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Doctor Who Recap: The Rings of Akhaten and Cold War

by on April 17, 2013
 

Guess what Whovians! Today you’re getting a two for one! For those following along, I broke my promise to do a Doctor Who recap after every episode by the second episode. I apologize for this, but I have been both very busy and very sick. However today I feel wonderful and I happened to find an hour between jobs to do what I love most: talk about Doctor Who! (With spoilers!)

When I last recapped we were one episode in to Season 7B which means today we will be recapping episodes 2 and 3, “The Rings of Akhaten” and “Cold War”. One of these episodes I loved, and one of them did not. The funny thing is, from what I’ve read on the message boards, my opinion seems to be opposite to the average Whovian.

We’ll start with “The Rings of Akhaten”. From what I’ve seen on message boards, particularly r/Doctorwho on Reddit, they did not enjoy this episode. A lot of people couldn’t get past the fact that he destroyed a sun, which mind you is a pretty big deal that they kind of glanced over. There are probably some negative repercussions that will greatly affect those who live on the rings… Wibbly-wobbly, sciency-wiency.

Do you remember the movie “Up”? The Pixar movie that made you cry within the first 10 minutes? It seems that Neil Cross, the writer of this episode, was greatly influenced by this film. “The Rings of Akhaten” opens up with a love story. It’s the story of how Clara’s parents met, and why the leaf from Clara’s travel journal is significant. Apparently the leaf managed to temporarily blind her father, and her mother saved him from being hit by a car. He held onto the leaf for years, and then gave it to Clara. Much like in “Up”, the mother dies and we’re left sad within minutes of the episode starting. We see Clara and her father grieving over her tombstone, while The Doctor does his creepy “past stalking” thing from a distance.

Jump to present day Clara, where she leaves on her first off-planet adventure with the Doctor. He takes her to visit a market that orbits a giant sun… Or does it?

If I can use one word to describe this episode, I would use “Beautiful”. The world that they created is beautiful. The colours, the scenery, and all of the different races of aliens that they created are all amazing. The music was beautiful, the story was beautiful, and Smith and Coleman acted the crap out of their scenes! When the sun turns out to be a demon that eats memories, The Doctor is in the process of sacrificing himself and his years of memories when Clara and her leaf save him. That’s the weirdest sentence I’ve ever written.  Put like that this episode sounds really dumb, but I assure you it was good. Matt Smith’s monologue when talking to the demon was incredible, and his delivery gave me goosebumps.  It was a strange plot to follow, and he did destroy an entire sun and render an entire populations religion invalid, but there was a pretty song and a magical leaf.

So lets talk “Cold War”. Now if I could describe this episode in one word it’s “skippable”, which Microsoft Word is trying to tell me isn’t a real word. I’m using it regardless because you know what I mean. Despite the fact that its “skippable” there are a few things in this episode that are interesting or possibly relevant to the main plot.

First off, we’ll talk about the Ice Warriors. This race was introduced in the original series, and to be honest they were never a favourite of mine. We finally get to see what they look like without their suit. They look like this:

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So apparently they look like angry lizards. Edit: Or like a Power Rangers monster. Yeah, definitely a Power Rangers monster… Moving on!

I feel like my next point is going to make some people angry. Everyone seemed to like Professor Grisenko. I did not like him at all. I’d like to see his qualifications. What about him makes him a professor? He was portrayed as a stoner hippy who seemed to have wandered onto a Russian submarine. Were they paying him for something or did he just have good weed and an awesome record collection? The character drove me crazy.

Another thing that bugged me about this episode is that they’re starting to introduce sexual tension between the Doctor and Clara. I don’t want another Rose or Martha! I don’t want to see a companion that follows the Doctor around like a love sick puppy. That’s why I think Donna and Amy were far better companions. Donna and Amy were friends with The Doctor and nothing else. That’s the way I like my companions. Back of Clara, he’s married.

Speaking of married, do you remember River Song’s first story? Probably the most relevant thing from this episode throws all the way back to this conversation from the Season 4 episode “Forest of the Dead”:

River: Use the red setting!

10: It doesn’t have a red setting!

River: Then use the dampers!

10: It doesn’t have dampers!

River: It will do one day! (River takes out an updated sonic screwdriver)

10: So, some time in the future, I just give you my screwdriver?

River: Yep!

10: And why would I do that?

River: I didn’t pluck it from your cold dead hands, if that’s what you’re worried about!

In “Cold War”, The Doctor uses the red setting on his sonic screwdriver. You know what that means? He just needs the dampers and then we will see the last of River Song. I realize there’s a lot of River haters out there, but for me this will be a sad episode. Almost as sad as the inevitable episode “on the fields of Trenzalor, the fall of the Eleventh and the question is asked. Doctor Who?” Whenever I hear “The fall of the Eleventh” I die a little inside knowing that eventually Matt Smith will leave and I’ll have to get used to a new Doctor.

So I wasn’t a fan of this episode. I was bored, but it could just be the era that the episode was based in. I’ve never been a fan of war movies, so this episode really didn’t do it for me.

Again I’d like to apologize that my recap for “The Rings of Akhaten” was late, but better late than never! Please enjoy this trailer for this week’s spooky episode, “Hide”:

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