Moffat had been cagey in his responses as to whether or not Maisie Williams was playing an old Doctor Who character or someone new. Well, it seems that there’s a 98% chance that Ashildr is just an ordinary Viking girl, but there’s always that 2% chance she’s a chameleon-arched Time Lord (the Doctor appears to recognize her but passes it off as “remembering in the wrong order”; she’s always been different; her head is full of stories). Granted, there’s no sign of a fob watch, and she has a human father, but certain elements of her conversations with the Doctor seemed to remind me of how the Doctor would converse with Susan.
It was interesting, too, to see how the Doctor began to wonder if he had done the right thing by giving Ashildr the Mire medical kit. Usually we see him save people without batting an eye, so to see him wondering if he should have let the dead remain dead is an interesting twist.
There was something quite beautiful in the Doctor’s translation of what the baby was saying. Some people might find it corny, but I thought there was beauty in it–and in the Doctor’s explanation that laughing is how babies sing. I wonder if I’m going soft in my old age.
Probably the biggest part of this episode was the Doctor’s sudden remembrance of where he got his face and why he chose it. He chose it as a reminder than when everything looks hopeless, he is still capable of saving at least one person. And it meant a flashback to Pompeii, Ten, and Donna! Yay!
About the only thing I didn’t like was the super-heavy foreshadowing of Clara’s imminent departure. She’s going to leave; she’s probably going to die; everyone will be crying, and the Doctor will be heartbroken–WE GET IT ALREADY! Although I must admit, it would be truly priceless if Jenna Coleman doesn’t leave after all this buildup, and we learn the whole thing was a ruse.
Next week’s episode, “The Woman Who Lived”, will be a look at the aftermath of Ashildr’s immortality, and maybe–just maybe–we’ll finally get answers as to whether or not she really is a previous character.