After traveling through time and space last week to another world, this week’s ‘Cold War’ plops Clara and the Doctor in the middle of a Soviet submarine cruising through the North Pole. Tensions are high even before a crew member awakens their frozen find as we see the crew in the midst of a nuclear launch drill during the actual Cold War back in the 1980’s. The TARDIS appears as the submarine crashes seven hundred meters down below the surface, but that’s the least of the crew’s worries as an old-school Doctor Who villain is the focus of this week’s adventure—the Ice Warrior.
Thankfully, there’s a bit of exposition for those of us who aren’t so well-versed in the ways of classic Who. Ice Warriors are of Mars and they’re as badass as Sontarans in that they’re a species that craves glory, honor, and battle. The moment Skaldak is awakened by an impatient moron in the crew he’s immediately, as the Doctor puts it, ‘a bit on the wrong side of the bed’ after his five hundred year ice snooze.
Disoriented and confused, Skaldak’s temper is a delicate thing to handle however the Russian crew of the sub believes only that this unfamiliar creature must be a threat to them. Sure, the Doctor is an alien too but he looks like them and that’s why he doesn’t just get shot at right away even though he’s as unexpected a visitor as Skaldak—a far more intimidating sort of creature who wears plate armor similar to an Ankylosaurus and wields fearsome advanced weaponry . They act accordingly by pissing off Skaldak even further with signs of aggression and hostility all while the Doctor tries to encourage cooler minds prevailing. Yes, that’s a pun.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the Doctor thrust into a situation where he has to prevent human beings the ‘still frightened children of the galaxy’ from acting out and causing their own doom. But it was fun to see the actual hostilities of the Cold War conflict played out in microcosm on this one possibly doomed submarine—both sides seemingly eager for mutually assured destruction as they refused to back down or ‘blink first’. All while the diplomatic minds (in this case the Doctor) tried to prevent as much harm as possible befalling the countless innocent citizens far away from the various war rooms. The ongoing tension up until the very last moments of the episode worked to create the genuine feel of paranoia that was so rampant in those days. The resolution also made it possible for us to perhaps encounter the Ice Warrior race again in a future adventure.
There was also this really great almost Alien vibe as Skaldak lurked throughout the shadows of the submarine, picking off various crew members in order to forensically examine our kind and learn what our weaknesses were. You never could tell who would get grabbed by those fierce talons next. Luckily for all involved, one of the characters that most wanted to destroy the alien was one of the first to go, almost assuring that the conflict could end more peaceably than it first seemed.
One of the best things about this Mark Gatiss script were the moments of levity amidst all the chaos and philosophizing about the nature of honor in mercy. I think that the professor character with his love of Ultravox and Duran Duran was one of the more compelling side characters the show has had in a while. Clara’s scenes with him were appropriately light or nerve-wracking depending on what was called for in the scene. It’s always important to show why Clara is so charming to people other than the Doctor—that’s what makes her a worthwhile companion, someone who can contribute using quick-thinking and her powerful sense of empathy to ease whatever conflict the TARDIS has brought she and the Doctor to this week. She definitely charmed the professor and she quite likely saved his life. It was also for the best that the ‘who/how is Clara’ storyline was gently set aside for the week so that the focus could be on this tale alone.
Next week, things are going to get a bit spooky as the promo promised ghosts and creepy haunted houses. One wonders if Clara will be lucky enough to survive that threat or if the impossible girl might fade away again if only for the doctor to find her someplace else. Also, if anyone could explain the blond Barbie the Doctor had on his person this week I would be forever grateful.
Post a Comment