Doctor Who meets K-19: The Widowmaker (2002) in this Cold War themed episode. Of course, “Cold War” takes on a different meaning when the Ice Warriors are involved.
Now, we knew the Ice Warriors were coming from all the massive speculation on the Internet before this episode. But this is the first time we’ve seen the Classic Who villains within New Who. So, here is a brief summary of the Ice Warriors and the history of Doctor Who.
The Second Doctor, along with his companions Jamie and Victoria, was the first to encounter the Ice Warriors. Since this time, they have reappeared in Classic Who and have been referenced by the Tenth Doctor. Yet, it is now that we finally get to see them once again in their full glory after decades of absence. But who are the Ice Warriors? The Ice Warriors, in the most simplistic explanation, are Martians. That’s right. You’ve sat through countless seasons of Doctor Who and met all kinds of aliens from distant unknown galaxies, when we had aliens right next door! They are a warrior race who value honor and glory in battle. Think of them as Doctor Who’s answer to the Klingons. And they do a very good job of creating continuity of design and character. These Ice Warriors are believably the same Ice Warriors that met the Second Doctor in the 1960s.
We begin the episode on a Soviet submarine in 1983. They are engaging in nuclear drills to defend against NATO (primarily American) aggression. They also happen to be drilling for oil and manage to find a “mammoth” in the ice. They put it in the sub to examine later. Unfortunately, one of the crewmembers gets very curious about the finding and thaws it out. Their mammoth turns out to be a very, very pissed off Ice Warrior who has been asleep for 5,000 years.
When the TARDIS suddenly appears, the Soviets conclude that these two events must be connected. Unfortunately, Clara and The Doctor were on their way to Vegas when they just happened to land on a Soviet submarine. In the middle of the Cold War. With a pissed off Ice Warrior onboard. The Doctor could not have worse timing. Also, did we mention that the sub is sinking? And that the Ice Warrior on the ship is none other than Skaldak, a great warrior even by Ice Warrior standards?
Clara seems to be the only neutral (read: not a soldier) aboard the sub, so she is sent in to negotiate with the Ice Warrior. Apparently, electrocuting the Ice Warrior with a cattle prod was a poor choice for the Soviets and now his blood’s really boiling. There is nothing like waking up on a sinking Soviet submarine after a 5000-year nap, only to be shot up like an Edison bulb. So, Clara attempts to intervene. Unfortunately the intervention is unsuccessful, as the Ice Warrior slips out of his armor and begins lurking around the ship trying to kill Russians. Our disrobed Ice Warrior has even discovered the incredible power of the nuclear weapons on the submarine and plans on heating up the Cold War as an act of vengeance.
This was a very fun episode. We haven’t really seen the new series tackle the Cold War or the 1980s. And they manage to make ‘80s references without bashing us over the head. There is a fun sing-a-long to Duran Duran that made us laugh. There are very important questions asked of Clara about what the future holds. Mainly, does Ultravox break up? There are also some very funny comments about speaking Russian when Clara is not aware that the TARDIS translates for them. There is also some great tension over the fact that Clara is a woman aboard a submarine (a historical taboo), but she owns it.In the last episode, we really got to see Clara’s soft and maternal side. In this episode, we get to see her incredible negotiation skills and bravery. She’s as terrified as she is courageous. And she proves that she is able to do things that The Doctor cannot. In this case, he had too much history with the Ice Warriors to negotiate peace with them. And so she steps up to the plate. She also proves that she is not going to take orders from The Doctor. In this way, she reminds us a great deal of Donna Noble and that makes us happy. Because who doesn’t love Donna Noble?
We do not really get any more clues about Clara and her origins in this episode. This is the second episode in a row to make a nod to Classic Who and it will be interesting to see if this is a pattern that continues into the fiftieth anniversary. We really hope it does and it makes us wonder if Clara has a Classic Who connection…
Den of Geeks Rating 3.5/5 (.5 deducted as the Captain Jack fee)