Josh provides this week’s TV Recap for Doctor Who! This week we have a Martian on a nuclear sub, set during the Cold War. Nothing could go wrong right? Check out our Doctor Who TV recap to find out, along Violet’s commentary in her usual pink font after the jump!
So this episode starts off in Vegas. Or at least that is where the Doctor thought he and Clara were going to end up. It actually starts on a nuclear sub, that appears to be launching nuclear weapons. We found out due to a few cues in the show, that it is a Russian nuke. The launch we are watching turns out to be a drill. There is a brief exchange between the Captain of the sub, and what appears to be another officer, who brings up US aggression during what appears to be the Cold War era. We also meet a “professor” who seems a little out of it and obsessed with his walkman cassette player. This professor indicates to the Captain they found something frozen in the ice, described as what they think is a mammoth. The scene then moves down to the ice block (which is way too small to be a mammoth), to which a younger crewman decides to take it upon himself to thaw out. Nothing could go wrong with this right? Unfortunately wrong, and what is in the ice grabs the young soldier, with a humanoid shaped hand. Yep, not a mammoth.
This episode took place in 1983 — the year I was born!
The sub is now under attack, and sinking rapidly. There is utter chaos when our favorite doctor shows up, thinking he is in Vegas. The Doctor in the chaos uses his screwdriver, figures out they can move the sub laterally, and land on a ridge in the ocean. After some debate, the Captain agrees, and thanks the Doctor for saving them, but seems suspicious of them, and they are searched. For some reason the Doctor is carrying a Barbie doll. During the search the Tardis decides to take off. The Doctor decides to tell the Captain about his true identity as a time traveler, but before he can respond, our favorite neighborhood frozen monster shows up. The doctor informs the Captain and Clara that this monster is actually a Martian Ice Warrior, one that he has known for a long time. One of the Russian crew members aims his pistol at the Martian, but the Doctor tries to diffuse the situation. We find that the Martian has been in the ice for 5000 years.
The Doctor first encountered Martian Ice Warriors as the Second Doctor, back in 1967. They showed up in a few episodes after that, but the Ice Warriors have not appeared on the show since 1974, during the Third Doctor’s reign. However, the Tenth Doctor did mention the Ice Warriors in the “Waters of Mars” special episode in 2009.
The monster reveals himself as Skaldak. Which seems to worry the doctor. At this point, a crewman uses an electrical weapon to attack Skaldak, to which the Doctor is irritated by. Their next move according to the Doctor is to lock the Martian up. The Russians chain him up. The Martian is saddened by his 5000 year slumber is seems. The Doctor and the Captain have a conversation regarding who Skaldak is, and we learn that Martians developed a special armor that deals with harshly cold environments. We go back to Skaldak, who seems to be sending out a signal for others of his race to locate him with. This sounds like it could be dangerous for the people occupying the sub.
Back with the Captain, we have officer from the beginning of the episode trying to convince the Captain that the Doctor and Clara are enemy spies. Clara decides to interrupt him, and explains that she doesn’t even know Russian. Only we learn that she is both speaking and understanding Russian due to the TARDIS’s translation matrix. I am not quite sure how that is working right now, considering the TARDIS is currently at the South Pole (more on that later). I guess in order for this episode to work, we have to somehow make the Doctor and Clara understand Russian. Anyway, the officer continues his argument that the Doctor is a spy along with Clara, and the Martian is a Western weapon of some sort. Meanwhile the professor seems to be of the persuasion that The Doctor and Clara are telling the truth. The Captain dismisses the officer to work on repairs.
Kind of random that Clara would all of a sudden think to question how she is speaking and understanding a foreign language, when just last episode she went across the universe and was able to communicate just fine with the locals, and didn’t think anything of it. Well, except for the scene where the Doctor and Clara are barking at Doreen, who had tried to rent a moped to them. Where was the TARDIS translation matrix then, when the TARDIS was actually still there?? And now that the TARDIS has disappeared, how is it still working?
The Doctor tells the Captain that they are in danger for the attack they made on Skaldak, and had they let the Martian go, everything would have turned out fine. The Doctor asks to speak to Skaldak in efforts to calm him down, but the Captain refuses and says that he would talk to Skaldak on the Doctor’s behalf. Clara then jumps in with a “brilliant” plan of her being the one to talk to Skaldak. I am curious as to why the Captain is willing to trust Clara over the Doctor here. I would think if the Captain distrusted the Doctor, he would distrust Clara the same. Regardless, the doctor is absolutely 100% against Clara going in there, but—the next scene, she is opening the hatch to our Martian friend. We learn that the Doctor is guiding Clara through the conversation. She has a head set on and is being watched through a security camera. The doctor is trying to issue an apology, but the Martian is not having it. The Martian then goes into his devastation of being 5000 years removed from his family. Clara approaches the Martian, only to learn that the Martian has left his armor. We learn that the Martians rarely leave their Armor and the Doctor seems to think that Skaldak will be even more dangerous.
Just another way for Clara to prove herself as the adventurous companion worthy of traveling with the Doctor. You knew as soon as the Doctor vehemently protested Clara going into talk to Skaldak that that’s what was certainly going to happen. Clara got to wear some totally awesome oversized headphones during this scene. Skaldak must have really good hearing if he was able to hear the Doctor through Clara’s headphones.
Clara, still trapped in the room with Martian, (who appears to be lurking somewhere in the dark), tries to open a hatch to escape. She manages to get it open, and the Martian scurries through the door quickly. The Doctor and a few soldiers have met up with Clara, who informs the Doctor that she is fine. The Professor then informs the Doctor that Skaldak’s signal has stopped. This seems to worry the Doctor more, as he feels that Skaldak might be more dangerous since he has “nothing left to lose”. The Doctor seems to think that Skaldak may try to arm the nukes aboard their sub in an effort to get revenge.
The episode goes into almost a horror-genre show, with Skaldak hunting down crewmen, starting with the war-crazed officer the Captain was clashing with. The officer tries to offer an alliance with the Martian, bargaining for his own life. The Captain gives a rousing speech to his crew, explaining their necessity to find this creature. As the crew is arming up, Clara has a discussion with the Doctor regarding time travel. Clara seems to be under the impression that since she is currently alive, no nukes would have gone off, otherwise she would have never been born. The Doctor breaks her bubble however, explaining history is in a state of flux, and it can be re-written. Apparently this not a fixed point in time, and it could be changed.
Throughout the time that they are searching for Skaldak, he keeps making the creepy clicking noise that the aliens make in the movie “Predator.” Regarding Clara’s time travel question, that was quite a clever assumption for her to make. However, this is unfortunately not one of the “fixed points” that the show likes to conveniently (or inconveniently) throw in every now and then.
The Doctor and Captain work out their plan. The Doctor gets his screwdriver back, thanks to the professor finding it, along with his Barbie doll (I still have no idea why he has this). The search has begun, and the professor and Clara are having a conversation, to which he brings up music, and specifically the song “Hungry Like the Wolf” by Duran Duran. Is this a reference to Bad Wolf from earlier seasons? It is hard to say at this point. Meanwhile the Doctor has caused some trouble, setting off some alarm. The scene moves to another group of soldiers, and the Martian has gotten the drop on them, ending their lives. The Doctor, Clara and Professor discover the carnage. The Doctor explains that Skaldak has torn them apart in efforts to learn humanity’s strengths and weakness. The Doctor goes off on his own to continue the search, and Clara seems a bit distraught. She continues talking with Professor. We learn that Clara has been enjoying her trip thus far, but the dead bodies have made it more “real” for her.
The scene moves to the captain, who has found Skaldak in the walls. The Doctor has as well, and begins chasing him down. Oddly, his screwdriver begins flashing read, which I do not recalling seeing happen before. Back with the Professor, he begins asking Clara all sorts of questions regarding the future. Clara is grabbed by Skaldak from above. The Professor pulls out his “Western” revolver, and Skaldak releases Clara. It is a short lived victory though, as Skaldak moves to the Professor. Clara pleads for the professor’s life, and the Doctor has returned. The Martian then says that he is going to end the Cold War destructively since he has nothing left but revenge to live for. The Doctor tries to reason with Skaldak, when the Captain shows up, and begins to take aim at Skaldak. Skaldak’s armor has come and he re-suits up, and he begins his path to the bridge to arm the nukes.
On the bridge, the Doctor tries to plead with Skaldak to not launch the nuke he intends to. The Doctor then threatens to blow the entire sub to stop Skaldak from launching the nuke. The Doctor holds up his screwdriver, and again it flashes red. Clara chimes in asking why Skaldak hesitated in killing the professor, hinting that Skaldak still has a conscience. She seems to get through to him, when an alien ship begins lifting the sub from the ocean. The sub surfaces, and Skaldak is teleported from the sub. Clara thinks they are safe, bur the Doctor says that the nuke is still armed. Clara begins singing “Hungry Like the Wolf” (second time this song comes up). Skaldak finally shows mercy and disarms the nuke.
I’m not sure why the professor kept trying to get Clara to sing “Hungry Like the Wolf,” and why she all of a sudden decided to sing it when she had so strongly refused to earlier.
As the Martian ship leaves, we learn that the Doctor reset the HADS (Hostile Action Displacement System), which basically has the TARDIS evacuate if it is under attack. Right then the sonic screwdriver begins making noise, notifying the Doctor that the TARDIS is at the pole–The South Pole that is. The episode ends as the Martian ship takes off, and the Doctor is looking for a lift to the South Pole.
My final thoughts on this episode: This episode was fairly entertaining. I feel this episode as another to further elaborate on Clara’s character, showing how she thinks and feels. I would like to get on with the overarching story however. Who is this “Impossible Girl”? Is the Great Intelligence going to return? Will this Barbie doll be explained? Is “Hungry Like the Wolf” significant or just brought up because it was an episode set in the 80s? I guess we will find out more next episode (hopefully at least!)
My thoughts: I thought this episode was okay. I agree that it was supposed to function as a “getting to know Clara” episode, but I still feel like we didn’t really get to know her much better. I’m anxious to get on with the story, and was a little disappointed in this week’s episode after the epic episode we had last week in “The Rings of Akhaten.” Hopefully we can get back on track next week.