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The Delayed Rise of the Silurians and the Devastation Still to Come

May 31, 2010

Last week’s episode of Doctor Who – The Hungry Earth – was the first of a 2-parter that concluded this week with Cold Blood. Having watching both episodes back to back I’ve realised that I’m pretty emotionally involved with the show. This isn’t new for me, I tend to get quite mentally involved with whatever I’m watching or reading (that’s the sign of a good story after all), but I think that when this happens with TV shows, particularly Doctor Who, I’ll end up feeling pretty put-out if an episode ends without being fully resolved. I not talking about cliff-hangers here, good cliff-hangers excite me and are often followed by a week of fervent anticipation and wild speculation. But Cold Blood didn’t end on a cliff hanger. Yes, there were plenty of unanswered questions when the credits rolled, and yes, I’m looking forward to seeing what the Cracks turn out to be (and I’ve got some of my own theories about that), but it wasn’t a cliff-hanger. Instead it was just an ending, and one that made no promises. I want to know what’s going to happen about Rory, I want to know what the Doctor’s thoughts on the Cracks are, and I want to know what’s going to happen at the end of the series now that there can’t be a wedding. On the other hand, I don’t really care about seeing the Doctor and Amy running around with Van Gogh, and at this point I’m looking forward to the end of the series more than I am to next week’s episode.

Where broad series plot-arcs are interspersed with single episode story-lines like this the result can feel disjointed and unsatisfactory, and especially so where an episode ends leaving so many unanswered questions and so few promises. I suppose all we can do now is wait for the answers and hope to be entertained in the meantime. Or we can analyse the hell out of what we’ve seen so far, whichever you fancy.

Despite the unresolvedness of the end of Cold Blood, on the whole it wasn’t a bad 2-parter at all. It did lack some of the slickness we’ve seen in other episodes but it played out the emotional themes well, especially around the Welsh family and their emotional ties. Ambrose in particular presented quite a conundrum. How many of you who have children can honestly say you wouldn’t have considered doing what Ambrose did? In fact I don’t think she even meant for the taser to kill Alayah, I certainly didn’t expect it to. The Doctor telling her off and all of the “be the best that you can be” talk did stink a little of Overt Morality, but not so much so that it was over the top or grating, and it tied in well with the final sort-your-planet-out message at the end.

The dialogue was good again too, but I did notice that although there were a lot of good one-liners they weren’t quite as slick as they have been elsewhere, particularly with Amy. Through most of the episode she seemed to swing wildly between overly confident in herself, like when she’s pointing the gun at Restak, and wide-eyed ‘oh dear it’s gone wrong’, like when Restak takes the gun off her seconds later. I know some people have found Amy a little more difficult to get used to than some of the other companions, especially when her attitude swings so noticeably like it did here, but in the scenes when she has to show real emotion she absolutely nails it. When Rory got shot at the end and the Doctor had to drag Amy away from him her tears were heart-wrenching. The only issue I had with this scene is that this death came pretty swiftly after Rory’s ‘death’ in Amy’s Choice, potentially another instance where mixing plot-arcs into stand-alone stories led to a bit of a disjointed feel. I was half expecting Amy here to say something like “No, I can’t lose him again!”

As regards Rory’s death, as this wasn’t resolved here and there are only a few episodes to go I think we can safely assume that it’s going to be a significant plot point in the series finale. It also tied in fairly well with some of the themes we’ve seen develop throughout the series so far, specifically the Cracks and the fact that people are forgetting things, like Amy having forgotten the Dalek invasion from the end of Series 4 (The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End). Something strange is definitely going on with the Cracks, particularly as the Doctor points out that everyone he meets seems to know where they came from apart from him. The producers aren’t shy of throwing us hints about the Cracks either, for instance the fact that the explosion that caused them happened on Amy’s wedding day, and the piece of the TARDIS that the Doctor pulled out of one crack, which hints at something devastating happening to him on that day. The interesting thing to remember now is that with Rory gone there can’t be a wedding day, or at least there can’t without the Doctor doing something drastic to bring Rory back. Something drastic which causes an explosion which destroys the TARDIS maybe? That seems pretty devastating.

The difficulty for hypothesizers like me is that there are so many interesting hints here that it’s nigh on impossible to tell which ones are red-herrings and which could lead to something significant. At this point I’m hoping for something unexpected and properly shocking, and hopefully that isn’t a deux ex machina explanation. Considering who’s in charge of the writing I feel safe enough assuming that that won’t happen. All we have to do now is wait.

Best bits:

  • Did you just shush me!?
  • I liked a lot of the minor characters and thought they were well acted, particularly Elliot (I loved his accent!) and Nazine. I sense that the young actor who played Elliot is one to watch. The only niggle I had about the minor characters was that they accepted what was going on a bit too readily and without asking that many questions, but I suppose we’re supposed to assume they do in the bits that we don’t see between the scenes.
  • The Silurian make-up was excellent, some of the best special effects I’ve seen on a TV show in a long time.
  • The Doctor and Rory working together to trap Alayah was a good scene, especially the attempted high-five. They seemed to be gelling a lot more here, and I particularly liked it when Rory told Ambrose that he trusted the Doctor with his life. It made Rory seem like much more of a proper companion than any of the boyfriends before have been. This, coupled with the fact that Rory died because he was saving the Doctor, makes me think that the Doctor isn’t just going to let his death pass that easily.
  • The interrogation scene was good. “Do we have to say vermin, they’re really very nice.
  • What will you sacrifice for yours?” And the look on the Doctor’s face as he turns away.
  • I liked how the Doctor told the humans to spread the word “as legend or prophecy or religion“.
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