"What took you so long, old man?"
IN THIS ONE... The Doctor finds Ishildr still alive in 1641.
REVIEW: A Clara-less episode (save for the last scene), in which the Doctor confronts the former Ishildr, now calling herself Lady Me (which kept reminding me of "Mini-Me", I'm sorry) and very bitter at the curse of immortality though she's clearly made the best of it. The episode shines brightest in their conversations, which might as well be the Doctor talking to himself at times, telling himself how life is supposed to be lived and why mortals are important. She hasn't yet realized that immortality isn't meant to be lived alone, nor that the company of fellow immortals is necessarily a good thing. But may by now have incredible skills, she still has a human-sized memory, and only remembers most of her experiences through her own journals. Some too painful pages have been ripped out, but pain remains, like the death of her own children from the black plague, to remind her not to connect too strongly with her humanity. And so she is able to betray the Doctor when someone else offers a ride off Earth, even if it means killing an ephemeral, and if she shares the Doctor's adventurous spirit, it manifests in criminal behavior. She does have a change of heart at the end, but it's just not enough to make him change his mind.
It's just unfortunate that everyone else in history is a dumb caricature. Not only is the comedy it provides middling, but it doesn't feel honest to contrast these clucks with the two immortals. Most ANYONE would seem like an advanced being next to them. Rufus Hound does a good job with Sam Swift, I thought, especially when he's trying to be brave and laugh off his own hanging, clinging to every precious second, but the fact that the village populace hates him and loves him from moment to moment undermines the scene. Everyone is SO STUPID, gah! They can't even spot the lion man in their midst!
The plot is really secondary to this meeting, with a MacGuffin to chase down and an impending invasion to stop. It does get mired in boring comedy burglary and the Doctor gurning on a horse for what seems like forever, a forced double act between the Doc and Sam which doesn't sit well with the former, an unjustified slo-mo jump, and terrible dialog about purple being the color of death and such. Sam is saved by the Mayan medical patch, but the episode is vague about his chances for a long life. Regardless, he isn't seen again. As for Lady Me's future, I've always felt like they made promises here they never kept. Ishildr as protector of the Doctor's leftovers will be seen in Face the Raven, but I rather hoped she'd be collecting companions, not enemies, and that her appearance in Clara's selfie wasn't meant to be sinister. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Bottom line, I'm like the Doctor. I don't like who Ishildr has become, and at the end of this, I'm not actually eager to see her again.
THEORIES: Once Leandro of Delta Leonis opens a portal to another dimension, it's hard not to think of the equally leonine Tharils that can somehow navigate between E and N Space from Warriors' Gate. Perhaps these are cousins from the time when they were war-like, a sin for which they were later enslaved?
REWATCHABILITY: Not Quite Medium, Sorry - It's important for tracking Ishildr/Me, but it just doesn't take its setting seriously and tries too hard to be funny.