This Saturday's (October 16) "Doctor Who" was one for the fandom ages -- because not only did the episode, "The Girl Who Died," reveal why Peter Capaldi's Twelfth Doctor has the same face as Caecilius from "The Fires of Pompeii," it also featured a major fan-favorite crossover in the form of Maisie Williams from "Game of Thrones." She'll be back next week in "The Woman Who Lived," but in the meantime, find out what happened when the Doctor and Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) paid a visit to viking town:
The Doctor and Clara crash-landed in viking town.BBC America
Does the TARDIS ever actually land where the Doctor wants her to anymore? Seriously, my Apple Maps is ten times more reliable than the TARDIS, who dropped Clara and the Doctor right smack in the middle of a viking forest at the beginning of "The Girl Who Died." But before the Doctor even had the time to impress the viking warriors with his fancy modern-day technology -- a yo-yo, of course -- an evil alien entity arrived to threaten their very existence.
More on this entity in a second, but in the meantime, let's give appropriate props to Capaldi for his snarky, fire one-liners that are getting more and more refined (and somehow, less mean) as the weeks go on. This was easily his best comedic outing yet, even has he balanced some serious issues -- mainly, whether or not he's OK with losing people -- in the meantime.
A battle of good v. evil began.BBC America
Even a colony of testosterone-addled viking warriors have a home, and on the week's "Who," that quaint little village became a battlefield -- and all (well, mostly) because of the actions of Williams' character, Ashildr. Ashildr is just the sort of likable and adventurous yet somehow, totally misunderstood character that the Doctor loves, so we (and the Doctor) knew that she'd be special right away... though she did nearly start a war with her own hubris.
When the Doctor and Clara arrived in Ashildr's village, a giant, "Monty Python and the Holy Grail"-esque vision of Odin appeared in the sky, promising the village's warriors a happy ending in Valhalla. Said warriors -- plus Clara and Ashildr -- were then teleported into a spaceship in the sky, where the warriors were promptly zapped while Clara and Ashildr were spared.
We quickly learned why this was, as "Odin" himself showed up, revealing himself to actually be a scavenger-slash-thief from a warrior race, who was making a Manhattan out of the testosterone and adrenaline of the village's warriors. (ASIDE: My feminist soul cackled at Clara's line, "the universe is full of testosterone, trust me, it's unbearable." In fact, I rewound it. Twice.) Odin was prepped to turn around and leave the women, the children, the sick, and the old of the village alone, until Ashildr opened her fat mouth and challenged him to a full-on war. OK.
The Doctor raised an army.BBC America
A lot of this week's episode dealt with something that has trouble fans during the Capaldi era -- his being chill with losing people; which is especially jarring when you recall Eccleston's jubilant "just this once everybody lives," or Tennant's very many "I'm so sorry"'s.
However, it certainly seems like the Doctor is coming around -- after temporarily abandoning the unprepared villagers to certain death against Odin's robotic army, the cries of a baby inspired him to stick around and use their remaining 24 hours to build an army. However, you can't build an army in 24 hours, ever, so one of the Doctor's cockamamie plans was required instead; a plan that involved electrifying robots with electric eels and making Odin think he was being attacked by a fake monster, because it was just that kind of night.
The plan worked, but tragically, Ashildr's part of the plan actually killed her. Her heart gave out under one of those giant robot masks, and for a second there, it seemed like tragedy had struck the Doctor for the second week in a row. "I'm so sick of losing," he said, utterly defeated.
Which brings us to...
The girl who died... rose again.BBC America
Look. I know that Twelve revealing why he chose that particular face -- the face of Caecilius, from "The Fires of Pompeii" -- was nothing but an act of wink-wink fan service, but hear me out: it was awesome. And it also made sense, as seeing that face reminded the Doctor that he was once a Time Lord who gave a damn about saving individual people.
Remembering where he got his face, at another time where "he" defied the rules of time travel to save an individual family, spurned the Doctor to action, as he finally realized that he could have another "just this once" kind of deal. (Minus the viking warriors, but everyone seemed to forget about them in 45 seconds, so we're good.) He used alien, self-repairing technology on Ashildr and brought the girl back to life... in an act that might be seen as selfish to some, as the girl has now completely lost the ability to die. The final moments of the episode showed Ashildr living through a seeming millennia of days and nights, which should make for some pretty good television when she returns next week. (It does. We've watched it.)
... But even if a life that is eons too long does ruin Ashildr, it'll be worth it because we heard Capaldi say "I'm the Doctor, I save people," right?