TARDIS File 05-09: Cold Blood

TARDIS File 05-09: Cold Blood

The Big Idea…  The Doctor, Amy and Rory have encountered the Silurians – past masters of the Earth, re-awakened from a deep sleep and readying for war against the humans.

What’s So Great…

  • The last ten minutes. The shocking death of Rory is not easily forseen, and is more than just a death. As it stands now (and keep in mind that we’ve been told – and in fact just shown – that time can be re-written), he won’t have just died, but he will never have existed and won’t be remembered. No other Doctor Who companion has ever met such a fate.
  • The performances of the three regulars are all superb – three young actors provided with some challenging material, and they succeed with flying colours.
  • The Silurian city below the Earth’s surface was very well-realized, and perhaps tapped the imagination of many a Doctor Who fan that dreamt of what the other Siluarian civilizations might have looked like.

Some quick bits of trivia…. Stephen Moore, who plays Silurian leader Eldane, is best known to science-fiction fans as having played Marvin the Paranoid Android in the BBC television adaptation of The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy. He has previously been in Doctor Who in the Eighth Doctor/Lucie Big Finish two-part audio story The Eight Truths/Worldwide Web playing Clark Goodman.

Things to Geek Out About…

  • The Doctor’s explanation as to why the Silurians were sleeping – because they thought (what turned out to be) the Moon was going to crash into the Earth and kill life on the surface – was first mentioned way back in Doctor Who and the Silurians back in 1970. Although the Doctor’s memory is a bit askew when he says the humans attacked the Silurians when he previously met them, given that the Silurians were just as guilty (if not moreso) of attacking the humans.
  • The actual name for the “Silurians” has always been a bit of a minefield in terms of geological and biological accuracy. They were first called “Silurians” in Doctor Who and the Silurians, but the creatures couldn’t possibly from that era. The Doctor corrected that on screen in The Sea Devils suggesting that they’re actually more properly called Eocenes (the DWM comic strip used this one). Only that’s not accurate either. The novels took to calling them Earth Reptiles and Homo Reptilia, only Homo Reptilia is just as inaccurate as it’s not a proper taxonomical name. We’ll take to calling them Silurians for the sake of these entries.

Did You Notice…

  • The Doctor pulls a piece of (what appears to be) the TARDIS out of the crack!
  • Back in The Beast Below, the Starship U.K.’s computer indicated that Amy’s marital status was “uncertain”? This episode might explain why. Or perhaps not if Rory existed at the time, but now never did
  • Speaking of which, although Rory now has never existed, the ring he bought Amy still does. It suggests that while he’s been deleted from his existence, what he has influence and affected when he did exist haven’t necessarily been - though with the specific case of the engagement ring, might it be because it is protected from the effects by virtue of it being in the TARDIS (which itself seems to be connected to the crack in some way given what is pulled out of it)?
  • The concluding minutes of Flesh and Stone indicated that the base code for the universe was the date (26/06/2010) as Amy’s wedding day. But now she presumably will not be getting married, as her fiancée never existed in the first place. What will this mean?

Not To Complain But… Of the three humans, the most obvious choice to be the killer of Alaya would have been Ambrose given her predilection to want to use weapons and the kidnapping of her son and husband in the previous episode. It’s a shame that they didn’t surprise us by choosing someone else.

All Things Considered…
. A story that seemed destined to be an enjoyable if average Doctor Who story in the classic series mould is elevated to a level above that by the shocking conclusion to the story. What seemed like nothing more than a cute traditionally-Moffat “wibbly wobbly timey-wimey” moment early on in the story with Amy and Rory being visited in the distance by their future selves waving to them turns instead into a sad, horrifying moment that provides an unforgettable emotional and dramatic punch.  By providing us with a closing scene of Amy just waving to herself in the future as though nothing is wrong and nobody is missing, the horror and tragedy of what has happened to Rory – and in turn to Amy and the Doctor – is demonstrated to the viewer in a uniquely chilling fashion. The current Amy doesn’t remember Rory, and the future Amy doesn’t remember Rory either – and he is no longer there in present or in the future. He never was. Once again, the look on the Doctor’s face as he witnesses Amy waiving to her future self speaks more words – and speaks them more powerfully – than any dialogue could do justice to. The philosophical implications of these events give the audience much to chew on. The Doctor immediately takes the view that it is better for Amy to remember Rory – even if the memory is a painful one – than it would be for her not to remember Rory at all.

Credit should be given to Chris Chibnall for coming up with a different solution to the Silurian “problem” (that being a race that has equal rights to the planet as the humans do) than the one that has been employed on all three previous occasions – which was to have the humans wipe them out. The story also differs from the previous Silurian and Sea Devil stories by having the humans represented by “ordinary people” rather than members of the government and the military. The flip side of this is that it is the ordinary people (or one of them at least), not the government or military representing the people, who are to blame when things don’t go well between the humans and Silurians. As a modern re-telling of the basic Silurian premise, Cold Blood works well enough – but becomes somewhat over-shadowed by the last ten minutes which deal with the season’s story arc.

In this sense, with the Crack having made its third material appearance (that is, it’s actually involved in the events of the story as opposed to it simply appearing on-screen in a “Bad Wolf” vein as it did in The Beast Below and Victory of the Daleks) Cold Blood marks a turning point for the season. The season no longer feels like a group of un-related stories linked only by a reference to or appearance of something that eventually emerges in the season finale (which is how some of the previous season arcs were done), but instead feels as though each adventure is a separate chapter of one giant, season-long story – of which the finale will “merely” be the concluding installment. The list of items in the “Did you notice” is a testament to this. And to provide another example, the death of the clerics protecting Amy in the forest in Flesh and Stone is no longer just a dramatic, fascinating scene that was part of the events of The Time of Angels – as it turned out, it is also a set-up for what happens to Rory in this episode. And no doubt the events of this story will continue to have repercussions for the remaining episodes of the season and the finale in particular.

Line of the Week:  “Oh look, there I am again. Hello me!!!”

TARDIS File prepared by Gian-Luca Di Rocco

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