‘Doctor Who’ (Season 9): Ashildr

Doctor Who "The Girl Who Died" Season 9 Episode 5 (6)

Since the announcement was made that ‘Game of Thrones’ actress Maisie Williams was going to appear in the new season of Doctor Who, fans around the globe have been wondering just who she would be playing and what affect, if any, her role would have on the Doctor. Once the trailers for the new season began to roll out, the mystery deepened with fans having even more questions.

As I have stated before, I am a novice where the history of the series is concerned, but I did know that Peter Capaldi appeared as Lucius Caecilius in the 2008 episode entitled “The Fires of Pompeii” (granted I had to do a little research to get his former character’s name spelled correctly and to make sure that I had the interlacing storylines correct in my mind).

[Credit has to be given to TheGuardian.com for helping me in my research!]

In that episode Donna Noble (Catherine Tate), the then companion to the Doctor, portrayed by David Tennant at the time, basically “bullied the Doctor into saving Caecilius and his family from the volcano, despite his instincts about ‘the rules’ of time travel”. The face that the Doctor took on during his most recent regeneration – that of Caecilius, of course – was to be a reminder to him of what he did in the past, entering into the dangerous world of “playing God” – just like the Fisher King in last week’s episode.

That dangerous world was bulldozed by the Doctor when he saved a young Viking named Ashildr, the character played by Williams, using a reprogrammed Mire (basically a battlefield medical kit) that was implanted in her. That Mire basically saved Ashildr’s life, but in doing so it also made her immortal. That one action has seemingly made her into “the hybrid” that Davros previously warned the Doctor about.

Davros also warned the Doctor that “compassion is wrong”, and while Clara and many of the show’s viewers will argue that statement, those three little words are probably going to haunt the Doctor now especially in light of the clips for next week where the Doctor encounters Ashildr once again in a very different time period.

That closing shot of Ashildr in Saturday night’s episode was rather ominous too, as she watched “everything around her die” (just as the Doctor stated to Clara as they left the land of the Vikings). Ashildr is “trapped in her own, endless life” and the darkness that took over her features will profoundly change her, and undoubtedly not for the better.

I should also share an interesting idea poised by Paul Jones at RadioTimes.com:

“Ashildr is a combination of two Old Norse words: áss, which translates as god, and hildr, battle – an appropriate moniker given that she helped defeat an (admittedly fake) deity in a battle to save her village, and has since become a god of sorts herself.” Jones also went on to say that, “In Norse mythology Hildr was a Valkyrie, one of 12 of Odin’s handmaidens who chose which warriors would live or die on the battlefield. “

He further shared that, “According to the Urban Dictionary, “shil” is a word “used as a substitute for other words or phrases”. And if you remove the “shil” from Ashildr, what do you get? Adr – a Dr – a Doctor.”

What do you think of Jones’s hypothesis? Do you think Ashildr is a new form of the Doctor – perhaps finally the first female Doctor that has been guessed upon for years (when a new actor is being sought for the role)? Maybe, maybe not. But it certainly will prove interesting as the rest of the episodes air and viewers get to see just what affect Ashildr will have on the world and on ‘Doctor Who’.

The next new episode of the 9th season of ‘Doctor Who’ will air on BBC America on Saturday, October 24 at 9/8c.