I should have known straight away "Cold War" took place in the 80s, given the name of the episode, but even when The Doctor whipped out his Elvis sunglasses I still didn't catch on immediately.
The Sindy doll and ball of string, mention of shoulder pads and verbalizing it was the '80s sure gave it away. Duh! I got caught up in the sailors outfits. Don't the damn things ever change?
We didn't even get to see exactly how the TARDIS landed inside the submarine, but it skedaddled out of their right quick leaving Clara and The Doctor relying upon their wits to deal not only with the Russians, but worse, Grand Marshal Skaldak, the 5,000-year old beast it was transporting.
There were some really fun moments, such as Clara announcing they made pretty horrible spies when they couldn't even speak Russian. Except they were speaking Russian, thanks to the TARDIS translation matrix. There is so much to learn as a new companion, and when in tiny spaces, it's just a bit more difficult to play it off like you know what the hell you know what you're doing.
I was confused by Skaldak. He seemed frightening and unsettling, but not so much at the crew as at the predicament he was in, especially when he was talking about his daughter who after 5,000 years would be nothing but dust. That would be a lot to take in. I'm always a sucker for someone left alone. Thinking they're without their people, love or any hope for a future to rebuild. In the end it was really all Skaldak wanted.
This episode had an excellent guest cast that lent to the fun. David Warner, a character known for roles in Titanic, The Omen as well as a Doctor Who miniseries in 2009, tried engaging Clara in singing a song to keep her mind off of things while they searched for Skaldak. His choice of songs? "Hungry Like the Wolf" by Duran Duran. Yep, he even popped out a few bars. Clara claimed she knew it and sang it occasionally in karaoke, but karaoke wasn't all that big in 1983 so I think she was just playing along. Nonetheless, it was a cute moment to keep the hunt from becoming too boring.
His funniest bit? He needed to know about the future. "Ultravox?! Do they split up?!" Brilliant writing in an episode that would have otherwise left me wanting.
Liam Cunningham, currently playing Ser Davos on Game of Thrones was the captain of the submarine. Seems he's always on a seagoing vessel and he looked much better than he did this past week on GoT. I do love how the Brits get around from series to series. While I can't imagine some US series players daring to costar in another series, you see it quite frequently in television filmed in the UK. I always find it exciting to play spot the actor.
Of course, Clara singing a few bars of "Hungry Like the Wolf" was what made Skaldak turn off the submarine's button to explode a nuke. The TARDIS was way off at the South Pole because The Doctor had been messing with it's response to danger. To get the frak out of there. It worked!
So far, I found this to be the weakest episode of the season, made watchable by the guest stars and the amicable beast who wasn't a beast at all. The chemistry between The Doctor and Clara is still right on track, and the episode had a decent amount of paranoia and due to the small space, but I didn't feel any real danger was present. For some reason, I expect Clara to come with a danger quotient, and that wasn't met.
No doubt you all will have a much different take, so get on into the comments and state your theories. You know I love to read them!
PS - the title of the post? Look it up. ;-)
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA), enjoys mentoring writers, wine, and passionately discussing the nuances of television. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.