.  The Doctor then claims that the yo-yo is the sign of Odin.  The vikings don't believe him, so the Doctor questions if they have met Odin and know what Odin looks like.  Right on cue, Odin appears in the sky and tells the vikings that their day of reward has finally arrived.  The Doctor screams that the vikings are not to believe what they are seeing.  Odin tells the vikings that their mightiest warriors will feast with him in Valhalla tonight.

Big steel warriors suddenly appear on the ground and the Doctor orders Clara to stay very still.  Clara questions if they are really dealing with Odin and the Doctor points out that Odin doesn't even have a yo-yo.  Clara realises that what they are dealing with is an invasion. The warriors form a fighting circle as the invading forces advance.  The Doctor tells Clara that what they are watching is a harvest and that the invading force will leave behind the sick, young, and old. The warriors are beamed on board, as the Doctor tells Clara that they cannot get chosen.  Clara runs to Ashildr and tries to teach her how to use the remnant of the sonic sunglasses but this catches the attention of the invading force and Ashildr and Clara are beamed up as the Doctor watches.  Odin then disappears from the sky. Smooth going Clara and now the Doctor will be expected to clean up her mess.

When Clara and Ashildr appear on the ship, the vikings welcome the women to Valhalla.  A brave viking steps into a corridor and is instantly varpouized by an electric shock leaving behind his sword and his horn helmet. Yeah just for the record, vikings didn't have horns on their helmets. The walls begin to close in, pushing the vikings, Ashildr and Clara into the same corridor.  Clara tries to get the vikings to jam the wall with their swords and when that doesn't work, Clara and Ashildr run to the other side of the corridor and try to open the doors.  Despite their best efforts, the vikings are pushed into the corridor and vapourized.

On the ground the remaining vikings are astounded at the loss of the soldiers.  Some think that their warriors went willingly to Valhalla.  The Doctor is not impressed with their conversation and announces that not only did he lie about being Odin but so did the face that appeared in the sky because Gods don't actually show up. The Doctor tells the remaining village members that they got raided and he lost someone who matters to him.

Clara and Ashildr are the only two surviving people who were beamed aboard the ship.  Ashildr questions why they are still alive and they are confronted by the false Odin holding onto half of the sonic sunglasses.  Clara tells the fake Odin that she didn't mean to make him afraid.  Odin is incredulous and claims that he has no reason to fear but Clara points out that he has already scanned the sonic sunglasses and knows that it is from a society vastly more advanced than his.  Clara then points out her space suit and adds that it is highly unlikely she didn't come alone.  Clara surmises that Odin didn't kill them because he is unwilling to start a fight that he is not sure he can win. Odin then drinks down the testosterone which was extracted from the warriors calling it nectar. Clara calls Odin a thief caught in the act and tells the alien to go and find vikings on other planets promising not to follow him. I love when she points out how annoying all of the testosterone in the galaxy is. The fake Odin claims that war is the way of his people, so Clara asks him to consider if this is a war he really wants.  Ashildr however steps forward and tells the fake Odin that they will pay for what they have done today. It's clear that Ashildir has the soul of a viking as she calls for blood even as Clara tries to shush her. Odin says that they almost had them talking and then agrees to a battle against ten of the villages warriors.  Odin sends Ashildr and Clara back so that she can inform her people of their impending destruction.

Ashildr and Clara arrive back on the ground and the Doctor rushes towards Clara and gives her the thumbs up saying that he is not a hugger.  The Doctor then changes is his mind and embraces Clara, in the process picking her up off the ground. This is a sign of how much their bond has grown. The Doctor isn't hugging Clara to hide his face but to show his love and appreciation. Ashildr hugs her father and apologises.  While waiting for Clara to return, the Doctor looked up the aliens in his 2000 year old diary and determined that they are dealing with The Mire - one of the deadliest warrior races in the entire galaxy. The Doctor is sure that Clara convinced the Mire to let them go but she tells him that the Mire are coming here tomorrow to kill everyone in the village. Ashildr's father confirms the truth of it and Ashildr blames herself. Ashildr's father tells her that not every misfortune in the village is her fault.

The villagers are panicked that they are about to be attacked and so the Doctor advises them to hide for a week and then return to the village.  The villagers however are adamant that they will fight.  Of course they are going to fight, they're vikings. The Doctor points out that all of the warriors are dead. The Doctor points out that they are all farmers and fishermen but Ashildr yells that they are vikings. The Doctor then questions how many people have actually held a sword in battle and The Doctor and Clara are the only two who raise their hands. The Doctor makes it clear that the Mire are coming for each and every one of them.  The vikings however assert that they are not cowards and that a death in battle is a death with honour. Yeah, saw that coming. A baby cries and The Doctor asks if babies die with honour.  The Doctor translates the babies cries. "Hold me mother I am afraid.  Turn your face towards me mother for you are beautiful and I will sing for you.  I am afraid but I will sing."  Clara explains to the vikings that The Doctor speaks baby. So he speaks baby but not ASL?  The Doctor asserts that the deaths of the villagers will be terrifying, painful, and without honour.  The Doctor starts to leave the room and Ashildr asks him to stay because he can help them. The Doctor reiterates that he told them to run and that is all the help they need and all the help they will get.

Outside, The Doctor tells Clara that the earth is not in danger, just one village.  The Doctor explains that if just one village defeats the Mire, word will spread and earth will become a target of strategic value, causing the Mire to come back.  The Doctor adds that it will lead to ripples and tidal waves until everybody dies.  The baby starts to cry again and the Doctor explains that the baby is afraid because she senses danger.  The Doctor translates the babies wails again.  When the baby stops crying, Clara realises that the Doctor has decided to stay.

The Doctor has the villagers lined up and gives them all ridiculous names because he cannot be bothered to learn theirs.  The Doctor tells the villagers that they will be given real swords when they can prove they won't lop bits off themselves.  Lofty is so nervous that he has his eyes closed because he is not good with the sight of blood. Clara and Ashildr watch from a distance and Clara assures her that the Doctor is just warming up and doesn't have a plan yet.

The Doctor hands out the real swords and when we see him again, there's absolute chaos in the village.  A building is on fire and Lofty actually fainted at just the word blood.  Later that night, the vikings sit to feast and the Doctor sits outside listening to the weapon forges of the Mire which sound a little like thunder.  The Doctor lists the issues with the vikings and Clara asks what The Doctor's real plan is.  The Doctor says that teaching them to fight is the only plan he has. Clara however believes that it doesn't matter how well the Doctor trains the villagers, it won't make a difference. The Doctor however points out that the vikings will die with honour which is the best anyone can hope for unless they happen to be immortal.  The Doctor and Clara argue about his concern about what is going to happen to her.  Clara loses patience and tells the Doctor to stop thinking of her, stop playing soldier and think up an actual plan.  Clara demands that the Doctor start winning because this is what he is good at.

The Doctor walks in on Ashildr who is pretending to do battle with a puppet in the guise of the Mire. The Doctor assures her that she is not the first person to do that and asks what their chances are. Ashildr doesn't hold any punches and responds that by this time tomorrow, they will all be dead.  The Doctor suggests that Ashildr leave but she says that there's nowhere for her but here. Ashildr says that she has always been different because the girls all said she was a boy and the boys all said that she was just a girl. Ashildr adds that her head is always full of stories and that she knows she is strange but in the village she is loved.  Ashildr makes it clear that leaving this place would be death itself. Ashildr's father tells her that he cannot keep her safe but will try until his last breathe. The baby starts to cry and Ahsildr's father tells the Doctor not to attempt to mock him.  The Doctor asks if the baby is getting closer and learns that the baby is being taken to the boat house because she likes the fish. The Doctor finally figures out what the baby meant by fire in the water and gets excited. The Doctor starts giving order and tells Chuckles, the baby's father that he is going to need a blacksmith.  The Doctor declears that they are going to win the battle tomorrow and promises Ashildr that she is not going to have to leave the village because they have eels.

The Doctor encourages the vikings to move quickly, as they start working on his plan.  The Doctor tells them that getting a helmet is key but that if they get a helmet the battle is over.

The Mire arrive in the village to find the villagers in the lodge dancing and partying.  The fake Odin declares that it's time to fight and the Doctor says that they have decided to have a party instead. The Doctor questions if the Mire would fire on unarmed citizens and the fake Odin responds that it could be the first time.  Unbeknownst to the Mire, Chuckles is above them. Chuckles so uses the opportunity to place a copper wire near the heads of the invading force.  The Doctor yells now and the villager hide behind tables as magnets are used to remove the heads of the soldiers.  The Doctor grabs a helmet and reverses the polarity of the neutron flow. Ashildr sits down and the Doctor assures her that she was born for this, placing the helmet on her head.  Suddenly, a serpent bursts through the door and the Mire start backing up in fear.  The fake Odin orders his troops to stand and fight but they continue to retreat and finally beam back aboard their ship.  The Doctor tells Ashildr that the story is over and the serpent turns into a cheap wooden statue.

The Doctor explains that he told a story to save the village.  The Doctor snarks that after today, no one will believe that the Mire as great warriors because they were defeated by farmers and fishermen and then ran away from a puppet. Clara laughs and the Doctor says that they recorded it.  The Doctor suggests that they could just keep the film or upload it to the galactic hud. Set to the Benny Hill theme, the Doctor plays the video of the Mire fleeing, saying that if they don't leave, he  will spread the recording and The Mire will become laughing stocks.  The fake Odin promises to meet the Doctor again and then beams on board his ship.  The villagers celebrate as the ship flies off into space.

Ashildr's father goes to check on her only to find that Ashildr is dead.  The Doctor is horrified and can only whisper his apology.  The Doctor stumbles out of the room and Clara finds him alone in the fishing cabin.  The Doctor explains that the helmet used Ashildr up like a battery and that he is sick of losing. Clara points out that The Doctor saved the town, so the Doctor clarifies that he is sick of losing people.  The Doctor says that one day the memory of Clara will hurt so much that he won't be able to breathe, so he will get in his box and run and run. The Doctor adds that he runs in case all of the pain catches up but every place he goes, it will always be there.  Clara points out that the Doctor did his best but the Doctor replies that he can do everything but is not supposed to because of the rules.

The Doctor sees his reflection in the water and asks why he chose this face.  Clara asks the Doctor what is wrong with his face and he explains that he chose this face to tell himself something.  We get a flashback to the tenth Doctor - specifically The Fires of Pompeii (yep that is the episode Capaldi appears as a guest on)  The Doctor tells Clara that he chose this face to remind him because he is the Doctor and he saves people.  The Doctor yells, to hell with anyone who has a problem with that.

Ashildr is laid out on a fur and the Doctor retrieves a medical chip from the Mire which he reprograms for human beings.  The Doctor places the chip on Ashildr's forehead and it is absorbed into her body. The body explains to Ashildr's father that the chip is repairing her and will never stop repairing her.  Ashildr's father cries and tells his daughter that if this town loses her as well, there will be nothing left.  The villagers solemnly look on as Ashildr takes a deep breath. The Doctor explains that Ashildr will be conscious in a day, and walking around in three but advises that she doesn't swim for a week. The Doctor then asks for a longboat and some of the villagers best rowers because they are two days away from the Tardis. The Doctor moves to leave and Ashildr's father asks him to wait because Ashildr will want to see him when she wakes. The Doctor explains that Ashildr will see him often once she understands.  Asildr's father asks what she is meant to understand and instead of answering, the Doctor tosses him a second chip saying that it is for whoever Asildr wants.  Ashildr manages a weak thank you and The Doctor suggests that she not thank him yet.

Clara and the Doctor make their way to the Tardis and Clara questions what The Doctor has been brooding about for the last two days.  The Doctor once again asserts that the technology won't stop and will in fact just keep fixing Ashildr.  Clara declares this a good thing, so the Doctor clarifies and says that Ashildr may have lost the ability to die and that baring accidents, Ashildr might be immortal. Clara questions why he gave Asildr two chips if the chip she is never stop working. The Doctor explains that immortality isn't living forever, it's everybody else dying. The Doctor adds that Ashildr might meet someone she cannot bear to lose.

Back on the Tardis, the Doctor says that he was angry and emotional and just might have made a terrible mistake. The Doctor wonders if he created a tidal wave but adds that time will tell as he starts the Tardis. Clara suggests that Ashidr deserved whatever the Doctor did for her and the Doctor concurs.  The Doctor however adds that Ashildr isn't just human anymore because she's got a little bit of alien inside her thus making her a hybrid.

We next see Ashildr as the world the landscape changes.  It's clearly meant to represent her passage through time. Her face becomes troubled and then dark.

I loved this episode.  I loved the Doctor translating baby and I even loved the fake Odin in the sky. Though the Doctor travels in time, there haven't been a lot of episodes involving vikings so I really enjoyed this one.  I loved the very idea of a viking fainting at merely the mention of blood.  I loved the destruction of the sonic sunglasses, may they never ever be rebuilt.  Finally, I loved watching the Doctor's pain.  That side of the Doctor seemed very much to disappear during the 11th incarnation.  I suppose the 11th was going through denial but with the 12th, it's front and center and I think very necessary considering all of the people who that Doctor has lost over the years.

Finally, finally we have an explanation for the Doctor's current face.  The Doctor needs to be reminded that his job is to save people.  Even in this episode, if Clara hadn't prodded him and he hadn't heard the baby cry, he would have abandoned the village to their own stupidity.  At this same time, the Doctor is plagued by the fact that he cannot do more.  I do however think it's worth noting that whenever the Doctor is off script (think Time Lord Victorious) something bad always happens. He seems to have this awful foreboding about Clara dying or leaving him.  The fact that he was willing to make Ashildr immortal because he is tired of losing people suggests that when Clara finally does separate from the Doctor, he is going to go down a dark road.

I absolutely believe that this season is headed somewhere dark.  Once again, we returned to the question of why the Doctor left Gallifrey. Why did he chose to start running in the first place?  I think it's clear that the Doctor lost someone and that it's just a question of who.  He made it clear that he cannot deal with the pain of loss and that is why he runs so that must be the reason he stole a Tardis (though the Tardis believes she stole him) in the first place. On one hand the |Doctor cannot travel alone because he needs someone to reign him in and alternately occasionally remind him to be humane but the down side of this is that it means that the doctor will always have to deal with loss.

I think Moffat has done a good job getting his ready to lose the Impossible Girl.  In the last few episodes a lot of work has been done to show us exactly how much the Doctor and Clara care about each other.  The first time Clara hugged the 12th Doctor, he told her that he is not the hugging type. He has even explained that hugging gives one the opportunity to hide one's face.  We saw this hug in Death in Heaven. In The Girl Who Died, The Doctor initiated a hug because he was glad to see Clara alive. We have also seen growth in Clara.  Look at how Clara didn't scream for the Doctor and instead tried to talk her way out of trouble with the Mire.  She's a different person now.  Clara craves adventure and she is confidant about handing various situations.  They have become indispensable to each other.  What started off as an awkward friendship with 12 has turned into real love.  I think that there's been such an emphasis on what they mean to each other to prepare us for the longest lasting companion in NuWho - The Impossible Girl.

I suppose we should talk about Ashildr.  We already know that she will probably be leaving after the next episode.  I think that she will serve as a mirror to the Doctor as to what happens when one lives a long life.  Judging from the dark expression on Ashildr's face at the end of the episode I think that things are about to get real and I do mean real in the next episode. For Ashildr her little village is everything and now with everyone she loves dead and all ties to her home gone, I suspect she will be much changed when we see her next week.  I love Maisie Williams and I cannot wait to see what she does with Ashildr.

Okay, what are your thoughts on this episode?