The Woman Who Lived
Ashildr: Me is who I am now. No one’s mother, daughter, wife. My own companion.
Doctor Who Season: S35 (Ep6).
Story Number: 257.
This season includes episodes by the first female writers for Doctor Who since 2008…
It seems, then, appropriate this episode is partly about gender roles. It’s written by Catherine Tregenna and the tenth episode is written by Sarah Dollard.
Ashildr’s story isn’t the first of someone living as both a woman and man across centuries.
Though “Lady Me” didn’t actually metamorphose (unlike Woolf’s Orlando) when she played the role of a man on the battlefield, there are strong parallels between these two centuries-spanning fictional characters.
The “fiction” of “Lady Me” is underlined, (or removed a page at a time), with all those diaries – which is very “Moff Era” Doctor Who. (The Doctor reading his 2000-year diary during the previous episode now is more than simply a shout-out to the Troughton Era.)
Though a sort of mirror for “The Doctor” – she’s all these different people across the centuries – the profound change for “The Master (Missy)” echoes the idea of “Lady Me” swapping between gender roles. Her self-chosen title (again like the Time Lords) had many different resonances, with simply “Me” signalling her withdrawal from companionship, and a sort of neutral halfway point between the “goodie”/”baddie” meanings chosen by the other two. Then she had to choose again.