Doctor Who Round Table: Dead Girl Walking

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Was Maisie Williams' Whoniverse guest spot everything you hoped it would be?

Did the Doctor screw up big time making Ashildr immortal? Is there a chance she might be the Doctor's next companion? What did you think of the Caecilius connection and the David Tennant flashback? Well, we're about to discuss all this and more below.

Join TV Fanatics Kathleen Wiedel, Hank Otero and our good pal Tom Gardiner from threeifbyspace.net as we chat about Doctor Who Season 9 Episode 5 in our latest Round Table discussion...

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Was the Vikings adventure entertaining or just too wacky for your taste? Share your favorite moment.

Kathleen: I didn't find "The Girl Who Died" any wackier or outlandish than other episodes of Doctor Who, though I've been watching this show since I was a kid and it was rerunning Tom Baker episodes on PBS on Saturday mornings. Anyway, I found it very satisfying when the Vikings were totally unimpressed with the Doctor's wearable tech and just snapped those sunglasses in half. I think a lot of fans were really hoping someone would do that at some point, actually.
 
Tom: It was definitely on the lighthearted side of the spectrum in overall tone, but as Kathleen said, it wasn't any wackier than many other episodes. I liked the moment when the Doctor finally realized why he had a familiar face. It's an answer we've been waiting for since last season and I think it's going to unlock the doors to more "rule breaking" by the Doctor.

Hank: The season started off pretty grim and intense with Doctor Who Season 9 Episode 1, so I was surprised it lightened up so quickly. Not that that is a bad thing, Doctor Who is a kids show after all. The David Tennant flashback was definitely my favorite moment. I just love when the series ties together and previous Doctors pop in for a minute.

Did you find it strange the Doctor bent the rules of life and death after scolding the Fisher King?

Kathleen: The Doctor has always been something of a walking paradox, and his contradictions border on open hypocrisy. So, I really don't find it strange at all. What I do find strange is that the Doctor didn't find some way to reprogram a time limit on the Mire medi-pack he used on Ashildr; he did that with an eerily similar alien medical technology, the nanogenes in "The Doctor Dances" (Doctor Who Series 1 Episode 10). Something like "If time=10, then deactivate." Surely for a guy as good with technology as he is, this is pretty simple. On the other hand, then we wouldn't have Maisie Williams around for the second part.
 
Tom: It was on par with what we've come to expect from the Doctor. He's always been a "there are rules, but I may break them for my own personal reasons" kind of guy. Saving Ashildr with Mire technology also brought up the subject of hybrids again as was first discussed in "The Witch's Familiar." At first, I thought bringing up hybrids again was just taking it in a slightly different direction from what Davros was talking about, but I began to wonder if it's not leading to more. Since I love to think up scenarios that almost never (okay, never ever) come true, I started thinking maybe this is a hint that we're going to explore the Doctor's own origins.
 
Back in the 1996 movie with Paul McGann, the Doctor mentioned in an almost throw-away line that he was half-human on his mother's side. This was never refuted, nor was it ever confirmed, although in the David Tennant episode "The End of Time" a character only credited as "The Woman" was presented as if she might be the Doctor's mommy. So my nutcase theory this time is that the Doctor, being a bit more introspective this season, will explore his past and discover (or finally admit?) that he himself is a Human/Gallifreyan hybrid. That would definitely explain his affection for Earth. I also think that after more than 50 years of going steady with the Doctor, it's time we meet the parents, or at least learn about them.

Hank: While it didn't surprise me, it bugged me a bit. When it's convenient for the Doctor, he comes across all self-righteous and superior. Then the very next episode he pulls the same crap, but it's okay because he "saves people." Perhaps it's the way Capaldi plays him and that holier-than-thou attitude. If the idea is to reveal he's a Human/Gallifreyan hybrid, that would forgive his little imperfections. Then again. so far this season your theories, Tom, are way cooler than what Moffat comes up with haha

Watch Doctor Who Season 9 Episode 5 Online


How do you feel about the Caecilius flashback and the reason behind the Doctor's latest face?

Kathleen: I was wondering when the Doctor would get around to remembering Caecilius. This isn't the first time he's taken the face of someone already "out there" in the universe, either. What's the reason for the Sixth Doctor taking Maxil's face, I wonder...? (Probably just trolling him.) But back to the point. Twelve seems to be suffering from something of an ongoing existential identity crisis (not all that surprising given that he's essentially outlived almost every other Time Lord out there by getting a new regeneration cycle).

He's openly asked questions like "Am I a good man?". Even as Eleven, he needed Clara to remind him of who he was (see the fiftieth anniversary special). "Be a Doctor." I thought of the use of Caecilius's face as a sort of note-to-self referencing Donna's plea: He might not be able to save everyone, but he should always try to save someone. Because he is the Doctor, and he saves people.

Tom: The flashback came so quickly that at first it almost felt like a cheat, and it still kind of does to me. Does the Doctor really need to take on a face, the origins of which he's just remembering, to remind himself of something he's done before? Aren't there better ways to remember that it's okay to sometimes break the rules and save one person? It's not like he hasn't done it many times before. Hell, a couple of Post-Its on the TARDIS console saying, "At least save one. It's okay!" would do. Works for me when I have a dentist's appointment. Griping aside, it was a fun, if not a bit gimmicky, way to connect Capaldi's first appearance on the show to his current time as the lead.

Hank: Honestly, I think it was all about connecting Capaldi's original appearance on the show to his Doctor. Moffat worked it into Twelve's DNA from the very beginning by teasing us about this familiar face. It's definitely a bit gimmicky, but at least Lucius Caecilius and The Fires of Pompeii installment have now been officially referenced. By the way, what a great episode Doctor Who Season 4 Episode 2 was. I rewatched it on Netflix right after "The Girl Who Died" aired.

Will Maisie Williams become our next companion? Or is she simply a recurring character like River Song?

Kathleen: Given the way this episode ended, I rather doubt Maisie Williams will be the next companion. Then again, we have to wait and see where they leave off with "The Woman Who Lived." But my money's currently on two-shot character with potential to pop up later. She's also still with "Game of Thrones," isn't she? I'd imagine that would put something of a crimp on being full-time with another television series.
 
Tom: Until we've seen "The Woman Who Lived" it's hard to tell, but I have to agree with Kathleen that Maise isn't going to be a companion any time soon. Although, while I don't watch GOT (I know, get the torches and pitchforks), the frequency with which people are killed on that show could mean Ms. Williams might be in the market for a new job at any time.
 
Honestly, I think one of the main reasons she won't be a companion is she'd be too much like the Doctor in terms of her near-immortality. Two nearly un-killable people galavanting through spacetime would reduce the level of tension whenever they found themselves in a sticky situation.

Hank: I think, if anything, Maisie Williams will recur on the series from time to time. Game of Thrones keeps her pretty busy after all. Though the death rate on GoT is insane, Arya Stark is not going anywhere. She is one of those main characters that will survive until the final season. I do have to say, Maisie brought a youthful energy to the show I haven't felt since Matt Smith's exit. I wouldn't mind seeing her again after Doctor Who Season 9 Episode 6.

The Doctor Humiliates Odin - Doctor Who Season 9 Episode 5

Wasn't it great when the Viking broke the sonic shades? Moffat is clearly messing with us, but why?

Kathleen: Hey, I mentioned that in the answer to the first question! Moffat loves to mess with audiences in so many ways, from our emotions to our expectations. It can be frustrating at times, no doubt about that. That being said: the sunglasses make a certain statement that the screwdriver does not, typifying a certain arrogance in appearance (especially with the way Capaldi uses them). Note that this is not a criticism of Capaldi or his acting, merely an observation on the character. The Doctor loves to make grand pronouncements and declarations, and here it fell flat when the Viking just broke the sunglasses and threw him and Clara in irons. Being cool, it seems, doesn't impress everyone.
 
Tom: Moffat loves to mess with us, which is why I was surprised in the most amusing way that they've pretty much dispatched with the sonic shades already. Online chatter has some fans in a tizzy over the death of the sonic screwdriver in favor of plain, old sunglasses, so I expected the puppetmaster would've let us all dangle over that for a little longer. In hindsight, though, this is exactly what he wanted me to expect so he broke the sunglasses. Damn you, Moffat, and your witch-like ways! Somebody fetch a duck, we'll sort this out.

Hank: Are the sonic shades gone for good though? Perhaps we'll see them all taped up in the next installment? I think they'll be back, but if they're gone, I have no problem with that. Still, it will seem like the whole point was just to piss off the Whoniverse. I can picture Moffat sitting back like the Great and Powerful Oz mocking the interwebs silly reaction to his sonic shades. I do want that screwdriver back ASAP!

Here's the official teaser for Doctor Who Season 9 Episode 6, airing this Saturday.

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Doctor Who Season 9 Episode 5 Quotes

Go. Now. Go find Vikings on other planets. The universe is full of testosterone. Trust me, it's unbearable.

Clara

Clara: You're always talking about what you can and can't do, but you never tell me the rules.
The Doctor: We're time travelers. We tread softly. It's okay to make ripples, but not tidal waves.