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Recaps / Television PopWrapped | Recaps

Doctor Who: 10x09, Empress Of Mars

Sydney Lanier Burke | PopWrapped Author

Sydney Lanier Burke

06/11/2017 6:08 pm
PopWrapped | Recaps
Doctor Who: 10x09, Empress Of Mars | Empress of Mars
Media Courtesy of BBC

We changed up the format last week, and it was a bit of fun. Since this week's episode, "Empress of Mars", is billed as a romp on the red planet, I thought I'd keep up the list. I'm never a HUGE fan of Mark Gatiss's episodes, if I'm honest; the guy's talented, but we certainly don't share a language. I hope this one is a bit different.

Empress of Mars

  • We start in NASA headquarters, where The Doctor joins into their countdown. He, Bill, and Nardole have crashed the first time they are receiving images back from Valkyrie, a new probe that can photograph Mars in a new way.
  • They receive an image of the surface with "GOD SAVE THE QUEEN" on it ... and, judging by The Doctor's smile, he knows something we don't.
  • Fire = oxygen. Duh.
  • I'm loving Bill's space travel pony tail this week.
  • Bill giving The Doctor movie recommendations is superb.
  • How is the TARDIS navigating itself away from Mars? Is what is coming so super creepy that even it wants out of there?
  • The Doctor knows to defer to the Ice Warrior because they are awful rageful (and misunderstood?) beings.
  • Nardole has been aboard the TARDIS long enough to know how to navigate it; so is it just misbehaving, has it somehow been hacked, or is it sending a message? It does send him to The Doctor's office -- but he should know better than to ask Missy for a favour.
  • The Ice Warrior is called 'Friday' -- his man Friday? I'm sure he just loves that.
  • The psychic paper says that they were aboard Friday's ship the whole time. It was very roomy, or is this an effort to trip them up? Maybe it was really just a pod.
  • BTW that painting of Queen Victoria is the DW Victoria from way back in the day when they saved her in "Tooth and Claw".
  • Friday helped them build the 'gargantua' -- effectively, a giant laser weapon -- to find treasure beneath the Martian surface. See, I just don't trust Ice Warriors, so I think he's using THEM to create tunnels.
  • Not only have they not found treasure but they're stuck there with dwindling supplies. They seem to think he's the last of the Ice Warriors, but The Doctor isn't convinced. (Maybe because he's seen them later in the past?)
  • One of the treasure hunting soldiers is called Jackdaw -- like the bird that steals shiny things!
  • The guy who plays Jackdaw lives around the corner from me and chats with my kid from time to time. Even though he plays largely unlikeable characters (ahem, Game of Thrones), he's all right in my book if he's nice to kids!
  • A new burst of the gargantua breaks through to a tomb. It appears to be a gilded tomb of an Ice Queen. It also appears there is a Giant's Causeway on Mars.
  • Always. Listen. To. The Doctor. "It might be a hibernation chamber. It might be the entrance to a hive." Nah, mate.
  • Queen and country.
  • Jackdaw lives up to his name (yawn) and decides to steal stuff from the tomb. Can't see this going poorly.
  • Yep, the queen wakes, and bye bye birdy.
  • The dumbest of the soldiers does what the dumbest soldiers always do when faced with something new and scary: shoot it. 
  • The queen will not abide. She is Iraxxa, the Empress of Mars! All this time, I was thinking it referred to Victoria since she was the empress of all the damn places.
  • The Doctor tries to explain that the planet is effectively dead, and Friday backs him up. The queen wants to hear from Bill because they "are both surrounded by noisy males".
  • She'll give these stupid men mercy. "They will die quickly".
  • Bill manages to keep the soldiers from shooting Friday with the gargantua, but they bury him instead. Sad. He was all right.
  • Iraxxa isn't too busted up over him and wakes the other Ice Warriors.
  • The colonel (the only sensible soldier amongst them) is a proper 'coward' who was hanged for desertion. It just didn't take. He has a rope burn completely around his neck as evidence. He gets tossed in the brig with The Doctor and Bill by Catchlove.
  • I JUST figured out who plays Catchlove. If you don't know, go Google it. The hair did it.
  • The colonel is understandably confused about who The Doctor is, and Bill gets one in about him having "Victorian attitudes" because he actually is Victorian.
  • Heeeeeere they come!
  • Oh, there are so many of them in the Giant's Causeway. So many.
  • One of the Ice Warriors rises in the brig.
  • The battle commences, and it's a lot of running and screaming. The Ice Warriors are pretty much destroying the men.
  • The Ice Warrior in the brig is Friday! He wants to work with The Doctor to solve the situation. Iraxxa wants none of it. Bill is trying to distract her while The Doctor reconfigures the gargantua. He threatens to blast through Mars's North Pole and bury everyone in snow and ice forever. Even that seems too much for ICE Warriors.
  • Catchlove thinks he can run away with Iraxxa as his hostage and leave all his men to die. The colonel shoots him! The colonel is going to get an honourable execution from Iraxxa, and he asks that she spare his men and his world. She is moved by his strength (finally), and says he won't die today if he'll pledge to her.
  • He does, and he's no longer a coward!
  • The Doctor says "That's always been my problem: thinking like a warrior". Doctor = warrior, I'm telling you. 12 more so than ever.
  • The Doctor manages to send off a transmission asking for assistance for the Ice Warriors. ALPHA BLOODY CENTAURI answers the call!
  • Bill and The Doctor create a signal on the surface of Mars, so the ship can see where they are. The colonel is sad that no one will ever know that the humans got there. The Doctor assures him that one day, despite the ice cap getting in the way, someone will notice the giant "GOD SAVE THE QUEEN" on the surface of Mars.
  • Okay, hold up. Bootstrap Paradox, anyone? Fair enough that they can help build the sign in the past and see it being discovered in the future ... but didn't they only go to Mars because of the sign? So, without it being there, they wouldn't have gone to eventually put it there. Am I missing something?
  • The TARDIS finally arrives back, and Nardole has definitely enlisted Missy. She is aboard the TARDIS, no longer a prisoner. He says he'll have to put her back in the vault.
  • Then, there is a weird moment. Missy says sure she'll go back in the vault. Then she says, "But, Doctor, please tell me. Really. Are you all right?" She gets quite close to him and looks at him sharply. She seems to be genuinely concerned for him. What is she on about? Is he unwell?

Okay, I didn't love "Empress of Mars". I'm not a soldier-y battle-y kind of gal, I suppose. I know, I know; we learn a lot about human nature in uniform, but I can't manage with all the bluster. Last week's episode, while not necessarily a barn burner, was so much more tactile. This week, we got a lot of noise. I'll be the first to admit that, if Gatiss's episodes are your bag, it might have been a great one. 

Let us know your latest theories and how much you’re enjoying this series of Doctor Who by chatting with us on Twitter using #PWDW and @PopWrapped. Remember that you can see Doctor Who next Saturday in the UK on BBCOne at the even earlier time of 6:45pm (#StopItBBC) and in the US on BBCAmerica at its regular time of 9/8c.


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