So the Doctor made a final plea: Stop now, or I blow us all to smithereens. He held up his Sonic Screwdriver and promised to explode the submarine. "Mutually Assured Destruction," Skaldak said, cackling a little in his alien tongue. He took off his mask, revealing a not-unattractive lizard head. (The Ice Warrior's face looked a little bit to me like a more groomed version of the Locust from Gears of War.) "Which of us shall blink first?"
It was a nifty reimagination of Cold War détente -- interrupted by the sudden arrival of a Martian ship, which kindly tractor-beamed the submarine up to the surface and then teleported Skaldak away from the submarine. There were a tense few moments: Skaldak was still locked into the submarine's controls. For luck, Clara sang "Hungry Like the Wolf." Duran Duran won the day: The missile bays closed, and the Martian ship left.
The world was saved. But whither the TARDIS? The Doctor explained that he'd been tinkering with the old Hostile Action Displacement System (HADS), a security system which always seems to activate at the worst possible time. He had a reading, though. It was at the Pole. Unfortunately, it was at the South Pole. "Can we have a lift?" he asked Captain Seaworth, who laughed and laughed and hopefully said yes.
I dug "Cold War" quite a bit, even if the ending felt a bit rushed. (I'm skeptical of any climax that depends on the sudden appearance of an alien spaceship.) I liked what we saw of the Ice Warriors through Skaldak: They're a warrior culture, with a genuine (if twisted) moral code that sets them apart from the Cybermen and the Daleks. (They share a voice, though: Nicholas Briggs, who has provided the vocals for the Daleks and Cybermen ever since 2005, essayed the Voice of Skaldak in tonight's episode.)
It'll be intriguing to see if they pop up again, especially since Mark Gatiss, who wrote "Cold War," is an espoused fan of the Martian race. Could the events of this episode have a long-term impact on Ice Warrior culture? If Skaldak has learned a lesson in mercy from the Doctor, will that make him a better soldier? Or would his fellow Ice Warriors consider him weak? Are there any Ice Pacifists?
But let's save that for the future. What did you think of the episode, fellow Who viewers? Were you sad the cast didn't join together in a Duran Duran dance party? Were you wishing that one of the actors would attempt a bad Russian accent, a la Sean Connery in Red October? Also, feel free to unleash any and all ambient Clara theories, unless your theory is "She was Gorbachev all along!" Actually, that theory might work, too.
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