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The Girl Who Died (TV story)

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The Girl Who Died
The Girl Who Died Girl
Doctor: Twelfth Doctor
Companion(s): Clara
Featuring: Ashildr
Main enemy: Odin, Mire
Main setting: Earth, 9th century[1]
Key crew
Writer: Jamie Mathieson and Steven Moffat
Director: Ed Bazalgette
Producer: Derek Ritchie
Release details
Story number: 255
Season/series: 9
Premiere broadcast: 17 October 2015
Premiere network: BBC One
Format: 1x50 minute episode
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Doctor Who television stories
Before the Flood The Woman Who Lived
Production order
The Witch's Familiar The Woman Who Lived
Memorable moment
Odin Unleashes The Mire! - The Girl Who Died - Doctor Who - BBC04:04

Odin Unleashes The Mire! - The Girl Who Died - Doctor Who - BBC

Another memorable moment
"Who Frowned Me This Face?" - The Girl Who Died - Doctor Who - BBC03:57

"Who Frowned Me This Face?" - The Girl Who Died - Doctor Who - BBC

The Girl Who Died was the fifth episode of the ninth series of Doctor Who produced by BBC Wales. It was the 100th story of Doctor Who since its revival in 2005.

The story was notable for revealing the origins of the Twelfth Doctor's face: he had unknowingly taken on the likeness of Lobus Caecilius, a man whose life the Tenth Doctor had saved. This marked the first time Doctor Who had given an explanation for the Doctor being played by an actor who had previously played a different role in the series. Colin Baker, who first portrayed the Time Lord Maxil, later went on to portray the Sixth Doctor; however, in this instance it was never explained in-universe why the Sixth Doctor had taken on Maxil's appearance, or if the likeness was deliberate.

Synopsis Edit

Captured by Vikings, the Doctor and Clara must help protect their village from a deadly warrior race: the Mire. Outnumbered and outgunned, their fate seems inevitable. So why is the Doctor so preoccupied with a single Viking girl?

Plot Edit

Clara is floating in space, calling the TARDIS for a pickup. However, the Twelfth Doctor is busy trying to resolve a conflict, and is having trouble locking on to her location. Clara then notices that something is in her spacesuit; the Doctor suggests it's a Love Sprite, a parasite that eats brains from out of the mouth, hence the name. To help the Doctor locate her, Clara lists the four most interesting stars she can see: two whisky-coloured stars below a blue one and a green wing-shaped nebula.

Within moments of the Love Sprite getting too close to Clara's head, the Doctor materialises the TARDIS around her and takes off her helmet. The Doctor chases the creature, squashing it under-foot. Clara wonders how they did, to which the Doctor says he just saved an entire planet by transporting their attackers half-way across the galaxy and draining their weapons systems; not to mention saving a school teacher from suffocating/having her brain eaten.

The Doctor decides to land the TARDIS to clean his boot in the grass; he steps outside into a forest, bracing himself against a tree as he wipes the Love Sprite off his boot. Clara wonders what's to stop the aliens from attacking again, to which the Doctor says "nothing. At least this time, they'll be ready for them." He explains that as time travelers, it's okay to make ripples, not tidal waves; Clara laughs, calling him a tidal wave. Realising that was a jinx, he retorts not to say that.

At that moment, they find swords pointed at them. The Doctor moans about not being in the mood for vikings, who surround them. The leader tells the Doctor that he and Clara are coming with them. Filled with his usual confidence/arrogance, the Doctor puts on his sonic sunglasses, gloating that what he wears on his face is technology more advanced than anything the human race will manage in the next nine million years. Unimpressed, the leader simply takes the sonic and breaks them in half. Seeing that he should have had a backup plan, the Doctor flatly tells Clara that they're going with the vikings.

Two days later, the Doctor and Clara are dragged by the vikings back to their village, enchained. For the last two days, which was spent on a rowboat, the Doctor has been lying to Clara about having a plan, to keep her calm. However, Clara has travelled with him long enough to know when he's lying. The leader gifts a girl named Ashildr with the right half of the Doctor's sonic sunglasses; she seems to think it's a weird eye patch. Clara wonders if the Doctor has a plan now, to which he says is the usual - "find the boss man, replace him"; he recites Clarke's Law to Clara, who wonders "is it going to be the yo-yo again?" To her surprise, she finds the Doctor has already freed himself of his cuffs using what he calls "magic".

The lead viking addresses his father, whom the Doctor takes to be the village leader. Tossing his yo-yo at the viking, the Doctor is met with blades pointed at him. The Doctor loudly declares that he's cross with the vikings and that he's very, very disappointed in them; he tells them that he's taken human form to walk among them. When a villager asks for his identity, the Doctor tosses his yo-yo upwards, yelling "Surely, you would recognise the sign of Odin." The vikings declare that the Doctor is not Odin and the yo-yo is not Odin's sign, to which he asks if they have actually met Odin and know what he looks like. As if responding to the Doctor's words, what seems to be Odin's face appears in the sky. Odin declares that the day of reward has come for the villagers; the Doctor yells "Do not believe this impostor" as he fails at a yo-yo trick, embarrassing himself.

Odin declares the best warriors will dine with him in Valhalla. Clara wonders if its really Odin, to which the Doctor says "he doesn't even have a yo-yo" - no, it's not Odin, just a more convincing fake. Armoured aliens teleport down, and begin scanning the villagers. They teleport away the strongest warriors. The Doctor explains that they're not invading, but harvesting; children and the weak will be left behind. Though an outraged Clara wants to stop them, a rational Doctor informs her that they need to avoid being chosen as well. Ignoring him, Clara rushes over to Ashildr, whom she instructs on how to use the sonic sunglasses to unlock her cuffs. Unfortunately, once their advanced tech is noticed, they are both teleported to a ship hidden behind Odin's projection.

On board the ship, Clara notices that her cuffs are gone and that the warriors are impatient to meet Odin. The leader tries opening a door in front of them, succeeding only to be zapped into dust in the next room. A wall begins pushing everyone into the chamber, despite their best efforts to jam it with their blades. Clara and Ashildr manage to open the door on the other end of the chamber, barely escaping the next zap that reduces the other warriors to dust as well. They come face-to-face with "Odin", whom Clara knows is an alien; he spared them because they had technology not belonging to this planet's time zone, and the fact Clara is in a spacesuit. "Odin" downs a green vial of liquid made from the warriors' adrenaline and testosterone;

On Earth, Ashildr's father, Einarr, notices that all the chosen went willingly to Valhalla, while another says he wouldn't due to fearing heights. Annoyed at their stupidity and superstitions, the Doctor tells them that homo sapiens are an intelligent species, so they should stop lying to themselves; they just got raided. Einarr tells the "false Odin" to choose his words carefully, to which the Doctor admits that he lied, but "the big fella in the sky" lied too "because what's the one thing Gods never do? Gods never show up!" When the Doctor says he lost someone important, Einarr retorts that he did as well.

Clara is puzzled as to why aliens traveled to Earth to "mash up" some vikings for "warrior juice". She asks "Odin" why he played God to vikings, to which he says there's always some kind of "farmer" that "cattle" will respond to; however, Clara calls him a thief caught in the act. Ashildr is bewildered by what little she can understand of the conversation. Clara asks "Odin" to go seek warriors on other planets to use for his sustenance as "the universe is full of testosterone; believe me, it's unbearable." However, at the mention of not wanting to start a war, Ashildr butts in, declaring war on the aliens. "Odin" is happy to hear combat will take place as talk is for cowards; he says ten of his warriors will attack at this time tomorrow. Clara wonders why "Odin" is doing this as he was about to leave peacefully; he responds that it is for "the joy of war"; his species live for the battle. He then removes his hologram face, to show how happy he is. Ashildr is left shocked that she has declared war on a monster.

Back in the village, the Doctor reads his 2000 Year Diary, learning the aliens are the Mire, who leave others alone if they get what they want; they are one of the deadliest warrior races in the galaxy. Clara returns at that moment, explaining Ashildr's blunder. The Doctor tries explaining that the best option for the villagers is to run, since the Mire will give up on trying to kill them if they hide out for about a week. However, he fails due to their pride; upon hearing a baby's cries, which the Doctor can understand as words, he decides to stay and teach the villagers basic combat. He nicknames them as he hates to waste time learning names. Unfortunately, they are too blundering or questioning to be properly trained, resulting in accidents. Clara tells the Doctor to stop playing soldier and start looking for what he's missing - how he's going to win - because he always finds it at the last minute.

The Doctor comes across Ashildr, who is fighting a puppet of Odin. Ashildr explains she makes puppets and comes up with stories whenever the raiding parties head out, believing the right story will ensure their safety. She further elaborates about never really fitting in with boys or girls, due to the girls all thinking she's a boy and the boys all thinking she's just a girl. Her father "Chuckles" consoles her, to which the Doctor allows them privacy. However, he then notices "Lofty" is stealing the baby. Ashildr explains it's Lofty's child; he takes her to the boathouse to see the fish when she won't settle; the Doctor immediately realises why, calling for Clara as he rushes to the boathouse. The Doctor examines the buckets as Clara enters; she wonders if he got his hand stuck in something again because he's yelling. The Doctor explains he's found what he's missing and that no-one told them they had "fire in the water" - electric eels; telling Chuckles to inform everyone that bedtime is cancelled, the Doctor goes on to announce "There's going to be a war tomorrow. This just in: we're going to win the Hell out of it!"

They spend the entire night prepping for battle; the Doctor tells the group that they should look happier than their enemies as its assures winning and to always walk briskly as it makes them moving targets. Among the various items mentioned for the plan are anvils and the silver wiring from Clara's spacesuit. After the prep-work is done, the Doctor explains the plan - if they can get him a helmet from a Mire soldier, this entire thing is over; they can mop up the rest with Ashildr's monstrosity. The moment it's unveiled, Clara points out it's "rubbish", to which the Doctor smirks "I know".

The next day "Odin" arrives with some of his men, they enter a barn, where the Doctor, Clara and the villagers are all dancing and having fun. When Odin points out that it's time to fight, the Doctor says they decided to have a party and there's not a single weapon in the barn. "Odin", desiring a fight, threatens to kill everyone. During this time, Lofty has been tossing rings on the Mire suits, failing are six; the Mire are briefly startled. On the Doctor's cue, Chuckles startles a bucket of eels; their electric charge is channeled into the barn by the wiring taken from Clara's spacesuit, rendering six of the Mire suits immobile. The villagers run out as the Doctor cues Chuckles to startle the next bucket, which turns an anvil hanging above the Mire into a magnet that takes their helmets and blasters.

Yelling for the magnet to be turned off, the Doctor takes a helmet, while Clara takes a blaster to hold the Mire at bay. The Doctor quickly gives the helmet to Ashildr, who uses the visual link to trick them into thinking a puppet of a sea monster is a real one attacking them. All but "Odin" teleport back to the ship. Ending the ruse, the Doctor shows "Odin" the recording of this embarrassment on Clara's phone, which has been made funnier by adding "The Benny Hill Theme"; he threatens to upload it to the Galactic Hub (and thus ruin the Mire's reputation) if they don't leave peacefully. "Odin" threatens the Doctor's actions will not go unpunished, but is teleported back to his ship by the Doctor, who hacked the system. Without any further conflict, the Mire leave the Earth. The villagers rejoice in their victory.

However, the Doctor discovers that using the Mire helmet has drained Ashildr's heart, leaving her dead. The Doctor is left brooding about the loss, with Clara trying to comfort him, saying he couldn't save her. He snaps back, saying he can do anything, but the Laws of Time prevent him from doing so. Looking at his reflection, the Doctor suddenly remembers back to when he first saw it, wondering once more "who frowned me this face?" It's at that moment that the memory comes back to him; Donna Noble had encouraged him to always try to at least save someone even in a fixed point, and he saved Lobus Caecilius' family from Pompeii's destruction. He tells Clara that he chose this face to remember to always save someone, no matter how impossible or wrong it seemed. The Doctor then yells to the sky:

"I'm the Doctor, and I save people. And if anyone happens to be listening, and you've got any kind of a problem with that, to hell with you!"

He takes a chip from the helmet and rushes over to Ashildr's corpse. He places on her head and activates it, bringing her back to life; it's the medical kit for the Mire soldiers. The Doctor gives her father a second chip, telling him it's for whoever she wants; he explains to Clara that the kit would likely keep repairing her, preventing Ashildr from dying. The second chip is to prevent her from being alone for eternity.

Returning to the TARDIS, the Doctor is left wondering if he did the right thing; when he's emotional, he makes mistakes. Clara assures him everything will be fine, because what he did was born of good intentions. Brooding again, the Doctor says, "Time will tell, it always does." However, he then realises that his actions have turned Ashildr into a hybrid.

Ashildr is then seen in a montage of time passing her by, but with age never affecting her. As the screen pulls into her face, she is shown to have stopped smiling, her smile being replaced with a grim stare...

Cast Edit

Uncredited Edit

Crew Edit

General production staff

Script department

Camera and lighting department

Art department

Costume department

Make-up and prosthetics



General post-production staff

Special and visual effects


Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.

References Edit

  • The Doctor asks Clara if she can see a nebula.
  • The Vikings wish to die with honour.
  • When asked "what happened," the Doctor refers to the Big Bang, the dinosaurs and bipeds.
  • The Doctor threatens to upload the video of "Odin" to the Galactic Hub.
  • The Doctor references Clarke's Law, which states that "any sufficiently advanced form of technology is indistinguishable from magic."
  • The Doctor refers to web designers.

The Doctor Edit

Clara Edit

  • Clara finds herself floating space after working in a mine and picking up a love sprite.
  • Clara has wielded a sword in battle. The Doctor's reaction to her indication of this hints that he may not have been aware.

Individuals Edit

  • Heidi has Haemophobia, which he later "upgrades" to a fear of even the mention of blood.

Species Edit

Technology Edit

Popular culture Edit

  • The Doctor gives a bearded Viking the nickname of "ZZ Top", another "Noggin the Nog", and he names a third after the children's book character "Heidi".
  • Clara overdubs "The Benny Hill Theme" (a.k.a. the 1960s country-western instrumental "Yakety Sax") to the video of the Mire's defeat.

Story notes Edit

  • This story features the use of footage from The Fires of Pompeii and Deep Breath when the Twelfth Doctor finally realises where he got his face. The sequences includes spoken dialogue by Catherine Tate as Donna Noble and David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor.
  • This is the 100th story of the BBC Wales era of Doctor Who.
  • This is the third episode in a row in which the Cloister Bell rings, the first time this has happened on the show.
  • The FX shot of Clara floating in space was seen in the "Next Time" trailer at the end of Before the Flood where it was shown in an incomplete state. The shot as seen in the episode itself is complete.
  • Brian Blessed was originally cast as "Odin", but had to drop out due to illness.
  • The Radio Times programme listing was accompanied by a small colour head-and-shoulders shot of Ashildr dressed in armour during the Battle of Agincourt, as seen in flashback during the following episode, The Woman Who Lived, with the accompanying caption "Doctor Who / 8.20 p.m. / Viking girl Ashildr (Maisie Williams) becomes the focus of the Doctor's attention".

Ratings Edit

Filming locations Edit

to be added

Production errors Edit

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.

to be added

Continuity Edit

Home video releases Edit

DVD releases Edit

The Girl Who Died was released on DVD as part of "Doctor Who: Series 9, Part 1" on November 2 in region 2 and November 3 in region 1.

Blu-ray releases Edit

to be added

External links Edit

Footnotes Edit

  1. In the television story The Woman Who Lived, which is set in the year 1651, Ashildr mentions having had 800 years of adventure.

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