‘Doctor Who’ Season 7, Episode 8 Review – Ice Warrior Cometh

Published 2 years ago by , Updated May 6th, 2013 at 6:56 am,

doctor who season 7 episode 8 ice warrior Doctor Who Season 7, Episode 8 Review   Ice Warrior Cometh

This week, Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss takes Doctor Who deep below the surface for intimate tale with one of the series’ classic monsters.

After (somehow) ending up on a Soviet submarine in 1983, the Doctor finds one of his old enemies, an Ice Warrior, running amok after being frozen for 5,000 years. As the Doctor attempts to reason with the newly release warrior, the Russian crew decides that deadly force is their only option. But when the Ice Warrior sheds his armor for a fight to the death, the Doctor must overcome everyone’s temptation of a mutually assured destruction.

Gaitness, who penned “The Hounds of Baskerville” and “The Great Game” for Sherlock, took on the difficult task of resurrecting one of Doctor Who’s classic monsters, the Ice Warriors, for modern audiences. With a bit of a nod to Ridley Scott’s Alien and Tom Clancy’s “The Hunt for Red October,” “Cold War” is a brilliant, intimate tale that, for all intents and purposes, represents how truly engrossing and enjoyable a one-off, completely enclosed adventure with the Doctor (and Clara) can be, without the need for any of the timey-wimey bits.

doctor who season 7 episode 8 cold war doctor Doctor Who Season 7, Episode 8 Review   Ice Warrior Cometh

Much like the Sontarans, the Ice Warrirors – or in this case, Ice Warrior, General Skaldak (voiced by the Dalek’s Nicholas Briggs – are a skillful, honorable race with an unimaginable military strength. Their voice and actions, slowed by Earth’s atmosphere, are as nuanced as they are calculated, forcing the Doctor to use his wits and logic when standing off against this archaic Martian.

Fortunately, with the Ice Warriors – unlike the Sontarans – there’s no group-think that can easily be out-smarted or a soft spot in the back of their head to disarm them with a simple blow. Instead, the Doctor, along with a rag-tag group of resistant seamen, must be frank and direct with their actions and their intent in order to survive. This episode is much less a battle – as in there’s no winners or losers – than it is an ongoing, intellectual and extremely compelling conversation across species, with the Doctor serving at the pleasure of humanity.

Among the crew who make up this Soviet fleet are Captain Zhukov and Professor Grisenko, played by the familiar Liam Cunningham and David Warner, respectively. As the enforcer, Zhukov serves as the resolute military official who, like the Ice Warrior, must live a life where mutually assured destruction is an option. Professor Grisenko, on the other hand, serves as the quirky intellectual who helps support the Doctor’s endeavors among so many potential combatants. In the end, Warner’s wonderful performance as Girsenko may leave one to question why, at some point, he wasn’t allowed to have a “go” at the role of the Doctor way back when.

doctor who season 7 episode 8 doctor Doctor Who Season 7, Episode 8 Review   Ice Warrior Cometh

Though there are many instances in this week’s episode where specific story elements are seemingly glossed over or given messy explanations (“tinkering with the HADS”), this small and relatively harmless sacrifice allowed Gatiss to focus more on the tale at hand, rather than having to worry about what comes before or after this Arctic adventure. After all, it is Stephen Moffat’s show, so it’s up to him to make it work. And making “it” work is something fans are still waiting to see from Moffat, at least with Clara’s story.

After numerous adventures with some iteration of “The Girl Who Twice Died,” audiences are still holding on to whatever information and story arc they were able to glean from episodes as far as seven months back (there’s not much). And yes, while it’s true that the preview to next week’s episode, “Hide,” does appear to have a good amount of Clara story to it, this long, drawn-out tale of the new companion doesn’t do much to alleviate the typical frustrations or challenges (however illogical) that fans experience while transitioning from one companion to the next. Still…

“Cold War” is thoroughly imaginative, compelling episode that thrusts the Doctor and all his know-how into an intimate environment with a formidable opponent, with enough jumps, laughs and, most importantly, intrigue, to allow longtime fans to sit back and watch a 50-year-old television franchise at its best.


Doctor Who returns next Saturday with “Hide” @9pm on BBC America. You can check out a preview of next week’s episode below:

Follow Anthony Ocasio on Twitter @anthonyocasio
TAGS: Doctor who
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  1. Ever since season 7 the show has taken a serious dive in quality of character development. At this rate i am starting to question the future success of the series. I feel like they are spending to much time and money on the production values of the show with detrimental effects to everything else.

  2. This episode was SO much better than last week’s. No tacky villain and a tacky cheesy resolution (although the resolution to this week’s was still awfully convenient). It reminded me a lot of season one’s ‘Dalek’, in that it was a simple, straightforward showcase of a classic Who villain. Great stuff. Next week’s also looks promising, haven’t had a good scary episode in a while.

  3. My Gta 5 Theory
    Michael is Mike Salvator Leone’s bodyguard in Gta san andreas

    1. Mike is about the right age for michael

    2. He was from liberty city but accompied salvator leone to san andreas in the early 90s. He quit his job and returned to san andreas to start a new life and raise a family

    3. this is just speculation but maybe he met up with Cj in san andreas and knew a nephew that is Franklin afterall cesar was a boyfriend of Cj’s sister maybe they had a child.

    this is a genuine theory peace out

    • Fantastic. Now what does it have to do with Doctor Who?

    • @niall g

      First, that has nothing to do with Doctor Who

      Second, Rockstar confirmed that GTA 5 is in the same universe as GTA IV but that the events and characters from GTA III, Vice City, San Andreas, Liberty City Stories, Vice City Stories and Chinatown Wars are in a separate universe.

      Meaning, CJ, Tommy Vercetti and all the other characters from the PS2 era of GTA games never existed in the universe whcih GTA IV and 5 occupy.

      There goes your theory.

  4. I’m glad this was just a straight forward episode. I’m tired of Moffat thinking every season has to have some grand overarching (and convoluted) story and getting a break from that is nice. I don’t even care who Clara really is because she has already placed herself firmly as one of my favorite companions. AS awful as last season was this one has definitely picked back up.

    • I totally agree.

      • Thing is, over-arching stories and themes are what’s made this show what it is since the revival with Eccleston.

        Unfortuately since Moffat took over, the show doesn’t seem to know what it wants to do and the overall story (revealing who Clara is) seems to be one big failure.

        I didn’t think Russell T Davis was that great as a writer with cheesy dialog and ridiculous stories but Moffat has proven worse and with Matt Smith failing to be anything more than an annoying Doctor, I really hope the show is ended soon so that we can all take a break from it, stick to the audio books that jept the character alive in the years between Sylvester McCoy’s final season/Paul McGann’s one off TV movie and the TV movie/Eccleston’s season in the revival then come back with David Tennant.

        I mean, as great an actor as he is, Tennant was in the role so long and so prominently that he pretty much IS The Doctor now (a problem Eccleston wanted to avoid by his own account when he left the show).

        The Smith/Moffat years should be treated as Doctor Who Zero because just like Coke Zero, it’s a classic brand that tries to do the right thing but just tastes like crap and nothing like the full sugar version.

  5. Typical Gathis episode. Really like the past two episode but this episode is boring if not for Clara’s cuteness.

    • *episodes

  6. I am wondering why the word “wolf” came back?

    • What do you mean?

      • “Hungry Like a Wolf” was sung a few times. It may be a reference to Bad Wolf from the Eccleston/Rose/Tennant years.

  7. That’s more like it. After last weeks awful episode, this is more like real Doctor Who. A really nice, simple episode with a great baddie and no secret plot arc that leads to something disappointing.

    My only complaint was they showed the Ice Warrior’s face at the end. He was much more interesting with a little bit of mystery. It’s like how Boba Fett was more interesting the less we knew about him and what he looked like. If they had left the Ice Warrior as just brief glimpses and a pair of very creepy hands, it would have been a five star episode for me.

    • I would have been fine with it if it weren’t a crappy CGI face. It would have looked much better with an actual mask and make up. Plus, with the tiny body and spindly arms it apparently has (which looked silly to begin with) the big, normal sized looked weird. They should have given it a normal body to begin with.

  8. Im starting to get annoyed with Doctor Who, firstly Matt Smith isn’t the best he could be, i think David is a better Doctor but thats just me but the main problem with this current half of the series is that it seems we are being forced to like Clare. clearly she is going to play a huge role in the 50th special because of how many times she has saved the day, i can predict now that she will be the one who’ll defeat the next few monsters.
    dont get me wrong i like Doctor who I’m a big fan have the books and DVDS etc. but i think that with Clara Moffat is trying to make us like her using dull endings which i think is a dangerous thing to do. rather than making her adored or liked it might end up having her hated by some.
    just my opinion.

    • You mean that unlike Rose Tyler being our entry into The Doctor’s world and being sweet, naive and adventurous that made us all like her as a companion, Clara is being written as conveniently saving the day a lot like we’re being forced to accept her instead of letting it happen naturally?

      Part of me has this horrible feeling that she’ll be revealed as a Time Lord of some kind. That way, Smith can leave, he won’t have to regenerate into a new actor (meaning a possible return in future) and Moffat can have a female lead in the show to bring it up to date or whatever.

      • Donna and especially Amy had that problem. They tried to write them as strong independent women who were good role models for little girls. It was more than ridiculous when Amy knew more about what was going on than the Doctor more often than not. They took charge too much. Clara seems to have just enough can-do mixed in with her innocence.

  9. I liked the episode until the end.

    Just like last week, the resolution is an outpouring of Doctor emotion PLUS singing!

    Either a little girl sings a lullaby to a big orange mean alien pumpkin…… or Clara sings a terrible Duran, Duran song to a mean alien soldier lizard.

    I prefer the resolution to be something unexpected and clever that the Doctor does because he’s really smart. Please, not another love (or empathy) conquers all ending. If the Doctor can talk all the mean aliens into being nice aliens, with a bit of singing thrown in, I will NOT be a Doctor Who fan for much longer.

    • Hey now, Hungry Like a Wolf is CLASSIC! And Clara didn’t sing to the Martian. But, your point is well taken: this is the second episode where singing has played a prominent role. It could be a red herring or a coincidence or intentional. FWIW, I think Doctor 10 was told by the Ood that his song was ending as part of his swan song arc. If this is a reference to that, it’s awfully obtuse.

      • Ha! Well there is no accounting for taste.

        At least it wasn’t “Rio” I REALLY hate that song.

        I kind of like Girls On Film……. but to be honest I wished they had stuck with Ultravox tunes for the whole episode. I like most of their stuff.

        • I blame my affection for 80′s pop music on my older sisters who were cheerleaders. With that said, I’m sure you can understand why I cringe everytime I hear “Hey Mickey!”

          I would have liked more play with Ultravox and other dated material. It gave the timey wimey aspect a certain relatable depth that’s sorely lacking in some time travel episodes.

          • You’re in the US aren’t you Royal?

            I’d recommend Ashes To Ashes in that case unless you got it on BBC America. It was the sequel show to Life On Mars with Gene Hunt having moved from Manchester to London and set in 1983 so lots of references to 80s TV shows and music.

            It also explains who Gene really is and his purpose in both shows.

            • Thanks for the recommendation. Ashes to Ashes doesn’t ring a bell just yet. I’ll check it out.

  10. It really has gone downhill in terms of writing quality. I don’t particularly give a f**k about the companion, why do so many episodes have to focus too much on the companion! And what is the big obsession with the sonic screwdriver, its such an overused plot device. If Doctor ever has a problem, sonic screwdriver solves everything!

    • The companion is representative of the viewer, that’s why there’s a focus on the companion sometimes.

  11. Man it felt great to rant! :D

  12. Why did they even show up on the submarine in the first place? Was that ever explained?

    • I don’t think so, but the TARDIS sometimes has a thing for taking the Doctor where he needs to go. The Doctor has grown to accept it as a necessary cost of time travel.

  13. I personally loved Series 5 & 6, Moffat’s writing combined with Matt Smith’s portrayal of the doctor and companions Roy and Amy were absolutely fantastic. I’m still getting used to Series 7 and the new companion but I am waiting on the revelation of who she really is at the end! By the way, The overarching narratives of the past two series is what, in my opinion, is what makes Moffat’s Doctor Who the best yet.

  14. I think it’s funny that people continue to bash on Smith and Moffat, and the people who bash on Smith are all Tennant fanboys and girls. Like the Sopranos, the tenth doctor is OVER. Let it go. Anyway, Smith’s Doctor really embraces all of the previous incarnations and gives it sort of an ode. Eleven strongly resembles the second doctor with his quirky dialogue and seven’s rage. If you don’t like the show, stop watching. I don’t understand how you can just watch a show and hate every episode and bash on it every week. It makes you annoying. Moffat has made Doctor Who a science fiction show that makes you think. Convoluted stories about time travel are what Doctor Who should be about. Timey wimey, he coined the term ffs. Just sit back and enjoy this 50 year old franchise that continues to amaze people like myself and prove to be one of the best television series in present day.

    • Not at all. Matt Smith hasn’t been getting too many good scripts, and when he isn’t nailing a performance then that is the directors fault. There have been momments of brilliance on the part of Matt Smith. My favourite Matt Smith episode was his very first one.

  15. Personally, I’m not sure where this season is going. It seems like I’m in the minority here, but I actually love Matt Smith as the Doctor. However, some of the episodes recently… Like, they’ll have moments of “WHOO!” and yet still not feel right by the end. It’s kind of like the first half of the season where it seemed they where really trying to hammer in the theme that the Ponds can’t leave the Doctor- well before they left forever in one of the most incomprehensible ways. Then the Christmas episode looked promising with the Doctor being suitably depressed, but yet something was off about that too. Now it seems like he’s snapped to an obsession with figuring out Clara… And a self-sacrificing streak even larger than normal (two episodes in a row is a little much or wonderfully telling about the Doctor’s current mental state).
    I seriously want to love everything, but I don’t and I’m not sure why.
    My best guess at the moment is that the recent episodes have been strangely removed-ish from the characters. In a way, if you know what I mean. Maybe because Doctor and Clara aren’t exactly close yet so they haven’t exactly been talking about everything. Or something.
    Or, really, my big question is What happened to River!? Is she dead now, in the computer thing? Or are they avoiding each other, or what? I’d like a small explanation please!

  16. I am old enough to remember Peter Davison as the 5th Doctor and all the incarnations since, but yet still young enough to enjoy the series since it’s successful revival. I loved Christopher Eccleston’s portrayal and I think some fans occasionally forget how brilliant he was because of the successful/popular portrayal by David Tenant. Since the series came back, I love the little nods to the show’s past (show the picture of the 1st Doctor on a library card for instance). And there have been some fantastic episodes that are equally funny and scary, spacey-wacey and timey-wimey, engaging because they have been so well written, acted and directed. Which brings me to the current state of the show since Steven Moffat took over.

    I first want to say that I do not have anything against Matt Smith. I think, on his day, with the right story, he can be a brilliant doctor (see my favourite episodes of his “The Doctor’s Wife” and “A Good Man goes to War”). Since part way through last season and for most of this season, i have had an unsettling feeling in my stomach that we may be approaching the end of the current Doctor Who franchise, as the show doesn’t seem to be fun or have any logical direction anymore. We’re talking about a show featuring a 1000+ yr old alien with a time-travelling spaceship who spends the majority of his time on Earth! As soon as he encounters something strange he pulls out the sonic screwdriver! We had an interesting, intriguing and complex character like River Song and turned her (unfortunately in my opinion) into one of the most annoying characters ever (which has nothing to do with Alex Kingston, as I’ve long been a fan of her and admire her talent). I understand that Moffat is a fan of taking an everyday item or situation and trying to find scary. There is nothing wrong with that. But this is a show about time AND space. The previous episode featured a plethora of alien species on an asteroid, conjuring up images of classic Star Wars as well as sequences filmed by Guillermo del Toro. I just hope they haven’t used up all the alien creature make-up in that one episode.

    This last episode was obviously an attempt to do a Doctor Who version of the Hunt for the Red October with some of the original Alien movie thrown in for good measure, but failed to produce any genuine suspense or impending doom scenario. Even the fact that we were on a Russian submarine missed a golden comic opportunity (As the Doctor and Clara hear David Warner singing Ultravox, the wrongly assume they are on a US submarine, especially as the Tardis is translating the Russian for them).

    For fans of the series, it will undoubtedly be great to see the return of the Ice Warriors. I think it would have been better to have parts of the submarine in darkness if they truly wanted it to be scary when it had left it’s armour behind.

    As for the season as a whole why give us the ending first (who is clara?) and then work towards it? All this does, is re-use the “who is river song” plot in a slightly different way. So far I like Clara, although, after this many episodes, sure;y we should know more about her personality by now (or maybe that’s just me).

    In conclusion, I think Moffat needs to stop trying to be so clever and go back to what made the show so popular: successful combination of interesting characters that we care about, scares, humour, running, less sonic screwdriver, more alien worlds and situations. And stop over-using certain characters and villains (ie weeping angels, daleks, cybermen, river song etc). Remember: less is more.

    Okay, screenrant over. time for a coffee

  17. This is one of the things that bugged me the most:

    Why is it that when American characters appear on the show they speak with their respective accents, but this episode featured a bunch of Russians speaking the queen’s English?

    Why would the TARDIS translation matrix make them sound the way they did?