Well, that’s more like it!
After two rather mediocre episodes, Doctor Who finally rights itself like a listing ship and returns with a smart episode that shows one of the key strengths of Nu-Who; taking a classic Who villain and putting them into a brand new context that shows off how strong/cool/frightening they really are. In this case, the Martian Ice Warriors get thrown into a Tom Clancy/Hunt For Red October military story with a big nod and wink to Aliens.
Having the action take place on Russian submarine at the height of the Cold War only served to add to the claustrophobic nature of this story, which finds the Doctor and Clara stranded on a nuclear sub trying to prevent an Ice Warrior from destroying the world by provoking a nuclear holocaust. It was that quick, breakneck pace that helped this episode stay strong.
While the episode didn’t advance the central mystery of Clara per se, it did give her (and Jenna-Louise Coleman) some excellent character beats; from interviewing the chained up Ice Warrior, to the creepy reveal of what was inside the armor, to her realization that people actually die when they come around the Doctor and his adventures, it was all a showcase for Clara’s awakening as a strong companion and not just an amusing girl to trade quips with the Doctor.
And while this recap is short since there isn’t too much to talk about in terms of plot, it is interesting to see what writer Mark Gatiss can do with one of the more “marquee” monsters in the Doctor Who cannon. The rumor is that he is on the short list to replace Steven Moffatt as show runner when Moffatt leaves (presumably at the end of Series 8 next year). If this is a prelude to Gatiss’s run, I look forward to it.
NEXT TIME: It’s time for a ghost story.
Photo Credit: BBC