Who Review – Cold War
Happy Sunday Evil Geeks! Sunday mornings in the Evil Lair typically mean everybody only has one thing on their minds… WAFFLES! You thought I was going to say Doctor Who didn’t you? Well you’re wrong. We’re the Evil Geeks, we don’t play to expectations. We’re rogues, rebels, scallywags, and dare I say HOOLIGANS! What do we talk about while stuffing our faces with said waffles though? Last night’s episode of Doctor Who! That and the lively maple vs blueberry syrup debate are what usually dominate the Evil Breakfast Nook; but to hell with the syrup, we’re here to talk Who!
This week, the Doctor and Clara end up tangling with a long-forgotten baddie from the Doctor’s past: The Ice Warriors! Actually it’s a singular being, so it’s more precise to say “Ice Warrior”. They’d been aiming for Vegas, but the Doctor and Clara end up materializing in the year 1983 smack dab in the middle of a Russian sub manned by refugees from HBO shows (Hey look, it’s Davos the Onion Knight from Game of Thrones and the guy who played Brutus on Rome!). The aptly titled Cold War takes place within the claustrophobic confines of a Soviet submarine during the height of the Cold War. With paranoia surrounding the infiltration of spies on both sides, the Russians are immediately suspicious of the Doctor upon his arrival. Although, in the crew’s defense, it’d be hard not to be suspicious of an alien and his smoking hot sidekick after they literally appear out of thin air. We find out that the sub is carrying the frozen carcass of an alien being. Curiosity of course, gets the better of Pvt. Plot Device, who decides to blow torch the alien out of his Han Solo-like state of frozen preservation because he simply can’t wait to get back to Moscow to find out what it looks like. The now revealed Ice Warrior springs to life, quickly dispatching Pvt. Plot Device and wreaking havoc on the sub. When the Doctor and Clara show up, the sub is in the process of sinking; but the duo are left stranded when the TARDIS suddenly dematerializes, so it is up to them to stop the Ice Warrior and stay alive long enough to get the TARDIS back. To make things even more complicated, the sub is packing an assortment of nuclear missiles, which the lone Ice Warrior may or may not be trying to use in order to destroy the planet courtesy of the mutually assured destruction situation between the US and the USSR. Yup, just an ordinary day for the Doctor!
It turns out, the alien who was frozen in the block of ice, then later captured by the crew, wasn’t just some average Joe Schmoe off the streets. He turns out to be Scaldak, a legendary hero of the Ice Warrior race, who originally hail from Mars. In terms of Badassedness, he’s the Martian equivalent of Batman. Actually, with the whole being frozen in a block of ice thing, he’s actually more like the Martian Captain America. Since the crew attacked him in order to subdue him, Martian law dictates that the attack must be construed as an attack on all Martians and therefor the two planets are now at war, so of course Scaldak is a little peeved when he wakes up and he calls in some reinforcements. Having Captain A-Mars-ica cut a swath of destruction through the confined space of the sub gave the episode a horror movie-like vibe, which I think really worked. The enclosed feeling of the setting heightens the tension and to some extent pays homage to James Cameron’s Aliens, as Scaldak sheds his armor in order to silently move through the ship, picking off crew members one by one. That’s one of the reasons I love this show so much, the variety offered up by each episode. So far in this half of the season, we’ve had a techno thriller, an Indiana Jones type action adventure movie, and now a horror movie. Next week seems to be ghost centered, so we’ll see if it stays in the horror vein.
I really liked the look of Scaldak, as well as his role as the “villain” of the episode. I can see the challenge of trying to incorporate a villain from the older episodes into the modern stories. They were designed back in the 60’s and what was menacing then, might not be so scary today. When I first saw the design for the Ice Warriors, I initially thought to myself “Awwww, that’s sweet. The Thing and Killer Croc had a baby!” After checking out this episode though, I thought the old design really worked. Having that classic look serve as the exoskeleton for another creature within was a great idea and it allows Scaldak to show that he doesn’t need to have the armor on to be a threat. Scaldak is equal parts Jason Vorheese and Solid Snake as he can both overpower foes with brute force or stealthily kill them if he needs to. I hate to call Scaldak a villain (even though he did straight up murder a bunch of dudes) because he’s just a frightened prisoner who just wants to get home (he’s missed like 5,000 Christmases and his wife is TOTALLY going to kill him when he gets back).
This was a really great stand alone episode of the show. Even though the larger story of the season, the mystery of who exactly Clara is, doesn’t get much attention this week, I still felt like we got to know more about her just by watching her react to the situation. This was her first big test as a companion and as far as I’m concerned she passed. It appears the Doctor feels the same way as well, as he is impressed after witnessing her relay his message to Scaldak, when the alien was imprisoned. She showed courage, bravery, and level-headedness when she needed to, so I think she’s going to be an incredible companion. Time will tell of course! That’s all the Who we’ve got for today, but check back again next week for another Who Review!
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