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Engaging episode!

While the episodes this season have so far made me much happier than all of last season, "The Girl Who Died" the first truly engaging and enjoyable. That said, it did have its problems, though not enough to make me feel bad about it at all.

I did notice that it was written by Jamie Mathieson, who also wrote my favorite episodes from last season, "Mummy on the Orient Express" and "Flatline". More on that later.

The Doctor and Clara land in a Viking village that's about to be attacked by an alien menace. Despite what seems to be insurmountable odds, the Doctor pieces together all of the strengths of the village, adds in a bit of future technology, and defeats the aliens without bloodshed. Great story, good adventure, lots of the Doctor being arrogant and disdainful, as well as clever. The pacing was great, building up the tension and the excitement well. The guest characters except for Maisie Williams' were poorly-drawn, but I've come to expect that in DW now, so it doesn't bother me as much as it used ot. ("Mummy", I think, broke me of that.)

The bits in between? Not so much. The moral discussions were so heavy-handed, and Twelve moped so much, it was terrible. It was the same way in both "Mummy" and "Flatline": the adventure was great, but the interwoven story (Clara taking the Doctor to task for lying, Clara trying to be the Doctor) felt stapled on, as if the concepts were given to the writer and told to force it in. I have never seen Mathieson's work outside of DW and I wonder, is he simply good at adventure and poor at character/relationship, or are all the things I don't like about the three episodes Moffat's stuff?

I loved the callback to "The Fires of Pompeii" (one of my favorite episodes of all time), until I realized that they completely missed the point of the final scene. Donna's point was that yes, the Doctor had to choose to kill everyone, but if he pulled himself out of the mire of his regret and opened his eyes, he could do one bit of good by saving someone. Somehow, that "just save someone" line got translated into "resurrect the one person that died." Resurrecting her actually ruined the story for me (though more on that later). Also, saving that one person at all costs reminded me of the Doctor taking it upon himself to make decisions for everyone else - the first thought that came to mind during this scene was Ursula, and then Donna. What was it that Mr. Copper said? "But if you could choose, Doctor, if you decide who lives and who dies, that would make you a monster." But I suppose, that was the Tenth Doctor's storyline - the whole point was that he was that monster, and he tries to suppress that until much later in his life. Here, it's used to make the Twelfth Doctor a hero, and to me, that's a terrible hero.

I am glad though, that there's actually going to be consequences for the Doctor's actions, and that saved the end of the episode for me (though again, it felt completely tacked on to the adventure). It's pretty terrible that he gave her the alien bit without thinking, and then gave her the ability to doom someone else to the same state if she wishes. The dialogue did imply, though, that she can be killed if it's done thoroughly enough, and hopefully that will be accomplished in the next episode.

Side note #1: What's so great about the "greatest warrior race in the universe" if all they really are is dudes in armor with a chip that heals them as fast as they take damage? THAT is the thing that the Doctor should have threatened to broadcast to the universe.

Side note #2: I've only seen Maisie Williams in two things, GoT and this, and I really don't like her. I have only seen the first three seasons of GoT and I thought I didn't like her because of her character (so far, as far as I've seen, Arya hasn't done anything other than run and threaten enemies far stronger than her and then need to have someone save her; oh wait, that's what this character did, too). She's great when her character needs to display an extreme emotion - anger, happiness, fear, etc. - but when she's just a normal person, she delivers her lines like she's reading off a card.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 18th, 2015 08:35 pm (UTC)
I'm not so sure it was used to make Twelve a hero. If this lives up to what it should, the Doctor will be facing the consequences of his actions in the next episode.

I have to tell you, I cried when I saw Donna. I thought that maybe, just maybe, he would get it. Donna was full of compassion, but she did understand the choices the Time Lord had to make, and respected that. He absolutely got the wrong message; did it get scrambled in translation? I'm sure Donna would never ever have approved of what he just did, and Mr. Copper's comments to him also point out the fact that the Doctor should never ever make such decisions. There seem to be a lot of parallels between Ten and Twelve, in that it seems they decide other beings' fates for them, they seem to have a lot of arrogance. The one thing Twelve is lacking is an overwhelming sense of tragedy. He doesn't seem to regret anything he does (yet; that may change with the next episode).

All of his comments, in previous episodes about stealing people's death away, and in this very episode, about immortality not being the ability to live forever, but meaning that you have to watch everyone you know, everyone you attach yourself to, wither away and die. All while you have to go on. Shades of Jack Harkness... and even shades of himself. Has he learned nothing about death defining humans? He lives on and on and doesn't learn... or learns the message he wants. There were also shades of the Time Lord Victorious here, and he was despicable when that happened.

And Clara really didn't comment here about it at all. Not to complain about his not saving Pink, not about any of the lessons she was supposed to be learning. It makes me wonder about her exit. If he could just plunk one of those things in his companions, he'd never lose them (at least not to death; some left by choice, as they should have, or for other reasons, like having their memories blocked). Loss defines him as much as death defines us....

I really hope they explore this a lot more, and give more credit to Donna's real message, not this corrupted version. She was respectful of the laws of Time once she realized, yet taught him to be open to the possibilities within that. He needs balance, needs it desperately, and Clara is not providing it. He's a hobby to her; that's all. He's right, let her find another hobby and let someone else take over who can really help him.

Oct. 19th, 2015 07:17 pm (UTC)
The one thing Twelve is lacking is an overwhelming sense of tragedy. He doesn't seem to regret anything he does (yet; that may change with the next episode).

Isn't that broadly (not 100% always, though, I guess) true of earlier Doctors too, though? I mean, this trait seems to have had its birth in the Time War, mostly.

Edited at 2015-10-19 07:18 pm (UTC)
Oct. 19th, 2015 07:27 pm (UTC)
The others before him (the ones that came after the Time Wars) seem to at least have had this overwhelming feeling that it was tragic what he had to do; all of their decisions were hinged on that experience. Now that Twelve knows that the Doctor saved Gallifrey, even if he doesn't know where it is, he doesn't have that overarching tragedy and feeling of regret for that, and for all the decisions he has to make. There's a bit of a difference in his motivation for making decisions. Destroying Gallifrey (or thinking he had) made him into the being he became after that. It's a paradigm shift, even if it's subtle.
Oct. 19th, 2015 08:00 pm (UTC)
Sure, makes sense; but I was referring to pre-Time War Doctors. I haven't seen anywhere near enough classic Who to make a comprehensive list, but I guess what I mean is it's not totally out of line for the Doctor taken as a whole? Or was the point solely to compare to other post-War Doctors and say "this one is different because..."?

eta: I think I read your comment that Twelve was "lacking" this trait as a criticism of the way the character is being written. I'm wondering now if that was a misapprehension and you were just stating an in-universe observation.

Edited at 2015-10-19 08:02 pm (UTC)
Oct. 19th, 2015 08:08 pm (UTC)
It's an "in-universe" observation and comparison of Twelve to the other post-war Doctors, not a criticism of how his character is being written, not at all. I wasn't even considering the pre-war Doctors in this, because that sense of war-weariness, of tragedy caused by him, was not manifested in them. Thanks for having me clarify this a bit.
Oct. 21st, 2015 07:52 pm (UTC)
"shaodes of the Time Lord Victorious" - More than just shades. I checked the transcript of the episode, and this is what he says when the flashbacks made him remember the "lesson" that Donna taught him:

"I'm the Doctor, and I save people. And if anyone happens to be listening, and you've got any kind of a problem with that, to hell with you!"

The thing is, he barely realizes what he's done and how he's failed, and just brushes it off, saying, "I was angry. I was emotional. Just possibly, I have made a terrible mistake. Maybe even a tidal wave. Time will tell, it always does." And, of course, Clara tries to make him feel like he's done good, with her "Whatever you did for Ashildr, I think she deserved it." There's the companion failing in her role, right there.
Oct. 21st, 2015 08:03 pm (UTC)
OK, I agree, it's more than shades, and he does brush it off. So does Clara.... so much for "someone to stop him." Fail, on both counts.

Although I have to say that Ten was absolutely, utterly horrified by what he did. I'm not sure at all I saw that with Twelve. "Time will tell.." in a horrible way, I think.
Oct. 21st, 2015 08:08 pm (UTC)
Ten still needed the companion (Adelaide) to make him realize what he'd done, but yes, he was destroyed when it finally penetrated. We'll see how Twelve handles things. I will be very disappointed if the next episode isn't dark and horrible with respect to this situation.

(It also bothers me that he gives her the chip, realizes that he's probably made a terrible mistake, and then just swans off.)

Edited at 2015-10-21 08:09 pm (UTC)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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