Doctor Who: The Woman Who Lived spoiler-free review

The Woman Who Lived is a welcome surprise of a Doctor Who episode that takes a considerable swerve away from The Girl Who Died...

Now this one’s an interesting turn to the side.

Ostensibly the concluding part of the story that kicked off with The Girl Who Died last week, The Woman Who Lived could, in large part, exist as a standalone story in its own right. It has people in common, obviously, but it didn’t go in the direction I was expecting. I liked that.

It’s certainly tonally quite different from the broad comedy romp we got last week, as writer Catherine Tregenna takes over from Steven Moffat and Jamie Mathieson. She takes things off in a slightly different direction, too. Her story is a lot quieter at times, putting quality dialogue into the mouths of people who are very good at delivering it.

The Girl Who Died didn’t leave a specific cliffhanger to pick up, and that means fun is instantly had with the starting point of the episode. It’s one weighted heavily in favour of dialogue too, particularly as the Doctor and Williams get to actually have an ongoing conversation about their respective existences. There’s lots to delve into there, with even a nod to a fifth Doctor story in there as well. No spoilers, but this is a welcome surprise of an episode.

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It finds room, too, for Rufus Hound to make his Doctor Who debut. He’s not the main focus here, but his role is a fun one. There’s also a fresh threat in here that’s different from the Mire who were disposed of last week. Naturally, no spoilers there though.

Tregenna, with four episodes of Torchwood already to her name, makes a seamless transition to Doctor Who. The overt comedy quotient is just a little down on last week – although there are still some very good chuckles here – as instead, she affords the space for Peter Capaldi and Maisie Williams to have a proper conversation. That means that The Woman Who Lived has plenty of points to dig deeper into, and maybe even some hints as to where the rest of Doctor Who series 9 will be heading. We’ll pick this up in the spoiler-filled review at the weekend.

Ironically, those this episode is probably less likely to please are the ones who utterly fell for The Girl Who Died, primarily because The Woman Who Lived is such a marked difference.

But I got a lot out of it. I’d suggest that, halfway through Doctor Who series 9, this has been a very good series before, and that the arrival of Peter Capaldi in the TARDIS has led to a jump in confidence in the show, that continues to shine through. The discussion after this one on Saturday night should be interesting, mind…