It’s exciting stuff but at this early stage we still have a few questions about The Girl Who Died and The Woman Who Lived – and a few ideas for what we might expect…
What does the title pattern mean?
Well, pattern might be a bit strong – but so far there does seem to be a minor trend for two-part stories (one of which is currently untitled) and for episode titles that riff on one another.
Series nine openers The Magician’s Apprentice and The Witch’s Familiar are linked by the magical theme and play on the personas of the Doctor and his Time Lady adversary Missy, who we know is returning for the adventure, while the newly-announced episode titles, The Girl Who Died and The Woman Who Lived, seem similarly related.
But is it just a cool lyrical flourish, or some kind of ongoing theme of duality throughout the series? So far, these four are the only episodes to be named, so we’ll be keeping a close eye out for the next ones to be revealed…
Who is the girl/woman and are they really dead?
The obvious choice to be the titular girl is guest actress Maisie Williams. RadioTimes.com has confirmed that the actress is appearing in both episodes, but as we know, in the timey-wimey world of Doctor Who dying doesn’t have to mean your final appearance – just look at Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson) in last year’s series finale.
Steven Moffat also noted that “Maisie is going to give [the Doctor] exactly the right sort of hell” – so perhaps they meet in some kind of afterlife.
Alternatively, the title could be more metaphorical – the Girl Who Died reflecting a loss of innocence before growing up to make a go of her life, which would fit with the second episode title The Woman Who Lived (the girl having become the woman). Again, this could reference Williams’ character – or it could be someone much closer to home.
After all, the series often referred to Jenna Coleman’s Clara Oswald as The Impossible Girl (rather than woman) – could something in the episode happen to make her “grow up” or change her outlook? We did see the possibility of her disillusionment with the Doctor in Kill the Moon…
Of course, the Girl and the Woman might not be the same person at all, so both of our ideas could be right! Or wrong. Totally, totally wrong.
Could the title refer to another episode?
It’s not hard to notice the similarities between “The Girl Who Died” and “The Girl Who Waited” – the 2012 episode in which Amy Pond is stranded alone on an alien planet for 36 years.
It’s probably just a coincidence, though – the second part of the story has more of a Harry Potter (The Boy Who Lived anyone?) vibe, and that would be an odd mix of references (then again, maybe there’s a magical link with the Magician and the Witch of the opening episodes. No? Probably just us…)
Is Maisie Williams playing a villain?
To return to that Steven Moffat quote about Maisie Williams:
“It’s not possible to say too much about who or what she’s playing, but she is going to challenge the Doctor in very unexpected ways. This time he might just be out of his depth, and we know Maisie is going to give him exactly the right sort of hell.”
Though this could just be a reference to some sparky interactions with Peter Capaldi, it also sounds like she could be playing an antagonistic role in the episode – perhaps a vengeful figure who blames her death (real or metaphorical) on the Doctor? Game of Thrones has certainly shown Williams can play revenge pretty well…
When/where will the episodes be set?
The release for the new story notes that it’s a period adventure, which we could assume will locate it on Earth in our past – but when? A return to Victorian London could be an opportunity to bring back fan-favourite characters Strax, Madame Vasta and Jenny, but perhaps the series will be going further back. Arya Stark as a cavewoman on a revenge mission, anyone?
Will Peter Capaldi take his shirt off a lot and ride a horse near some water?
It’s quite possible – Poldark director Ed Bazalgette is taking the reins on the two-part episode, and what works for one BBC series might work for another.