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Posts for October 28, 2015

Died and Lived

Some quick thoughts on the “The Girl Who Died”/”The Woman Who LIved” Doctor Who diptych.

It’s unusual and intriguing to see what was effectively a two-part story with different writing credits for each part. Yet there was no real need for these two episodes to be shown back-to-back, and indeed I partly got the sense that they might have been stronger if they had been separated by a few other stories.

On the other hand I’m fairly sure that the second part had to happen now because they’re gearing up to something. Maisie Williams’s Ashildr or “Me” character is, I feel sure, fundamental to this season’s overall story, if it has one.

After the first part I had the idea that Ashildr was going to become “The Minister of War”, the mysterious figure that was referred to by O’Donnell in “Under the Lake” as being something that 1980 was before — along with the moon blowing up and Harold Saxon.

Such an ominous-sounding figure is surely going to be an enemy of The Doctor, and at the end of “The Girl Who Died” he had created a near immortal who might not be at all happy with him about the situation, and who might use her longevity to gain power.

As indeed was the case, as we saw in “The Woman Who Lived”. However by the end of the second part I was less sure that Ashildr’s future role will be that one. It seems fairly likely that she’s going to have one, though, with her promise to pick up the pieces after The Doctor runs away, the giant foreshadowing of Clara’s departure, and of course her appearance in the background of Clara’s pupil’s photo.

However I get the feeling that her intentions will be more benign.

All just wild speculation, of course.

This pair of episodes were probably the weakest of the series so far, but they were still very good. Effective lightening of the mood with the comedy elements, while still not shying away from the darkness.

One last thought: in the pub scene at the end there were two people at a table in the foreground. I haven’t checked yet, but I’m fairly sure that the shot was a visual allusion to the Sandman episode whose title escapes me,1 but in which Death agrees with her brother that she won’t take this one guy, and Morpheus meets him in taverns every hundred years. Which would tie in with the immortality theme, of course.

Oh, and: on Jason Snell’s Incomparable Flashcast about the second part (which episode Mr Snell wasn’t on, but never mind), the alien was likened to an “angry Cowardly Lion”. Now I’m sure there was also a mention by The Doctor of Ashildr’s heart “rusting” or “needing lubrication”, or some such — which was surely a reference to the Tin Woodsman. Which makes The Doctor The Scarecrow?

And Clara is Toto, of course, since Missy already likened her to a small dog.

I’m sure it’ll all make sense eventually.

  1. It’s in The Doll’s House, issue # 13, “Men of Good Fortune”. Hob Gadling; he’s got his own Wikipedia entry 

Attack of the Clowns, or: Send in the Clones

Some time in 2002, as I suppose it must have been, I was driving through Hackney with my then-small son in the car, when he said, “Dad, I saw a clown.”

OK, I thought, someone probably dressed up for a kids’ party. It was a Saturday, as I recall. “Oh, yeah, where?” I glanced around, but couldn’t see any white faces or red noses.

On a bus shelter.”

A clown? On a bus shelter?”

Yes. A clown. You know, from Star Wars.”

I guess I must have been able to give some explanation of what “clone” means, to a five-year-old. But it wasn’t till last weekend that we finally saw the relevant movie.

And as before… it wasn’t as bad as I’ve been led to believe. Keeping your expectations low always helps.

It wasn’t great, it’s true. In particular I wasn’t convinced by Anakin and Padmé falling in love. Anakin, yes, but Padmé, really, no.

I had a hard time working out what the sides were in the big battle. The clones end up fighting on the side of the Republic? I didn’t expect that.

And this bothers me: if you are an assemblage of planets joined together in common cause by treaty, and some of those planets decide they want to leave — going to war over it should be the furthest thing from your mind. It would be like if a country wanted to leave the EU, and the rest of the EU formed a vast army to force them to stay in it. That’s not the action of a peaceful democratic entity.

It’s also insane. Even if you win and make the would-be-leavers stay, you’ve now got a load of people — whole worlds — who are actively hostile to the grouping they are within. That can’t be healthy.

Now, if a subset leaves peacefully, and then war developed later on, that would be more believeable. After all, we acknowledge the EU’s effect of helping to keep Europe peaceful these past seventy years. It’s one of the reasons I am strongly against the idea of Britain leaving.

But most importantly of all: you can’t say “federation starships” and mean the bad guys. I know they were talking about the Trade Federation, but “federation starshipmeans something in SF, and to hear it used here was really jarring. Did Lucas have beef with Roddenberry, or something?

Yoda fighting was fun. He’s so tiny.

And I’ve booked a work outing to see Episode VII on the 17th of December, the day it opens.