Saturday, May 29, 2010

My Review of Doctor Who's 5x09: "Cold Blood"

Written by Chris Chibnall
Directed by Ashley Way

The Doctor: “This ends here.”
Restac: “It only ends in our victory.”

After something of an underwhelming opening segment to this Silurian story, I have to admit that I’m probably going to fall in a small minority of viewers who won’t be citing this episode as one of their favourites from the first year of the Eleventh Doctor. It’s not a terrible episode and there’s a lot to get you talking but somehow, it didn’t blow me away either.

To focus on the negative bits first, let’s talk about Alaya. I was actually kind of hoping that she would survive the episode a bit longer than she actually did and like her sister, Restac, the urgency for a bloodbath made little sense. Didn’t she even consider for a second that perhaps her race wouldn’t be so victorious in battle?

She definitely didn’t given the way she was with both Tony and Ambrose in this episode. She wanted one of them to kill her and she pushed hard enough to achieve her goal. With Tony, Alaya played on his helplessness as he found himself more and more infected (but not killed) with her venom but it was Ambrose that sealed the deal.

Towards the end of this week, I had a feeling that Ambrose was going to be the one to kill Alaya. Alaya pointed out that she had the most to lose – Mo, Elliot and Tony and the nasty Silurian provoked Ambrose into killing her. I know it’s weird but I actually felt sorrier Ambrose than I expected to.

I knew that by killing Alaya, Ambrose had screwed the Doctor over but given how desperate she was, it should be noted that Ambrose didn’t intentionally try to kill Alaya. However it didn’t stop the desperate mum from having her own little plan up her sleeve when Rory felt compelled to bring Alaya’s body down to the Silurian dome when they given a means of visiting the city.

As for Restac, wasn’t she worse than Alaya? In another weird moment, I felt bad for her when she had to see her dead sister but the sympathy dissipated quickly when she went on the rampage to scupper the Doctor trying to broker a peace between the humans and Silurians by having Amy, Nasreen and Eldane speak openly of trying to find solutions for their difficulties.

Silurian politics was hardly riveting stuff and you could almost argue that Restac’s lust for war was a good way of injecting some needed action into proceedings but one of the best things about this show in spite of the violence that occurs is that the Doctor tries to come up with other options first.

He wasn’t making an unreasonable request by trying to broker peace and he was certainly generous given that he spent the first quarter of this episode being tied up, tortured and nearly executed for his troubles when he wasn’t being decontaminated for his trouble. Some people complained last week that the bondage Amy endured was worrying but I think the Doctor suffered more in this one.

At least Amy was able to use some thieving on her part to temporarily free herself and Mo, even if she almost ended up being executed during Restac’s military exchanges. I suppose having Eldane around was a way of showing us that not all Silurians want human extermination. Oddly enough, so was having Malohkeh as well. Sure he was happy to experiment on the Doctor but also cagey about Restac’s tactics and he did free Elliot from the cryo-chambers as well.

Ah, love some cryogenic chambers. You can store a lot of Silurians in them and funnily enough, Restac had a whole army that she woke up just to avenge her sister’s death. I bet the Doctor was more than glad on this day that he had Eldane on his side with the toxic fumigation solution to put the kibosh on Restac’s slaughter plan.

Except you can’t really go through a story without some casualties and losses and this episode gave us enough. Alaya’s death ignited a war but Restac was happy to kill Malohkeh as well to get her point across and both Tony and Nasreen were the only ones who decided not to come back to the surface, choosing to stay in their own thousand year stasis underground.

I should’ve found that touching but actually, I found it rather annoying. What if Tony can’t become cured by the Silurians and while I understand that Nasreen really had fallen for him, I actually think I would’ve preferred a noble death instead. Then again, if the Silurians happen to reappear in the next season, at least Tony and Nasreen can come back. That has to be something, right?

As for Rory’s death – this was something I had known about for long enough. The spoiler junkie in me had that foreknowledge and while Arthur Darvill has been terrific in these last episodes, I didn’t actually get all that choked up about Rory dying. Maybe I’m in denial because emotionally, it’s actually the worst thing to befall a new series companion.

First of all, Rory got shot by Restac while he saved the Doctor’s life and to add insult to injury, he gets sucked into the bloody crack that had to appear in this one. If the Doctor hadn’t let his curiosity sated him that much, Rory might have still be alive and of course, that’s not the only bad thing about it.

Amy forgetting that she had Rory in her life at all is just cruel. Karen Gillan really pulled it out of the ball park as Amy was clearly struggling to try and remember Rory while battling with her grief and now she’s unaware that he even existed in the first place. If this is really the end of Rory, then it makes Donna’s memory wiping look tame by comparison. Although the engagement ring box on the floor as well, that has to be a trigger for Amy.

As for the crack itself, the Doctor had clearly had enough. He mentioned that the Weeping Angels and Prisoner Zero had known more about it than he did and it drove him to doing something reckless. For all he knew, he could’ve gotten sucked into the crack himself and then everyone would’ve been blown to smithereens.

However the whole reveal of the TARDIS door bit with the police warning was interesting. I know the finale has been spoiling that the Doctor is going to suffer one hell of a fall and we’ve already seen the TARDIS become a towering inferno at the start of the year but what on Earth is going to happen to cause that kind of damage? Whatever this Pandorica is, it certainly looks like it’s going to be lethal for everyone all round.

Also in “Cold Blood”

This episode took a narrating route with Eldane discussing the failed broker between the humans and the Silurians. Not as effective as Rassilon’s in “The End Of Time Part 1”.

Ambrose (to Rory): “What are you, you and the Doctor? Why is this happening to us? What did we ever do?”

At the end of this episode, Amy only saw her future self but almost swore that someone else was there too. Perhaps there’s hope for Rory yet.

The Doctor: “Wait, wait, we all want the same thing here.”
Restac: “I do not negotiate with apes. I'm going to send a clear message to those on the surface.”

Alaya (to Ambrose): “I knew it would be you. The one with the most to lose, the weakest."

The Doctor mentioned one of his previous encounters with the Silurians to Restac and Malohkeh.
Amy: “Okay, sorry. As rescues go, it didn’t live up to it’s potential.”
The Doctor: “I’m glad you’re okay.”

The Doctor (to everyone): “There are fixed points through time where things must always stay the way they are. This is not one of them, this is an opportunity.”

This episode marked the first time since 2007 that scheduling for the series hasn’t been interrupted for the Eurovision. Thank frak for that.

Elliot: “Where are we?”
Mo: “Well, I’ve got to be honest with you son. We’re in the centre of the Earth and there are lizard men.”

Malohkeh: “What are you doing?”
Restac: “Protecting our race against the apes.”
Malohkeh: “You can’t do this.”
Restac: “You are a good scientist, Malohkeh but this is war.”

Interesting stuff with this week’s Confidential episode showing the Doctor Who tour that Matt Smith and Karen Gillan made to their home towns.

Rory: “I can’t die here.”
Amy: “Don’t say that.”
Rory: “You’re so beautiful. I’m sorry.”
Amy: “Doctor, help him!”

The Doctor: “Are you okay?”
Amy: “I thought I saw someone else there for a second.”

I liked the use of new material when showing us some flashbacks into Amy and Rory’s history.

“Cold Blood” is stronger than it’s previous episode and a lot of it works brilliantly – Rory’s death, Amy’s memories of him fading, the Doctor realising how much worse things with the crack will get and even some of the Silurian stuff (the city itself is beautiful) but it’s still not as satisfying as I’d hoped it would be.

Rating: 7 out of 10.