Doctor Who S7 Ep9 – Cold War

Have you ever bumped into an ex while out running errands? And this isn’t a bad ex, it was just an ex from a relationship that ended due to circumstance and not anger or some psychologically messed up drama. On top of that, you knew the ex was in town and you kind of secretly wanted to bump into them, so that you could show how cool you were about the break up, that you’ve got your life together, and be all nonchalant yet amicable. So you manage to run into you ex, either by providence or design — maybe you started working out and got a new haircut for this accidental meet up, I am not to judge — and the encounter doesn’t exactly meet up to your expectations. But it wasn’t bad, and you convince yourself that they still totally want you regardless.

That’s how “Cold War” felt to me about Mark Gatiss’ reintroduction of the Martian Ice Warriors to the current era of Doctor Who. The Ice Warriors still totally want me. I can feel it.

Last we ever saw of the Ice Warriors was the Third Doctor serial “The Monster of Peladon” in 1974. They were due to make appearances with the Sixth and Seventh Doctors, but those stories got shelved when the respective series of both Doctors were put on hiatus. We didn’t hear anything about them until a few years back, with a few lines in the Tenth Doctor special “The Waters of Mars,” and then a few months ago we hear that they’ll be back in town. So we’ve had some time to work out and get that haircut. Maybe even buy a couple of nice new outfits — again, not judging.Cold War Promo

We cold open in the ocean under the North Pole in 1983. We’re on a Soviet submarine that is running training exercises, and who also happen to have your ex on board frozen in a block of ice. I mean, they have what they think is a mammoth frozen in a block of ice on board, and it Hulks out due to some young kid waving fire around.

From the title sequence we return to a somehow now sinking submarine after the Ice Warrior has escaped, killing dudes left and right. The TARDIS drops Clara and The Doctor at what they think is Las Vegas before it dematerializes via HADS. They are at once restrained by the very British-sounding Soviets, to whom they explain that they are time travelers. After saving the sub with some lateral thinking, the crew then encounters the escaped Ice Warrior, Grand Marshall Skaldak. The Doctor convinces them that they must be peaceful, because Skaldak is the most badass of Martian badasses, but then the self-entitled alpha-male second-in-command gets the drop and cattle prods Skaldak in the back. When Skaldak comes to he is chained up, so he tries to call his brothers to come get him from this lame party.Cold War Clara

The only real use Clara has in this episode is in volunteering to talk Skaldak down from his murder bender, but Skaldak will have none of it and escapes from his armor, because it turns out Martians are just little green men in giant suits of armor. By this time Skaldak stops broadcasting the signal to the other Ice Warriors, believing him to be the only one left of his kind. The Doctor surmises that, thinking himself alone in the universe, Skaldak has nothing left to lose.

This now begins the Xenomorph from Alien in The Hunt for the Red October segment of the show, as he learns all about the ongoing Cold War and mutually assured destruction while running around in the vent shafts. Skaldak plans to use the submarine’s nuclear missiles to provoke a global thermonuclear war and destroy humanity as revenge for the humans attacking him (which, sidebar: all they did to provoke his attack was thaw him from the ice). Under the Martian variation of the Three Musketeers’ code, humanity as a whole has declared war on the Ice Warrior race. Reaching the bridge, he is able to connect himself to the sub’s missile guidance systems and activate the missiles. The Doctor and Clara attempt to persuade Skaldak to show mercy when the sub gets tractor beamed from above. The Ice Warrior’s people have returned and haul the submarine to the surface.

Skaldak is teleported aboard the Ice Warriors spaceship, though the missile launch system is still active. After what feels like forever — he probably watched War Games in that time — Skaldak shows mercy and deactivates the missiles remotely.

Like I said though, the meet up doesn’t exactly go as planned but you walk away feeling like it went well. Your ex doesn’t look so bad and you’d like to see more of them. But that’s really all you take away from the episode: the Ice Warriors are back and they look pretty cool. Well, they really look like Silurian versions of Cybermen piloted by gremlins, but still, cool.

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