|By Tea Krulos|
This was, for me (and many others, I suspect) the first eagerly anticipated episode for this second part of season seven, and it didn’t disappoint. I might be a little biased here, because I love a good submarine drama to begin with and so “sci-fi submarine drama” has got to be in my top 100 favorite genres.
Add to that a reboot of a classic Doctor adversary– the Ice Warriors– and a guest appearance by Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones) as the captain of said submarine and you got some great Doctor Who.
The Doctor hopes to land in Las Vegas, sporting a pair of Elvis shades for his entrance, but accidentally lands the TARDIS aboard a Soviet nuclear sub in 1983 instead. He immediately saves the day by halting the descent of the sinking sub.
He quickly discovers the submarine’s biggest issue– an Ice Warrior who has been brought aboard by a scientist who assumed it was a mammoth. The Ice Warrior, a Martian named Grand Marshall Skaldak is thawed out by a curious crewman who awakens his 5,000 year deep freeze slumber.
The Doctor last ran into the Ice Warriors on the show during the runs of second Doctor Patrick Troughton and third Doctor Jon Pertwee. He has mentioned them since in casual conversation, but this is the first time meeting them again face-to-face since 1974.
Skaldak sneaks up behind the Doctor, but before he can be negotiated with, the Ice Warrior is tazed with a cattle prod by a no- goodnik in the submarine’s crew. They chain Skaldak up and send Clara in to speak to him, but she discovers the alien has abandoned his protective armor like a hermit crab and has taken off scurrying through the inner workings of the sub.
“I’ve never seen one do this before,” the Doctor muses. Skaldak soon begins steathily picking off the Soviet submarine crew, hissing and whispering in the dark.
The plot makes use of its visit to the Cold War, when tensions about us all getting nuked with “the big one.” The two superpowers here are the Doctor and Skaldak, who find themselves in a Cold War of wits with their fingers hovering just above the nuke button in a game of “mutual assured destruction.”I don’t think its a spoiler to say the world survives and everyone parts ways.
The presentation of the Ice Warrior was great and I loved the submarine atmosphere, the dripping seawater, creaking steel, flashing warning lights and claustrophobic set added to the menace. Even the Duran Duran reference was a good touch.
This was a great Doctor Who episode after a couple of mediocre opening episodes for this part of Season 7. I hope that the Grand Marshall Skaldak and the Ice Warriors are brought back again for a future encounter with the Doctor and that the rest of this season hits this stride.