The Doctor, Bill and Nardole venture to Mars this week, for a Victorian era adventure that brings back the Ice Warriors, however I’m not sure they’re quite the villain in this one. After discovering “God Save the Queen” spelled out in rocks underneath an ice cap on Mars, our adventuring trio visit Mars in 1881, and are surprised to find a group of British soldiers living there. Bill falls through a hole, a bit further into the tunnels under the ice caps and The Doctor sends Nardole to the TARDIS for supplies to help fetch her out. The TARDIS has something else in mind however, and she whisks Nardole back to the University, leaving us with just The Doctor and Bill for most of this episode. The soldiers have somehow befriended an old Ice Warrior they’ve named Friday and they helped him to repair his ship and return to Mars. Friday has promised them golds and riches, waiting to be excavated but ripe for the taking.
It’s not long after their arrival that Bill and The Doctor end up acting more like mediators between the Brits and the Ice Warriors, and really I was on Team Ice Warrior. The soldiers end up uncovering the tomb of the Ice Empress, Iraxxa, and one of the soldiers awakens her, beginning what should be an all out blood bath. We’ve got blood-thirsty leaders on both sides of the coin and there for a moment it doesn’t seem like anyone will make it out alive. I loved the idea behind this adventure, overly British Victorian red-coats underground on the red planet, digging for treasure that will ultimately lead to their end. I’ve always loved the Ice Warriors as a foe, but their return in “Empress of Mars” this series could have been stronger.
The British soldiers are all so very stereo-typically British, they don’t really develop into supporting characters that the viewer can overly relate with. You’ve got Captain Catchlove who is quite the pompous jerk, and the Colonel Godsacre who makes grand gestures at the end but isn’t that notable before hand. So any time we do get some Ice Warrior on red coat battle, it doesn’t feel to have much of an impact as it should. They both were fun characters to watch, but were lacking in the overall story.
The Ice Warriors were fantastic though, you’ve got poor Friday, essentially a slave to these humans who are making themselves at home on his planet. Once the Empress is awakened though, we see them restored to full glory. Iraxxa on her own is enough to make me fear what they could accomplish if she were to awaken the entire army, though we only really deal with her and Friday in this episode, the threat of what they could easily become is evident immediately following her awakening. The episode ends up becoming nothing more than a skirmish between two armies rather than any sort of real battle, so I hope in the future we get to see the Ice Warriors in complete villain mode. HUGE Doctor Who throwback though at the end, Iraxxa ends the skirmish by accepting Colonel Godsacre’s pledge to her and the Ice Warrior empire, leaving most of the British Soliders able to return back to Earth. Mars is dead and the Ice Warriors cannot stay on the now inhabitable planet, The Doctor assures he can and will help them by contacting none other than frakking Alpha Centauri!! Yes I let out a squee of joy in that moment.
Nardole, having decided to do whatever necessary to get the TARDIS back to Mars and The Doctor, makes a pretty questionable choice in this episode. He recruits Missy to help him get back to Mars at the right time and now she’s finally out of the Vault! Though The Doctor isn’t to keen about her being out and tells her that she’ll have to go back in once they return. Missy however seems to be very concerned for The Doctor’s well being, noting that he doesn’t look very good. Is she truly transforming into a “good” Timelady, or was she behind the TARDIS acting up in the first place? Only time will tell, and with the season beginning to wrap up and the John Sims Master still being expected to make his return, I can’t wait to see what Doctor Who has in store for us this Saturday.
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