Now this is more like it. The very welcome and excellent return of the Ice Warriors (well, one of them anyway). A serious villain, with serious power and strength in a smart setting with a great bunch of supporting characters. Definitely the best episode since Xmas, and only a smidge behind The Snowmen and Asylum of the Daleks.
What’s to like?
The setting – in the midst of the cold war, and trapped on a Soviet, nuclear submarine, with the Tardis deciding to do a bunk just as the sh*t hits the fan. The submarine is suitably claustrophobic, and also starting to come apart. Water is sloshing everywhere and reminding everyone of just where they are – trapped a kilometer or so underwater.
Supporting characters – the Captain, played by Liam Cunningham and fresh from a great role in Game of Thrones, is superb. He’s loyal to the motherland but also fully aware of the threat that his vessel represents. The second in charge is far more ideologically driven and you know he is bound to be the one who will be plunging the situation towards a full-on nuclear war.
And of course the GREAT David Warner – playing a cynical Soviet scientist with a love for Western 80’s syntho-pop. Warner is someone that would play a superb Doctor (and has on the “Unbound” Big Finish audios). He’s on good form here, although it would have been better to have more of him.
Smith is, as usual, terrific. Clara is warming up nicely – stepping up to face the Ice Warrior alone (shades of Rose and the Dalek) but there’s no cozying up to the monster here.
The Ice Warrior – Skaldek is his name and he’s apparently a 5000 year old Martian legend. The Ice Warrior design is subtly updated, and retains its bulky power and strength. Skaldek has character too – he has warrior’s code of honour, he’s smart, devious and brutally murderous when it’s called for. A great touch was letting us see a full Ice Warrior’s face for the first time (and was it slightly Silurian-ish? But then, both species/ races are reptilian – maybe a distant evolutionary connection?).
Cold War is a terrific nod-wink to the old base-under-siege of Troughton’s time – but has enough additional oomph to make it solid 21st century Who.
Next time – “Hide” – hmmm, haunted house....
And on with the flash-fic/ fan fic:
Consequences of Time – Episode 3
“We’re going to the Frozen Terror?” asked the Doctor.
“Yes,” the terrified man replied. “We must go. Sacrifices are needed to keep the Terror from consuming the world.” The other, scared people nodded.
The Doctor checked his sonic screwdriver. It would be easy to stop the truck. Probably not hard to disable the guards, turn around and rescue the “sacrifices”. But that wouldn’t stop this terror thing.
“Is it much further?”
The scared man checked his watch. “Should be any time now.”
The truck lurched to a halt. A howl, that made the steel walls vibrate, screeched through the air.