Doctor Who S09E06: The Knightmare Is Dark And Full Of Terrors

Back in horsedrawn carriage-times a couple in a horsedrawn carriage gets stopped by a Zorro type who wants all their jewels and shit and has some kind of glowy-eyed hellbeast helping to intimidate them. The Doctor rudely interrupts because he has some kind of tracking sensor leading him to a treasure chest on the carriage and Zorro is like “Bro this is my robbery I have dibs” and the Doctor is like “Sorry, not listening” and while they argue the carriage drives away.

Though Zorro was speaking with a decidedly dude-like voice, she removes her mask to reveal that she’s our old pal Ashildr aka Arya Stark aka the Viking lady the Doctor accidentally made immortal last week. She’s been alive 800 years now and is bored enough that she has created a bandit character named the Knightmare so she can ride around robbing chumps and getting into scrapes. She claims not to remember being Ashildr because it was too long ago and  she goes by the name “Me” now which seems like it would make conversation a little confusing but whatevs. She assumes the Doctor has come to see her and is bummed when he says it’s just a coincidence and he’s actually looking for some alien tech that shouldn’t be on Earth in the 1600s.

She takes the Doctor back to her mansion where she shows off her riches and talks about her adventures being a medieval queen and fighting in the 100 Years War and mastering all sorts of skills.  And then she’s like “So yeah I no longer have emotions and Earth is super boring and people all just die so take me away on your spaceship please.” The Doctor’s like “Howtf would you know that I have a spaceship?” and tells her they’ll talk about it later. Right now they need to make a plan to get the alien thingy from the snooty rich couple they failed to rob earlier.

Arya sneaks outside for a minute to visit with her glowy-eyed friend who is lurking in the shadows and seems to be part-human but who knows, I’d wager we have to wait at least 20 more minutes to find out. She tells it that the Doctor doesn’t know about it or what she plans to do with the alien thingy. Meanwhile the Doctor stays behind to read some of her early tear-spotted diaries all about how the love of her life died and then later how her children died in the Black Plague and she vowed never to be a mom again and became a hard-hearted lone wolf. Typical immortality stuff.

She comes back and he’s like “I can teach you how to be Ashildr again” and she’s like “Girl, please.” They go to break into Mr. and Mrs. Rich’s mansion and Arya shows off her house-breaking skills. The Doctor has a new pair of sonic sunglasses which is terrible news, and uses them to light a candle because apparently they now have the ability to make fire. Anyway, they creep around the house and the Doctor is like “Whytf didn’t you use that other immortality chip I gave you so you could have a literal BFF,” and Ashildr is like “Nobody is good enough ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.”

So they find the alien thingy which is a giant piece of tacky jewelry and the Doctor calls it “The Eyes of Hades” I think? Anyway, I’m assuming it’s a MacGuffin at this point so I’m not going to spend much thought on it. They try to sneak out of the house but accidentally wake up the dude from the carriage and he starts yelling about how he’s going to shoot them or have the militia come and hang them and Arya is like “Yeah whatever I’ll just kill him and we can split.” The Doctor is like “Let’s pull a reverse Santa Claus instead.”

While they’re climbing up the chimney he mentions Clara and Arya is like “Geez louise, you’re still hanging out with that broad?” The Doctor finds it a little strange that Arya claims not to remember half of her life but still remembers who Clara is but lets it go while Arya needles him about how Clara is just going to die someday and asks how many Claras he’s lost over the years. Shit. Clara really is going to die this season, isn’t she?

The next morning they’re still on their way home and they get accosted by some buffoon with terrible facial hair who calls himself Sam Swift the Quick and who wants to steal the alien thingy from them. There’s some banter and some fighting but Arya gets the better of him and his goons. She’s like “So Doc, this guy is going to be dead in a blink of an eye in Me-time so I may as well just blow his brains out now, right?”

But the Doctor is like “Hell no, unless you want us to be enemies!” so Arya lets him and his dorky friends run away.

They finally make it home and the next morning Arya gets all dolled up in her fancy dress and ladylike hairdo. She introduces the Doctor to her useless manservant who is mostly blind and deaf and the Doctor is like “He’s useless but you keep him around because you still have human emotions!”

She ignores this and asks the Doctor to take her with him again and he’s like

She’s hella pissed because he abandoned her to a boring eternity on Earth and he could at least have the decency to take her to a time where it doesn’t take a whole day to go to the next town over and blah blah blah she just keeps chewing him out until finally her glowy-eyed friend makes an appearance and he is actually an anthropomorphic space lion king because this episode was  a little too serious I guess and we needed something ridiculous to look at at this point. Arya explains about how the Lion King is the last of his people and he got stranded on Earth and needs the alien thingy to get back to his home planet or something. She intends to hitch a ride with him so she can explore space since the Doctor rejected her Companion application, but the catch is that in order to activate the amulet somebody has to die. Turns out Arya kept her manservant around not out of the goodness of her heart but for murder reasons.

The Doctor is like “This Lion King is obviously a fire-breathing asshole who will kill you at the first opportunity and you are better than this.” But Arya wouldn’t be super bummed about dying because she’s so bored, so she ties the Doctor to a chair and prepares to kill an old man.

Just then a couple of militia dudes show up to make sure Arya didn’t get attacked by the Knightmare and to tell her that they caught Sam Swift the Doofy and are going to hang him in a half hour. Arya is like “Well that will save me the trouble of cold-blooded murder!” She tells the dudes that the Doctor is the Knightmare’s sidekick and to watch over him while she goes to the hanging. But once she leaves the Doctor just bribes them with Arya’s money and rides off to catch her.

In the town square Sam is preparing for his imminent demise by working the crowd with his new standup routine of hanging-related puns. He’s a hit because apparently none of these people have ever heard a joke before.

Arya shows up and gets right up on the gallows which nobody seems to have a problem with. Sam asks her to be his last kiss and she obliges for some reason. The Lion King meanwhile has ants in his pants yells “HANG HIM” every few minutes to try to get things moving along. But then the Doctor arrives and pushes through the crowd and when Sam spots him he drags him into the pun-athon because as long as the crowd is laughing they won’t hang him? I don’t understand 17th law tbh. So finally the Doctor gets up to the gallows and shows the hangman his psychic paper and claims it’s a pardon for Sam.

The crowd is very sad because they got all juiced up to watch a man die, but they notice that the Doctor matches the picture on the Wanted poster for the Knightmare’s sidekick so they’re like “Hey let’s hang this one, as long as we’re here!”

But Arya, for all her talk of not giving a shit about anything, doesn’t want the Doctor to die on account of him saving her life that one time so she’s like “Hey kids, watch this!” and rams the alien thingy onto Sam’s chest. It immediately starts draining his life force and shoots out  a purple beam (the color of death, according to the Doctor) (which may answer one of Bart Bass’s questions about his son).

A portal opens and instead of the Lion King and Arya going through it, some of the Lion King’s space buddies start shooting missiles at Earth. Arya is like “LION KING? MORE LIKE LYIN’ KING! YOU PROMISED TO GET ME OUT OF THIS HELLHOLE IT’S NOT FAIR!” and the Lion King is like

She looks around at the chaos and suddenly is like “Holy shit I actually care that all these people are about to die because of me!” and the Doctor is like “YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!” and they figure out that the only way to stop it is to give Sam the extra immortality chip to close the portal. So she puts the chip on his forehead and the light turns gold and the Lion King is like “Oh no my lion bros are going to kill me for this” and then he just gets disintegrated randomly and they don’t really explain how but whatever, the point is that I hope Arya likes puns because she just signed herself up for an eternity of them!

Everybody heads off to the local bar to get crunk enough to forget the space portal death ray thing and the Doctor and Arya have a chat about how she knows so much about him because over the years she’s encountered people he’s helped and then left behind. He explains that the real reason he doesn’t want to travel with her is that they’d be bad influences on each other on account of the immortality-specific lack of appreciation for the joys of a short life etc etc. She says, in a friendly but vaguely threatening way, that from now on she’ll look after all of his leftovers on Earth once he pops off to a new adventure.

Finally, the Doctor goes back to the TARDIS and plays a sad song on his guitar (ENOUGH ALREADY!!!!). Eventually Clara comes in to show him a selfie one of her students took because she got an A on a paper he helped her with (I want to see that episode). This is just a stupid convoluted way of having the Doctor look at the picture of Clara and her student and see Arya in the background looking very mischievous.

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Catweazle is an 11th century wizard trying to make his way through the modern world while living in a disused water tower with his pet toad.
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4 Responses to Doctor Who S09E06: The Knightmare Is Dark And Full Of Terrors

  1. old man fatima says:

    I was pretty bummed out that they didn’t bother giving Arya a young, good looking companion. She looks like she’s 14 and she has to spend eternity with a guy who looks like he could be her dad? Short end of the stick.

    I’m sure we’ll get another recap for the newest episode, but can we talk for a second about how every single storyline this season covers two episodes and features the doctor playing guitar?? Who is this written for???

    • catweazle says:

      Middle-aged white men who truly believe in their hearts that they are still cool?

      I am not really digging the “every episode is two parts” thing because it doesn’t leave for fun one-offs like the Robin Hood episode last season. Everything is so dire and dismal and I haven’t watched the most recent episode yet but from the preview it looked even more that than everything we’ve seen so far. I want Clara’s send-off to be good and not involve any sad guitar solos or dorky sunglasses!

      • old man fatima says:

        I have said it a hundred times and I will keep saying it until I’m blue in the face, but I wish they had let Clara and the Doctor have their sad “you came too late” goodbye from last year’s Christmas episode. I love Clara, and she deserves better than this…

    • Simon Spidermonk says:

      I started off hating the guitar playing but now I kind of… love it? And I can’t really explain why. It’s almost like Sideshow Bob stepping on rakes: the more it happens, the funnier it gets. Maybe I’ll get bored of it eventually, but no doubt they’ll just KEEP DOING IT until it circles around to being hilarious again. I’m still not on board with the sonic sunglasses though. I keep forgetting they exist, so every time the Doctor pulls them out it’s a new, unpleasant surprise.

      I felt the same way about Arya being stuck with the outlaw dad. I looked up Maisie Williams’ age and apparently she’s 18, which made me feel a little better about it, but not much.

      There was a lot about this one I loved, but the comedy bit with the two militia dudes felt extremely strained and awkward and out of place – it kind of took me out of the rest of the episode – and the Lion King was dumb. The writers’ room: “And then there’s a guy who’s… got a lion’s head?” “Done! That’s enough! Don’t overthink it!” Still, everything involving Maisie Williams’ character was great.

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