“Cold Blood” – Review: Redux

Doctor “In future, when you talk about this, you tell people that there was a chance but you were so much less than the best of humanity.”

Cold Blood

The pre-titles sequence of episode two (as with most or all second parts) gave us a quick recap of the first half, although it oddly failed to remind us that, at the very end of episode one, the Doctor and Nasreen had found themselves overlooking an entire Silurian city many miles beneath the Earth’s surface. The opportunity was there for a deeper dive into Silurian culture and we sort of got it. However, my one gripe probably comes from background as a Geology student and the fact that the whole concept of this previously unknown civilisation had wiped all trace out of the archaeological and historical records and kept their existence secret from the apes above. Churlish, I know, to be watching Doctor Who and complaining that it stretches credulity but that was just the way I was feeling, even in this rewatch. Straight after the credits though, we get a mysterious narrator turn up and start recalling the events about to fold in troubling tones. 

This Silurian double-header is Chris Chibnall’s second foray into Doctor Who, and is much more accomplished than the equally underrated “42” back in Series Three. The Broadchurch writer is allowed to stretch his writing muscles over the 90 minute format and delivers a story that, rather than seeing the situation begin to improve for the characters once the midway point had been passed, in fact sees things start to spiral out of control. The Doctor and Nasreen are captured at the same time as Amy and Mo escape, although the latter have little idea of what to do with their temporary freedom. Meanwhile up on the surface, leaving Ambrose, Rory and Tony in charge of the increasingly nasty Alaya, proved to be a serious problem after the Silurian’s non-compliance with her captors led Ambrose to do the unthinkable and taser Alaya to death. Happily for me this did not mean the end of Neve McIntosh’s participation because she also got to play Alaya’s sister, the even-more-nasty Restac.

There was a clever little piece of writing here as the viewer (and the guys on the surface) knew of Alaya’s death as the folks down below carried on oblivious, while making plans to negotiate a UN-style peace for a cohabited planet Earth. We knew that everything was going to go Pete Tong and there was nothing to be done except wait for the inevitable fallout. Despite that the negotiation scenes were really well delivered and I found myself thoroughly engaged by them. There also seemed to be some huge potential for a sequel here, one which I am a little surprised has never come to pass. Why don’t we ever get to see a story in Earth’s future, of which we’ve had many, where the Silurian race are, either successfully or otherwise, living out their lives side-by-side with their fellow earthlings?

However, it is the story’s final moments that provide the most talking points. The Second Death of Rory Williams. Following his being turned to dust in one of the false realities states created by the Dream Lord in the previous tale, we now get Rory being shot by a dying Restac as he flung himself in front of the Doctor. It was not so much the death that caused the talking point, although apparently being the first companion death since Adric was talking point enough, it was the rather cruel way in which everyone completely forgot about him immediately afterwards because of the effects of the cracks in time wiping its victims from existence. In our heart of hearts I am sure that not too many people expected this to be last time we saw Rory, although I am not entirely sure that anyone, even Steven Moffat, knew how many more times we’d see poor Rory perish. All in all, this is a massively underrated story: It has a perfect balance of humour and seriousness, and action and fun. It well paced, has crackling dialogue and a few hugely entertaining talking points.

Highlight: Neve McIntosh as Restac

Lowlight: The geologically unsound  premise

Talking Point: Rory’s Dead!!!

Demon’s Run Rating: 18 out of 20

Original BBC1 Broadcast: 22nd May 2010

Marathon Status: Losing count

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