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Doctor Who has a long history of multi episode stories, sometimes two or three in a row. Series 9 of New Who has a couple (1/2, 3/4, 7/8).

But I can't seem to confirm if episode 5 "The Girl Who Died" and Episode 6 "The Woman Who Lived" are a two part story. They both focus on Ashildr, later self-named as Lady Me. Had they not been sequentially aired, then I wouldn't consider them a two-parter, but their airing implies it. The later Series 9 episodes 11 and 12 (Heaven Sent, Hell Bent) also seem like a two-parter, but its mostly superficial themes and the titles.

Is there any proof either way about episode 5 and 6 being a two-parter?

  • Depends on your definition, I think. As you say, they both focus on the one character, but have no (other) strong link. – Adeptus Mar 23 '16 at 4:40
  • Well, Im looking for Doctor Who's production definition. – cde Mar 23 '16 at 4:41
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Officially, yes and no.

Before the series started airing, pre-production publicity said that The Girl Who Died and The Woman Who Lived would be two parts of the same story, although a more loosely linked two-parter than many of the others in the series. From this article from August 2015 (emphasis mine):

Details have so far emerged about 8 episodes, divided into 4 two-parters - though Moffat has noted that some of these dual episodes are "just linked" rather than adopting the traditional two-part format.

"It's not just two-parters - it's occasionally taking one strand and keeping it going," he explained. "There's two-parters where the episodes are quite different, two-parters that are quite traditional - just to change the rhythm of it."

Later on in the same article, it's confirmed that The Girl Who Died / The Woman Who Lived is one of those loosely connected two-parters:

Episodes 5 & 6 - 'The Girl Who Died' / 'The Woman Who Lived'

The first example of a non-traditional two-parter - these two linked instalments are penned by different writers, with Moffat and 'Flatline' scribe Mathieson working together on episode 5, and episode 6 penned solo by Torchwood's Tregenna.

These two episodes were shot together in one production block, but since they might only be loosely connected, it's unclear which cast members will appear in episode 5 and which will appear in 6 - or indeed, if the entire cast will appear in both.

All the above suggests that these two episodes are considered to form a two-parter. However, the BBC Blog page found by @Richard in his answer suggests that they aren't. So as far as official word goes, you can choose what you want to believe.

In practice, no.

The stories of these two episodes are entirely different and linked only by a single character. In my view, they're no more strongly linked to each other than to Face the Raven - which in turn of course is linked to Heaven Sent and Hell Bent, so at that point we'd be looking at a five-parter story. Much better to consider The Girl Who Died and The Woman Who Lived as stand-alone episodes which both feature a recurring character of Series 9.

My view is shared by several more official reviewers. For instance, in an article published January 2016, Doctor Who Magazine editor Tom Spilsbury said:

Controversially (perhaps), we've [at the magazine] decided not to combine The Girl Who Died and The Woman Who Lived, or Face the Raven, Heaven Sent and Hell Bent – as despite their linked nature, the individual styles of each episode meant that we couldn't really consider them as true multi-parters, and we didn't want to short change readers by forcing you to give a combined score.

And the reviews written by our own Dr R Dizzle also reflect the view that these episodes aren't really a proper two-parter. From his blog (emphasis mine):

"The Girl Who Died" has a straight forward beginning, middle and end, a complete narrative that only introduces the fact that it is a two-parter after the main story of the episode has been told.

["The Woman Who Lived"] coming immediately after "The Girl Who Died" makes these two episodes feel like a poorly linked two-parter rather than the related but firmly singular episodes that they should be seen as.

  • 1
    Great info! The difficulty may be that Doctor Who switched to a much tighter connection between all the episodes in the season this year. So, some of the episodes are traditional two-parters, where the threat is introduced in the first episode and resolved in the second, and others just shared characters and the kind of causality most other hour-long genre shows have. – vastra360 Mar 23 '16 at 13:57
  • Is Tom an editor for DW Magazine, or for the show? – cde Mar 23 '16 at 23:20
  • @cde The magazine. – Rand al'Thor Mar 23 '16 at 23:21
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The "Doctor Who Team" section on the BBC Blog would suggest not. It lumps several episodes together and names them as two-parters; "The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar", "Under The Lake/Before The Flood", etc. It then names the two episodes you've mentioned separately and gives each an individual description.

Although the two episodes are linked, it's hard to see the inclusion of a single 'special guest star' (no matter how 'special' they might be) as the connective tissue for a genuine two-part episode. Either works as a stand-alone and there's no cliffhanger to resolve.

  • It's a little more complicated than that :-) – Rand al'Thor Mar 23 '16 at 23:21
  • @randal'thor - Well, you can find endless sources to repeat what I've said with a single source. – user7812 Mar 23 '16 at 23:22
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"The Girl Who Died" and "The Woman Who Lived" are not a two-parter and neither are "Heaven Sent" and "Hell Bent". Steven Moffat confirmed in DWM that the episodes are standalones.

"Heaven Sent" and "Hell Bent" were produced separately and did not have a TBC. While "The Girl Who Died" had a TBC, that doesn't necessarily indicate a two-parter, there was a TBC at the end of "The Almost People" and "The Name of the Doctor". "The Woman Who Lived" had no previously, which every two-parter ever has had. "The Girl Who Died", "The Woman Who Lived", "Heaven Sent" and "Hell Bent" all had a beginning, a middle and an end, which is not the case with two-parters. "The Girl Who Died" and "The Woman Who Lived" had different writers, having the same writer is a basic requirement for a two-parter.

Just think about like this, if you take out the final moments of each of the episodes, there is little to no continuation.

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