After a tease of what could have been a horrific story involving spiders in space (where have we heard that one before?), we end up in a Viking village where The Doctor and Clara are taken as prisoners. Attempting to get out of the predicament, he claims himself to be Odin…and then Odin appears in the clouds above this village. We learn that Odin isn’t really Odin, but the leader of an army warrior race called The Mire. When talks begin to call a way of getting peace, a young Viking girl called Ashildr calls full scale war on The Mire in revenge for what has happened. As we have heard many times already in this series about messing with time and events, Jamie Mathieson (glad to have him back on Doctor Who again) plays about with the ideas of ripples and tidal waves in events The Doctor can control. Throughout the 45 minutes of this episode, we are constantly reminded of this and find what the difference is between the two near the climax of the episode. We get a strange episode as we see The Doctor create warriors, something he has been accused of many times and we also get the answer to one of the questions that has been around throughout his tenure as the time lord.
Steven Moffat contributes to this script, and between him and Mathieson, you can really tell whose writing you are experiencing on screen. Moffat clearly brought in to explain how The Doctor got the face he got, and the answer is what most of us probably already know. But, to hear the reason why is what really makes it stand out and is almost just blown aside, but inspires the final few minutes of the episode so makes it key. After the toughest of the Vikings were killed, The Doctor and Clara are left with the old, weak, sick and young to build a new army. But, it comes from the idea to fight smart than fight at all (and with a throwback to how The Doctor can talk baby, though unfortunately not with stormageddon). Ashildr is a dreamer; she stands out amongst those who act tough and strong by being possibly the smartest in the lot. Training the new warriors is fun, The Doctor clearly enjoying the names for his men (Lofty, Limpy, Chuckles and even Heidi!). The Doctor encouraged them to run originally, and you really see that sometimes The Doctor will face what he knows he can help with.
I’d like to think Peter Capaldi will be seeing heaps of awards after this series. Yet again, another superb episode where I have been hooked from beginning to end and just had the greatest joy seeing this Doctor really shine and be brilliant. Maisie Williams joined two of the world’s biggest fandoms this week and showed that Arya Stark is only just one character she can pull off flawlessly. Ashildr could be a companion, but unfortunately I would rather her stay as a regular on Game Of Thrones for the time being. I liked David Schofield as Odin (though if Brian Blessed hadn’t fallen ill, his legendary voice would have rocked this episode to a 10!), he was a good villain, just think he was underused (I feel a theme, remember the seldom seen Fisher King?). I think in a way it works because you can focus on these other characters, but at the same time imagine how much more we could have learnt about The Mire? Jenna Coleman was great; Clara getting straight into the action was a fantastic move. Also, can we get her to use the spacesuit a bit more often? And, even though I consider his sitcom Siblings to be one of the worst shows of all time, I can’t help but feel I really enjoyed Tom Stourton as Lofty, a comic relief character and someone who was more integral to the story and how it developed than many may consider. The real shame of this episode, it is the only to feature Jamie Mathieson! Arguably the best new writer on Doctor Who for the Capaldi era, I hope that series 10 gives him either a two-parter or a couple episodes to flex them writing muscles. Top story, great fun and I anticipate how the loose-connections to episode six will arise. Just remember, this episode is called ‘The Girl Who Died’, and remember what the next one is called…
Final Rating: 9.5/10
Written by Jonjo Cosgrove