Welcome to yet another Part Two, following last week's "The Girl Who Died" -- this is "The Woman Who Lived".
A mysterious figure -- and I'm calling it, it's Ashildr -- is holding up a cart with face covered, a booming man's voice -- maybe not Ashildr? -- and on horseback. Creepy eyes are glowing in the woods to intimidate the cart's rich folks, and we hear the name "The Knightmare". This is a stick-up!
The Doctor interrupts the heist with a whirring little machine. He wants something from this cart, too. He wants to know why can't they share the heist -- he takes whatever he's after, and the Knightmare can have the gold. We also get a little clue that we shouldn't expect much Clara in this episode, as she's taking "her Year 7s for taekwondo".
The Knightmare's voice changes, and we hear the new voice call him "Doctor" -- boom! The mask is removed to reveal Ashildr!
He's seen her before in history, but she didn't see him -- she founded a leper colony, and he left her there, saying he'd thought she'd be fine. She is offended, but she still thinks he's come for her now. He hasn't come looking for her -- just for something.
She doesn't seem remember the name 'Ashildr'. She is now only 'Me'. She vaguely remembers the village she so loved and was willing to die for in the last episode. "No one's mother, daughter, wife. No one's companion. Singular. Unattached. Alone". She doesn't need any other name than 'Me'.
The Doctor has a curioscanner, and it scans for curios. He is scanning for a particular amulet; perhaps it is the same amulet The Knightmare was after. Me robs for adventure -- 800 years of adventure. She was once a medieval queen who faked her own death, was a soldier with a bow and arrow in the Battle of Agincourt (her first stint as a man), and was nearly drowned for being a witch after curing an entire village of scarlet fever, and she can't even remember most of it. She has journals that she sometimes revisits to learn about her past.
He reads some of her journals, and he finds tears have stained the pages. He reads of her losing her true love, surviving the Plague, and all the lost babies. While he reads, she sneaks out of the house. She goes to talk to those eyes in the woods -- she is plotting with whomever or whatever it is, and she's hiding something from The Doctor. She seems to be conning him, despite how desperate she sounds to go with him. He doesn't want her to be desensitised to all the world. She seems to know a bit more about him than he thinks -- she mentions his ship and how he leaves people.
We get a better glance at the eyes -- yeah, is that the King of the Forest?
Me and The Doctor (the grammarian in me is cringing at having written that phrase) are sneaking in and around a big house, and they have found what they came for -- the amulet, which The Doctor calls the Eyes of Hades! They have to sneak back out, which seems harder than sneaking in did. The Doctor knocks something over on the hearth once they think they are clear, and the homeowner shouts that he'll come back in with his gun. The Doctor convinces Me not to shoot the man first, but to try to escape. They climb up the chimney, and she asks after Clara, saying that she remembers Clara because she takes particular note of everyone's weaknesses: "She'll die on you, you know. She'll blow away like smoke [...] How old are you? How many have you lost? How many Claras?" He is very uncomfortable with her questions -- how many has he lost now, in one way or another? They climb out the chimney and escape.
They are ambushed by other rogues, and they have too many puns and too much banter. She is in Knightmare mode now, just without the voice. I love this scene. I have to wonder if it's entire purpose was to give Rufus Hound (playing Sam Swift the Quick) a few on-screen laughs. The Knightmare quickly gains the advantage, and she wants to kill Sam Swift. The Doctor gives her an ultimatum: let him go or she'll make an enemy of him. She lets them all go, but she doesn't want to take his advice. It's not often you hear someone tell The Doctor to shut up.
The Doctor strolls up to Me's house, and she is in now in authentic lady garb. He has a brief encounter with her servant -- "half blind and deaf as a post" -- and he surmises that she keeps him on because she does have a heart. He has an idea about the amulet. What if it comes from another world rather than a foreign land? She wants to go with him in the TARDIS, as she reminds him yet again. She has waited longer than she should have ever lived. He won't take her "because it wouldn't be good." I don't think that's an acceptable answer for her.
He keeps calling her 'Ashildr', and it angers her more every time. There is loud growling, and the owner of those glowing eyes bursts in. He IS the King of the Forest!, more or less. He is Leandro, and she confirms that she wasn't helping The Doctor -- he was helping her.
Leandro is from Delta Leonis. The amulet they have procured was his means of travel, and he lost it when he crashed on Earth. She wants to escape, and The Doctor said no. If he understands being alone, how could he do what he did? (He did leave her with the other medical chip, simply because he did NOT want to leave her alone forever.)
The amulet requires a death to work, and she insists on killing her lovely old servant to open the portal. She wants to escape with someone, anyone, so she will leave with Leandro. If The Doctor doesn't want her to kill Clayton, the servant, Leandro suggests that The Doctor could take his place.
Me has tied up The Doctor and is giving him another lecture about leaving her behind and making her immortal. She refers to people dying -- even her own babies -- as mayflies, living and dying in quick succession. She's quite talky after all these years. "You didn't save my life, Doctor. You just trapped me inside it."
Two men rush in to say that the Knightmare is on his way and Sam Swift the Quick is scheduled to be hanged at noon. She throws them The Doctor, saying he's his sidekick, and they have a wanted poster to corroborate. She doesn't want him killed, but they should keep him under lock and key. He tries to distract them with a sight of the Knightmare out the window, but he succeeds by saying that her money is worth more than his bounty. If only he ever carried 'local' money, he could have given them the 20 quid himself.
Sam Swift is treating his hanging like a comedy show -- again showcasing Rufus Hound's timing -- and The Doctor is speeding that way on horseback. Leandro keeps calling for the hanging to proceed, and Me bribes the executioner to make Sam Swift's death quick. The Doctor and Sam Swift have a bit of banter between them, and The Doctor uses the psychic paper to give him a pardon "from Cromwell, himself".
The crowd begins calling for a hanging to happen anyway, and they suggest The Doctor. Me shoves the amulet onto Sam Swift's chest, and he falls over as a portal opens. Me says goodbye, but Leandro says she's not going anywhere. Portals work both ways, and this one is opened for an attack, not an escape!
Me actually cares about the people in the village! She doesn't want them to all die. She says they need him -- they need THEM! Sam Swift's death is opening the portal, so reversing it will close it. She puts the spare medical chip onto his head, and the portal begins to close. Leandro asks to be spared by his brothers and disappears. The portal closes, Sam Swift is alive, and the day is saved!
They are celebrating in a pub (Ye Swan With Two Necks -- interesting). She asks if Sam Swift is now immortal, and The Doctor makes up some stuff to make her feel better. He's still on going to let her travel with him. They talk about the mayflies, all glad to be alive, and how Sam Swift made every moment right up to the gallows count. That's what happens when you value both life and death. He says he travelled with another immortal once and ...
CAPTAIN JACK HARKNESS NAME DROP!
He says he'll have to keep an eye on her, but she says, instead, she'll be the patron saint of his leftovers. He'll protect this world, and she'll protect it from him. They're not enemies -- enemies aren't a problem -- but they are friends, and that is more dangerous.
Guitar rifts ring through the TARDIS, and Clara appears. One of her students sent him a selfie for helping him with her "imaginary" interview of Churchill. In the selfie, though, he sees Ashildr/Me in the background. The Doctor says he has missed Clara, and off they go!
I have to say that I liked Maisie Williams a lot more in the last episode, not just because she was written to be more likable there but because she did a little less overacting as Ashildr. What did you think of her appearances? Are you now more convinced that Clara is going to die this series -- or that she's already dead? What did you think of Rufus Hound's easy comedy? And who is stoked for next week's Zygon attack (and the return of Osgood!)?