Doctor Who Season 7 Review “Cold War”

These last few episodes of Doctor Who have been so densely packed with references to earlier Doctor Who adventures that it can sometimes be a little overwhelming to attempt to keep track of it all. While I picked up a number of old Who references in “Cold War,” all it took was a quick stroll through the dark paths of the internet for me to realize just how many minuscule details I had missed during my first watch.

Of course, I assume the resurgence of all these classic Who villains, the reintroduction of historical T.A.R.D.I.S. terminology, the ongoing references to roses, wolves, and the color red, are all pointing in the direction of the upcoming Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special, but I’m impatient. I don’t mind that each episode is essentially a stand alone story with teases scattered throughout, but what I really want is to sink my teeth into an ongoing mystery that will have me desperately waiting for the next episode to answer my questions.

With these blockbuster style episodes, there’s no doubt that I have a fun time watching Doctor Who for 45 minutes every week. I think there’s something very cool about our heroes showing up on a Russian nuclear submarine during the Cold War and averting global destruction at the hands of a Martian warrior, but when practically every moment is loaded with nonstop action, adventure, and suspense, there’s not a whole lot of time to develop a meaningful relationship between The Doctor and his companion. Maybe we don’t need to get to know Clara the way we got to know a lot of The Doctor’s more recent companions, but I can’t help but want to see The Doctor and Clara just hanging out for a little bit. I’d like to see them slow down for a moment so we can actually watch as The Doctor and Clara get to know one another on the T.A.R.D.I.S. Clara has the potential to be one of my favorite companions (and this week she earned an additional 100,000 bonus points in my book for actually staying in one place as The Doctor instructed) but her character’s development seems to be getting lost in a lot of these high risk, fast paced, action driven story lines.

Companion development aside, I actually enjoyed this submersible romp with the Martian Ice Warrior. Getting Grand Marshal Skaldak out of his suit of armor was a great way to put a new spin on an old antagonist, and even if his puppet hands were a little Salad Fingers-y, I thought the character was well done overall. I believed that he was as threatening as The Doctor said he was, but I also understood that he wasn’t a mindless monster. Had Skaldak simply been a murderous alien prowling the submarine and killing crew members out of a primal drive, this would have been like any other alien horror story and the final wrap up would not have made much sense. Although we weren’t able see any of his emotions through facial expressions, Skaldak’s conversations about his people, his thoughts of his daughter, and his restraint when talking to The Doctor made it clear that he was an intelligent being with the capacity for compassion and mercy.

Next week’s Doctor Who looks like it’s going to be a totally terrifying ghost-story inspired episode. From the previews, it also seems like we might dive back into the Clara mystery. I really hope that’s the case because I think the only thing that I’ve really been missing from these last couple of episodes is some solid Clara development.