Ok, let’s talk immortality and Taking the Slow Path (as Madame Du Pompadour once said) because that is at the heart of the episode.
We join Ashildr (now calling herself “Me” because all other names are pointless-“All the other names I chose died with whoever knew me, Me is who I am now. Nobody’s daughter, sister or mother, just Me.”) 800 years after her Viking village was attacked by The Mire and she was made immortal.
She is a cold, rather callous, and very much emotionally burnt-out woman who does highway robbery for kicks.
There is nothing exciting in her life anymore and the value of it normal shortness is lost on her.
People are like “smoke” and they pass by her so quickly that she forgets most of them.
And is hinted in the stories final scenes, the Doctor could still rue the day he made this girl an Immortal.
“Enemies are never a problem. It’s your friends you have to watch out for.”–Ashildr/Me echoing what Missy said on Skaro.
The storm clouds of time and consequence are gathering at the halfway point of the season.
For Ashildr is “clever” and she has a long time to learn just about anything.
As she says, “10,000 hours” to master any skill. 100,000 hours and you’re the best there’s ever been.” And she has the time for both.
10,000 hours is 416 days.
100,000 hours is 4,166 or 11.4 years.
If you’re immortal with time on your hands that’s nothing.
She’ll learn, master, and then forget more things than any human ever has before.
She’s frankly bored. So bored she’s desperate.
That’s why she misses the problem with her extra terrestrial “partner”‘ s plan until it’s almost too late.
Unlike Jack Harkness who was a Time Agent and a future adventurer to begin with who could and had understood better the undying life of an Immortal Ashildr/Me is a Viking girl on the slow path through history. His perspective is a lot different from hers.
So the outcome of this little experiment in immortality may be quite different.
Overall, this episode was a lot more satisfying than the underwhelming start of the two-parter. It was a lot meatier also.
It also gave you comparisons between Ashildr’s perspective and The Doctors.
Yes, he’s been around form 2,000 years and he is effectively an immortal who has lost many a companion and will lose many more, including Clara very soon, but he has an escape plan, it’s called a TARDIS.
He can wonder through all of time and space and discover new and different things. He’s not stuck on a slow path through one planet’s evolution.
But he has companions for partially the same reason, to remind him of the “mayflies” that see the wonder of it all and are as fleeting as “smoke” in eternity.
He can come in, adventure, and leave. He can run to the next adventure. He doesn’t really have to concern himself with the mundanity of existence in same way she does.
It’s going to be 700+ years in The Whoniverse before man starts seriously going out into space.
Will that come back to bite him someday?
DOCTOR 1 “The Five Doctors” : Hmm? Oh, I’m so sorry. I suddenly realised what the old proverb meant. To lose is to win and he who wins shall lose. It was all part of Rassilon’s trap to find out who wanted immortality and put him out of the way. He knew very well that immortality was a curse, not a blessing.
“I have waited longer than I should ever have lived. I’ve lost more than I can even remember.”— Ashildr/Me
Get used to it, you have all of eternity ahead of you.
How will that change her over time. Will she get bored again.
Will she become a villainous character?
“You didn’t save my life. You trapped me inside it,” I’m picturing the ancient mind locked inside a child’s body.
Were you slightly creeped out at the end when Ashildr/Me said that the human race was going to be glad the Doctor saved her and she would be looking out for him??
But one shout out to the episode: Yeah! Terileptils and the Great Fire of London get a casual reference!
Missus O’Leary’s Cow indeed! 🙂
Maisie Williams is a very good actress for such a young age. Like Ashildr, she will be one to watch on the slow path.
As The Guardian noted: It would have been wonderful had Leandro been a time-sensitive Tharil from Warriors’ Gate. There’s even talk of him seeking a gateway, a portal to another reality, which seems straight out of that 1981 Tom Baker serial. But he was a plot device, really, no more than that.
‘Twas Beauty and The Beast, but the question remains, which was which. 🙂