Post Game TV Recap: DOCTOR WHO S5E9 "Cold Blood"

Expecting a tribe of a dozen or so Silurians, The Doctor and his new friend Nasreen come across an entire city miles beneath the Earth.  With several humans in enemy hands, including Amy Pond, The Doctor's going to have a hell of a time keeping everyone alive in this adventure.  Spoilers are red hot down this deep, so watch where you step and follow along...


by Chris Chibnall

Directed by Ashley Way

A deep voice talks of a period a thousand years in the past, a time when The Doctor helped bring two great races together, but at a great cost.

Nasreen and The Doctor head into the massive city they discovered last week, opting for what he calls the "Front Door Approach".  When the intruder alarms go off, he hastily mentions the occasional virtues of the Back Door Approach.  Although he assures the oncoming Silurian guards that they are not hostile, they are quickly gassed, incapacitated and captured.

Amy is being examined by a Silurian scientist, commenting on her skimpier clothing, surmising the female is more proof of the cold ("I dressed for RIO!").  He is about to begin vivisection on her when an announcement calls him away to examine the new prisoners.  The scientist leaves quickly, and Amy, having picked his pocket of the electronic keys as he moved in to examine her, free herself and the drill engineer Mo.  Exploring the complex, they come across Mo's son Elliot, safe but in suspension.  Unable to free him, they head off to force the lizard people to help.

On the surface, Rory is trying to console Elliot's mother Ambrose.  She's angry at Rory for lying about being a policeman, angry at the Silurians for taking her son, and angry at the Doctor for not being back yet.  Rory assures her that as long as they keep the Silurian prisoner alive, they'll be able to exchange her for her family.  She remains quiet, but unconvinced.  Her father Tony tries to get help for the poison sting, but Aleya callously refuses his request, turning her back on him.

The Doctor has been put in the decontamination chamber that the humans were being processed through, and is clearly in great pain.  He tries to explain that the settings to kill microbes dangerous to humans are killing organisms vital to his alien body.  The scientist, Malokeh, turns the process off just in time.  It's explained that the human "weapon" (the drill) was threatening the oxygen pockets feeding the city - the military was activated to combat the threat.  Restak, head of the military and genetic sister to Aleya, demands to know where the rest of the invaders are.  The Doctor explains that they're here to arrange for the trade of the human hostages for Aleya.  Restak makes a counter-offer; she will execute the Doctor as a show of force to the surface dwellers.

Amy and Mo come across a small number of sleeping military Silurians and quickly appropriate their weapons.  Down the hall, they come across an entire sleeping army, and realize that they desperately need to make their way back to The Doctor.  He, meanwhile, is explaining to Nasreen exactly who the Silurians are, briefly summarizing the details of his first battle with them.  Restak is quite keen to know what happened to this other tribe, and is disgusted to learn that the Humans killed them all.  This only steels her resolve to eliminate the "apes".

Tony is getting worse as the venom affects him.  Ambrose finally discovers the seriousness of the sting, and storms off to demand help from Aleya.  She refuses, and Ambrose pulls out a taser, threatening to use it on the Silurian if she does not cooperate.  She does not, and Ambrose starts to use it on her. Aleya claims she knew it would be Ambrose who would attack her, describing her as "the one with the most to lose, and the weakest".  Alas, it has a far more serious effect on her physiology; even as Rory tries to help, Aleya dies of the shock, 

The Doctor is brought into the courtroom of the Silurians, where he will be executed.  But Amy and Mo have caught up with them, and brandishing their weapons, demand The Doctor and Nasreen's release.  Restak isn't even fazed - she walks up to Amy and snatches the gun from her hand, throwing her to the ground.  Mo is disarmed a moment later.  Now that force has been used, Restak declares the event a military tribunal, and tells Malokeh that the science branch is no longer involved.  He leaves grudgingly.  The Silurians contact the surface, showing the human prisoners, demanding Aleya's release or the prisoners will be killed.  Ambrose refuses, demanding her family back.  Restak refuses and calls for Amy to be executed.  Before the order can be carried out, Malokeh returns with help - Eldane, leader of the Silurians, who he has awoken to deal with the crisis.  He quickly calls for the prisoners to be unchained and commands Restak to stand down. 

The folks up above are panicking over what's going on, only for The Doctor to contact them to let them know all is well...and to get ready to bring down Aleya.  They don't tell him what's happened - they decide to bring her down and try to explain.

The Doctor sets up a hasty summit meeting to discuss the rights to the planet Earth.  Eldane speaks for the Silurians, and Nasreen and Amy for humanity.  The Doctor explains that there are what he calls "Fixed points" in time, where the events must occur as they have always done, or the entire timeline will unravel.  This moment is not one of them - they might literally be able to rewrite the future of Earth history based on how they get this crisis to end.  So he asks both parties to think carefully about what they're doing...and negotiate.

Before they head down to the Silurian city, Ambrose asks Tony to do something, claiming that with their only bargaining chip dead, they need a backup plan, to save their family. He agrees, and sets the computers to do...something before they leave.  Below, Malokeh awakens Elliot and reunites him with Mo.  Malokeh has been studying the humans for many years, and has come to realize they are as strong a people as his own, something the Doctor admires in him. 

The negotiations are tense but progressing.  The tentative plan is to cede parts of the planet uninhabitable to humans, like deserts, in exchange for access to Silurian technology, far in advance of Humanity's.  Alas, when Rory and the rest of the team arrive from the surface, bringing Aleya's body, things turn sour quickly.  The Doctor soundly chastises Ambrose, reminding her that when she talks about this moment in the future, to remind everyone that she alone caused it to fail.  Restak, meanwhile, has awakened more of her soldiers, and seeing Aleya dead, connands them to attack.  The Doctor tries to salvage the situation, but Ambrose tells them that they've set the drill to start up again in fifteen minutes, which will presumably destroy their Silurian city.  She attacks, and The Doctor and the humans retreat to the lab.  Holed up in the lab, The Doctor looks for a solution.  Examining Tony's sting, he realizes he's not being poisoned, he's being mutated, though into what he can't tell.  He believes the decontamination program might reverse the process, but with the military advancing and them needing to stop the drill and escape, there may not be time to run it.  Eldane offers a serious solution - he can fumigate the city with a toxic gas, a system intended to keep the sleeping complex free of infestation.  An alarm will signal any awake Silurians to return to the cryo-chambers - presumably the military will obey and return to sleep.  He realizes the planet is not ready for the Silurians' return, but The Doctor thinks perhaps it's time it gets ready.  He sets their computers to awaken them in 1,000 years, and tells the humans assembled to get the word out of what will occur a millennia hence.  Tony's decontamination program hasn't started - he says they should go on.  They all start heading to the TARDIS, but Nasreen decides to stay with Tony.  Having only just realized they love each other, she's loath to lose him.  They'll both be placed in sleep with the Silurians and will awaken when they do.  As The Doctor leaves, Nasreen asks that he look them up in the future.

They all start to pile into the TARDIS, but the Doctor realizes that directly behind them, on the wall of the a Crack. And it's getting bigger.  With time ticking down, The Doctor is tantalized.  All the aliens and people he's met recently - the Weeping Angels, Prisoner Zero, all of them knew about the Cracks, and claimed they were connected to him.  He posits that some sort of explosion has cause the Cracks, and where there's an explosion, there's shrapnel.  He walks up to the Crack, and sticks his arm in.  grasping in the aw of raw time, he feels something and pulls it out, covered in a (apparently very hardy indeed) handkerchief. 

Before he has a chance to examine it, Restak crawls her way into the room, injured and clearly affected by the gas.  She aims and fires at The Doctor, but Rory pushes him out of the way, and takes the blast himself.  With only a moment or two to say good-bye, he dies in Amy's arms.  There's no time to mourn; the Crack is growing active, and its energy is starting to envelop Rory.  The Doctor drags Amy away into the TARDIS.  As Rory begins to vanish, The Doctor begs Amy to relax and remember Rory.  Even though her time-traveling made it possible to remember the soldiers under the Byzantium (during the adventure Time of the Angels/Flesh and Stone) Rory is part of her personal time line, which means she is personally being affected by his erasure from time.  She must concentrate to keep him in her mind; she tries ever so hard, but a lurch from the TARDIS as it escapes from the Silurian city topples them both to the floor.  And that is enough to allow all of his existence to slip from her mind.  All that's left are The Doctor's memories of him...and the engagement ring he returned to the TARDIS earlier that day, which The Doctor hides quickly.

The TARDIS lands back on the surface and Ambrose and her family are dropped off.  Ambrose is shattered - she knows The Doctor could have let them shoot her, and he still saved her.  He explains that "An eye for an eye" never works, and now she has a chance to show her son how wrong she was.  "You make him the best of the way you couldn't be".  Heading back to the TARDIS, Amy looks across the field and sees, herself, alone, no Rory...just as she remembers seeing at the start of the adventure.  She enters the ship first, and he pulls out the mysterious bit of flotsam he pulled from the crack.  It is obviously a piece of the TARDIS, broken and scorched.  With The Doctor standing confused, we hear the voice of Eldane from 1,000 years hence, remembering The Doctor, and mourning the losses he suffered...and the losses yet to come.

Once again, tremendous performances all around.  There's a lot of analogy in this episode - commentary on the moral failure of torture, as well as the eternal struggle between the military, scientist and diplomatic classes, a topic long discussed on Doctor Who.  Some have suggested a comparison to modern Palestine, or more generally any area where two peoples must share land.  Once again we see the Doctor talking about how great humans can be, and the abject disappointment he feels when they don't.  Like the Tennant episode Midnight, Ambrose represents the fear and knee-jerk violence that so often drags a tense situation into chaos.  And I'm sure many would have much to say that the spokesmen of the human race are two strong women.

The relationship between Amy and Rory seems to end here, but let's be honest, this is Doctor Who; nothing is guaranteed to be what it seems.  We saw Rory make a big jump in character over his short series of episodes;  he starts off mistrusting The Doctor and at the end sacrifices himself to save him.  He remains a terribly insecure character to the end - his last words are "I'm sorry".  Amy realizes at the end of Amy's Choice that she couldn't bear to live in a world without him...and now she lives in a world where he never was, and she doesn't even realize it.  Her last words to him before the gunshot, were "Other way, idiot!" - not exactly the last things you want to say to your love. 


Stephen Moore (Eldane) is best known to Sci-Fi fans as the voice of Marvin the Paranoid Android in the classic radio and TV versions of The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy.  He's performed on a couple of the Big Finish radio adventures as well.  Among many other roles, he played Adrian Mole's father in the TV Series based on the Secret Diary of Adrian Mole books.

Neve McIntosh (Aleya / Restac) does a great job of playing two sisters in this episode. she played another famous sister in fantasy - she was Lady Fuchsia, sister to Titus Earl of the titular manor in the 2000 miniseries Gormenghast.

BACKGROUND BITS AND BOBS - Trivia and production details

A ROOM AND A ROOM AND A TARDIS AND A ROOM - The council chamber has gotten a lot of use in the new DW series.  In past episodes, it's served as the Platform One meeting room from End of the World, The Senate Building in Gridlock, and the Sybilline temple in The Fires of Pompeii.  It also saw use as the art museum in the Sarah Jane Adventures story Mona Lisa's Revenge.

A DEATH WORSE THAN FATE - Rory is not the first companion to die in the show, but it is rather rare.   Katarina, from ancient Troy, joined the crew in The Myth Makers and met her end only five episodes later as a casualty of The Dalek Master Plan.  That story also saw the appearance and death of Sara Kingdom (played by Jean Marsh), a character with  a brief history but a lot of background.  The story went that Katarina was not working as a character, and that Sara was created as a hasty replacement for her.  But that seems to be questionable, as she died in the same serial in which she was introduced.  The Beeb has ever denied the idea that she was created as a new companion, and indeed Jean Marsh has been quoted as saying that if she had been officered a continuing role she would have turned it down.  Dalek creator Terry Nation created Sara as a character which was supposed to appear as a continuing antagonist against the Daleks, not in Doctor Who, but in an American Dalek series that he was in negotiations to create.  Alas, it never got past the talking stage, although a pilot script exists.

Mathematical genius Adric met his end in the Cyberman adventure Earthshock, and expensive and logistically challenging android Kamelion was destroyed at his own request in Planet of Fire.  Peri Brown appears to have died in Mindwarp, but was revealed to be hale and hearty (and married) in a later episode, The Ultimate Foe.  K-9 Mark Three sacrificed himself in School Reunion, but was replaced almost immediately.  Several of the Doctor's guests on the TARDIS have met their end in recent adventures, though their status as "companions" is under debate.  Was Astrid Peth with The Doctor long enough to be considered a companion, for example? 

Not got any celery have you? - The Fifth Doctor wore celery on his lapel for reasons that were left unexplained until the episode The Caves of Androzani. The Doctor is allergic to gases in the praxis range, and when exposed to them, the celery would turn purple.  Should that occur, The Doctor would eat the celery, presumably providing proof against the gas for a period.  Odd food combinations seem to affect The Doctor in beneficial ways - ginger beer, walnuts and anchovies allow him to neutralize cyanide in The Unicorn and the Wasp.

"SUPER Squeaky Bum Time!" - This phrase is funny enough on its own, but it's  actually a reference to a somewhat recent popular news event in the UK.  In 2003, football teams Arsenal and Manchester United (Think "Hatfields and McCoys") were in the competition to win the league championship.   Manchester United's manager Sir Alex Ferguson used the phrase, describing the way one's seat makes squeaky noises as you twist nervously in moments of stress and worry.  He is quoted as saying, "It's squeaky bum time and we've (United) got the experience now to cope."

BIG BAD UPDATE -   At this point in the season, there's precious few clues about the climax, just big whopping chunks of events that power the narrative screaming to the end of the line, which is barreling at us at a ridiculous speed. 

"Doctor, you can't put your hand in there..." Why Not?" - Well, there's that whole thing about being erased from time itself if you do...  One can only presume that a complex temporal anomaly like, say, the last of the Time Lords is provided some small amount of protection from the Crack, long enough to stick one's hand into the gaping maw of the fire at the end of the universe without pulling back a nub.  Of course, since The Doctor makes a habit of saying that rules don't apply to him, this isn't a surprise.

The ring remaining behind when all evidence of Rory vanishes is a fascinating little tease.  I thought its close proximity to the TARDIS console might have protected it from the ravages of history, but we shall see.

NEXT TIME ON DOCTOR WHO - Starry Starry Night.  In an episode written by Richard Curtis, The Doctor meets Van Gogh , a man who paints what he sees.  Poor guy.

Heck of a season so far. What's to come?

Twitter activity