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Empress Of Mars

ShowDoctor Who / Series X / Episode 10
First Broadcast2017/06/10 - 19:40 (Link: ABC Details)
Related LinksDoctor Who Wiki Wikipedia
Previous EpisodeThe Lie Of The Land
Next EpisodeThe Eaters Of Light

Leaving aside why the Doctor, Bill and Nardole were in the NASA control room, the intro was intriguing. How could there be English writing under Mars' polar ice-caps? The TARDIS - somewhat magically - determines when the message was written and they arrive on Mars to find a small group of Victorian soldiers being assisted by a wounded Ice Warrior they've named Friday.

The main plot entails the soldiers stumbling onto the Ice Queen and reviving her. We discover she has an army in hibernation. But they have all slept too long and the planet is now dead and cannot support them. There are are subsequent battles and standoffs and I found this to be too contrived, with little tension and no clear reasoning. In the end, the Ice Queen agrees to peace and the Doctor sends out a request for help, which is answered rather quickly by Alpha Centauri.

The only point I found of interest is why the TARDIS misbehaved and took Nardole back to St. Luke's. Was this a malfunction or something else? On the back of this, Nardole lets Missy out so the Doctor and Bill can be retrieved from Mars. Missy's behaviour - her insistence on checking on the Doctor's health - was very curious. I suspect this will become significant.

There were some fun moments: the references to different movies; Neil Armstrong not being the first man on the moon; Bill being upset about the Colonel's Victorian attitudes (a joke that could have been much better); the sonic screwdriver still not having a setting for wood; the portrait of Queen Victoria matching her representation from Tooth and Claw; and the Doctor and the Colonel creating the message that was eventually seen at the start of his episode. The introduction of Alpha Centauri would suggest that this episode is a prequel to the Ice Warrior stories set on Peladon.