Who would have known that The Cold War could be so beautiful?
I love a Mark Gatiss written story, because it’s almost always a guarantee that you’re going to get a distinct monster in a memorable setting with a heavy dose of tension. Indeed, Gatiss brought his A game on all fronts.
I was wowed, in particular, by the lighting design in this episode. The mixture of flashing lights in a mix of red, green, blue and gold with moments of faces in the dark brought the intensity levels up, up, up when it needed it most. The submersion and immersion of the Russian nuclear vessel were some of the best special effects I’ve seen from the series and our bad guy, Skaldak, was truly intimidating in his suit. Since we haven’t seen an Ice Warrior since the reboot of the series, this is a good reminder of just how many truly bad baddies exist in the Who verse.
Alright, gotta say it: you’ll only get spoiled from here out on out.
While the set design and artistic direction was truly gorgeous, I find myself shocked two weeks in a row by Clara’s infantile outfits. Last week’s school girl look was permissible, but combined by this week’s 1970’s doo wop prom dress - I have to ask: who is dressing this woman? I refuse to believe it’s a stylist. It’s got to be someone with a strong desire to make viewers feel like she’s a “girl” and not a woman. Not cool. I hope it’s just a random coincidence and not intentional, but I’m onto you, Moffat.
So I take issue with Clara’s wardrobe, but I enjoyed Jenna Louise Coleman again this week. Three episodes in as Clara and she’s finally enjoying the benefit of the Tardis’s translation services and seems to be reveling in the Doctor’s vast knowledge of the universe more and more. But Clara was most affecting when she shares a lovely and tender scene with the Professor aboard the submarine. As they hunt for Skaldak, the two start small talk about Duran Duran and karaoke. And suddenly, it’s all real. When the Doctor comes around, people die. And she didn’t know she signed up for that until this moment.
I think what will ultimately make Clara unique in this effort though, is that the Doctor has to figure her out to. And it’s very possible that she could be just as dangerous to him as he is to her.
In the end, mercy, family and luck saves this Russian crew and the entire planet from destruction. And you know, this is just classic Doctor Who. A bad guy really isn’t as bad as he seems, because he too has someone out there that he cares about.