Maisie Williams will not be a companion after all, but that doesn’t mean we won’t see her again in the future. Interestingly, this was the follow-up from last week’s “The Girl Who Died”. These two episodes were dubbed as a two-parter, but are they really? They are two standalone stories after all. For all purposes “The Woman Who Lived” could have been placed into the season at any point in time and it would have worked out just as well.
We do not have a time frame of how long it has been since the Doctor has last seen Ashildr. For her it has been over 800 years that she has lived through. Living for that long shows us the consequence of having “an infinite life and a normal-sized memory”. She admits the effect it has had on her, “I think I remember that village.. I don’t even remember that name… I call myself Me. All of the other names I chose died with whoever knew me.” Think about that for a moment: 800 years of memories. I couldn’t find my car keys this morning.
Me takes the Doctor back to her residence, where he discovers the volumes of journals she has kept her memories in over the centuries. She tells him of some of her journeys such as being a medieval queen and how she had to fake her own death to get away. She also told of being a solider in the 100 Years War who was instrumental in ending it. I wonder if she went by the name of Joan back then?
As the Doctor reads the journals he discovers sections that have been torn out along with tear-stained pages which outline that she had watched all her children die long ago. “What could be worse than losing your children?” The Doctor asks Me. “I keep that entry to remind me not to have anymore.”
Given the darkness she has seen, it is not hard to see why Me has detached from humanity. She robs for the thrill of it. Being the Knightmare basically gives her something to do with her life, something she has not had for a long time. When questioned about the other immortality device she admits that she never used it which is why she wants the Doctor to take her somewhere other than Earth. She is tired of watching everyone around her die, but after living a life that she has to write down to remember she doesn’t want to afflict that one someone else.
Regardless of how much she wants to leave Earth, the Doctor is very detached about the entire thing. The Doctor only came in search of the alien technology called the Eye of Hades, the same item that Me was trying to acquire in the stagecoach robbery when he arrived. Unable to convince the Doctor to take her away, she turns to the only ally that she has: the lion-man Leandro, who promised the use the Eye of Hades would allow them to leave this world.
However, like always, there is a catch with the device. Of course it does not come with an on/off switch; no, this device can only be turned on by using someone’s life force. Of course the Doctor does try to persuade her not to use the device. He could have easily said, “yes I will take you with me,” but he doesn’t. When the opportunity arises to use Sam Swift the Quick’s death to activate the device Me takes off for the gallows with the Doctor in pursuit close behind.
Upon the arrival of the Doctor at the gallows, Me slaps the amulet onto the chest of Sam. It seems you can never trust cats or cat people, as the portal wasn’t exactly as promised. This wasn’t the escape she had been looking for, this was an invasion force. This event is what snaps Me back to humanity. She doesn’t want to see the people around her die. All she wanted to do was leave Earth.
The only way that the portal can be closed is by using the immortality chip to effectively save Sam’s life thereby shutting down the portal. Now this is the part that raises some questions.\: It was an immortal chip after all, but does that mean that Sam Swift is going to be immortal? Even the Doctor doesn’t know; the best that he can offer is to keep an eye on him.
In the end, Me does understand that traveling together with another immortal might have been worse than traveling alone. Now she has named herself the patron saint of the Doctor’s leftovers with the task of looking after all the people he leaves behind. That isn’t a small task, either, since he constantly is leaving someone behind. This gives her life meaning.
Clara’s arrival at the end of the episode added more to her eventual departure from the series. But still, there in the background of the photo Clara shows the Doctor, we get to see Me watching humanity. Watching over Clara and the school children—the next group that the Doctor will leave behind.
I am sure this won’t be the last time we see Maisie Williams.