Welcome to the recap of Doctor Who's fifth episode of the ninth series, "The Girl Who Died". The Doctor is collecting Girls Who Something-ed.
Heavy breathing and wide eyes -- not the least scary way to start an episode.
Clara is in space in a spacesuit, and something is in it with her. The Doctor is under attack, but he materialises around her just in time and is not getting enough praise. I wonder if we'll ever get a mini-sode to fill in the gaps of this adventure.
Clara wants assurances that the Velosians (who they were protecting) will be safe in the future. The Doctor says that they'll be prepared for them next time, adding "I'm not actually the police. It's just what it says on the box."
We are treated to our second "tread softly" comment of the series (The first was by Missy in "The Magician's Apprentice) -- are we expecting a Yeatsian development at some point? Maybe some slouching toward Bethlehem end-of-the-world kind of stuff?
When traveling through time, it's okay to make ripples but not tidal waves. I think that's a pretty good rule of thumb.
There be Vikings! Sonic shades are broken and fizzled! (Quiet hurrah!) They are taken to the Viking village and Arya Stark -- er, Maisie Williams -- is there. The Doctor sees Viking-Maisie and has had a premonition. (Is Clara's hair a little too perfect for having spent the last two days on a Viking ship? She had great hair through this episode and really shouldn't have.)
The Doctor puts on his Very Important Voice and tries to convince them he is Odin (yo-yo and all), but then Odin appears in the sky all Monty Python-style. Sky Odin sends metal warriors -- but this is not an invasion; it's a harvest. The strongest men are dematerialised. Clara asks Viking-Maisie to open her chains with the half of the sonic shades she was given, and they both are identified by the harvest-warriors as being strong and are harvested.
Welcome to Valhalla, which looks unsurprisingly like a space ship. A Viking dude is all cocky and gets electrocuted. The walls begin that Star Wars/trash compacter business and push them into the electrocution chamber. The ladies run through and try to pry open the doors.
Back in the village, they are arguing whether they would willingly go to Valhalla. The Doctor may be a false Odin, but so is the big guy in the sky.
Sky Odin is a really creepy dude. He drinks Vikingade made of the finest warriors. Clara tries to sweet-talk Odin and lets him know that she is obviously not from around there, so she obviously isn't there alone. Viking-Maisie (Ashildr, as we now know) is offended by the Vikingade and challenges Odin, and Clara tries to backtrack on her threats. It seems like Ashildr has accidentally started an entire war with him. Odin presses a button and his hologram face disappears into weirdness, and Clara and Ashildr are sent back in the village with the assurance of war the next day.
The Doctor says the harvesters are The Mire -- one of the deadliest warrior races in history! Brilliant. The Vikings don't want to run away. They will stay and fight, even though none of them have ever held a sword in battle. "A death in battle is a death with honour", we are told. A baby is crying around the corner, and the Doctor translates the baby's cries: the baby is afraid but will sing (laugh) for its beautiful mother. Babies are stronger than we give them credit for being.
The Doctor is okay because the entire Earth isn't in danger, just the village. If he manages to save the village, The Mire will return to avenge and destroy the whole Earth. The Doctor translates more Baby. These babies are quite eloquent; I like that. The baby's words made him decide to stay because she mentions something he doesn't understand: "fire in the water".
The Doctor decides to train the Vikings, but he has no time for names. All the Vikings get nicknames, and they're pretty great. While training, they can't use real swords -- "Limpy" shows they can't be trusted with them yet.
When exactly did Clara get SO much faith in The Doctor? We've seen it this series -- all her monologuing about how he will definitely save the day and how clever he is -- but it must have happened after Christmas. It seems we missed it, but I like the result. It's much better than her constantly fighting and undermining him.
They are inadvertently destroying their own village while practicing with swords. The weapon forges of The Mire sound like weird thunder. The Doctor didn't think he made fighters, but what has he done to Clara? She is sad and angry. The Doctor keeps mentioning his 'duty of care', too.
Ashildr has a stick for a sword! Tiny Arya! She makes up stories about the Vikings when they've gone out to fight, and she feels like she has the power to keep them safe through her stories. She thinks they will all be dead tomorrow, though, "cut down like corn". She pities The Doctor, and he will mourn for her. She's strange -- girls think of her as a boy, and boys treat her like "just a girl" -- but she is loved. Her dad truly does love her. That's enough to make her belong.
Lofty is taking the baby to the boathouse because she likes to see the fish in the barrels. FISH! Fire in the water! Electric eels!
They start to prepare for battle in earnest, magnifying the electricity from the eels. They can take over if they can take a helmet! Ashildr also has a monstrosity to add to the battle.
Mire Odin arrives with his warriors. He walks into a party in the Viking village. Lofty tosses a ring at a warrior, and they begin attacking. They use the eels to shock the warriors, and they magnetise anvils to pull away helmets and weapons -- things start really happening!
We get a little treat of the 3rd Doctor -- it must be the coat -- "reversing the polarity of the neutron flow!" A giant eel begins attacking thanks to Ashildr controlling what the warriors see, and they withdraw. "See how they run!" Mire Odin declares. I feel like there have been a few Beatles references this series, too. Can anyone remember any? It seems a bit too obvious in the wording.
Mire Odin now sees the real attacker -- a wooden puppet -- and is surrounded by the Vikings with no backup. The warrior race lives or dies on its 'story', so The Doctor threatens to release Clara's video of the 'attack' (Benny Hill theme and all) if they don't leave. The Doctor has hacked Mire Odin's teleporter, so he sends them packing and they zoom away. Vikings win!
Ashildr has saved the day, but she was inside the helmet and has no pulse when she's pulled out. The Doctor has messed up -- he didn't expect that. Rarely is he so caught off guard by a result. It was heart failure because he "plugged her into a machine and used her up like a battery".
The Doctor runs away from the pain of his companions -- I choose to read that into all of them, not just Clara because I don't think she's the be-all end-all of the companions like Moffat seems to think. (I think I've already said she has grown on me, but SHE. IS. NO. POND.)
The Doctor thinks of his face. Why did he choose THAT face? We are treated to flashbacks of the 10th Doctor with Donna! After Donna begs, 10 goes back to get Roman-Capaldi from Pompeii. Sometimes you just have to save SOMEONE. He's The Doctor -- that's what he does! He is energised. He's going to flipping save her.
He has changed a Mire medical chip to work on humans. It sinks into Ashildr's forehead and begins repairing her -- but he also says it will never stop repairing her. She takes a breath! She lives! The Doctor and Clara are running away now, but first he gives them a 'second dose' to give her for whomever she wants. Now she's immortal, most likely. The Doctor explains why this might not be great, "Immortality isn't living forever, that's not what it feels like. Immortality is everyone else dying. She might meet someone she can't bear to lose. That happens, I believe."
It's possible he made a mistake. Ashildr is now a tiny bit alien -- a hybrid. That's not the first we've heard of 'hybrids' this series. Ashildr sees worlds move around her. At first, she seems to enjoy it, but, by the time we see her face again, she seems desperate and, then, at the last moment, steely in determination. To be continued...
The Doctor obviously encounters Ashildr in the future, and it doesn't look like she's a good guy. What do you hope to see of Maisie Williams' character next week? Will she be friend or foe? What does being a hybrid mean for her? Do you think she ever chose someone for the other chip? What do you think of The Doctor's explanation for his face? And what was on that t-shirt he was wearing?