The Doctor, Bill and Nardole discover a tomb of the Queen of the Ice Warriors on Mars in 1881.The Doctor, Bill and Nardole discover a tomb of the Queen of the Ice Warriors on Mars in 1881.The Doctor, Bill and Nardole discover a tomb of the Queen of the Ice Warriors on Mars in 1881.
The opening is rather strange as the Doctor, Bill and Nardole gatecrash NASA mission control as they observe pictures from the surface of Mars which reveal the words "God Save the Queen" spelled out in rocks. The Doctor and his friends then journey back in time to Mars to try to find out how this happened. It is the time of Queen Victoria and the Anglo-Zulu Wars and bizarrely they find a group of Victorian British soldiers are living under the surface of the planet in an atmosphere created thousands of years earlier by the Ice Warriors who unbeknownst to the British are stored in their thousands dormant in suspended animation. One Ice Warrior on a reconnaissance mission had crashed on Earth and been found by the soldiers who helped repair the craft and travelled to Mars to claim its riches for the British Empire. The craft was damaged and unable to return them and their search for riches only brings them to the tomb of the Empress who awakens and threatens their destruction. The Doctor has become stranded because the TARDIS has inexplicably failed to remain on Mars. Nardole has taken it back to where they came from but cannot return it to Mars so seeks help from Missy, having to release her and hope she helps rather than causing havoc. The Doctor tries to bring a peaceful solution on Mars.
As weird an idea as Victorian soldiers on Mars sounds it is made logical by the plot and it is all great fun. It has charm and wit and feels as magical as the classic series usually did. The Ice Warriors return properly to the show after a brief mini return in Cold War and prove what a good 'monster' they are. They are menacing and impressive, look great, make cool sounds, have a great weapon that crushed people and they have depth due to not being friendly but not being pure evil. They have a sense of honour and are able to be allies in certain circumstances but can equally be thoroughly nasty and destructive. The updates work brilliantly and it all is in keeping with classic versions. We also get a lovely reference to old Ice Warrior stories as Alpha Centauri from 3rd Doctor stories The Curse of Peladon and The Monster of Peladon returns in a cameo with the original voice actress reviving her role aged 92!
The British soldier characters are good and well acted and Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackie are as always great. Nardole is fun and Missy is a very interesting addition flying to the rescue but with us wondering if betrayal is imminent.
The story is very enjoyable and the dialogue is high quality with humour and deeper themes of cowardice, glory seeking and colonialism/exploitation.
A great addition to the list of episodes written by Mark Gatiss.
- Jul 5, 2019