DWO’s Spoiler-Free Preview of Episode 9.6: The Woman Who Lived:
When the Doctor tried to wait around on Earth in 2012's The Power of Three, he managed to last about three hours before getting bored and feeling the need to whizz back off into time and space. He's over 2000 years old, but he fills his time with adventures and monsters and being really sort of marvellous. Imagine, though, being immortal and stuck on Earth permanently. Watching the world around you evolve and change, wither and die and flux... While you just stay still at the heart of it all.
That's very much the position in which we find Maisie Williams in The Woman Who Lived. When we left her last Saturday, she'd been an integral part of saving the day - and she'd given her life in the process. Brought back with some handy alien tech and made immortal, she was left behind while the Doctor swanned back off into time and space. A couple of days stuck in one Viking village was more than enough for him.
This week's story throws the Doctor back in to the world of the girl he left behind, and forces him to acknowledge that he doesn't always make the right decisions. Separated from Clara for much of the episode, the Doctor is forced to team up with the immortal girl on the hunt for a dangerous alien artefact, and despite all the running and robbing, the hanging and the fire-breathing cats, there's a very human story here between two people who are so close but so far from being a part of the species.
Perhaps less about action and monsters than last week’s episode (and even there they weren’t particularly at the forefront), The Woman Who Lived manages to walk the line well between some laugh-out-loud humour and some real, serious emotion. There’s a lot of deep ideas buried away in the library here, and finding out first hand what it’s like to live for so long is perhaps one of the saddest things the programme has presented us with for some time.
If there's a standout in the episode, though, it's not in the emotional exploration of an eternal life - but rather in Rufus Hound's turn as the highwayman Sam Swift. There's often a bit of discussion generated around casting comedians in the series, but this is a character who simply couldn't be brought to life by anyone without the superb comic timing Hound brings to the part. It's safe to say that he's rocketed up the list of people we'd like the Doctor to bump into again!
Five Things to Look Out For:
1) “Don’t mind me, I’m just passing through like fish in the night…”
2) You can’t just rip out the painful memories.
3) “How many Clara's have you lost?”
4) The Doctor has been checking in on Maisie’s character…
5) “This is banter. I’m against banter.”
[Sources: Doctor Who Online, Will Brooks]