TV Review: Doctor Who 7.9: Cold War

Doctor Who
Series 7, Episode 9 – “Cold War”
Directed by Douglas Mackinnon
Written by Mark Gatiss
Starring: Matt Smith, Jenna-Louise Coleman, Charlie Anson, Nicholas Briggs, Liam Cunningham, Tobias Menzies, James Norton, Josh O’Connor, David Warner, and Spencer Wilding.
BBC America
Air date: April 13, 2013

“It never rains, but it pours.”

It’s funny how that simple phrase so fittingly ties into the theme for “Cold War,” the latest episode of Doctor Who. Once The Doctor (Matt Smith) and Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman) materialize on the Soviet submarine, chaos has already ensued and things continue to progress and get worse.

And then the bottom really falls out.

Written by Mark Gatiss (whose past Doctor Who episodes have been rather hit or miss), “Cold War” certainly plays into the themes and fears of the time and makes them a tangible threat that seeps through the episode like the drops of water that constantly drip through the nuclear submarine. The threat is real. And it’s here.

That threat, of course, is Skaldak, the last of the Ice Warriors. A classic villain, here reintroduced by Gatiss for a modern age, brings with it a new level of fear as the Grand Marshal of Mars’ fiercest warriors is left to terrorize the Doctor, Clara, and the Soviets (lead by very welcome Liam Cunningham, who most of you might recognize from Game of Thrones. (I love that the two shows I’m consistently reviewing for Geeks of Doom had a mini-crossover this week).

But again, it never rains, it pours.

It’s not enough that Skaldak is loose on the sub, it’s that the submarine is a Soviet submarine armed with nuclear warheads during the Cold War and said alien feels disrespected and abandoned, so he decides to take manners into his own hands. The last third of the episode turns into a mini-Alien, as the Martian goes about attacking the crew and setting everyone on edge. And it’s here that Clara has more time to shine. It seems that I’m constantly gushing about the character every week, but I can’t help it. Clara has brought such a great dynamic to the show. She’s a perfect foil to the Doctor in many ways. She trusts and respects him enough to listen to him (bringing about one of the episode’s best moments), but knows when to step in and help him out. Clara doesn’t feel like a princess that needs to be rescued, she’s more than capable of handling things on her own, a welcome addition to the show.

It also helps that “Cold War” does a lot to flesh out her character a bit more. In the past three episodes with Clara, we’ve seen her have these experiences and seen how they’re changing and developing her personality. And it certainly helps that she’s seemed to pick up on what her role with the Doctor is. While I felt that previous companion Amy was more along for the ride (and there’s certainly an element of that here), what I feel works so well about Clara is that she’s excited about being a hero. “Saved the world, then? That’s what we do.” She gets it. And that’s certainly fun to watch.

Quick Thoughts:

– Well, it appears that I was in the minority of those who liked last week’s episode. Hopefully you all found “Cold War” more enjoyable.

– There’s great work from David Warner (who plays the professor) “Cold War” as well, as he gets some of the episode’s best lines.

– I know the formula for the show is to always show adventures in which the Doctor saves the world, but I would watch an entire episode about the Doctor in Vegas, wouldn’t you?

What did you think of this week’s episode? Sound off in our comments below!

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1 Comment »

  1. Skaldak just never felt all that threatening to me. Yeah, he plucked one guy up off the floor and apparently killed another, but his “terrorizing” mostly consisted of hanging overhead and gently holding people’s heads. And the political officer of Soviet nuclear sub would have had any person on-board arrested for listening to Western music. Matt Smith did a good job though of emotionally linking the modern day Skaldak with the classic one; for me, that’s where all the menace and tension came from.

    Comment by Phillip Jones — April 15, 2013 @ 4:52 pm

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