Doctor Who: Season 9: Episode 5: The Girl Who Died by Jamie Mathieson and Steven Moffat (review)

As usual with these examination of ‘Doctor Who’ stories shortly after transmission, if you haven’t seen them, I’ll try not to give away too many unintentional spoilers, although I will give a quick resume of the plot. Much of the analysis will be about it so feel suitably warned

I was wondering how much we missed between adventures when Clara is in a spacesuit wanting to be rescued by the Doctor. It’s only later that the reveal is the spacesuit’s material is needed for the end that you realise that although it’s a contrivance to make the plot work. Even more so, when taken prisoner by the Vikings, how does Clara go to the loo when she and the Doctor are on a long boat for two days. Surely by then, she’s have left the spacesuit off.

The same applies when Clara is captured again by aliens and the Doctor thinking he’s failed her and she’s dead. Doesn’t this regeneration remember she’s the impossible girl and aspects of her are spread across reality?

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 13/10/2015 - Programme Name: Doctor Who - TX: 17/10/2015 - Episode: THE GIRL WHO DIED (By Jamie Mathieson and Steven Moffat) (No. 5) - Picture Shows: ***EMBARGOED UNTIL 13th OCT 2015*** Clara (JENNA COLEMAN), Ashildr (MAISIE WILLIAMS) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Simon Ridgway

Speaking of which, this Doctor doesn’t appear very creative when it comes to rescuing people. Granted there is some explanation that he sees other implications of tampering but he still reneges on this as well. Even so, surely he could have come up with a better plan than over-night teaching farmer Vikings how to use swords in shades of ‘The Magnificent Seven’. Digging pits filled with water would have been useful. More so when he discovered they have electric eels, although I thought these were a tropical species and not likely to be in that part of the world.

Something else to consider is his fear that the Mire would decimate the world. The Doctor has seen the entire history of mankind. He knows that can’t happen or anything he’s done in the future will cease to exist. So, as with last week’s story, when and wherever he appears, the Doctor becomes part of the timeline and need to resolve the problem before he can move on because as a Time Lord, as spoken in the past, he’s aware when time shouldn’t be like that.


Speaking of the aliens. You would have thought the Mire to be more known than just a single appearance but considering the way they are defeated and that is spoiler, maybe they went back under a rock afterwards. Will they return? Who can say. The way the troops walk reminds me a little too much of the Cybermen.

What he did to someone which would be spoiler is aid recovery for someone apparently dead also explains why he doesn’t do it regularly although like a certain Jack Harkness, he’s also created another immortal. The Doctor’s getting a bit careless in his millennia. At this rate, he’s going to create the first Gallefreyian capable of regenerating.

The important thing, the Doctor has had his mojo returned. I did wonder what Steven Moffat had added to this story but I suspect that in part it is what he needed to have achieved this time around.


Someone has remembered that Peter Capaldi is very good at comedy and has blended it well with the more dramatic elements this time. I suspect this is part of sorting out the more sinister over-tones of the last season. Jenna Coleman as Clara again plays the decisive role which you would have thought by now that the Doctor should be doing. Having his mojo restored should change this mix. I’m less sure about Ashildr (actress Maisie Williams) becoming a potential companion, more so with what happened to her.

What is worrying is the number of plot contrivances that had to be set up into the story than just good plotting. Surely ‘Doctor Who’ needs more thought in effective plotting than this? Have I avoided spoilers? These comments aside, the story holds together but only if you don’t analyse too deeply. I’m a reviewer, this is my job.

GF Willmetts

17 October 2015.

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