The Doctor and Clara find themselves dealing with Cold War tensions when the TARDIS lands aboard a disabled Soviet ballistic submarine. The Doctor isn't the only alien being on board ...
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The Doctor and Clara find themselves dealing with Cold War tensions when the TARDIS lands aboard a disabled Soviet ballistic submarine. The Doctor isn't the only alien being on board however - while engaged in undersea drilling, Professor Grisenko thought he'd found a mammoth and brought the creature on the boat encased in ice. It isn't a mammoth but an Ice Warrior, who has been lying dormant for 5000 years. He identifies himself as Grand Marshal Skaldak but when he cannot contact others of his kind, he assumes he is the last of his race. He now has every intention of starting a thermonuclear war between the superpowers and destroy Earth. Written by
In the original script, the Ice Warrior Skaldak was a more complex creation: he was a time traveller from the thirty-first century who planned to provoke a nuclear war which would wipe out humanity, thereby preventing mankind from dominating Mars in his era. After mind-controlling the Doctor's new companion (at this point, a Victorian-era governess named Beryl) to further his scheme, Skaldak was ultimately killed by one of the Russians. The surviving crew escaped to a British sub, the Redoubt, while the sinking Russian vessel was destroyed by the water pressure. See more »
Textual labels throughout the sub are either meaningless combinations of Cyrillic letters or transliterated English words. This is most evident on the depth indicator, where the Cyrillic letters spell the English word "meters" instead of the Russian "metry". See more »
Mark Gatiss' script reintroduces the Ice Warriors from the original series, the warrior class from the dying planet Mars, and fuses them with a version of "The Hunt for Red October" on a Soviet nuclear submarine in the 1980s. That may sound like a pointless hodgepodge, but bear in mind that Doctor Who is science fiction and below the surface of the best episodes lurks a symbolic message. Here it about the conflict between ideology and personality: the Ice Warrior who believes himself the last of his race and so bound by his warrior's code; the submarine's captain who does his job, but is privately tired of war; his second officer who longs for a war, regardless of the consequences; and David Warner as a research scientist who is a pop music fan. Warner's performance is the standout, but Gatiss' scripts tend to have great star turns and Warner has a lot of fun with the role.
The story is exciting and terrifying in its appeal to a real world threat that still lurks in the psyches of the members of the audience who grew up during the Cold War: the helpless fear that someone would push the button and the world would end, with nothing we could do about it.
I've commented before on the great job that the cinematographers have been doing this season. Here it's Suzie Lavelle in her first episode. She has taken the monochromatic spotlight gels originated by Ernest Vincze and used a combination of fish-eyed lens, a jittery moving camera and the narrow corridors of the leaking, sunken submarine to underline the paranoia. It's a brilliant effort. Although she is not shown as the director of photography of any other episodes, I hope we get to see more of her work.
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