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rare female film critic | by maryann johanson

‘Doctor Who’ blogging: “Cold Blood”

(all spoilers! don’t read till you’ve seen the episode! and no comments from party poopers — this is a love fest only / previous: “The Hungry Earth”)
Oh my god.

Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god.

No.

“Nobody dies today,” the Doctor had promised in the last episode. (And it suddenly struck me how sad the Doctor’s life must be if it’s a good day when nobody dies.) But he wasn’t thinking about the crack in the universe.

I was really starting to like Rory. I still didn’t see much chemistry between him and Amy, but here, he suddenly sharpened into a person I cared about. Part of that is because of the intriguing gender dynamics at work in this episode: All the women are aggressive and violent and take-charge — from Restac and Alaya who despise “apes” to Amy rescuing Mo and leading him away even from saving his son (though with the right justification) to Ambrose tasering Alaya, and killing her, however unintentionally, with such malice pointlessness. All the men are conciliatory and helpful and calming, from Malohkeh, who turns out not to be a mad scientist after all, to the Silurian religious leader to Rory-the-nurse’s nurturing and tending to Tony and Alaya. And the Doctor, too, of course. (And yet none of that flipping of expectations is blatant or antagonistic, and none of it seems unreasonable or implausible: it’s just about these people — people, not “men” or “women” — being themselves.)

So Rory got to really be himself here, got to do what he does best. And even the mysterious things about him — why is he suddenly willing to lay down his life for the Doctor? had he done or said something special or extraordinary for the Doctor (in the previous episode) to plead with Rory to be on his side? — made him more complicated in an interesting way, like there were further sides to him that we hadn’t seen before.

And now he’s gone, erased from the universe forever. Amy has clearly forgotten him, no matter how much she didn’t want to. But has the Doctor? Was that why the ring was left on the console, so the Doctor would see it just at the right moment in order to remember him?

(And also, of course, so Amy wouldn’t later go, “Hey, why am I wearing an engagement ring when I’ve never been engaged to anyone ever?”)

We can’t tell, at this moment:

whether the Doctor is remembering Rory and is wondering if Amy does too, or if the Doctor is just worried for Amy because Amy looks worried.

Except she doesn’t really look worried.

Maybe it really was Amy and Rory on the hill in the beginning of the previous episode, so that it could be demonstrated here that things actually can change very dramatically. (Oh, poor Rory: “We were on the hill. I can’t die here.” Clearly, he can.)

I’m sticking with this theory for the moment: The Doctor is suffering a regeneration crisis (“Everybody knows except me”), and this is all in his head, à la Sam Tyler (he’s either mad, in a coma, or back in time, except it’s one of the first two), and the crack in the universe is actually his own sane self trying to break through. And so this moment:

may prove to be the moment when he first started to acknowledge, however subconsciously, that he does need to reach through and back to the other side of sanity. Because I cannot believe that, in real reality, the TARDIS could be destroyed:

though I can believe that the idea of the TARDIS destroyed could be a metaphor for the Doctor being not quite right in the head.

Whatever it all turns out to mean, I do think that Rory’s erasure is only a taste of the Bad Stuff to come.

There must be some significance to the Silurian religious leader narrating this episode from a thousand years in the future. We’ve already learned this season, in “The Beast Below,” that in the 29th century, humans abandoned Earth because of solar flares. So does that mean that the Silurians will wake up to an empty planet? Or will they wake up in another timeline where humans didn’t leave the planet? The Doctor says, after all, that this is “a temporal tipping point — whatever happens today will change future events, create its own timeline, its own reality.” So does this not fit within an already established timeline? How much can the timelines change… or is this yet another indication of the Doctor’s fractured thinking? Is there any significance to the fact that the Daleks of “Victory of the Daleks” also used gravity bubble technology, just as the Silurians do here?

Oh, okay, and then there’s this: The Silurian religious leader talks about the Doctor and “the terrible losses he suffered” and “the greater losses that were still to come.” How does he know about this stuff? Could this imply — given the theory that this is all in the Doctor’s head — that the Doctor is narrating this for himself, and is starting to become aware that he’s going to have to wake up and “lose” the continuity he’s been dreaming about?

I’d like to believe, on the other hand, that this is real, and that poor sweet young Elliot, after learning of his mother’s terrible mistake in killing Alaya, takes to heart the Doctor’s admonition:

A thousand years to sort the planet out, to be ready. Pass it on as legend or prophecy or religion, somehow make it known: This planet is to be shared…

That would be nice. It would be nice if Elliot turned out to be some sort of Ghandi or Dalai Lama or Galileo or Darwin for the 21st century, someone with something significant to say who actually got heard. If he could be “the best of humanity.”

And what about Tony (and Nasreen)? Why isn’t Tony dead? What is he mutating into? And what will he be a thousand years from now?

Random thoughts on “Cold Blood”:

• Okay, so the Doctor is not being tortured here:

He’s just being decontaminated. Yet Malohkeh and Restac don’t seem to be too concerned that he’s screaming, or even wonder why he’s screaming, if it’s not supposed to hurt. What’s that about?

In my theory about how this entire season — since meeting Amy, perhaps even since his regeneration — being a dream or a nightmare, this could be all about the Doctor’s expectations of what being strapped into a mad-science examination scanner thingie is all about.

Or else it’s nothing. Maybe the scan/decon does hurt him because he’s not human.

But wait. What does this mean?

Remove all human germs, you remove all the things keeping me alive.

Human germs are keeping the Doctor alive? WTF? Or does he just mean that he’s been hanging around Earth and humans so long that he’s developed immunities to human diseases that would otherwise overtake his Gallifreyan biology and that it would inconvenient and embarrassing if Amy were to sneeze and kill the Doctor should all his human germs be removed?

• Ooo, look! The Silurians don’t only have a Boy, Human, in cold storage:

They’ve also got a mammoth in the compartment to the boy’s right and what looks like some kind of dog to his left. And I bet they’ve got lots of other neato creatures, too. A dodo, perhaps? Maybe even a T. rex?

• Great quotes:

“Not got any celery, have you?” –the Doctor, hoping for its restorative properties to perk him up after not being tortured

“Probably worth mentioning at this stage: Amy and I travel in time a bit.” –the Doctor

“Malohkeh, I rather love you.” –the Doctor

“Where are we?” –Elliot
“Well, I gotta be honest with you, son: We’re in the center of the Earth, and there are lizard men.” –Mo
“Wow.” –Elliot
“Hi.” –Malohkeh

“An eye for an eye: it’s never the way.” –the Doctor

(next: Episode 10: “Vincent and the Doctor”)


MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

official site | IMDb

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