Cold Blood

Okay. Bringing things to order. The first meeting of representatives of the human race and homo reptilia. Ha! Never said that before. That’s fab!

The Eleventh Doctor

Synopsis

As the Silurians wake up under the Earth’s surface, the Doctor must attempt to broker a peace between the Silurians and the human race, whilst the humans on the surface attempt to keep their Silurian captive alive.

Review

Despite my praise (and surprise) at enjoying The Hungry Earth, the concluding part is where it largely falls apart. Whilst I could largely overlook the similarities to (Doctor Who and) The Silurians in the first part, the tribute tips over into derivation more here. There are some good things, with strong performances from the central trio and a decent ending, but this episode feels like instead of building on the previous episode’s cliffhanger, it flounders and drags, perhaps because nostalgia for the Jon Pertwee story can only carry you so far.

I do feel that this story suffers from the fact that it doesn’t feel like anything drastically important happens until the closing couple of minutes. This might be down to the fact that there’s not very much that can be done with the Silurians apart from negotiate about how best to share the planet. In fact, rather than having a looming sense of threat from the Silurians, this instead comes from the humans who are threatening to reactivate their drill to destroy the homo reptilia colony. Unlike some other great late series two-parters that we have had in the revived series so far, this neither escalates majorly nor goes off in a seemingly different direction. In this story, it takes around 28 minutes for Restac to do the inevitable and awaken the Silurian army. As a result, the conclusion of the main plot feels inconsequential as the Doctor and Eldane are forced to conclude that humanity are not ready to share the planet and the Silurians are put back to sleep for a further thousand years.

There’s also some pretty poor characterisation going on here. Malohkeh is revealed to be a human loving scientist, which seems at odds to his behaviour in The Hungry Earth, where he is seen to have already dissected Mo and seems perfectly happy to dissect Amy in the set-up for the cliffhanger. Equally, the whole family dynamic seems a little bit suspect and it is difficult to feel too much for Ambrose considering her actions in this story. She is absolutely right to be concerned for her son and her father when she discovers that Alaya’s sting has poisoned him, and Alaya plays on those concerns in the confrontation scene which results in her death. However, she is not a terribly likeable person and it doesn’t really follow that she would potentially put her son and husband Mo into more danger when she tasers the Silurian. We also don’t really get to know the family terribly well, despite spending an hour and a half in their company, so it is difficult to be too concerned about their ultimate fate. The only bright sparks here are Meera Syal’s Nasreen and Neve McIntosh as Restac, who is essentially a continuation of Alaya. Nasreen though feels sadly underused, although she does provide some grounding to Amy’s more outlandish suggestions about how the planet could be shared in the negotiations with Eldane, pointing out how impossible it would be to sell this to the human race. Meanwhile McIntosh is great when she is seething with anger, and the scene where she discovers Alaya’s dead body is superbly acted and directed by Ashley Way.

The core cast here are good, and it is another strong performance from Arthur Darvill as Rory. Especially in his scenes on the surface, it is difficult not to feel a bit sorry for Rory being stuck with people like Ambrose and Tony and it is interesting to note that he tells them that he trusts the Doctor. It feels as though there are some missing adventures here (hi Big Finish!) where the Doctor and Rory start to warm to each other here. Matt Smith is good here too, and his reaction when he realises that Alaya is dead and that any hope of a deal between the Silurians and humans is pretty much doomed is well played. It is interesting watching this story relatively closely with Kill the Moon to compare the way the Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors deal with these malleable points of time. Ultimately Smith’s Doctor is doing the same kind of thing as Capaldi’s in trying to ensure that humans make the decisions for the future. The Twelfth Doctor, however, is much gruffer and hands-off than his immediate predecessor, with Smith’s Doctor feeling as though he is gently guiding them, rather than the seeming abandonment in Series 8. Rory’s death in this story wasn’t completely unexpected when I was watching in 2010 but the ending scenes still pack an outstanding emotional punch thanks to some great acting by Smith and Karen Gillan, and the ultimate heartbreak when we realise that Amy has forgotten Rory is a fantastic gutpunch. It just feels as though this comes from a much stronger episode, and clearly has Moffat’s fingerprints all over it, rather than coming from Chris Chibnall.

I promise you, Ambrose, I trust the Doctor with my life. We stick to his plan.

Rory Williams

Verdict: Sadly, Cold Blood doesn’t really build to anything and feels like a bit of a damp squib. There are some good performances in here and a powerful ending does redeem it a bit, though. 4/10

Cast: Matt Smith (The Doctor), Karen Gillan (Amy Pond), Arthur Darvill (Rory Williams), Neve McIntosh (Alaya/Restac), Meera Syal (Nasreen Chaudry), Robert Pugh (Tony Mack), Nia Roberts (Ambrose), Richard Hope (Malohkeh), Stephen Moore (Eldane), Alun Raglan (Mo) & Samuel Davies (Elliot).

Writer: Chris Chibnall

Director: Ashley Way

Behind the Scenes

  • Chris Chibnall wanted the second part to focus on people making mistakes whilst under massive pressure and the accidental conflict coming from attempts to protect family. Steven Moffat believed the theme of mistakes to be appropriate for the death and subsequent erasure of Rory as the Doctor ultimately causes it when he stops to look at the Crack.
  • The story was filmed in the Temple of Peace in Cardiff, which had previously been used in The End of the World, Gridlock and Fires of Pompeii and would go on to be used again in Let’s Kill Hitler and Nightmare in Silver.

Best Moment

It has to be the final moments, where Rory is killed and erased from history completely.

Best Quote

Amy Pond and Nasreen Chaudhry, speaking for the planet. Humanity couldn’t have better ambassadors. C’mon! Who has more fun than us?

Is this what happens in the future, the planet gets shared? Is that what we need to do?

Uh, what are you talking about?

Oh, Nasreen, sorry. Probably worth mentioning at this stage, Amy and I travel in time.

Anything else?

There are fixed points in time where things must always stay the way they are. This is not one of them. This is an opportunity. A temporal tipping point. Whatever happens today will change future events – create its own timeline, its own reality. The future pivots around you. Here. Now. So do good. For humanity. And for Earth.

The Eleventh Doctor, Amy Pond and Nasreen Chaudhry

Previous Eleventh Doctor review: The Hungry Earth

Further reading

Doctor Who and the Silurians

Kill the Moon