This item Contains Plot Spoilers
Press reaction to The Woman Who Lived is in with many reviewers picking up on the episodes theme of the curse of imortality. The Telegraph thought it was a stand out episode. "In the world of Doctor Who, immortality is an everyday topic. But this episode showed how, in reality, it would be a nightmare. To watch your lovers, your friends, your family and your children die, to witness every human disaster – the loss would be almost too tough to bear, at least while retaining one’s sense of humanity."
The Metro also picked up on the immortality theme. "Ashildr has become Me, an immortal, linear traveller through time, experiencing horrors on both a broad and a personal scale, such as losing her children to the Black Death. She is what the Doctor might have become had he not had human companions to ground him and remind him, as he tells her, ‘how beautiful and precious life is because it’s fleeting".
The Guardian enjoyed the lighter moments of the story. "Capaldi once again proves that he’s a lot better as “Funny Doctor” than he was as “Dark Doctor” last year; overcoming his aversion to punning in order to buy valuable time. And as his verbal sparring partner Sam Swift the Quick, Rufus Hound brings the same infectious glow of an actor clearly having the time of his life that Frank Skinner did last year. And since he may or not now be Me’s immortal companion, there’s plenty of scope for a return."
Radio Times while finding the episode a "dark and beautiful study of immortality and short lives", is not so sure about the character. "Sam Swift the Quick, who flounders around, delaying his hanging with mucky innuendo. He’s likeable as a one-off but now could be another immortal. Who knows what’s being set up there – I wouldn’t mourn if we never see him again."
The Independent found the episode very character driven, mainly at the expense of the plot. "The extraterrestrial lion king didn’t really make much of an impression, either from a design standpoint or as a particularly interesting villain. His plot was so by-the-numbers it barely warranted a couple of lines of dialogue and the inevitable ‘I’m invading you after all’ turnaround was so predictable it veered on the schlocky."
Digital Spy also felt the episode didn't quite hold together. "Where the episode fumbles is in its attempts to meld all of this with a broad, comic adventure, replete with bumbling guards, bungled robberies and a fire-breathing humanoid lion.The mix of moody introspection and historical romp doesn't quite gel, though Tregenna's script settles down in time to deliver a mostly satisfying final act, hinging on the fate of rival highwayman Sam Swift (a terrific, if underused, Rufus Hound)."
Author Catherine Tregenna wins plaudits from Den of Geek. "Catherine Tregenna is an ideal author of this week's script. She's already written for the near-immortal (in, surely, every sense) Captain Jack Harkness in Torchwood several times. Here, she's given the time and space to put at the heart of her episode a dissection of what that immortality means".
IGN felt the episode balanced the lightweight and humorous with some more heavy moments. "The Doctor reads Me’s journals, only to find ripped out pages -- and tear stains -- which reflects the horror that he has inflicted upon her in his attempt to do a good thing. Me’s recollection of her past lives is heartbreaking.". Mashable also picks up on the journals "Catherine Tregenna, takes us into the ineffable sadness of Me's journals, dotted with tears and ripped pages. And she takes us into the even worse sadness, that Me can't remember everything that happened to her, or the names she used."
TV.Com remarked on the absence of the Doctor's companion for much of the episode. "Over the years, Doctor Who has featured Doctor- and companion-lite episodes as a means of completing production on time and budget. It was often successful, especially in terms of say, "Midnight" or "The Lodger." Whether this episode was mostly Clara-less for production reasons, I have no idea, but it was a necessary episode story-wise."
Meanwhile TV Fanatic relished the mention of a former stalwart of the series. "I loved hearing Capaldi mention Captain Jack Harkness. If there's one character I'd love to see back, it's Captain Jack. "
You can read the Doctor Who News review in our reviews section.