After leaving Amy about to be dissected and the Doctor and Nasreen confronted by a Silurian City, Cold Blood ramps up the pressure on the Doctor with that same age old problem both the Third and Fifth have tackled with. Can Silurians and Humans share the Earth? And can the Doctor broker the deal? In the meantime Alaya’s sister, Restac, head of the military, has other ideas, and plans to wipe out the “apes” as vermin, and reclaim Earth for the Homo Reptilia. But, like all good Silurian stories, the heirarchy are in two minds, and want peace. But will the humans or the Silurians cause a war?
As an anti-Waters of Mars story when Time can be changed, this works wonderfully, and allows the narrative the conceit that perhaps, by the end, things will be different from the future we know. The Doctor seems to think so, and engages fabulously with Silurian leader Eldane and scientist Malohkek to try and create that new future.
What’s so great about this story is that it is the absolute distillation of everything both the Doctor and the series are about. Never judge a book by its cover, protect the underdog and always look for peace are the driving forces in the very bones of everything Doctor Who is, and this story taps into them, with surprise motives, villains and situations. No one is evil in this story, there’s no machiavellian motive for world domination and everyone has deep, real and definite motives for their actions. My critique of The Hungry Earth is now mostly negated, because as a prelude to this it works very well.
The cast from episode one are joined now by Richard Hope and Stephen Moore who create realistic, honest and earnest Silurians modelled on ones we’ve seen in the past and Neve McIntosh is fantastic in her duel role as the warmongering Alaya and Restac. And we get lots and lots and lots of Silurians this time! There’s even a nod to the old Sea Devil guns.
The human side don’t let us down either with textured and layered performances by all the guest stars with some surprising decisions by at least three of them too.
Ashley Way again directs an episode packed with action and suspense. A straightforward director, it works well in this instance. What will really impress you though is the set design and the Mill’s execution of the CGI aspects. The Silurian City is probably the most beautiful set ever seen in the series, from its root-roofed corridors to its Star Trekian main chamber it is realistically beautiful and grand and just this side of “alien”.
A lot was made of the lack of similarities in the make up for the new Silurians, and I still say they could have had another eye, but the acting really shines through in this new strain, and their motives and attitudes are absolutely Silurian, meaning that, despite the change in appearance, these creatures are totally recognisable as the Silurian Race of the past. It was jarring, but now can be seen as the gorgeous make up job it is.
The main cast again are superb, with Amy being independent and capable – up to a point – and Rory being brave but ultimately not as resourceful.
Matt, and I keep saying this, is so the Doctor it hurts. His desperation for the peace to be brokered is tangible and echoes Jon Pertwee perfectly. His delight at the apparent beginning of the “talks” is infectious. His problem solving again comes into the fore as, again, it’s all about how the Doctor saving the day. I worried about this at the start of the season, but it seems since Amy was almost lost to the Angels she’s not as cocky as before.
The last seven minutes of the story are given up to the series arc, when the Doctor pulls something jaw droppingly surprising out of the Crooked Smile, and the final scenes with the Doctor and his companions in the TARDIS are heartbreaking. That’s all I’m saying about that.
Cold Blood apes a lot of old episodes just like The Hungry Earth did. There’s echoes of Draconia, and celery, and of course Doctor Who and the Silurians, but, cleverly, not Warriors of the Deep, which in Earth Reptile timelines hasn’t happened yet, and the Doctor explains the Silurians with reference to the previous adventure. There’s also an echo of Remembrance of the Daleks, or maybe that’s just me. It’s a theme now that with the advent of Earth Reptiles the worst of humanity appears in the best of it. And these motives are layered, and clever and poignant.
This episode is as good as anything the series has produced so far, and resonates the emotional content missing from a lot of it, but so part of the RTD era. It is fantastic.
Squeaky bum time, in fact.