|Maisie Williams in The Girl Who Died|
The Girl Who Died
by Jamie Mathieson & Steven Moffat
Starring Peter Capaldi & Jenna Coleman
Airs Oct 17
Review by Cameron K McEwan
It’s a romp ladies gentlemen – a palpable ROMP!
I don’t know why, probably due to the oft-mentioned appearance of Maisie Williams (apparently she’s in a show called Game of Thrones, factoid fans) or the fact the word “died” is in its title, but I was expecting a much more sombre and dramatic affair as The Doctor and Clara went back in time to meet this mysterious character.
Ashildr, as she’s known, becomes a mystery as the Time Lord seems to recognise her almost immediately; making her a pivotal role throughout. Oddly, Williams starts off as quite an annoying character, almost brat-like, but as the plot unfolds, so does her own story. The young girl, who loves her village and her fellow Viking folk, has a very engaging tale intermingled with that of the Doctor’s, whose talent for speaking “baby” leads him down a very emotional and, dare I say, un-Capaldi(ish) route.
Capaldi also delights in the rompular (that’s a word, right?) nature of the adventure. When faced with, what can only be referred to as, sh*t Vikings (pathetic at pillaging), The Doctor reduces them to names like “Chuckles”, “Heidi” and “ZZ Top” (one for older readers there) with his usual intolerant glee. Truth be told though, the villain he’s facing, The Mire, are just about as credible as the Viking dunces they face off against. In particular, the enemy’s “boss”, Odin (played by David Schofield who, without wanting to seem unkind, does not impress) comes off as a Teletubbies baddie. It’s pantomimic in the extreme, adding to the fun and lightweight nature of the story.
It’s quite refreshing to have aliens who aren’t that good at being bad in Doctor Who (a bit like the Neimoidians in the Star Wars prequels).
In feel and in tone, The Girl Who Died revisits last year’s jolly outing in Earth’s past, Robot Of Sherwood. It’s not really about the destination or “threat”, which is minimal, but the journey. A gorgeous sunny day out in history when Vikings were Vikings and The Doctor trained them to fight aliens in metal suits. A slight downside to the ep, it should be said, are the very familiar looking corridors in the alien ship. Given that we witnessed almost exactly the same corridors in the previous story’s underwater base (Under The Lake/Before The Flood), it’s repetitive and comes off as cheap.
The big talking points, however, will concern a much-touted scene (which I shan’t spoil but will get fans very excited) and the ending. During the episode, The Doctor talks much of the ripples in time he causes whilst avoiding “tidal waves”; it could be that he’s gone too far this time and his own concern is one that leaves the denouement, such as it is, with a dramatic tone and ominous edge.
The Girl Who Died is a summer’s day jaunt with goodies and baddies and a fun old battle to be savoured. Underneath it all, like ants hiding under that very same sunny day’s picnic, is a fascinating yet worrying subplot which, we’re sure, will come back to bite The Doctor on the metaphorical arse.
In fact, maybe even in the following week…
The Girl Who Died airs Oct 17 at 8.20pm on BBC One
Thanks to BBC