The Doctor interrupts a robbery, Ashildr is not who she once was, and THUNDERCATS! HOOOO!
While tracking an alien artifact on Earth, The Doctor stumbles upon a robbery lead by the infamous Nightmare, a highwayman with a mysterious partner with glowing red eyes. After accidentally spoiling the Nightmare’s plans, the bandit reveals himself to be Ashildr herself. Eight hundred years have passed since The Doctor saved Ashildr’s life by giving her immortality, and she’s had many adventures and gained a vast wealth. She just robs people for fun and adventure now.
Living 800 years has changed Ashildr, who has forgotten much of her past life as her human mind can only store so many memories and information. Her life in the viking village and eve her name Ashildr is one of the things forgotten, and now goes by the name Lady Me. To keep track of her long life, she has kept an extensive library of journals, which give flashbacks to a few of her adventures and life experiences as The Doctor reads through them. Not only has Lady Me lost her memories, but she seems to have lost her humanity, not caring for the short lives of humans. This troubles The Doctor and he sticks around to help, joining her on a burglary of the alien artifact The Doctor was after. But, Lady Me and her red eyed friend have other plans.
Once the artifact is retrieved, Lady Me reveals her partner, a fire-breathing anthropomorphic lion alien named Leandro. Lady Me and Leandro plan to use the alien artifact to open a portal to space, returning Leandro to the stars and allowing Lady Me to escape the boring planet of Earth and see the rest of the universe. As the artifact must take the life of a human to work, The Doctor races the clock to stop the pair from opening a portal, and possible letting something dangerous in.
“The Girl Who Died” wasn’t a very exciting episode, but gave a solid set up to who Ashildr was and was entertaining to watch. “The Woman Who Died” is another episode to set up who Ashildr became, and brings up a common theme for The Doctor and his long life; always saying goodbye to those you love. While this episode had a strong message and planted seeds that will hopefully come to fruition later in the season, it was also dull.
From the beginning this felt like it wasn’t an episode of Doctor Who, but a pilot for a spin-off show that The Doctor stumbles into. The goofiness of some characters like Sam Swift the Quick and a pair of guardsmen, were too over the top. It brings back the memory a few of the weak comedic devices used in last season’s premiere, “Deep Breath,” like random sound effects that don’t fit that well into the show.
The center of this episode was Lady Me/Ashildr, and her 800 year life. It was made clear that The Doctor has checked in on her once or twice since he left her in the village, but reintroducing her so quickly in this episode kept the viewer from feeling how long that 800 year life span was. But, The Doctor travels through time, so 800 years could happen in an instant and the audience accepts that. But without time and distance from the character, it’s difficult to connect with the character’s struggle. The seriousness her character begins to embody, her coldness, doesn’t feel earned or believable. Showing more flashbacks so the viewer can see and really connect with her 800 year life would have been an improvement and maybe made this episode more enjoyable and easier to empathize with. We’ve had over 50 years to get to know The Doctor, to see who he is and why. For Ashildr, we’ve barely had 50 minutes.