Before anyone says anything, I know that this isn’t a real review. At some point I will get around to actually writing proper reviews again. Consider this one more of a lighthearted redux of Saturday night’s episode – a story I enjoyed, even though the Vikings were essentially an irrelevance, there to provide historical context for certain things to happen. You will find assorted whining about historical detail, but this reflects what I’ve read online, rather than the way I actually feel about it personally. Seriously, complaining about period detail in Doctor Who is like whinging about the mixture of predatory and preyed-upon animals that populate the Jingly Jangly Jungle in Raa Raa the Noisy Lion. Don’t worry about it. Just enjoy the story, or don’t.
Besides, this is the way it went down, isn’t it? Right?
[The Doctor and Clara are being frogmarched into a Viking settlement. The Doctor is wearing Patrick Troughton’s trousers. Clara is wearing the same spacesuit she wore the last time she faced off against evil spiders.]
CLARA: But they’ve got horns. Vikings didn’t have horns, except when they’d been away from their wives a really long time.
DOCTOR: And you call yourself a teacher. Why’d you think they raided the monasteries?
CLARA: I’m just saying, we’re two days’ boat ride from the TARDIS and I can understand everything they’re saying. Why is the translation circuit still working?
DOCTOR: That’s the way the TARDIS works. Wide radius of effectiveness.
CLARA: Don’t give me that. By that rationale you’d have whole countries of people who could suddenly understand everything in other languages every time you parked. GCSE French lessons would be a nightmare.
DOCTOR: Must be that range extender I got on Ebay. More powerful than I thought. Look. Don’t mess with it. It suits the needs of the writers, it has never been consistent and it probably doesn’t matter.
VIKING: Grrr. [Snaps Doctor’s sunglasses.]
DOCTOR: I feel as though you’ve just killed an old friend.
CLARA: No, he’s killed a new friend that none of us really liked and everyone hoped you would eventually realise was a bad influence.
[Ashildr comes out of a doorway, singing ‘Born Under A Bad Sign’, accompanied by random chickens.]
CLARA: Ooh look! It’s Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones!
DOCTOR: Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones? She’s in this week’s episode?
CLARA: Yes. Did you know she was in Game of Thrones?
DOCTOR: I did. But they don’t like to go on about it or anything.
CLARA: Does this explain the rough and ready quasi-historical setting?
DOCTOR: Yes, I think that was the intention.
CLARA: And this is the part where you dazzle them with a plastic toy.
[The Doctor reaches for his yo-yo, when – ]
WEIRD SKY GOD: BOO!
[There is a Star Trek special effect and half the men in the village disappear, along with Ashildr and Clara.]
CLARA: Ooh, look. A door. I bet we could-
VIKING: A moving wall! Quick! Push against it!
CLARA: Guys? There’s a door.
VIKING: Push! Push, we can brace it!
ASHILDR: THERE’S A BLOODY DOOR!
VIKING: If I could just…reach…my Viking…utility belt…
CLARA: Oh, screw it. Darwin was right.
[There is a close-up of a propellor, and then – ]
WEIRD SKY GOD / FAKE ODIN: Behold! I’m drinking Warrior Juice!
ASHILDR: Dude. Seriously kinky.
CLARA: I don’t think this ever happened on Game of Thrones.
[Later. A recovering Clara is sitting in a barn, drinking ale. The Doctor is flipping through his diary.]
DOCTOR: I really can’t believe some of the stuff I wrote in this when I was younger. Listen to this: “Thursday. Dear Diary. I’m beginning to think that maybe Jack likes me, but – ”
CLARA: I still can’t believe they have horns.
DOCTOR: Oh, shut up. It doesn’t matter. You think people watch us because they want historical accuracy? The Robin Hood story we did was absolutely full of anachronisms. And A Town Called Mercy was like walking into a movie from the fifties. What we really should be worrying about is what we’re going to do when the Mire show up.
NOLLARR: We care not. We have lived full and epic lives. We shall die honourably on the blood-soaked battlefield, and WE SHALL BE TAKEN TO THE MIGHTY HALLS OF VALHALLAAAAAA!!!!!
DOCTOR: I’ll admit that this grates after a while.
[The Doctor is addressing a line of blacksmiths, farmers and generally weedy men. There are probably chickens.]
DOCTOR: Right, you lot! This is the comic relief bit, so I’m renaming you all. [He travels along the line, pointing as he goes.] You: amusing pop culture reference number one. You: amusing pop culture reference number two. You –
LOFTY: Can we have swords now?
DOCTOR: Oh well, what harm can it do?
[Back in the barn. Everyone’s looking very glum.]
DOCTOR: Oh, thou bounteous mammary gland. I shall die in torment ere I see thee again. Break, heart, I prithee, break.
CLARA: This totally wasn’t what happened the last time you spoke baby.
DOCTOR: It’s a different period, Clara. They all speak like they’re in epic costume dramas. Even the kids.
CLARA: By epic costume dramas, you mean Game of Thrones.
ASHILDR: I was in Game of Thrones.
CLARA: Really? You were in Game of Thrones?
DOCTOR: Hang on. The baby’s given me an idea. We use the eels.
CLARA: You mean the electric eels that are native to the Amazon Basin, thousands of miles from anywhere the Vikings have pillaged?
DOCTOR: Maybe they were given them as a present. It’s a stretch, but it’s not impossible.
CLARA: They’re not even eels! They’re more like catfish!
DOCTOR: And you’re a whining like a puppy that just had to sit through The Twin Dilemma. Now, go and bond with the girl from Game of Thrones. I need to practice my Pertwee references.
[Banqueting hall. The Mire have beamed down, set phasers to kill and are looking menacing, or would if we could see behind those helmets.]
CLARA: Ashildr. You set?
ASHILDR: Oh, I’d never have had to do this on Game of Thrones.
FAKE ODIN: YOU WILL DIE IN YOUR BEDS!
DOCTOR: Smithers! Release the hounds! And fire the electric eels we’re not supposed to have!
[The eels do their magic, and the Mire drop like flies. Then a giant CG snake appears, juxtaposed with the great big puppet thing.]
CLARA: That’s rubbish.
DOCTOR: It’s better than the one in Kinda.
CLARA: Anyway, here’s your MP4. I’ve added the Benny Hill theme.
DOCTOR: That was quick. Has it occurred to you that about half our audience have probably heard the Benny Hill theme on that rave video doing the rounds on YouTube, without having a clue who Benny Hill is?
CLARA: We should probably keep it that way, shouldn’t we?
[The barn. A party is in full swing and has been for about half an hour. The Doctor is leading a conga round the room.]
DOCTOR: Lofty! Crack open another cask. Then I’m going to play you all a little song I know, called Stairway-
CLARA: Hang on. Has anyone seen Ashildr?
DOCTOR: Bollocks. She’s still wearing the helmet.
[They dart over and remove the helmet, whereupon Ashildr collapses to the floor, dead.]
DOCTOR: Oh dear.
NOLLARR: Oh, my sweet daughter.
CLARA: I once saw this exact same thing happen in a hair salon.
[The Doctor and Clara, brooding over Ashildr’s corpse.]
DOCTOR: All this time, and I still can’t figure out why I look like Peter Capaldi. It just makes no sense. Why couldn’t I look like Tom Hardy? Or George Clooney? Christ, even Jeremy Renner would do.
CLARA: I think they wanted you as a grumpy father figure again. It’s one of those full circle things.
DOCTOR: You know what? I’m a Time Lord. I can fix this. DO YOU HEAR ME? I SAID I CAN FIX IT! AND I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU THINK! I’M NOT LISTENING, DO YOU HEAR? DID YOU HEAR ME SAY I’M NOT LISTENING? I AM TALKING, BUT I’M NOT LISTENING! YOU CAN’T HURT ME ANYMORE! I…HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF…YOU!
CLARA: Do you realise you’re talking to thin air?
DOCTOR: To everyone else, it’s thin air. To me, it’s –
CLARA: Thin air.
[The Doctor does something clever, and Ashildr takes a big breath the way that revived corpses always do in films, unless they’ve been reanimated as zombies.]
DOCTOR: Right, we’re off before the implications of all this sink in. One thing, Game of Thrones girl: take this.
ASHILDR: What is it?
DOCTOR: The number of a friend of mine. He’s in a similar spot, and he’ll help you out.
ASHILDR: Ooh, thank you.
DOCTOR: You’re very welcome. Just – well, keep him away from your chickens.