In the ninth episode of the fifth series of Doctor Who, the Doctor, Amy, and Rory try to find a way not only to escape from their impending doom at the hands of the Silurians, but face the daunting task of writing the future history of the earth. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Doctor Who.
Thankfully, I think there are only tiny moments of weakness in this second half of the Silurian story, as Chris Chibnall decides to take “Cold Blood” in a direction more reminiscent of the grandiose horror (and hope) of Russell T Davies’s writing. There are a few slips before this episode heads straight into YOU WERE NEVER FUCKING PREPARED territory and what might have been a disposable two-parter becomes absolutely integral to the ongoing mythology of the show.
Also, I have to say it: THE EARTH FUCKING OPENED UP AND ATE PEOPLE. Jesus christ, Doctor Who is making all of my childhood dreams come true. bless this show forever.
I think it was interesting that the opening of the second half of this story seemed to mirror the first. Given how bleak the final ten minutes of “Cold Blood” are, the first ten minutes seem whimsical in their execution. I don’t necessarily think that’s a negative thing. I appreciated that despite all that Amy had just seen, she could still have a sense of humor with Mo in the face of an impossible situation below the surface of the earth. I think that out of all the companions who have traveled with the Doctor, Amy Pond was the quickest to adapt to his style of time travel. The way she meshes with his personality is so genuine and natural. I don’t know if she’ll become my favorite companion overall, as I’m particularly fond of Donna Noble (LOVE YOU CATHERINE TATE, PLZ TEXT ME SO WE CAN BE BEST BUDDIES). After having the show basically reset after Russell T Davies left, I’m still impressed by how quickly I’ve grown to love Matt Smith and Karen Gillan as the leads for this show.
But the Doctor’s humor and wit doesn’t necessarily save all, though this episode shows him coming awfully close. I would never in a billion years have predicted the scenes between Amy, Dr. Chaudhry, and Eldane, that the Doctor would actually help organize something like this and we’d get to see it. I mean, it is entirely his style: non-violent and, as Craig Ferguson said, the triumph of intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism. Hell, this might be the Doctor’s most metaphorically perfect moment, a true manifestation of precisely what he believes. (Can I also say that I love that he chose two women to make the case for all humanity? Yes, he didn’t have many people to choose from, but he chose not to involve himself in the actual negotiations either.)
Unfortunately, up above the surface, I was wrong about my prediction that Tony would kill Alaya. While I was surprised that it was Ambrose instead, there were a few moments where I didn’t really believe her acting all that much. THEY WERE SMALL, but maybe Alaya’s death scene was just written strangely and it’s not really Nia Roberts’s fault. The way that Ambrose so quickly jumps to OH I DIDN’T KNOW IT WOULD DO THAT is so disingenuous and bizarre, especially since Ambrose is so quick to justify her actions to Tony and Rory, and later to the Silurians themselves. If she’s that sure, why is her reaction to shocking Alaya so drastically different?
Not to suggest that the peacemaking scenes between the Silurians and the humans was at all uninteresting, but when a deal is struck and Eldane agrees to make a proper trade and begin the co-habitation of earth with the humans above, this episode seriously just blows me out of the water. From the damning looks of horror on Rory’s and Tony’s faces when they know that Ambrose’s actions have ruined everything, to the Doctor’s shock at seeing Tony carrying a body draped in a sheet, to Restac’s unbearably heartbreaking cries, everything I thought would happen in this episode is completely not addressed and “Cold Blood” goes in a direction that is fully surprising (and satisfying) to me.
I want to be more upset at Ambrose for not only killing Alaya in a moment of thoughtless selfishness, but for convincing Tony to activate the drill so that they’d have another bit of bargaining advantage on their side. But you know what? I don’t have a husband or a child or a grandfather mutating into a Silurian and I sure as hell have no clue what I would do in the same situation. It’s not so much that I outright forgive her for what she did, because it was still an awful, terrible decision to make. (Twice!!!!) It’s just that I don’t think I can stick myself in her shoes and know exactly what I’d do, you know? And I suppose it is quintessentially human for Ambrose to be willing to sacrifice other creatures to perpetuate her family, right?
The real hero of this episode, to me at least, is Eldane, who, despite losing Alaya, Malohkeh, and the chance for his race to finally take back the planet they were on first, can find a moment of pure and loving compassion for the humans in this situation. Maybe he listened to the Doctor when he insisted that Ambrose was merely one person and that what she did was not indicative of what all humans were like. Either way, the compromise that Eldane agrees to, to wait a thousand years before trying to come back to the surface of the Earth and co-exist with humans, to sacrifice those who side with Restac and send the rest of his race into slumber, is such a great message to end this this story with. Tony and Dr. Chaudhry also agree to stay as well, and it’s also a beautifully hopeful sign of their willingness to make this partnership in the future work. LIKE SERIOUSLY. Ok, it’s really sad in a way, since Elliot and Ambrose lose their father/grandfather, but it’s a way for both of them to demonstrate that exact triumph over brute force and cynicism that I love so much.
And then. Then. THEN. As Rory, Amy, Mo, Elliot, and Ambrose head to the TARDIS, it appears on the wall. The crack in time. (Can I capitalize that? It feels so much more important that way.) It’s the same Crack in Time from Amy’s bedroom, from the early episodes, from the brilliant Weeping Angels two-parter, and the Doctor cannot resist: If there was a Time Explosion that caused the Crack, surely there must be shrapnel, right? So he REACHES INTO THE CRACK. THE CRACK THAT CAN ERASE TIME. At that moment, as Restac crawls into the room, I thought that Ambrose might get shot, or that the Doctor would do something to either spare Restac’s life with some important, gorgeous speech, but instead, Restac fires upon the Doctor and Rory, beautiful, lovely Rory shoves the Doctor out of the way and gets hit instead.
And Rory can’t die, right? I mean, just like he says as he squirms in pain on the floor, he saw himself in the future, standing on that hill, waving at himself! So like….they can’t kill off a companion, right??? RIGHT?
When the Time Crack began to spread to Rory, I realized in furious terror that I was wrong, that not only could Rory die, but that history was about to be rewritten. Rory would be erased from history and from memory. But can’t the Doctor fix it? He can fix it, right? Sadly, and to my complete and utter shock, the Doctor merely pulls a chaotic Amy Pond into the TARDIS and locks the door and suddenly my eyes hurt and they are totally leaking all over and WHAT THE FUCK YOU CANNOT KILL RORY OFF!! WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING, THAT IS IMPOSSIBLE oh my god what the fuck
In a way, it was somewhat reminiscent of Donna losing her memory as well, though this SOMEHOW FELT WORSE THAN THAT. As images of Rory flashed through Amy’s mind, all of them fading to whiteness, she snaps back to her corrected reality.
Rory has never existed.
I completely lost it when they stood outside the TARDIS and Amy waved to herself arriving on the other side of the field. Completely alone. Rory was never there to begin with. The Doctor’s speech about this not being a fixed point in time, that history could be written by these people right then and there, was granted in a horrifying truth. History never included Rory Williams. OH MY CREYS.
And if that isn’t horrific enough, the Doctor pulls out that piece of shrapnel from the Crack in Time and it’s very definitively part of the TARDIS. The fucking TARDIS caused the goddamn Time Explosion.
Never. Ever. Prepared.
- “Do you understand who we are???” “Sort of. A bit. Not really.”
- “Right. No pressure there, then.”
- “Amy, I thought I’d lost you.” “What, ’cause I got sucked into the Earth? You’re so clingy.”
- MY CREYS WHY DID YOU KILL OFF RORY ;AKDJS ;AKSDF ;.ADJKLSF ;:KLJ;AKLDSDFHKLS IOU;K ?JDS;:DFLKJ