10 and 1 Things About The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood

(Spoilers for episodes 8 and 9 of Doctor Who Series 5.)Item 1: The biggest talking point is no doubt the "new look" Eocenes. Though more or less associated with Silurians, they have more than a little in common with the Sea Devils (the mesh cloth, the gun shapes, the back of the head), but look like neither. There's been a lot of talk about the Star Trek aesthetic leaking into Doctor Who here, but there was a very good reason for Star Trek's emoting aliens, and it makes sense here as well. And had these guys been redesigned Draconians, I don't think we would have heard a peep. No, the thing here is that Silurians and Sea Devils were previously portrayed as inhuman, and some fans were let down by the design choice. I don't have a particular problem with it, though I did think the males of the species were a little too humanized in their behaviour, especially compared to the much more reptilian females. Performance makes a big difference. And while I think it's reasonable and interesting to think of the "Eocene era" as having multiple sentient reptilian races, it's surprising that they all had bases in and around what is today Great Britain.

Item 2: So that was really old school, wasn't it? Drawing heavily on the third Doctor era, not only bringing back the idea of sentient reptiles, but their entire dynamic with humanity and the Doctor. This is probably why I was a little bored by the exercise. I've seen it all before. THRICE before! Each time new Silurian cousins are discovered, the Doctor tries to make humanity share the planet with them, and every time, neither side is trusting enough to make it happen. I will be interested to know how people who didn't see the original stories felt about this, but for my part, it had an air of predictability until the last 15 minutes of Cold Blood where it was perhaps too late to redeem it.
Item 3: The "bad human" in this scenario is just a mom who's afraid for her family. And while Ambrose probably reacts the most realistically in the whole story (certainly more than wannabe companion Nasreen), she is an extremely frustrating character. As Doctor Who fans, we accept HIS point of view, and wouldn't want to admit that in that situation, we'd act more like Ambrose than Amy. However, she makes all the wrong choices, which makes us shout at the screen rather a lot. It certainly doesn't help that the Doctor piles it on with repetitive "you should have been better" rhetoric.

Item 4: Another problem I had was with Chibnall's over-reliance on coincidences and last minute reprieves. Amy gets a couple of those and they just cheapen the suspense. She gets in danger, and people just walk in an interrupt the jeopardy.

Item 5: Rory's erasure is the big surprise of the last episode, and while a shock, we get the feeling it'll all be undone by the finale. Beat the crack, return everything to reality. Right? Well, that's as maybe. For a character who started out as a second Mickey (and nobody wants that), he leaves quite a few fans pissed at his unrealized potential. I'm a little more even-tempered, and would rather have Amy as the sole companion, but I still liked Rory a heck of a lot. I just don't know how they could have gotten rid of him without breaking up the couple (which is part of the reason we like him, so that's no solution).

Item 6: There are two reasons why I think he'll be back. One is the story's structure. When an important character says his goodbyes, the episode usually focuses on him or her. That's basic television grammar. Not doing that needs a good reason. So while his death and erasure were given weight by Amy freaking out, Rory was much too marginalized in Cold Blood for it to be his farewell episode. Of course, he was rather central to The Hungry Earth (with Amy sidelined instead), so it may be a problem with the basic structure of the two-parter (especially since each part had alternative companions to take their places - Elliot and Nasreen). Or it may be that the direction didn't get the scene its proper weight.
Item 7: The other piece of evidence is much more conclusive. While Rory disappears, the wedding ring does not. There's a meaningful look to it, implying there's no way the Doctor won't be allowing Rory to remain erased forever. We've been told repeatedly in Series 5 that history can be changed (in this story and others). Is it foreshadowing?

Item 8: The piece of shrapnel inside the crack would seem to strongly imply that it's the TARDIS that blows up and cracks up the universe. Two ways to go: 1) A big fake-out because it's too obvious; 2) history can be changed so let's change it in a finale that's essentially a quest to prevent the TARDIS from exploding.
Item 9: This story features an overt appearance by a second Amy and Rory, where they wave from afar. The Doctor surmises that they've come to see a part of their own history, 10 years on. Maybe that's why he's so convinced that 2020 is a turning point and that history could be "made" with the reptilians. He may be wrong though. Other episodes have featured much more subtle hints that the TARDIS crew is doubling back on itself (to fix the cracks?). It all began with a mysterious figure running through young Amy 's house in The Eleventh Hour (Prisoner Zero had no yet learned to take on human shapes), and that door that opens on the roof in Victory of the Daleks. There are probably others. I just haven't watched the episodes enough yet. But keep an eye out!

Item 10: Fixed points. In Cold Blood, the Doctor uses the fixed point concept to illustrate exactly the reverse of what we've been told about fixed points before. For example, while Adelaide's death was meant to be a turning point that sent humanity far across the stars, the integration of the reptilians would change history at least has much and yet is allowed. He talks about creating a whole other timeline, so... a parallel? How does the TARDIS navigate back from that? It makes even less sense than usual, and they should probably stop talking about fixed points. It was much easier to understand when they just couldn't change history as it was understood by the companions. 2020 was in Amy's future, so no chance of paradox. Simple.

Item 11: But is there a chance of paradox with the rest of Doctor Who history if the reptilians come out and share the planet in 3020? Surprisingly, no. Even going back to Classic Who, there are no stories taking place on Earth around that time to put the lie to it. In fact, it sometimes seems that Earth has been completely forgotten in 3rd millennium stories. It's been abandoned. It's a legend. Perhaps they left it to the reptilians when solar flares started hitting hard (a frequent theme in Doctor Who future stories). Perhaps the reptilians came out of hibernation to an empty planet. Either they died out or left as well and carved their own niche among the stars. We don't see enough of Earth in thr 4000s and beyond to know if they made it or not.

Next week: Vincent van Gogh (pronounced Guff)!


Eric TF Bat said...

Not sure what you mean about evidence of the Doc doubling back. Can you point it out? Apart from one apparent continuity stuff-up regarding the Doctor's coat during the second part of the Weeping Angels story, I haven't seen anything.

Siskoid said...

I don't count the continuity problem in Angels.

11th Hour: When little Amy is in the yard waiting for the Doctor to come back, we see an angle from inside the house looking out. A human figure runs past, through the kitchen.

Beast Below: The message Amy leaves herself is conceivably a future Amy who knows something more, rather than the present Amy who's afraid for the Doctor's life.

Victory of the Daleks: While the lights are out in London, someone opens a door on the roof. The old guard turns around and tells that someone to shut it before it gives away their position. We never see who.

Each of these episodes had a prominent crack.

In the Angel 2-parter, the crack was closed in-episode. No need for anyone to return there. Vampires of Venice and Amy's Choice haven't really shown a crack. Hungry Earth does, and the Characters double back on themselves.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to make a prediction, and it's a long shot, but playing the ponies is always more fun that way. The original event that caused the cracking in time is the Doctor stealing clothes from the hospital. Why?

1) It seems like a Moffat-y turn of events: some minor action that received at most cursory attention in an early episode, proves to have huge consequences later.

2) The Doctor has to have done something to cause the time crack. This is a thing the Doctor did. Therefore.

3) When you steal clothes from a physician, it impairs his ability to treat patients / conduct research, with possible significant consequences downstream.

4) So much of Matt Smith's season has mirrored Jon Pertwee's run, why not include a thematic nod to "Planet of the Spiders"? The Doctor steals something and the consequences prove dire, so the Doctor has to go to great lengths to return what he stole and undo the damage.

Unrelated, but ever seen "Trailer Park Boys"? Somehow, every time I look at Julian, all I can see is the guy they should have picked to play The Master. He's got that Anthony Ainley look, and the Master would be more menacing if he always had a glass of rum and Coke in one hand.

Siskoid said...

Hahaha, Eric Roberts wasn't enough of a hick for you?

Radagast said...

I DO count the 'continuity problem' in Angels, primarily due to things other than the Doctor's jacket.

Mainly, it's that other than this reassuring snip of dialogue with Amy, he's far to busy and down-to-business, both before and after that bit. Particularly after, it doesn't seem like River and the abbot have had to wait up for him to give Amy one last little boost.

Then there is the dialogue itself. Why is he asking her to remember something? How does this tie into the Angel problem at that particular point?

It's enough to make me very suspicious. I'm anxiously awaiting the finale, because I want to see what all ties in or not.

Anonymous said...

I've been thinking about fixed points, and I have a radical hypothesis: fixed points exist only because of time travel, and the more time travel that occurs, the more points that become fixed. A point becomes fixed if it is necessary to make for a stable, sustainable time loop for the time traveler, otherwise it can be changed at will. So I guess we can assume that, Silurians or no Silurians, the Doctor's experiences with the human race in our future (his past?) would have worked out the same. Not so if Pompeii hadn't been destroyed, though.

This doesn't mean that, on each "iteration" of the loop, everything has to work out identically, just so long as the same overall results drive the loop to be stable. It could be that, monkeying around with the past at some point after "The Five Doctors" (i.e. the final appearance of the Brigadier), the Doctor could have accidentally changed things such that Sergeant Benton got promoted faster than Captain Yates, and on the next "iteration" of the loop, it turned out that UNIT was run by Brigadier Benton and his faithful assistant Sergeant Lethbridge-Stewart. Not a problem, so long as history plays out with the Doctor leaving and performing the same basic monkeying in the past (possibly with the result of putting Lethbridge-Stewart on top again).

LiamKav said...

One thing I meant to check but can't because I forgot to keep the episode... In the Weeping Angels two-parter, Matt Smith's hair is a lot more crazy than in other episodes, presumably because it was the first one filmed. Is his hair still crazy during the scene of him talking to Amy? If it's not, it might indicate something that was filmed later because after watching the episode the writers felt that the Doctor was too harsh with Amy.

Personally, I don't think it was a mistake. Although the Doctor was dressed "wrongly", he was filmed so as to largely hide that. It means that if you are watching it casually, it doesn't stick out quite as much as if you are the sort of obsessive fan who notices stuff like that.

And finally, this was on QI recently, but apparently neither "Van Goff" nor "Van Go" are correct pronounciations. "Van Goff" is closer, though.

Siskoid said...

Yes, it's Van Hhhohhhhhh.

Andrew Gilbertson said...

"which makes us shout at the screen rather a lot."
Yes YES YES!!!! Glad I'm not the only one who thought so- for a worried mother, she's awfully dense about damaging the only bargaining chip with which to save her husband, son, and father. :-)

Plus, the insanely grating attitude of the prisoner and her thick captors- she was an irritant, and they were clods.
"I hate you all, and want all of you to die!"
"He's dying- help us save him!"
Why would she do that?

"I can't wait to die in your captivity so that the war may truly begin!"
"Help us, or we'll kill you!"
Why would you think that threat would work based on what she just said?

Just not very smart humans in this one.


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