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Recap / Doctor Who S35 E5 "The Girl Who Died"

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The Girl Who Died
"Winning is all about looking happier than the other guy."
Click here to see the Radio Times magazine poster for this episode:
Written by Jamie Mathieson and Steven Moffat
Directed by Ed Bazalgette
Air date: 17 October 2015
Part 1 of 2

"There's going to be a war tomorrow. And here's some news, this just in — we are going to win the hell out it!"
The Doctor

The one where Twelve has an epiphany and realises where he got his face from, a cast member from Game of Thrones guest stars in a role that isn't too far removed from her element and the baddies are pantomimed offstage to Yakety Sax.

An official summary can be found here.

Clara's stranded in deep space, with a love sprite in her spacesuit, after an adventure at the spider mines. The Doctor rescues her, as you knew he would — he just had to finish luring an enemy fleet halfway across the universe and draining their power. After he's stomped on the love sprite, killing it, he lands the TARDIS in a forest so he can wipe his shoe off on the grass... only for him and Clara to be surrounded by a Viking raiding party.

The Doctor attempts to intimidate the Vikings by informing them of the extremely advanced technology making up his sonic sunglasses. The Viking leader plucks them off his face and breaks them in half.

The Doctor: Clara... we're going with the Vikings.

Three days later, they arrive at the Vikings' village, Clara still wearing her spacesuit (sans helmet). The raiders are welcomed home, and the Doctor notices a teenage girl who seems oddly familiar, somehow... anyway, he's slipped out of his handcuffs, and he attempts to persuade the villagers that he's Odin via a yo-yo he had in his pocket.

The Doctor is immediately upstaged by another Odin, who appears in the clouds, proclaiming that the greatest of the village's warriors shall dine with him tonight in Valhalla. A group of helmeted warriors teleport into the village, selecting warriors for transport. Clara gets the teenage girl, named Ashildr, to use half of the sonic sunglasses to undo her chains. This catches the attention of the alien warriors, and Clara and Ashildr are beamed up as well.

The village's warriors are killed for their testosterone by "Odin", who turns out to be a member of a warrior race called the Mire. Clara attempts to persuade him to leave, but Ashildr angrily declares that the Mire will pay for what they have done, and challenges them to come down and fight.

Now a small Viking village is at war with the most feared warrior race in the galaxy... so how can they win?

This is the first part of what is arguably the 100th story of the 2005 Doctor Who, continued in "The Woman Who Lived".


  • Action Girl:
    • Ashildr tries to be an action-y sword wielding Viking, but her strengths lie elsewhere.
    • When the Doctor asks for a show of hands of those who have held a sword in battle, Clara raises her hand. This references an unseen adventure, and seems to catch the Doctor off-guard. (Oddly, when the time comes to train the villagers, Clara doesn't appear to get involved.)
  • Action Prologue: We start the episode on the tail-end of another exciting adventure.
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: For the first time on screen, Clara expresses affection for the Doctor by stroking his cheek. This is in clear contrast to the previous season when she actually slapped him or threatened to slap him several times, and was one of several things introduced in Series 9 to illustrate the evolution of their relationship.
  • Afraid of Blood: One of the villagers faints at the sight, or even the mention, of blood.
  • Age Cut: Played with beautifully at the end of the episode as a long shot circling Ashildr shows her physical appearance not changing at all, but her expression going from youthful and optimistic, to sad and tired, to world-weary and jaded. She may not be physically aging, but time is visibly taking its toll nonetheless.
  • The Ageless: Ashildr, thanks to the Mire medkit the Doctor reprogrammed, will never die of old age because the medkit will continuously repair her.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: In the midst of bemoaning the loss of Ashildr and his impotence to stop losing people, the Doctor actually directly makes one towards Clara, though she doesn't appear to notice:
    The Doctor: Look at you, with your eyes, and your never giving up, and your anger, and your kindness. One day, the memory of that will hurt so much that I won't be able to breathe, and I'll do what I always do. I'll get in my box and I'll run and I'll run, in case all the pain ever catches up. And every place I go, it will be there.
  • Arc Words:
    • "Hybrid" makes a reappearance at the end with regards to Ashildr's revival.
    • "Story". The Doctor described himself as "a bloke in a box, telling stories" in "The Witch's Familiar", and then there was his "This is where your story ends!" speech to the Fisher King in "Before the Flood". Both of those episodes opened with a character recounting a story (Missy in the former, the Doctor in the latter) to explain how they escaped a deathly situation; the season prequel "The Doctor's Meditation" ended with him beginning to recount his encounter with young Davros. Now the Doctor meets and makes a connection with another storyteller — Ashildr — and as he revives her notes "Your story's not over yet"...
    • "Duty of care" is invoked by the Doctor again as justification for wanting to keep Clara safe. It's starting to really annoy her, and she lets the Doctor know in no uncertain terms. The next time she hears him say it, she'll realize its true meaning.
    • "Win", plus the secondary word "plan" (first brought up in "The Witch's Familiar"). Clara has confidence that the Doctor will figure out some way to beat the Mire: "He doesn't have a plan yet, but he will, and it will be spectacular." And when the Doctor displays self-doubt about having a plan, she challenges him, "Start winning, Doctor. It's what you're good at." And the Doctor indeed comes up with a plan and wins the battle... but as he sadly explains to Clara, he doesn't feel like a winner because he lost a person, Ashildr, in the process. He'd rather lose battles than people.
  • Artistic Licence – Biology :
    • It wouldn't make any difference whom the adrenaline and testosterone were harvested from, mightiest warriors or not, they'd still be the same chemical compounds. Nor would they necessarily have the same, or any, effect on the Mire as on humans. (Fridge Brilliance - the Mire are a Proud Warrior Race coming very close to a personification of macho stupidity, so it makes sense that they'd make that mistake.)
    • Electric eels are native to South America, not Europe, and they don't make electric sparks. They're also generally useless as a food species, with very little of their flesh suitable for consumption, so it's unclear why the Vikings would bother farming them.note 
  • Artistic Licence – History:
    • As pointed out on this very wiki, Viking raiders never actually wore horned helmets. invokedWord of God is that it was easier to go with the misconception than to be historically accurate and add a scene explaining why they weren't wearing horns.
    • The villagers refuse to flee, and proclaim themselves Vikings. They wouldn't, however — Vikings were not an ethnicity, but a specific term for the raiders themselves; "Odin" had killed all the Vikings.
  • Bear Hug: The Doctor's joyful "spinny hug" of Clara qualifies, remembering he's nearly a foot taller than her and the trope also calls for the recipient to not always appreciate it; Clara at that moment is more concerned about what Ashildr had just done, so she doesn't actually appear to appreciate the hug.
  • Being Good Sucks: This particular Doctor does not like fighting, but knows in his hearts that he cannot abandon the villagers to certain doom at the hands of the Mire when they refuse to flee. As it turns out, he figures out a way they can send them packing that requires virtually no fighting at all! But it comes at the cost of Ashildr's life. Having the ability to save her, but in a way that has a severe downside and requires defying the laws of time, means a decision To Be Lawful or Good. He chooses to be good, and he will pay dearly for it as the rest of the season unfolds.
  • Big Bad: Odin.
  • Brain Food: The Love Sprite sucks your brain out through your mouth. It tries to do this to Clara, but the Doctor gets it out of her spacesuit before this can happen.
  • Call-Back:
    • The Doctor's ability to speak Baby is shown again, though this time it's played for drama rather than humour, and like in "The Beast Below", the Doctor decides to help the villagers after hearing a crying child.
    • The Doctor realizes that reviving Ashildr with alien tech makes her a "hybrid". He's clearly remembering both the prophecy about creating a hybrid warrior and Missy's claim to him in "The Witch's Familiar" that "Everyone's a hybrid" — friend and foe at once.
    • Why does the Doctor look like Peter Capaldi? Because it was a reminder that he's supposed to save people, even if it means interfering with history.
    • The Doctor's diary is seen for the first time since the 1996 TV movie (though he's since expanded it into a 2000-Year Diary; last time we saw it, it was only a 900-Year edition).
    • A subtle character-development-related example: Clara strokes the Doctor's face affectionately, an intentional contrast to Series 8 when she was at times shown slapping the Doctor or threatening to do so, and reflecting the warmer relationship between the two in Series 9.
  • Cerebus Retcon: The Doctor's ability to "speak Baby", which was treated as possibly a Running Gag on his part during Matt Smith's incumbency, is played for drama by Capaldi's more serious regeneration and provides him with practical information he couldn't have just made up.
  • Character Title: Ashildr is ‘The Girl Who Died’
  • Cliffhanger: Ashildr, having become The Ageless and lacking a companion in immortality (yet?), becomes despondent and embittered as centuries pass. The Doctor notes that she is now a hybrid, akin to the fabled Dalek-Time Lord creature... will she prove similarly destructive?
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The Doctor reads from a 2,000 year diary. The first time he regenerated, he referenced a 500 year diary, and a 900-year diary was seen in the 1996 TV movie.
    • During the climax, the Doctor explains that he is "Reversing the polarity of the neutron flow", referencing the catchphrase of the Third Doctor. He then lampshades the fact that the phrase, while possibly sounding impressive, is meaningless.
    • The Doctor finally figures out where he's seen his face before, and what it means, something he's wondered since "Deep Breath".
    • False Odin's prosthetic eye-piece and general hamminess call to mind the Captain.
    • The Doctor's line "Barring accidents, she may now be functionally immortal" echoes the Second Doctor's description of the Time Lords in "The War Games": "We can live forever barring accidents."
    • The line about "creating ripples" suggests the Seventh Doctor's conversation with the café owner in "Remembrance of the Daleks".
    • The Doctor's sorrow at the death of Ashildr, in which he says "I'm so sick of losing people" refers not only to Ashildr's death in this episode, but also others who have died in his care, including O'Donnell in the previous episode.
    • The death of Danny Pink is discussed in a deleted scene.
  • Cross-Referenced Titles: With the following episode "The Woman Who Lived".
  • Defrosting Ice King: The Doctor's joyful hugging of Clara is decidedly not something that would gave been seen the previous season. Later, the Doctor nearly breaks down in tears as he talks to Clara about losing Ashildr and the possibility of one day losing her, too.
  • Disaster Dominoes: The village being set on fire was caused by one guy getting hit on the head. He then spooked a horse and things kind of snowballed from there.
  • Epic Fail:
    • The villagers are so bad at sword fighting that they manage to set the village on fire while practising.
    • Clara's efforts to convince the Mire to leave in peace qualify. Although she is nearly successful, Ashildr messes everything up and the village ends up declaring war on the Mire instead.
  • "Eureka!" Moment:
    • Invoked by Clara, who outright tells the Doctor to go looking for that thing he's missed so he can save the day. Sure enough, he does when he realises the village has electric eels.
    • The Doctor realises he can save Ashildr because that's what he does! This follows him finally realizing where he got his current face from.
  • Eye Patch Of Power: Odin wears a VR eyepiece, but it ends up being used against him when an image of a dragon is fed into it.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Anyone paying attention to the title of the episode isn't taken by surprise when Ashildr bites it. Of course it's what comes after that's the surprise...
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The interactions between the Doctor, Clara and Ashildr hint at the events of the season finale. Of particular note is the Doctor's feeling of déjà vu when he first sees her, and the scene where Ashildr tells the Doctor she has no desire to ever leave her village because the people there love and accept her.
    • The Time-Passes Montage shows Ashildr losing her smile as the years pass by. Her next appearance in the following episode has her grown hardened and distant from humanity as a result of her immortality.
  • Freak Out: The Doctor has a very brief one which leads him to make the profound decision to undo Ashildr's death, no matter the cost.
  • Friend to All Children: The Doctor's ability to speak baby convinces him to stay and help the village, and even gives him a clue to his "Eureka!" Moment. He also befriends teenaged Ashildr. Tragically, his friendship with Ashildr and guilt over her dying in the battle as a direct result of the role he assigns her figures into his rash decision to revive her in a way that also makes her immortal.
  • The Glomp: Clara finds herself on the receiving end of a full-out, super-awkward, off-the-ground spinny hug from the Doctor.
  • God Guise:
  • Gone Horribly Right: The Mire Medical Kit heals Ashildr and brings her back to life, but it won't stop healing her, rendering her immortal.
  • Historical In-Joke: The Mire drug the Doctor gives Ashildr seems like a last-minute Deus ex Machina, but the description of how it works fits the description of the einherjar in Norse myth, who would nightly fight and die in glorious battle in Valhalla. This in turn suggests that the Mire and Odin may have created this portion of the Norse myths.
  • Holographic Disguise: The fake Odin uses one to look like Odin.
  • Honour Before Reason: The Doctor offers a rather simple solution to the Mire attack: leave. With no one to attack, they'll get bored and leave within a week. The Vikings, being Vikings, refuse on account of this being a dishonourable tactic.
    The Doctor: I applaud your courage and deplore your stupidity.
  • Horny Vikings: The writers knew full well that Viking helmets didn't have horns in Real Life, but they put them in anyway because it was simpler than putting in dialogue explaining why there weren't horns.
  • Human Resources: The fake Odin captures the finest warriors from different worlds and harvests them for their testosterone, which he consumes.
  • Immortality Inducer: The Doctor reprograms a Mire battlefield medkit to work on humans, which he uses on Ashildr to bring her back from the dead. Unfortunately, the medkit won't ever stop fixing her, so now she's The Ageless.
  • Instant Humiliation: Just Add YouTube!: The Doctor uses a video of the Mire recoiling in fear of a puppet, which they were convinced was a giant serpent through manipulation of their implants, to convince them to leave without ever mentioning Earth to anyone. If they do, the Doctor can instantly ruin their reputation by transmitting the video to the entire universe. Clara puts a bow on it by adding "Yakety Sax", a.k.a. The Benny Hill Show theme, to the video.
  • Internal Homage: The Doctor uses ripples as a metaphor for the changes he makes in history, echoing his soliloquy from "Remembrance of the Daleks". At the end, fearing that he has made a terrible mistake ("maybe even a tidal wave") by reviving Ashildr and making her immortal, he repeats the Seventh Doctor's last line from that serial: "Time will tell — it always does."
  • A Lesson Learned Too Well: Donna Noble taught/reminded the Tenth Doctor that he should always save whomever he can in a crisis in "The Fires of Pompeii", and Twelve realizes in the dénouement of this episode that he has the face of the patriarch of the family he went on to save from that disaster as a reminder of this. But the only way he can save Ashildr also makes her immortal and paves the way for the tragic events of the Season Finale three-parter.
  • Meaningful Echo:
    • In "Under the Lake", the Doctor, concerned about Clara's mental state, suggests (among other things) that she take up a hobby, to which she says she doesn't need to. In this episode, the Doctor repeats this suggestion, only for Clara to admit that the Doctor is now her hobby (though it should be noted that Clara admitted this the previous season, too, in "Into the Dalek").
    • In prior episodes, the Doctor's ability to speak baby has been played for laughs. In this episode, however, it's played straight.
  • Meaningful Name: Ashildr means "Battle God" in Norse.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: One can only wonder how Vikings in Scandinavia got their hands on electric eels, which are native to South America. The Radio Times asked, and the word from zoologists is that there's a slim chance they could've been a gift from Viking trade negotiations, and if they were kept in the proper conditions, then it's feasible (but still unlikely).
  • Monster of the Week: This week's enemy are the Mire, who are pragmatic intergalactic fish raiders.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • This is the lightest episode of Series 9 and features several scenes of broad comedy, slapstick humour, and even a bit of implied romance, but when Ashildr is discovered to have died in the showdown with the Mire, everyone else is immediately consumed by sorrow — which drives the Doctor to pour his heart out to Clara before taking a desperate measure.
    • invoked The above is emphasized by the fact the death of Ashildr is discovered immediately after a Funny Moment in which "Odin" is humiliated by Clara overdubbing the Benny Hill Theme over the video of his defeat.
  • Mundane Solution: The Doctor tries to threaten the vikings with his sonic shades. One viking casually removes them and snaps them in half followed by an unimpressed shrug.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Downplayed, but the Doctor suffers from this following Ashildr's death. His anguished, rash decision to save her results in her becoming an immortal hybrid, which in turn concerns the Doctor that his intervention — which effectively robs her of her death, the very thing he'd condemned the Fisher King over one episode prior — will have terrible repercussions even though he meant well. One might think he would remember how things turned out the last time he decided the rules didn't apply to him. It's possible he does — and unlike in that story, no one but him sees the downside right away.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • The reason Clara and Ashildr are kidnapped in the first place is because Clara makes Ashildr use the sonic sunglasses, despite the Doctor telling her to hold still.
    • Clara has talked the Mire into retreating, but Ashildr decides to cut in and challenge them, so they in turn declare war on the village.
    • The Doctor fears he's done this by saving Ashildr in a way that makes her immortal, and the episodes that follow will prove him tragically right.
  • The Nicknamer: The Doctor gives several villagers nicknames including "Chuckles" and "ZZ Top", because he can't be bothered to learn their real names with time being of the essence.
  • "No More Holding Back" Speech: The Doctor has one in the denouement, complete with a Theme Music Power-Up, as he decides to save Ashildr.
    The Doctor: I know where I got this face, and I know what it's for.
    Clara: Okay, what's it for?
    The Doctor: To remind me. To hold me to the mark. I'm the Doctor, and I save people. And if anyone happens to be listening, and you've got any kind of a problem with that, to HELL with you!
  • No Hugging, No Kissing:
    • Invoked for the final time on screen between the Doctor and Clara. The Doctor, happy to see Clara returned, gives her a dorky thumbs-up and reminds her that he's not a hugger, then says to hell with it and hugs her anyway, claiming The Glomp he gives her isn't a hug. (Hereafter, no further issues are raised regarding hugging of or by the Doctor.)
    • Clara's affectionate face stroking of the Doctor is in lieu of other forms of affection like kissing him on the cheek. It's invoked for the first time in this episode.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • We never learn the full details of the adventure that is ending just as this episode begins, only that Clara wound up in deep space with a Love Sprite inside her spacesuit while the Doctor was luring an enemy fleet halfway across the universe.
    • The circumstances under which Clara once held a sword on a field of battle (of which the Doctor appears to be unaware, or has forgotten, too).
  • The Noun Who Verbed: This and the next story make two Doctor Who episodes in a row to use this naming convention. Since the episodes are bookends, this makes sense.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome:
    • The events leading up to the start of the episode that somehow resulted in Clara being in a spacesuit in deep space.
    • Clara describes the actions that lead to the fire, but we never see them actually happen.
    • Clara wielding a sword in battle.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Mire have a reputation as the most dangerous warrior race in the galaxy. This probably explains why they choose to harvest testosterone only from the warriors of the village.
  • Psycho Electric Eel: The Viking village farms electric eels, with a constant lightning effect over the top of their tank. Since they don't use the eels as weapons until the Doctor thinks of it, we're never told why they farm electric eels (perhaps for medical purposes, like the Greeks used torpedo fish?) or indeed how electric eels even arrived in Viking lands.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: He may not be aiming it at God exactly, but the Doctor's "If anyone has a problem with that, to hell with you!" invokes the same feel.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The Viking villagers the Doctor trains are the leftovers that "Odin" didn't take.
  • Red Herring: Clara notices that Twelve is constantly staring at Ashildr making us think he knows her already. He doesn't; he's having a premonition of her importance later (that, or he has seen her somewhere before, since we later learn she keeps tabs on the Doctor).
  • The Reveal: Why does the Twelfth Doctor have the face he does — what was his subconscious trying to tell him? The audience knows that it's the same face as the patriarch of a family the Tenth Doctor saved from the Pompeii eruption, but why would that information be important now? As it turns out, it's to remind him that he can save others even in the face of catastrophe, just like he did with the family in Pompeii.
  • Rock Beats Laser:
    • The Doctor boasts of his sonic sunglasses: "On my face, right now: more advanced technology than your species will manage over the next 9 million years". The Viking warrior promptly grabs the sunglasses and snaps them in half. Fortunately, the remains still work, as Clara and Ashildr later confirm.
    • The Doctor's plan to defeat the high-tech Mire warriors is kicked off by using a primitive electromagnet powered by eels.
  • Rule of Funny: Clara is able to instantly add Yakety Sax to the soundtrack of the video she just recorded of the Mire. Because funny. (And maybe in the Whoniverse there's an app that'll actually be able to do that.)
  • Running Gag:
    • The Doctor's ability to speak baby, a running joke originating in Series 6, is invoked once again. However, this time it's played straight, providing the episode with an important plot driver and some of its most poetic moments.
    • The Doctor being Clara's hobby. This gag dates back to early in Series 8, though in this instance it's an intentional follow-up to dialogue a couple of episodes earlier.
  • Sadistic Choice: While the Doctor's choice to save Ashildr robs her of her death and is the same thing he scolded the Fisher King for, the alternative is to just let her die because of the role he assigned her, break the hearts of those who love her, and fail to live up to his chosen name and mission in life. A doctor, after all, is a healer who does whatever he can to save people. Since there's no choice that wouldn't cause a great deal of pain for him and others, the Doctor chooses to err on the side of preserving life.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: The heartbroken Doctor's choice to save Ashildr, an innocent, heroic young girl he's come to care about, in whatever way he can and despite his usual self-imposed efforts to not affect the web of time so severely, boils down to this line of thinking; "I'm the Doctor, and I save people! And if anyone happens to be listening, if you've got any kind of problem with that, then to HELL with you!" However, the one method he can find of saving her has a terrible downside, and after his high emotions have passed he subsequently worries that he's only done wrong instead. Compare this to his Screw the Rules, I Make Them! choice to save people in "The Waters of Mars". He's not being a god who chooses who's important and who isn't, but fighting the gods who would not see the inherent preciousness of a single young life that might be saved. While his choice will have tragic repercussions in the long run, in the end it all comes down to Being Good Sucks and No Good Deed Goes Unpunished.
  • Ship Tease: The Doctor telling Clara that one day the pain of losing her will make it impossible for him to breathe not only foreshadows episodes to come and reflects his growing paranoia about losing Clara, it's the most direct and unambiguous expression of the Doctor's feelings towards her allowed under the show's use of the "I love you" stigma.
    • At the end, he also expresses to Clara how being immortal is difficult when one meets someone one can't bear to lose. This after it's strongly suggested that the Doctor made a second Mire medkit for himself, before changing his mind and giving it to Ashildr instead.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: The Mire are forced to leave with their tails between their legs and the good-natured and bumbling villagers begin to celebrate... and then it's revealed Ashildr has died. Everyone is plunged into deep grief, the Doctor is forced to make a Sadistic Choice, and a story that would have been a Breather Episode otherwise instead paves the way for further sorrow down the line.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The cloud hologram of "Odin" looks uncannily like God from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
    • Clara first suggests, then actually goes through with, setting the recording of the Mire's retreat from a giant puppet to "Yakety Sax". She also namedrops Benny Hill by referring to it as "the Benny Hill theme". The use of "Yakety Sax" to make videos of any topic (even death and destruction) funnier is also a longstanding Internet meme.
    • One of the Vikings is nicknamed "Noggin the Nog" by the Doctor, referencing a British children's TV character from the 1960s. Another is nicknamed "Lofty". One with an especially long beard is nicknamed "ZZ Top". And yet another is dubbed "Heidi".
    • A deleted scene included on the DVD/Blu-ray release has Clara comparing the Doctor's ragtag group of Viking warriors to Dad's Army.
  • Smash Cut: The Doctor decides to give the villagers real swords. Cut to the village on fire.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance:
    • Clara dubs the famous standby "Yakety Sax" (associated in the UK with Benny Hill of course) over the video of the Mire cowering in front of a puppet.
    • At the end of a somewhat quiet and pensive scene between Clara and the Doctor as he recites what the baby is saying and she tells him how he just decided to stay, the soundtrack decides to kick in with a fast drum melody that one would think means the next shot would be an action sequence; but it isn't.
  • Spoiler Title: Especially considering that for all intents and purposes, and disregarding Clara (who is safe for a while yet), there is only one major female character in this and the next episode!
  • Stock Footage: The Twelfth Doctor's realization of why his face chose to regenerate the way it did was intercut with scenes from his trip to Pompeii and saving Caecilius's family — with the Tenth Doctor and Donna Noble — as well as shots from "Deep Breath" after he first saw his new face after regenerating.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: There was another character in the new series besides Ashildr who was made The Ageless due to "breaking the rules" and lived on a story, and that was Jack Harkness. His resurrection and immortality had far reaching consequences too. (Not coincidental, then, that the next episode involving Ashildr invokes Jack directly.)
  • Theme Music Power-Up: "A Good Man? (Twelve's Theme)" plays as the Doctor finally realizes why he has the face he does and decides to save Ashildr from death's door, complete with a Badass Boast. It's tragic in hindsight, given that his rash but well-meaning deed will unintentionally lead to incredible, undeserved pain for him down the line.
  • This Is My Boomstick: The Doctor pathetically attempts to inspire awe in the Vikings with... a yo-yo.
  • Time-Passes Montage: The episode ends with Ashildr against a background of spinning stars as the years flow by. Unusually for this trope, it's the subject's face that indicates the passing of time, from a joyous smile to a cold stern expression.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: The nature of the Doctor's Sadistic Choice in whether to revive Ashildr. He realizes he has the means of saving her. Will he obey the laws of time and let an innocent die and bereave a loving family, or be good and save her life in a way that could have a tragic downside? He chooses to be good, and Being Good Sucks; as the episode ends he realizes that beyond giving her the second medkit, he will have to accept and deal with the consequences of what he's done.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The blurb of a Series 9 tie-in book revealing part of the episode's plot and the nature of Maisie Williams's character in "The Woman Who Lived" was posted online several weeks before the episode was broadcast.
  • Training the Peaceful Villagers: With all of the village's warriors slain, the Doctor and Clara train the remaining villagers to fight the Mire. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: The only thing mentioned beforehand about the Doctor's plan to get the Mire to flee is that it involves the village's electric eels. It goes off flawlessly.
  • The Walls Are Closing In: A moving wall on the Mire ship is used to push the Viking warriors into the corridor where their testosterone is harvested.
  • We Will Meet Again: Said word for word by Odin to the Doctor, after the Doctor defeats him and before Odin's retreat.
  • What Beautiful Eyes!: During his lopsided pseudo-Love Confession to her after Ashildr's death, the Doctor cites Clara's eyes as one of the things that he'd miss so much "I won't be able to breathe" were he ever to lose her.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: As the Doctor puts it: "Immortality isn't living forever, that's not what it feels like. Immortality is everybody else dying." (As a Time Lord who has had 12 regenerations already and had too many companions die on him, he knows this all too well.) The Doctor gives Ashildr a second medkit just in case she finds someone she wants to share eternity with, but the Cliffhanger establishes she hasn't as yet. (The scene strongly implies that the Doctor decides at the last minute to give the medkit to Ashildr; otherwise he was planning to keep it for himself.)