In Review: Doctor Who – The Woman Who Lived

The Doctor comes face to face with a highwayman in 17th Century London.

Synopsis: The Doctor comes face to face with a highwayman in 17th Century London.

Review: Picking up a few 100 years from where things left off last week. The Doctor comes face to face with Ashildr (Maisie Williams) who has lived a few 100 years since the Doctor made her immortal, but she is having issues with the loneliness of her immortal existence and has took to being a highwayman to alleviate the tedium.

This episode is very much a shared story with Peter Capaldi’s Doctor trying to help Ashildr find her true self and move her away from being the impressive warrior and robber that she has become.

From Ashildr’s point of view. The Doctor pretty much made her immortal and abandoned her. So there is a fair bit of resistance from her towards anything The Doctor has to say. She even forges an alliances with another alien being that has crashed on earth, which pretty much comes close to not ending well.

When he finds her Ashildr is in a pretty dark place. She’s lived several lives and witnessed everyone she has ever loved die while she has stayed young and had to continue reinventing herself. The Doctor finds out how much of a rough time she has had when he reads her journals.

This is very much a story about loneliness and feelings of isolation and both Capaldi and Maisie Williams work really well together and provide some very touching moments.

We even get a reference in the story to Captain Jack Harkness towards the close of the story, which is a nice nod. Be great to see that character return to Doctor Who some day.

Amid the rather dramatic themes is some comedy provided by Rufus Hound who provides some much needed levity with his portrayal of banter loving Highwayman Sam Swift. His part in the story was much appreciated given that he did feel a little heavy handed with the narrative about Ishildr’s isolation and such.

The action was pretty good and we get a fun moment in which the Doctor botches breaking into a house, which winds up in some verbal sparring between him and Ishildr as they climb back up the chimney.

In terms of the music. At certain points the incidental music had me thinking of the main theme to Gilligan’s Island. Until it took on a sadder and more morose feel as the episode developed.

While the acting performances in this were strong. I felt that the narrative was a little heavy handed at times and the story probably needed a little more levity than what was offered.

Doctor Who - The Woman Who Lived
  • Great acting performances from both Capaldi and Maisie Williams
  • It felt like the writer was using some major power tools to drive the central themes of the stories narrative. More humour was needed.
  • Story
  • Acting
  • Incidental Music

Ian Cullen is the founder of and has been a fan of science fiction and fantasy from birth. In the past few years he has written for 'Star Trek' Magazine as well as interviewed numerous comics writers, television producers and actors for the SFP-NOW podcast at: When he is not writing for Ian enjoys playing his guitar, studying music, watching movies and reading his comics. Ian is both the founder and owner of You can contact ian at: [email protected]
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