TARDIS Thoughts: Series 7, Episode 9: "Cold War"


Series 7, Episode 9: "Cold War"


Oh my stars! As Clara Oswald would say. I've gotten SO behind on these Series 7 Part 2 posts! And the finale airs tomorrow!! Better get to work.

Okay, so..."Cold War."

Basically, The Doctor and Clara, who were apparently on their way to Vegas, end up instead on a Soviet nuclear submarine in the 1980's. Just as the submarine is sinking - like sinking sinking, not just descending into the water as submarines do. The submarine is in the Arctic where a certain Professor Grisenko has been doing research, and where he found a strange creature that had been frozen in ice up there for around 5,000 years. He believes it's a frozen mammoth. The creature - in ice and all - has been transported to the submarine, where it is being stored until the submarine can return to the USSR.

But, as one might expect, one of the crewmen gets too curious and melts the ice around said creature. The creature then escapes and begins to wreak havoc on the sub. And let's just say, it is NOT a mammoth...

...it's a freaking ICE WARRIOR.

Yes, ladies and gents, the scary reptilian Martian warriors who plagued the Second and Third Doctors are BACK, for the first time in 40 years.

And believe me, The Doctor remembers. Even after 40 years (TV time) and about 450 years of time from The Doctor's perspective (since he was a little shy of 750 when he last saw them, and he's now 1,200).

Anyway, turns out this isn't just ANY Ice Warrior, but Grand Marshal Skaldak. For some reason, this makes the situation worse - or so it sounds from how the Doctor reacts to Skaldak naming himself.

So...basically, we have a sinking submarine, armed with nuclear missiles, and an Ice Warrior on board who's rather angry that he's been separated from his people for 5,000 years, and not too happy about Executive Officer Stepashin attacking him with a cattle prod (which The Doctor warns will have provoked Skaldak). And apparently Ice Warriors are big on honor and stuff, which makes things a great deal more complicated. Not to mention Skaldak's distress call to his fellow Ice Warriors, asking them to come pick him up, appears to be going unanswered, even though The Doctor reassures Skaldak that the legend of the Ice Warriors will live on, and not just on Earth and Mars.

Oh, and Skaldak just found out that the Cold War is going on and about something called mutually assured destruction - which basically means if the sub launches its nuclear missiles, there's a really good (practically 100%) chance the enemy (the West in this case) will launch nuclear missiles back, resulting in the Cold War becoming red hot and nuclear holocaust following suit. Which means that Skaldak, who is desperate and convinced that all of humanity has declared war against his kind (which is not actually true, but he thinks it is), decides he's going to link himself to the systems for said missiles and LAUNCH THEM.

Uh oh.

Now, The Doctor, naturally, attempts to reason with Skaldak and talk him out of launching the missiles, even threatening him with the Sonic Screwdriver:

DOCTOR: No! Skaldak, wait! Wait, wait.
ZHUKOV: He's arming the warheads.
DOCTOR: Where is the honour in condemning billions of innocents to death? Five thousand years ago Mars was the centre of a vast empire. The jewel of this solar system. The people of Earth had only just begun to leave their caves. Five thousand years isn't such a long time. They're still just frightened children, still primitive. Who are you to judge them?
(Skaldak unplugs himself.)
SKALDAK: I am Skaldak! This planet is forfeit under Martian law.
DOCTOR: Then teach them. Teach them, Grand Marshal. Show them another way. Show them there is honour in mercy. Is this how you want history to remember you? Grand Marshal Skaldak, Destroyer of Earth. Because that's what you'll be if you send those missiles. Not a soldier, a murderer. Five billion lives extinguished. No chance for goodbyes. A world snuffed out like a candle flame! All right. All right, Skaldak, you leave me no choice. I'm a Time Lord, Skaldak. I know a thing or two about sonic technology myself.
SKALDAK: A threat? You threaten me, Doctor?
DOCTOR: No. No, not you, all of us. I will blow this sub up before you can even reach that button, Grand Marshal. Blow us all to oblivion.
SKALDAK: You would sacrifice yourself?
DOCTOR: In a heartbeat.
SKALDAK: Mutually assured destruction.

Yeah, he went there. He'd blow up the sub - WITH CLARA ON IT TO BOOT - just to stop Skaldak from launching those missiles.

Oh...and did I mention The Doctor and Clara are sans TARDIS at this point? In the mayhem of the sub sinking and taking on water, the TARDIS mysteriously dematerialized on its own. We learn at the end of the episode that this was because The Doctor reactivated the HADS ("Hostile Action Displacement System") by accident whilst fiddling with some stuff on the TARDIS. The HADS (last mentioned in the Second Doctor episode "The Krotons") is basically intended to automatically move the TARDIS to another location if it comes under attack. So basically, much like in "The Impossible Planet"/"The Satan Pit," The Doctor and his Companion have found themselves in a deadly situation without having the TARDIS to escape to.


Crazy what The Doctor will do when he's left with no other choice. Well, he IS mad, after all.

Anyway, thankfully, The Doctor is able to talk Skaldak out of this disastrous move, with a little help from Clara:

DOCTOR: Look into my eyes, Skaldak. Look into my eyes and tell me you're capable of doing this. Huh? Can you do that? Dare you do that? Look into my eyes, Skaldak. Come on. Face to face.
SKALDAK: Well, Doctor.
(The helmet tilts back to reveal the Martian lizard with its lidless eyes.)
SKALDAK: Which of us shall blink first?
CLARA: Why did you hesitate? Back there, in the dark. You were going to kill this man, remember? I begged you not to, and you listened. Why show compassion then, Skaldak, and not now? The Doctor's right. Billions will die. Mothers, sons, fathers, daughters. Remember that last battle, Skaldak? Your daughter. You sang the songs.
SKALDAK: Of the Red Snows.
(The submarine shifts.)
CLARA: What's happening?
(A tractor beam has grabbed them.)
SKALDAK: My people live. They have come for me!
ZHUKOV: We're rising. We're rising!
GRISENKO: Six hundred metres. Five fifty.
(The conning tower breaks through the ice.)
DOCTOR: We've surfaced. Your people have saved us.
SKALDAK: Saved me, not you.
DOCTOR: Just go, Skaldak, please. Please, go in peace.
(Skaldak is teleported away.)
CLARA: We did it. We did it!
DOCTOR: No. No, no, no, no, no. It's still armed. A single pulse from that ship. I'll destroy us if I have to. I will destroy us if I have to. Show mercy, Skaldak. Come on. Show mercy.
CLARA: (sings) I'm lost and I'm found, and I'm hungry like the wolf.
(The nuclear trigger disarms and the silos close. The Doctor turns off his sonic screwdriver.)
DOCTOR: Now we're safe.
The Doctor and Clara have a nice little bonding moment, and soon the Doctor's Sonic pings to alert him that the TARDIS has turned up -- except it's at the South Pole, and they're at the North Pole. The Doctor then sheepishly asks Captain Zhukov if they could have a lift, and the episode ends.

Overall, this was a really good episode. It was written by Mark Gatiss, one of the senior writers for the show, and had a very good amount of action and suspense. I admit, it was hard to see what was going on sometimes because the lighting was so dim -- the way it would be on a submarine -- but other than that, I have no complaints.

Clara was great in this episode. She has this great scene where she goes in to talk with Skaldak, with The Doctor prompting her what to say. (This is what she's referring to when she talks about Skaldak singing the songs of the red snow). Also, when The Doctor and Zhukov decide to go further in the ship to find Skaldak, he tells Clara to stay behind with Professor Grisenko, and to his surprise, she DOES:

DOCTOR: Stay here.
CLARA: Okay.
DOCTOR: Stay here. Don't argue.
CLARA: I'm not.
DOCTOR: Right. Good.
Many fans made a big point of highlighting this scene, simply because one of The Doctor's number one rules for Companions has always been "Don't wander off." And they always do. But here, Clara DOESN'T. Most fans tied this to the Ninth Doctor's line from "The Empty Child":

DOCTOR: You know, one day, just one day, maybe, I'm going to meet someone who gets the whole don't wander off thing. Nine hundred years of phone box travel, it's the only thing left to surprise me.
The point being that...he FINALLY got his wish. Granted, about 300 years later. But still.

David Warner, the primary guest star in this episode, was brilliant. Professor Grisenko was a really funny and enjoyable character. He really doesn't seem like he fits among the stern Soviet crew of the submarine; he's just a quirky scientist who enjoys listening to Ultravox and Duran Duran. And he kinda looks like the First Doctor a little bit. One of my favorite moments from him was when he retrieves the Doctor's Screwdriver (which had fallen on the floor when the sub filled with water):

CLARA: Is it true you've never seen one outside of its shell suit?
DOCTOR: Shell suit? Clara! For an Ice Warrior to leave its armour is the gravest dishonour. Skaldak is desperate. He is deadly and we have got to find him.
GRISENKO: Will this help?
(The sonic screwdriver.)
DOCTOR: Ah! You saved it.
GRISENKO: No, no, it was on the floor with this.
(The Barbie doll. The Doctor kisses it.)
DOCTOR: Ah, Professor, I could kiss you.
GRISENKO: If you insist.
DOCTOR: Later.

The Barbie doll was previously shown to be in The Doctor's pockets when the crew searched him and Clara. Not exactly sure why he has it, though some fans speculated he keeps it to remind him of Rose, since the doll kinda resembles her. Also, Clara looks at The Doctor funny when he kisses the doll.

And that, I'm afraid, is all I can think of to say on this episode. I will be trying today and tomorrow to get caught up on the posts before the finale. The finale, I think, is going to be EPIC. Can't wait!!

Quotes from The Doctor Who Transcripts; "The Empty Child" quote from this transcript. Pictures are from GRANDECAPS, which is where I will be getting my screencaps from Series 7 Part 2 onward, as Sonic Biro has decided not to continue posting new screencaps:

Sonic Biro's existing content will stay, however, so I will continue to use that site for my analyses of the older episodes of New Who.

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