Note: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 7, Episode 8 of BBC America's "Doctor Who," titled "Cold War."
For this week's installment of "What do we find out about Clara's origins," we learned ... absolutely nothing new. Yeah, I was kind of disappointed, but in a way I appreciated that the writers aren't getting too formulaic with revelations about Clara, giving away bits of information every episode until the great reveal in the season finale. In this episode we just get to know Clara better: She's definitely headstrong and brave, but also a tad naive, since she needed to actually see dead bodies before she realized how dangerous traveling with the Doctor can be. I'm sure this experience isn't one she's going to shake off quickly.
"Cold War" found the Doctor and Clara aboard a Soviet nuclear submarine in the North Pole that was losing power and rapidly descending. The submarine malfunctioned because the frozen woolly mammoth they thought they discovered while drilling for oil was actually Grand Marshall Skaldak, a deadly Martian Ice Warrior who has been frozen for around 5,000 years, and he was NOT HAPPY. Skaldak -- who came with a lot of fancy titles that rivals any character on "Game of Thrones" -- was obviously cranky after his forced hibernation, and when he was cattle-prodded and imprisoned by the ship's crew, he definitely didn't get any friendlier.
While in the cell, Skaldak turned on his homing beacon so that the other Ice Warriors could find him and rescue him. Because the submarine's Captain Zhukov wouldn't let the Doctor speak to Skaldak, Clara volunteered to reason with him and bravely entered the dark cell with the Martian. While he reminisced about going into battle with his daughter and singing the songs of the old times and red snow, Skaldak concluded that his people were dead, and he escaped his body armor to wreak havoc aboard the sub, systematically stalking and killing the crew to learn their weaknesses (kind of like a PG-rated version of "Alien").
Once he learned about the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction (the original 80s catchphrase) and of the nuclear warheads aboard the ship, Skaldak attempted to set them off and destroy all of humanity. As the Doctor reasoned with Skaldak by appealing to his Martian sense of honor, the previously-presumed-dead Ice Warriors arrived in their ship and used their tractor beam to lift the sub off the ocean floor. Skaldak boarded their ship, but the missile launch sequence still needed to be deactivated. That's when Clara decided to sing her own song of the old times, the chorus from Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf." The warheads deactivated, and Clara and the Doctor once again saved the day. They were free to visit Las Vegas now, but they needed to hitch a ride with Zhukov to the South Pole to recover the TARDIS, which had relocated thanks to the Doctor's use of HADS, the Hostile Action Displacement System.
As a child of the 80s, I've always known that Duran Duran would one day save the world, and we can kind of say they did in this episode. To relive the original bad-ass table-flipping scene, questionable 80s fashion and the general awesomeness of Simon Le Bon and co., here's a link to "Hungry Like the Wolf" (I apologize in advance for the Justin Bieber background).
Noticeably absent last week on the alien world of Akhet, the TARDIS translation matrix was working during this episode, allowing Clara to speak perfect Russian. This announcement during the story happened right when I was thinking, "Why are the Soviets so British sounding? Couldn't they have told the actors to use Boris-and-Natasha accents?"
Two former crew and cast members have criticized the current version of "Doctor Who," saying it's become too "sexy." While there is undeniable chemistry between star Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman -- there were at least two instances during the episode where it would've been completely natural for them to have kissed -- I don't know how I feel about another Doctor/Companion romance (Rose and Ten forever!).
What do you think: Should the Doctor and Clara get romantically involved? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
"Doctor Who" airs Saturdays, 8 p.m. ET on BBC America.
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