Doctor Who XXXV/9.6: The Woman Who Lived
I was again on previews duty this week for the Doctor Who News Page’s reviews site, so my review of The Woman Who Lived can be found there. I’ve enjoyed the exchanges since. For example,on Twitter, Kat W has pointed out that this episode reinforced Steven Moffat’s emphasis on an adult’s reconciliation with their childhood self as the most important part of identity, citing particularly The Eleventh Hour and the Doctor’s rejoinder to Amy’s insistence that she has ‘grown up’, ‘I’ll soon fix that’. They add that Ashildr’s regally bright red and gold dress not only flatters Leandro as an analogy with Charles II, but also presages her own restoration, to centrality of identity. On LiveJournal, philmophlegm has related Ashildr to Neil Gaiman’s Hob Gadling in the Sandman series, and the tavern setting reinforces that. Daniel Saunders has brought up the witch-hunting sequence, coding Ashildr/Me as dangerous to the peasants or admirable to the audience, a standard-bearer for viewer-friendly modernity. Elsewhere, Harry Ward has pointed out that the house was the same as that used in The Unicorn and the Wasp, and we seem to have been expected to notice. I’ve not gone through many other reviews, but liked Patrick Mulkern’s elaborate and evocative reaction for Radio Times.
As I’ve said elsewhere, on a second viewing I realised that dialogue placed the episode in 1651, and that I could have placed more emphasis on the lightness of touch with serious issues and the precision-cutting with which the lines Ashildr and the Doctor exchanged examined their actions; Leandro’s face seemed more flexible than I thought on first impressions too.