Spoiler-Free Synopsis of Doctor Who, Season 10, Episode 9, “Empress of Mars”:
It’s 1881. British soldiers have hitched a ride to Mars with an Ice Warrior to mine the riches of the Martian Empire. But the empire is long dead, and all that’s left is a tomb full of sleeping Ice Warriors and their Ice Queen. And she’s not happy about Redcoats running around like they own the place.
Ever seen “Tomb of the Cybermen”? It’s like that with Martians.
I don’t have much to say about this episode. It wasn’t particularly good or particularly bad. It was “Who-by-numbers.” It was pretty forgettable, especially coming right after a three-part story that was so epic in scale. I found it very British, in my naïve American understanding of what British is. Maybe if I was also British I would have found it more appealing.
There were only three notable parts: one good, one bad, and one middling.
Good Thing: Pearl Mackie continues to be a wonderful actress. She was probably the best thing about this episode simply because she made Bill not-boring.
Bad Thing: The TARDIS malfunctioned because the plot demanded it. No other reason. It’s happened before and it’s been frustrating, but this one was really bad.
Middling Thing: That malfunction led to a brief but wonderful scene with…well, that’s a spoiler. This is why I don’t have much to say; I don’t want to spoil anything, and the non-spoiler parts are too boring to talk about. Okay, *Spoiler Warning*; this is it, the big plot arc of Season 10. If you haven’t seen it and don’t want it spoiled, now’s your time to leave. Are they gone? Good. Here goes.
It’s Missy! Michelle Rodriguez’ female Master is in the Mystery Vault, supposedly in therapy to become a good person. I love that idea so much. I’ve been on board for it ever since Missy showed up in Season 8, because without the Sound of Drums in her head, she should be considerably less bonkers.
And yet, I know it can’t last. I know the actress is leaving the show, and I know they’d never let the Master change to a good person long-term. The season finale will probably involve the whole thing blowing up in the Doctor’s face.
Moral of the week: cowardice and the Martian (not Christian) version of redemption.
6/10 crumpled balls of soldier.