Doctor Who 10.09 “The Empress Of Mars” Spoiler-Free Preview
A classic monster (or two) returns to Doctor Who this weekend in the form of the Ice Warriors. Writer Mark Gatiss already gave then a New Who reboot in the splendid Eleventh Doctor story “Cold War” and after a couple of less well-received stories for the Twelfth Doctor, Gatiss is back on form for the Martian reptiles’ rematch with the Doctor.
SPOILER WARNING: This preview assumes you’ve seen trailers for this episode.
- We’re giving this one ★★★★★
- In many ways this is a classic Doctor Who monster story, which, after an stmospheric slow-build start, has a lot of action.
- It’s also the most steampunk the show has ever been.
- And also a little cheesy in places, but in a way that’s almost nostalgic.
- There are two unexpected fan-pleasing cameos (though one isn’t an actual appearance…)
- There are some plot elements similar the third Doctor Ice Warrior story “The Monster Of Peladon”…
- …And also Gatiss’s previous Eleventh Doctor story “Victory Of The Daleks”.
- Force once, a higher the military rank doesn’t necessarily equate to smaller brain.
- Bill has problems with Victorian attitudes…
- …but finds respect from an unexpected source.
- It’s Nardole-lite, but Nardole does contribute in one major controversial way.
- The Ice Warriors here are almost like a greatest hits megamix of what makes a memorable Doctor Who monster, from stompy feet, to unique battle tactics, to new way of killing, to en masse awakening.
- The pre-credits teaser is very silly and not quite like the rest of the episode – it’s more of a prologue.
- There’s a great running gag about a gap in the Doctor’s pop culture knowledge.
- On the other hand, Bill doesn’t react when the Doctor (perhaps inadvertently) pop culture references one of the most famous film series of the past 50 years.
- One of the guest stars has a poignant secret.
- Gatiss has been doing his “period lingo” research again.
- “India or China?”
- Sadly, none of the gimmicks Gatiss invented for the Ice Warriors for “Cold War” are used here.
- The Ice Queen is a little over-theatrical at times, but mostly great.
- The arc plot takes another significant step forward.