WARNING! SPOILERS: This post contains spoilers and speculation for the Doctor Who series nine episode The Woman Who Lived. Catherine Treganna is the first woman to write for Doctor Who since 2008. She is only the second woman to write for the new series and she is given a monumental philosophical concept to ponder. Who wants to live forever? What happens to a person forced to walk the slow road through infinite moments of time? How long before the crushing loss of family and friends cages a heart in bitterness? Tregannas script is largely successful though not without frustrating flaws. The Woman Who Lived is touching, thought-provoking and utterly exasperating. The brilliant dialog and interactions between Ashildr and the Doctor are breathtaking and unfortunately undercut by flat comedy and antagonists that serve no purpose. Theres an art to combining comedy with pathos and neither Treganna nor her predecessor Jamie Mathieson fully mastered it. What they excelled at, however, is bringing to life a character so vivid, rare and true that she is impossible to forget. Ashildr is haunted and in turn so are we.
6. The Bitter And The SweetMaisie Williams performance as the withdrawn and traumatized woman who lost so much is a revelation. Her desperate pleas to the Doctor for escape never undermine her core of inner strength and resilience in the face of overwhelming grief. While her exterior turns to steel she maintains the soul of a storyteller. Her journals are not just her history they are her memories made manifest. While her appearance remains the same, Ashilder regenerates every few years just as surely as the Doctor does. She has lived many lives and been many people and she will be many, many more. There is a choice when dealing with loss and the Doctor knows this. If you put up too many walls afraid of further grief then you are in danger of becoming the monster you are running away from. The Doctor chooses his companions for their ability to coax him out of himself. They remind him of the beautiful things in the universe. He cannot take Ashildr with him because they will look into each others eyes and see only the pain and not the wonder.