Doctor Who – Cold War

Ooooooooooooooh, now that was fun. After a couple of episodes which did the required thing of introducing the new companion, and settling down a bit, it was back to big bold fun and games. This isn’t a full plot run-through, but I am going to go into some details, so if for some reason you haven’t seen this one yet, you may want to stop reading now. Or, to revive something I’ve used before:

Here be spoliers!

Right, are we ready? It seems the TARDIS is up to her old trick of not taking the Doctor where he wants to be, buy where he needs to be. And where he needs to be, it seems, is on a Soviet submarine in 1983. It was a time when the Cold War kept showing signs that it might turn a wee bit warmer, with sabres being rattled by both sides.

Now being on a slightly leaking nuclear submarine would be quite bad enough. Being on a slightly leaking, and indeed sinking, nuclear submarine when the TARDIS has, for reasons not immediately clear, disappeared, is distinctly worse. Being on a slightly leaking, and indeed sinking, nuclear submarine without your TARDIS and with a just defrosted Ice Warrior is really not a Good Thing at all.

Like the Daleks and the Cybermen, the Ice Warriors, despite having appeared in just four stories in classic Doctor Who, are one of the iconic monsters. Big, armoured, and generally not very friendly, except for that one time on Peladon. The particular Ice Warrior on board the submarine, having turned out not to be a mammoth after all, introduces himself as Skaldak, a name the Doctor recognises as the greatest Ice Warrior hero ever, etc.

The real trouble starts when somebody upsets Skaldak with a cattle prod, leading him to declare that under Martian law, since we started it, he’s entitled to destroy all life on Earth, and being on a submarine with nuclear weapons at a point in the Cold War when one missile launch could very well have led to all-out and very hot war, he’s in an excellent position  to arrange that.

And so what follows, is a nice variant on the Troughton era “base under siege” story, with the crew of the submarine, not to mention the Doctor and Clara, being outnumbered by Skaldak. But writer Mark Gatiss takes things a wee bit further. Ever wondered what’s inside all that armour? Well, we sort of find out. Claws are seen, in a scene that looked to me like a reference to the 1953 War of the Worlds movie. And there’s more…

There is, of course, a lot more going on than I’ve mentioned here. This is, after all, a Mark Gatiss script, so the cultural references (Ohhhhhhh Viennnnaaaaaa) are numerous, and the whole thing works wonderfully.

So, we’ve learned a lot more about Ice Warriors, but we’re still no closer to understanding Clara. Perhaps next week’s story, which seems to involve some ghost hunting, will reveal more?