The Ninjabot

Doctor Who – “Cold War” Review

Posted on April 13, 2013 at 8:33 pm by Amanda Andonian

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Submarines, nukes, the Cold War, and Martians! This week’s episode of Doctor Who, “Cold War,” was exciting, filled with tension, and actually didn’t leave me thinking, “That’s it?!?” It’s definitely a return to the sort of action and hijinks that we’ve come to expect from the good Doctor, and “Cold War” kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time.

doctor-who-cold-warPart of why I liked this episode so much was that it reminded me of The Thing, probably because our antagonist, an Ice Warrior by the name of Skaldak gets on the submarine via a block of ice. Of course, some dummy on the crew melts the ice before schedule, and an angry Skaldak is released, causing havoc in the process. Unfortunately for the humans, their instinct is to attack, which is basically like declaring a blood feud against Ice Warriors. They’re not ones for talking things out, apparently.

The Doctor and Clara, ready for a night on the town in Vegas, find themselves trapped in the sinking submarine instead (oh, did I mention the submarine is sinking?), and the Tardis subsequently disappears. As the Doctor says, “When it rains, it pours.” Ha! He’s so clever! In any case, the next several minutes are occupied with damage control, trying to negotiate with Skaldak and get him to calm the hell down. What none of the others realize, however, is that Skaldak can slip out of his armor easily, leaving it chained up in the brig while he has free rein of the sub. The result is a tense stand-off between the humans and Skaldak, who is determined to launch the sub’s nuclear missiles and destroy Earth.

doctor-who-cold-war2While some of the “action” scenes left a bit to be desired, Mark Gatiss (who wrote the episode) does a superb job of building suspense as the gang tries to get Skaldak under control. We also get to see more of Clara’s spunk as she volunteers to talk to Skaldak one-on-one, trying to show the Doctor that she can keep up and be useful to him. I felt like this was an even better episode for her than “The Rings of Akhaten” because we got to see more of the steely determination that’s characteristic of Clara, but also see her come to the realization that travelling with the Doctor is not all fun and games like she thought. Sometimes, people die, and horribly at that.

As for the guest stars, Liam Cunningham (who also plays Davos Seaworth on Game of Thrones) does an excellent turn as Captain Zhukov, and David Warner is hilarious as Professor Grisenko. Zhukov’s blustering at the Doctor quickly turns to bemusement and then acceptance, despite the insane circumstances of aliens invading his sub; and Warner’s interactions with Clara are adorable and sweet, especially when he tries to get her to sing Duran Duran with him. They were both welcome additions to the cast, and I love when guest stars are able to bring more to the show than just serving as confused foils to the Doctor. So often, they usually just get pulled along in the Doctor’s wake and don’t end up contributing a whole lot to the story (i.e. the Queen of Years from last week’s episode).

doctor-who-cold-war3Finally, the battle of wills between the Doctor and Skaldak was far more interesting to me than the one from last week with the memory-eating parasite. In the face of someone who has nothing to lose, the Doctor and Clara still manage to uncover some compassion in Skaldak and get him to reconsider his campaign for revenge. The Doctor’s grim determination to sacrifice them all if it will save Earth, as well as Clara’s deep empathy, manage to convince Skaldak to turn back his anger and leave them be. It was a great example of the Doctor’s fierce protective instincts when it comes to the Earth, and another reminder of just how many times the poor Time Lord has had to save humanity’s bacon. Overall, it was a fun, compelling episode that only gets better in the re-watching.

So what did you guys think of Doctor Who? Did you think that it was a terrific return to form as well? Let us know in the comments!

Doctor Who: Season 7 Episode 8, “Cold War” aired April 13th, 2013 on BBC America.

You can follow Amanda on Twitter at @reiko516.

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