Saturday, April 13, 2013

Cold War - "He wants to speak to the organ grinder, not to the monkey." "I heard that!"

Cold War (Doctor Who) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Series 7, Story Story 8 (Overall Series Story #234) | Previous - Next | Index

Hey, it's Jean Reno in Doctor Who! What, no?! Ohhhh ... that's Reno look-a-like, famous in his own right, Liam Cunningham. Got it. I trust I wasn't the only one fooled by the resemblance when the pictures for this episode started getting released.

Liam Cunningham - Jean Reno Separated at Birth?

That out of the way, let's get down to the most anticipated episode of the the early part of the second half of series seven. (Yes, that's a thing.) The one with an Ice Warrior!

Of an episode set in 1983 aboard a Soviet submarine searching for oil in the Arctic, we expect certain things:  nuclear tensions (check), that sonar ping sound (check), dripping water and impending suffocation (check and check), and, because it's Doctor Who, we expect at least one subordinate of the crew the Doctor encounters to be an ideologue, shifty and menacing -- a bad guy at least as bad as the bad guy (check). All delivered. These are the reassuring tropes, sort of the bare minimum the episode should  have, or have the wit to subvert, either way. What we don't know whether to expect or not going in is if there will be any more information provided about the mystery that is Clara, anything that ties the story to the season arc.

Better still, but maybe too much to hope, is if it can deliver something thematically intriguing in its own right.

That's not a mammoth
And surprise, monkey, that's an empty suit. Tell the organ grinder!

Skaldak the Ice Warrior is, not a savage, but a killer. He murders several of the crew to do some forensics on them. And yet, in the end  ... spoiler alert ...


He shows mercy. He leaves. His comrades rescue him and they leave. And that, I think, is the best of it. This bloody warrior can be talked back from the brink by being reminded of the song he sang to his daughter. A display of compassion that earns the warrior a salute from the Doctor as he departs. (Well, one of those Soviet crewmen was a weasel anyways, eh?)

Funny how the TARDIS translation matrix works in this episode, even after the TARDIS buggers off. That HADS protocol felt like was re-introduced (from "The Krotons") specifically to be used later. We'll see.

Rematerializing at the other pole is good for a chuckle but it's kind of an awkward chuckle if the Doctor can't fetch it back.

Does digging for oil in the ice make sense? Sounds dubious to me, but I'm no wildcatter.

And, WTF was that, a Barbie doll? Weird.

All in all, this episode did well enough dropping the Doctor and Clara into an Alien meets Das Boot milieu that I'm willing to let some of the questions I have about it slide. This half of the season hasn't quite lived up to the first few episodes of the first half, but if it can execute this well the rest of the way *and* deliver a satisfying answer to the mystery of Clara, then you'll get no complaints from me.

For those willing to dig deep, you can see the hulking, hissing, ancient Martian warriors make their black-and-white Troughton-era debut below (subject to internet impermanence):

The Ice Warriors Part1 by matrixarchive

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