Doctor Who Review: The Girl Who Died

A Viking village is threatened by aliens reputed to be the greatest warriors in the galaxy.

Cast and Crew

Peter Capaldi as the Doctor
Jenna Coleman as Clara
Maisie Williams as Ashildr
David Schofield as Odin
Simon Lipkin as Nollarr
Ian Collingham as Chuckles
Tom Stourton as Lofty
Alastair Parker as Limpy
Murray McArthur as Hasten
Barnaby Kay as Heidi

Written by Jamie Mathieson and Steven Moffat
Produced by Derek Ritchie
Directed by Ed Bazalgette


The Doctor and Clara are captured by Vikings, but an alien posing as Odin soon gives the village much bigger problems than a rogue Time Lord and displaced teacher.

High Points

The final scene of the Doctor and Clara in the TARDIS, discussing what happened.

A continuity nod all the way back to The Fires of Pompeii? I’ll take it, even though I have no fond memories of that episode at all. This series seems more willing than before to acknowledge that previous Doctors and indeed pre-revival Doctors existed and did things.

Low Points

Vikings did not wear horned helmets.

Electric eels are not native to Europe.

Where the heck did the energy come from?

The Scores

Originality have we seen this before? The underdogs come up with a great trick to beat a superior force etc. etc. etc. Yes we have, and it’s not even someone other than the Doctor who comes up with the answer either. The most novel thing here is how Clara almost aborted the entire plot before it began. It’s quite sad that I feel like we might have had something better if she’d succeeded. 3/6.

The effects aren’t all that prominent this week. We get a neat new teleport effect (but it’s not as pretty as some previous ones) and a giant serpent which is fairly passable. Unfortunately the vision of Odin in the clouds just looked to me like the God animation from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. 3/6.

The story is both pure nonsense and damned good fun. They actually manage to close a lot of the conceptual holes that I thought were going to loom over it, but the whole business with the electric eels is… well. 3/6.

The acting is mixed. Maisie Williams is good, I think we all know this, and I enjoyed seeing her play a character who isn’t Arya Stark – although she’s a lot like Arya Stark, so she’s not really having to do much that’s different at this point. I felt Jenna Coleman did a very good job this week, inhabiting Clara’s developing character with assurance. Unfortunately most of the Vikings are quite lazily portrayed. 4/6.

The emotional response is more curiosity than anything else. I wanted to know what happens and how, but I wasn’t particularly invested in any of it. 2/6.

In the production department someone was clearly having a very bad week because everybody knows that Vikings didn’t wear horns on their helmets, right? Historical accuracy loses out quite significantly to conforming to popular culture’s idea of what a Viking and a Viking village should look like. Fortunately it wasn’t a complete disaster because the sound team were on top form. 3/6.

Overall I found it a very pleasant episode, it just scores very badly because it’s entirely unexceptional. They’re clearly setting up a recurring character at this point, and the story is built entirely around serving that need instead of, well, being a good story. This is a shame, because despite the low total you’re about to see it’s still an episode I think is worth seeing. It just might not be worth seeing for a second time. 4/6.

In total, The Girl Who Died receives 21/42.

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