6 questions we have after Doctor Who The Girl Who Died

What's with all the snakes? Is Ashildr the hybrid? What does her name mean anyway? Where did they get electric eels in Scandinavia? And what about John Frobisher?


There were answers to several questions in this week’s episode of Doctor Who. We discovered the origins of Maisie Williams’ character, saw what was under the Mire’s helmets and got an explanation as to why the 12th Doctor looks so much like that Roman merchant Caecilius. But Doctor Who wouldn’t be Doctor Who if it didn’t raise more questions than it answered…


Where did the electric eels come from?

The electric eels are a key plot point – they power the electromagnets which relieve the Mire soldiers of their guns and helmets. But they’re not native to Europe, so how did the Vikings get hold of them? Could this be a shocking plot hole? We investigate further here

What’s with all the hybrids?

Hybrid this, hybrid that – Doctor Who can’t get enough of hybrids this series, and the latest reference came in The Girl Who Died, when the Doctor called Maisie Williams’ character “a hybrid of human and Mire technology”. So is Ashildr the hybrid? Or is it Clara? What about the Daleks? Or even the Doctor himself? We consider the options here

What’s with all the snakes?

We’ve started to spot a bit of a serpentine trend in this year’s Doctor Who, beginning with Davros’s henchman Colony Sarff, who was literally made of snakes.

Under the Lake/Before the Flood featured a giant snake-monster on a wall mural, while this week The Girl Who Died had eels (a bit snakelike even if they’re not snakes) and a giant fake snake monster, which scared off this week’s villains. Oh, and there was also a weird yellow snake-thing painted on a rock in the background while the Doctor was training the villagers. 

Is this apparent snake motif predicting something big (and long) to come, or just a coincidence? Ssssssurely not…

Why doesn’t the TARDIS translate baby?

The whole ‘speaking baby’ thing is weird, isn’t it? Dinosaurs and horses you can kind of understand – animals do, after all, communicate with each other. But babies? As any shaking husk of a parent can tell you, their vocabulary isn’t all that developed. Especially not to the level we saw tonight, where the Doctor found a baby more eloquent than most adults.

Anyway, it does raise the question of why the TARDIS’s translation matrix – the thing that makes aliens speak English – doesn’t kick in and translate babies (or dinosaurs or horses) for the rest of us. There have examples of this before, of course. As we saw in The Impossible Planet, some words are so old that the TARDIS doesn’t recognise them. And there are certain alien races – like the Judoon – that for some reason simply don’t translate. As far as babies (and dinosaurs and horses) go, however, maybe the Doctor isn’t speaking baby, but interpreting it – spinning their wails of fear, hunger and love into his own brand of poetic articulation. Or maybe he’s just making the whole thing up…

Is there a hidden meaning in Ashildr’s name?

Did the writers just flick through the Viking phone book and pick a name at random? It appears not. That single word contains references to gods, immortality and maybe even the Doctor himself. Read our linguistic analysis of where it comes from and what it might mean

What about John Frobisher?

The revelations in this week’s episode about why the Doctor chose to regenerate into his current form still don’t explain (to us anyway) Peter Capaldi’s other turn in the Whoniverse, where he played senior civil servant John Frobisher in Torchwood: Children of Earth. We have our theories, however, which we discuss in more detail here


Doctor Who The Woman Who Lived is next Saturday at 8:20pm on BBC1