Doctor Who Cold Blood review (spoilers) – ‘I don’t understand, I can’t die here’

Rory in Cold Blood, before his death, or is it?

Rory in Cold Blood, before his death, or is it?

OH MY GOD – they killed Rory!

Sorry to be so flippant, but the death of an assistant (Rory’s third in three weeks after ‘dying’ twice in Amy’s Choice. He’s like a shit version of Captain Jack! played by Kenny from South Park) left me shrugging instead of weeping, with the rest of Cold Blood generating a similarly non-plussed response.

Why should that be, because I love Doctor Who?

And then it hit me – I’d strayed too close to the series arcing crack in the wall and it was wiping my memory of what had happened in the previous 50 minutes.

Of course, none of us are newbies when it comes to the carefully seeded arcs in Doctor Who. We’ve been there through Bad Wolf and Mr Saxon, the Doctor Donna, ‘you are not alone’ and ‘he will knock four times’ and so on.

Like Pavlov’s dogs, we’re trained to look out for them now and so in this series we jumped all over mentions of the Pandorica, a computer with Myth written on it and most of all the crack in Amy’s bedroom wall.

Like Steven Moffat‘s best ideas, the crack twists something innocuous and everyday into something laced with terror, hidden meanings and sinister portents. What is it? What does it all mean?

But whereas I remember RTD’s arcs only coming to the fore in the final episodes of each series – bar a poster here, some graffitti or a word of dialogue there – here the crack has become an extra companion to the Doctor, dogging his every footstep.

It appeared again in what felt like a mini-episode at the end of Cold Blood, allowing the Doctor to pull out what seems to be a piece of  of a destroyed TARDIS from the other side and then absorbing Rory’s body after he was shot.

And there’s the rub. What do I mean? Simply this – that Steven Moffat’s arc is so strong and so intriguing that it focuses our attention on the end of the series and can also overpower the more average Doctor Who episodes, with Cold Blood falling into that undistinguished camp. It is one of this season’s greatest strengths but potentially a great weakness too.

For instance, when Rory died saving the Doctor that should have been a traumatic and shocking moment. No companion has died since Adric, it just doesn’t happen, but here we have the dangers of the Doctor’s world finally piercing the protective force field that surrounds him and his friends.

And then Amy, Rory’s bride to be, forgets he ever existed which is heartbreaking (I’ve had a few girlfriends who did the same to me, come to think of it).

Heartbreaking – but does anyone think he’s dead? Really?

Because my expectation – with the engagement ring from a man who never existed still sitting in the TARDIS – is that he will return at the end of the series safe and sound and all will be well.

To me, any emotional impact caused by his death was lost. (Although if he is really dead, I reserve the right to scream OMFG! at the end of the series)

Pondering what the broken piece of TARDIS meant also packed more punch than the rest of Cold Blood, which did not deliver on the first half of its story last week.

I felt sorry for the show’s production designers and CGI boffins who did a brilliant job in making the Silurians’ underground city seem absolutely real. Award-winning stuff, as was the Silurians’ make-up.

I was also pleased to see Tony grow as a character to the extent that his decision to stay behind at the end of the episode so the others could escape meant more to me than Rory’s death. Meera Syal also grew on me as time went on, and the script raised some interesting ideas about race, even if it didn’t explore them.

But there were too many weaknesses overall which didn’t stand up to scrutiny – like how three people in a Welsh village could get the entire world ready for the Silurians to return in 1000 years?

And why would any agreement Amy and Nasreen made with the Silurian leader Eldane about sharing the Earth count for anything as far as the rest of the world went?

Why in a two-episode story did everything seem to get sorted out in about 45 seconds with a few waves of the sonic screwdriver?

Why did Chris Chibnall fall back on the hackneyed cliche of ‘military leader = out of control reactionary nutjob’ in drawing up Restac’s character? Because, you know, we’ve never seen that before – even Quaritch in Avatar had more depth!

And why didn’t Restac shout ‘Get your hands off me, you damn dirty ape!’ – the biggest omission of all!

Those questions fatally weakened this episode to allow the crack in the wall to suck it away to nothingness, like air from a deflated balloon.

Of course there are only two more episodes until the finale two-parter when all will be revealed – not long to wait – but I’ll be intrigued to see if Vincent and the Doctor and Don’t Go Up The Stairs can hold their own or will be wiped from history too.

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