(MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD)
So we were left at the end of ‘The Hungry Earth’ with Amy about to be dissected, and the realisation that there was a massive Silurian civilisation underground. A quite impressive cliffhanger and very different to the usual cliffhanger as well. Okay, there sometimes it did seem like an episode of Torchwood (as this episode did at time!), but it was still an overall decent episode. Of course, the proof of a two-parter is in the second part; they have to be equally good. ‘Cold Blood’ delivered the goods, in a pretty good episode! And what we got was an old-style Doctor Who, full of chasing, running, and ‘diplomacy.’ And the end, oh the end…but we will get to that.
So, Amy releases herself (who needs The Doctor?!?!) along with Tony Mack and proceeds to save The Doctor and Nasreen, who are about to be executed by the ‘evil’ Restac, some sort of Army Commander of the Silurians (and of the same ‘gene pool’ as the captured Alaya…family ties!). Amy and Tony are armed, but alas, Amy can’t bring herself to use the weapon. So all of them are subject to execution! At the same time, however, above ground, Tony’s wife Ambrose tortures Alaya (in extreme 24 style! Too much before the watershed?!?!?), and ends up killing her (thus fulfilling Alaya’s prophecy in the first part). So the humans have no bargaining chip left. And just before Amy is about to be executed, the Silurian Leader, Sildane, makes his grand entrance. He is the ‘peacekeeper’, the one who doesn’t want war with the humans. Restac is dismissed, and Amy and Nasreen are set up by The Doctor as ‘ambassadors’ for Earth (with quite an inspiring speech by The Doctor…’Be extraordinary!’). They sit opposite Sildane and talk about humans and Silurians living side by side.
Of course, modern world issues are brought up; the finite resources of the earth that are already stretched to their limit, pollution and whatnot. I suppose the BBC have a mandate to talk about environmental issues! The major grievance I had with this portion of the programme was The Doctor’s unrelenting hope in the good of the human race, brutally shown to be false when it’s revealed that Alaya has been murdered. Surely he knows enough about the human race to know that they wouldn’t accept sharing the earth with the Silurians? If he couldn’t rely on five people in a small mining village in Wales, then what chance does he have with six billion people? And of course, the Silurians are as divided as the humans; Restac and company want war, Sildane (and not many others…) want some sort of peace. It’s all moralistic, ‘Why can’t we all get along?’ Of course, their own question is answered: personal ambition overcomes collective ambition. So why does The Doctor have such faith in the human race? All the humans above ground had loved ones kidnapped below ground, so why didn’t he assume that something bad would happen to Alaya?
Even as the second part of a two-part story, the resolution seemed all too quick and appeared out of nowhere. But that is possibly the biggest problem of Nu-Who, isn’t it? No matter how much time the writers have, a single episode or two, they condense the resolution into five minutes. And the resolution here was as quick as ever, because just like ‘Flesh and Stone,’ there was an epilogue of sorts that linked into the over-arching ‘cracks in time’ storyline. That in itself justified the existence of the episode! Breath-taking and shocking, it gave us even more food for thought about the ‘cracks in time.’
Of course, the ten minutes set it apart from the rest. It was just a fairly enjoyable slice of old-fashioned Doctor Who, albeit with some issues about the Doctor’s wisdom concerning humanity. Come on, if we can’t get on with each other, then how are we supposed to get on with Homo Reptilia?!? However, the script was, at times, superb. Amy is ever more cheeky and resilient, almost annoying but not quite. Matt Smith was brilliant, adding gravitas to the proceedings. And who doesn’t like the more talky episodes of Doctor Who, especially when they elaborate on issues that resonate with us?
VERDICT: 6/10: Like ‘The Hungry Earth, a flawed episode that gave us plenty of food for thought and entertainment. And the final ten minutes elevated proceedings quite a lot!
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(Click here for my review of Doctor Who, Series 5, Episode 8: The Hungry Earth)