Doctor Who – Cold Blood (S05E09) – Episode review

Following on from last week’s Doctor Who episode, [[The Hungry Earth (Doctor Who episode)|The Hungry Earth]], we’re back in a remote Welsh village for the conclusion, [[Cold Blood (Doctor Who episode)|Cold Blood]]. Well, technically we’re quite a few miles under a remote Welsh village, but none of you guys are that pedantic, are you?

So where were we? Ah, [[The Doctor (Doctor Who)|The Doctor]] and Nasreen are underground in the Silurian city. They waste no time in getting captured by the Military Commander. On the flip side, a nifty spot of pickpocketting by [[Amy Pond]] helps her and Mo to escape from the scaly-faced Silurian scientist. So, plenty of action underground, what’s going on up on the surface?

Well, captured Silurian Alaya is being shockingly racist to her captors, hoping to taunt her way to martyrdom. And eventually, wronged mother Ambrose obliges. Her son has been taken, her father infected with venom from a poisonous reptilian tongue. Oh, and her husband has also been abducted, but she forgets to mention that bit. Poor Mo. You can almost feel her pain. She’s lost her entire family due to these creatures, and now one is condescendingly calling her an ape. Wouldn’t you unleash the taser on her green, scaly ass?

Neve McIntosh should be singled out here for her fantastic dual role: reprising the character of Alaya from last week, and now playing military commander Restac. Restac is a piece of work. She’s just itching to go to war with the ‘apes’, and any old excuse will do. Nor is she very happy when doddery scientist Malokeh wakes the Silurian leader Eldane to bring her into line.

The arrival of Eldane heralds the first chance of a fair trial for the humans, and it’s not long before The Doctor manages to get Eldane to negotiate with Amy and Nasreen about how the two species might share the planet. The ‘hand of history’ moment is not lost on the Time Lord as he guides both races toward a peaceful settlement. And you remember those parallels with immigration we talked about last week? Those themes are clarified somewhat: imagine thinking you had exclusive rights to live in a country, then discovering that someone had been there before you and had a more legitimate claim? Suddenly you are the immigrant. Interesting proposition. And, I think, a valid notion in Britain today.

Of course, no sooner than a plan for peace between humans and homo-reptilius is brokered than Ambrose, Tony and Rory show up with the corpse of Alaya. Buzzkills. The dismay on The Doctor’s face is etched on my mind. For once, things had worked out his way. They’d negotiated, and the negotiation had worked. Now the humans show up with a dead dealbreaker. And once Restac discovers her dead sibling, all hell breaks loose.

This pushes things toward a speedy conclusion. Eldane pushes the self-destruct button on the SIlurian city – forcing any militant reptiles to either return to their cryo-chambers or die. The city is to be sealed off and the humans must get to the TARDIS and return to the surface. Tony must stay in order to have the infection cured, which brings some form of punishment upon Ambrose for her actions. Lovestruck Nasreen opts to stay with him and be frozen until the Silurians opt to return in 1,000 years time.

But…it doesn’t end there. En route to the [[TARDIS (Doctor Who)|TARDIS]], The Doctor is unsettled to discover another crack in the universe. He stalls, working on the hypothesis that if the crack is caused by an explosion, then there might be shrapnel. He gamely reaches inside the crack (would you?) and pulls something out, but before they can see what it is, Restac shuffles out of a passageway, aiming her gun at The Doctor. Rory pushes him out of the way and takes the blast himself. As he dies, the light from the crack seems to reach out and consume him. However, Arthur Darvill has been confirmed for the final episodes this series, so theories abound that he might return somehow.

And that piece of shrapnel turns out to be a part of the TARDIS, a corner of the notice on the door of the police box. It’s charred and broken, and causes a look of distress from The Doctor. I wonder if the explosion that caused the cracks was the regeneration prior to this series that destroyed the time machine, or if the crack story is working in reverse: the final episode title is The Big Bang, so perhaps the explosion in question might happen at the end of the series? And will it destroy the TARDIS? Oooh missus!

Some thoughts

I have adored this two-parter. As a matter of fact, I would have applauded the braver decision to stretch this out to three episodes somehow. It would have given more time to allow Ambrose to build up her resentment of Alaya. It would have given The Doctor some time to try and reason with the fanatical Restac.

Overall, there was an undeniable ‘classic’ [[Doctor Who (TV Series)|Doctor Who]] feel to this. A plot that could breathe, and The Doctor acting as Switzerland, trying to encourage the two races to find a middle ground rather than doing all the fixing himself. Even the music in the episode had that vintage feel. If you’ve ever wondered – as I have – if elements of the ‘old’ series would work in 2010, then here’s your answer: yes they bloody do.

Shockingly, a TARDIS companion has been killed off (and not somehow reanimated within the same episode, Captain Harkness). Those last few weeks of building up the character of Rory – the stag night, the dream world where Amy realises she loves him – result in his shock death. Abrupt, at the end of the episode, and now the inclusion of future Amy and Rory waving at the start of The Hungry Earth makes sense. What’s worse is that Amy totally forgets him, despite her best efforts to remember.

Oh, and I’m not an old-skool Who fan, so I don’t care about the Silurian third eye. I loved the make-up and presumably prosthetics that went into those creatures. The Telegraph moans about this being a carbon copy of the original Silurian storyline. Don’t know, don’t care. I may compare the two at some stage, but I feel Chris Chibnall did a fantastic job on this story, and perhaps the most subtle, clever reusing of an old-Who race of the new series. Daleks and Cybermen? Pah. I want more Silurians. I want to see that episode 1,000 years in Earth’s future.

Quotes from Cold Blood

  • Malokeh: “The female appears to be more resistant to the cold than the male.” Amy: “I dressed for Rio!”
  • Alaya: “Why would I want to escape when I can watch you die? The first ape death of the coming war?”
  • The Doctor makes a nice fifth Doctor reference: “Not got any celery, have you?”
  • The Doctor: “There are fixed points through time where things must stay the way they are. This is not one of them. This is an opportunity. A temporal tipping-point. Whatever happens today will change future events create it’s own reality.”
  • The Doctor: “Bringing things to order. The first meeting of representatives of the human race and homo-reptilia is now in session. Ha! Never said that before, that was fun.”
  • Mo: “I’ve got to be honest with you son. We’re in the center of the Earth and there are lizard men.”
  • Eldane: “We lived on the surface of the planet long before you did. Our sole purpose is to return to our rightful place.”
  • Eldane: “We work together, this planet could achieve greatness.”
  • The Doctor: “We had a chance here. In future, when you talk about this you tell people there was a chance. But you are so much less that the best of humanity.”
  • The Doctor: “If there can be no deal, you go back into hibernation. All of you. Now.”
  • The Doctor: “Squeaky fun time!”
  • Eldane: “So The Doctor sent our warriors back to their rest on the promise of future harmony with the humans.”

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17 Comments

  1. jefft

    A nice change of pace. Didn’t have me gripping my chair arm, but I liked it.

    (I do wonder how it will sit with the kids who grew up with RTD’s increasingly fast moving scripting, though..)

    I was tickled to hear Marvin the Paranoid Android doing the intro.

    Squeaky fun? Are you sure? I feel certain he was saying ‘Squeaky Bum’. (In fact, since I found that funnier, I’ll stick with my version in my head, thank you.)

    Other quotes:

    • Amy:  Yeah..and. Stay Out!
    • Mo (tied up under threat of execution): I’m fine love: I’ve found Elliot and and I’m bringing him home.
    • Malokeh: We’re not monsters. And neither are they.
    • Amy: Other way, idiot!

     

    Nit picking:

    • The control holding Elliot in the cell won’t respond to Mo’s hands due to genetic testing. But when Malokeh opens it later, he has gloves on.
    • Why does Eldane talk about what the Doctor has lost, if Rory has been wiped out of history?
    • Rory touches the light in the crack and vanishes from history, but the Doctor sticks his hand in and nothing?
    • Amy forgets Rory, but the engagement ring is still there..

     

     

     

     

    1. Gerard McGarry
      • I’ll give them a by-ball on the gloves/genetic link thing. I also found it a bit iffy that that door had to be opened by Silurian, but Amy was able to open a Silurian cryo-chamber. I’ve kind of come to expect this kind of minor oversight, though.
      • I assumed Eldane to be talking about other losses to The Doctor. The failure to broker peace, the loss of Nasreen and Tony. Those are things Eldane knew directly about – he wasn’t aware of Rory’s death, because that happened after they escaped.
      • In Flesh And Stone, The Doctor described himself as a huge time-space event, and that it would take a long time for a crack to devour him. I did think sticking his hand inside the crack was a bit reckless though. As for Rory being forgotten about, that opens up a whole can of worms really. He’s a time traveler too, as is Amy. We’re told that they can remember things that’ve been devoured because they’ve travelled in time, yet that rule can change based on Rory being part of Amy’s life? Well, does that mean The Doctor will forget him?

      That last one’s something I’ll have a bee in my bonnet about. It might be one thing to explain away the discrepancy, but if that explanation doesn’t sound plausible, then it’s a failure. We’ll have to wait and see if the series story arc actually makes sense in that regard, because if it’s all based on highly suspect evidence, it’ll be very unsatisfying.

  2. redblu

    The ending in particular I found to be a masterful piece of storytelling and totally gut wrenching, whether or not his return is actual or through flashbacks that was an incredibly potent moment. Complete erasure of a person from history, everyones feelings for them, just horrifically chilling.

     

    As for the nit picks, the first two slipped past me I must admit. As for the Doctor sticking his hand in my initial reaction was that these cracks aren’t always destructive, sometimes they are portals across the galaxy so perhaps individual cracks fluctuate in function. But the other theory I heard (which honestly makes more sense), is that he’s a 900 year old timelord with parodxes and anomalies to match, it would probably take some time for the crack to undo his existence.

    The engagement ring still being there is consistent with Flesh and Stone, it seems venturing into one of these cracks doesn’t erase your actions, you are simply taken out of time, as if the universe is doing a patch job, struggling to prevent its self from ripping wide open.

  3. DopeAddict

    OK, even if time is re-written-able, Rory was dead before he was sucked into the crack. So even if whatever the crack does is undone, all it should do is deposit the dead Rory back into the universe & restore Amy’s (and everyone who knew him) memories of him. But he’s still dead.

    Of course, that won’t happen. He’ll be back. But still.

    And when Amy goes home will her wedding dress still be there? How much far-reaching an effect does this crack have when erasing people? She’ll be really confused if both the ring & the dress are there, though that would be an interesting premise for an episode.

    Agree that The Doctor has some immutable properties, so The Crack doesn’t effect him. Though I was really expecting his hand to get chopped off, like #10 in his 1st episode.

    I’m pretty sure it was “squeaky bum,” a colloquial phrase in the UK not really used here in the US. Though it would be a not-very-interesting twist on things if he did say “squeaky fun.”

    From an adult perspective I wasn’t so moved by Rory’s death, though I was surprised. And it blows because I love Rory, he’s funny! I watched both parts last night and, while there are some tense moments, I found myself caring not at all about the guest characters. Old man is unlikable, mom is annoying & self-centered, kid is cute but useless and Nasreen (?) is a cheerleader. Dad was funny with the “lizard men” comment, but we didn’t see much of him. Aleya is cute & menacing, though.

    They sure did let down The Doctor, and every human alive, and every human yet to be born, ever. Which is a rather large burden for a few people to carry. Maybe next time they’ll think twice before murdering an earth-lien.

    From a kid’s perspective (and I haven’t been a kid in a very long time and I don’t have any myself, thank god) I’m guessing it would’ve been tense, bordering on scary, though the lizard people are more interesting to look at than scary. And I don’t think kids are too bothered about plot holes or continuity problems. But what do I know? Still not sure if they’d have any empathy with/sympathy for the characters.

    I don’t think an episode yet has reached the standard of the opener, but that’s hardly a criticism. I can’t wait to (download and) watch every Saturday evening, it always makes my day, and I can’t say that about too many TV shows.

  4. amarais1

    I honestly dont like the new dr.  I loved David Tennant for the seasons he was on.  I am trying to get a grip on this dr.  Honestly, i find him a joke.  My honest opinion is that i think who is this dr, a joke.  had it  programed on my tivo but dont like it anymore.   Why dont they bring back David Tennant that would be worth it

  5. silveredtears

    I quite liked this episode as a sequel and it was better than some in the series so far.

    I didn’t notice the gloves and Eldane talking about Rory, but i did wonder why Amy couldn’t remember Rory. When the angels were wiped out, all three, the doctor, River and Amy watched them be devoured by the crack and at the end of the episode they all still remembered the Angels.

    I really really love the new doctor, and once the “specials” started last year, I couldn’t wait for a replacement for Tennant. I enjoyed the 3 series he was in, but he was grating on my nerves, and I think they should have just skipped all of the specials. The only one I kind of liked was Waters of Mars.

    I look forward to watching doctor who every sunday night, it gets me through my week!

  6. Gerard McGarry

    Nice to see some new faces among the commenters here – welcome to the site, and I hope some of your will feel compelled to create your own Doctor Who blog posts to chat about the show.

    I can’t help but wonder if Rory’s death and disappearance into the crack are ‘real’: i.e. will the series uphold the death, or will they find a way to bring him back to life? And like a few of the rest of you, I’m starting to get confused about the rules behind this crack in the universe. I’m not entirely convinced by The Doctor’s assertion that Amy is forgetting Rory because he’s part of her personal history.

    On “squeaky fun” versus “squeaky bum”, you guys might be right. I’ve never heard either phrase used before though. I’ll listen again and see if I hear different.

  7. redblu

    don’t particularly confuse me as such, and I don’t particularly find them any more implausible than anything else in the show past or present, it’s just the number of them which doesn’t sit right with me; it really takes me out of the world as a viewer and reminds me that it is all a contrivance and created to suit the writers goals. Still it wasn’t enough to irritate me.

     

    I must disagree with DopeAddict however, I felt that as an adult Rory’s death was all the more poignant. The distinction of simply dying and being erased from history is probably lost on a child, but as one gets older the reality of mortality hits home, you’re prepared for the notion that it will one day happen. Your comfort, particularly if not religious, is in knowing that you leave behind your work, your children, and people to morn you. I don’t recall such a concept ever being so well addressed. The true horror of the concept of what was taking placehit me harder with each passing moment. 
    I would imagine for most children the defining moment would be his death, and not his erasure.

    1. Gerard McGarry

      That last paragraph gave me pause for thought. My father died last year, and perhaps one of the things that made me saddest was that in a few generations his existence will have been scrubbed almost entirely.

      Sure, there’ll be a legacy of descendants and things like that. But for your average guy (or gal), there won’t be much left of note 100 years after you die. No statues to your memory or little random achievements. In Rory’s case, it was a double horror though – he died, and then Amy had to watch as tendrils of light started to consume his body. The Doctor was totally right to move the TARDIS, because that was hard to watch.

      I just wanted to thank you for that last comment redblu, because it really got me thinking! Any idea how we did in the overnight ratings?

      1. redblu

        Got back over 2million of those we lost to the Sun, 5.7 million, so that’ll be a little over 7million in the final figures, about average for this slot in the series.

      2. redblu

        Sorry for the brief reply earlier, I was dashing out to work.

        The final figures for the Hungry Earth are in, a 2million rise including recordings bringing figures up to 6.5million, that’s the highest the show has gotten to my knowledge and puts the figures at 0.4million than the episode in the same slot last series.

        Seems it really was the weather after all. 

        No problem on the comment, it was my immediate reaction, as I say that notion is very integral to my being so the scene hit me like a tonne of bricks. It’s hard to know what to say about your dad, but keep whatever you can of him, photos, notes, there are at least three members of my family who spend a significant amount of their time researching family history, I imagine you’d be surprised by who ends up looking back with keen interest in times future.

  8. do me a melon

    I may be wrong on this, but I certainly first heard the expression on Match of the Day, when some team or other were a goal up with only a few minutes left to play: very nervous for all, hence squeaky bum time.

    Regarding Rory’s death, I was genuinely shocked.  I hadn’t been too bothered about his character to begin with, but he’d really turned me around following Vampires in Venice.  As much as I want to see him again, and I’m sure the cracks will allow for that possibility, as a dramatic event in the show I kinda hope he stays dead.  Bringing him back will devalue his death in the same manner as soooo many superheroes.  Which reminds me to Torchwood: same goes for Ianto.  Love him, want him not to be dead,  but having killed him he should stay dead.

  9. Jeffrey Scott

    My Notes:

    Yes, I know the episode was titled ‘Cold Blood’, I just happen to like my title better. I think the title would have been better with the double entendre, that could have been applied to both Human and Silurian.

    Why did the Doctor not address the humans as Homo-Sapiens when he addressed the Silurians as Homo-Reptillian during the talks? Would have made more sense.

    Not a fan of hearing ‘spoiler’ bits of info but if Rory does make an appearance I do hope it’s as just a flash-back. I hate when a TV show or book kills someone off, only to have them revived in some way. When Adric was killed he stayed dead and that’s just the way I like it! Otherwise it makes the death so unimportant and contrived.

    Is it my imagination or are we hearing the theme of ‘last of a species’ a lot this series? Weren’t the Saturyians (vampires) supposed to be the last of their species? The Silurians “claimed” to be the last and even the Space Whale was the last of it’s species. Maybe I’m remembering things wrong, but I’m going to keep my eye on this in future episodes.

    Love the old type feel of these episodes. It’s almost like how Doctor Who would have been back in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s if they had the technology we have today. I’m okay with a ‘sort of’ remake of older episodes as long as it’s not done on a continual basis and I thought it worked beautifully here with the Silurians. And for the record, I do love the updates of older villains and nice to see each series bring something back from the older Dr.Who’s.

    1. Gerard McGarry

      Yeah, the “last of the species” theme does keep coming through. No idea what that means for the end of the series though.

      If you factor in the re-genesis of the Daleks, I suppose that handful of them that got recreated are now the last of their race too?

  10. silveredtears

    I’m hoping that the recurrent theme of ‘Last of their species’ has something to do with the crack, such a vast explosion should be ricocheting around time and space? Hope they’re not just trying to drive it home that the doctor is now the last timelord after tennants finale.

  11. Jeffrey Scott

    Yea, I hate when they bring stuff up just because they can. And not just bring it up, but continually wash your face with it. If it’s key, then I’m okay with it. But to continue to throw Red Herrings out as intensely as they have been would be a big let down.

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