Doctor Who Review: “Cold War” (Series 7, Episode 9)

Oh my stars, can you believe it’s already week three of Doctor Who? This week we see the long-awaited return of the Ice Warriors, or I suppose one Ice Warrior, in the aptly titled Cold War. Similar to the first half of the season, the first two episodes were great but the third episode dipped in quality. There was lots to like about the episode, but ultimately it left me feeling ‘meh.’ I’m sure that mine is an unpopular opinion though as most people seemed to have enjoyed it.

I suppose it’s somewhat important to note that I am generally not a huge fan of stories that take place in or under water. So already I was at a disadvantage with this episode, and maybe that was one of the reasons why I didn’t love it. The opening set things up pretty nicely, introducing the main crew members and the somewhat mysterious Professor, but I couldn’t be happier to see the Doctor show up.

Last week in The Rings of Akhaten, the plot moved slowly, taking time to establish the characters and the environment before moving into the threat of the week. This week it’s the complete opposite as the episode starts with a bang and doesn’t stop till the end. I like this change-up every week, further emphasizing the uniqueness of each episode this season so far. This time it’s also completely self-contained as there is barely a hint to the larger story-arc.

Surprisingly, my favorite moments of this tension-filled episode came with the little moments of humor, starting with when the Doctor appears on the submarine, as he thinks they’re in Las Vegas. They’ve barely got time to process anything before they’re hit by the water and things move rather quickly. The camera felt too shaky during this sequence, and while it was necessary to capture the turbulent-nature of the scene, I was a bit annoyed.

Conveniently, the TARDIS disappears, leaving the Doctor and Clara stranded with the crew in the submarine. What I did like about this though was the fact that the TARDIS was all the way in the South Pole and didn’t magically return as soon as all the trouble was over.

There was a vague familiarity about this episode: being trapped in a closed space with a crew of people and trying to save them from some hidden monster. It’s the kind of episode Doctor Who does at least once a season, with the more memorable ones being from the David Tennant days. Despite all that, this still felt like a new and fresh story and didn’t feel all that much like any of the previous such episodes. Unlike those ones which focused on all the crew members, we’re only really supposed to care about the Professor, Stepashin, and Davos…I mean, the Captain.

Even though we didn’t learn anything new pertaining to Clara’s mystery, she establishes herself further as a character and shows us what kind of person she is. When the Professor asked her what she liked to do with her free time, I thought we’d learn a bit more about her, but surprisingly not. Instead, we learn about her through her actions and the way she reacts to everything. There’s just something very off and different about her reactions compared to those of the previous companions.

For instance, she treats herself like a test in the beginning, as if the Doctor is testing her at how good she is in situations like these. But then once she sees the dead bodies, she realizes how real it all really is. She slowly processes things rather than quickly reacting to them. She isn’t easily fazed by anything, which is a common trait in all the companions. But there’s just something about the way she reacts that makes her standout from the rest. That, or the whole mystery surrounding her is just getting to me. Also, did anyone else feel her voice was a bit different, a little too high pitched compared to the past two weeks? I’m really just catching on any detail I can find in the hopes that there’s a clue in there somewhere.

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