Doctor Who Season 10 does its best to move past its lackluster three-part Monks story by bringing back classic villains the Ice Warriors.
With the conclusion of the Monks trilogy, it’s time for Doctor Who to get back to a more straightforward, regular sort of season. The series’ first three-part story in years landed to…let’s just say mixed reviews. (Our take: The episode is extremely uneven. But Michelle Gomez is amazing.) So it’s something of a relief that the next installment in season 10 feels like it’s back on more familiar ground.
Titled “The Empress of Mars,” the episode features the return of classic Doctor Who villains the Ice Warriors. These creatures are a race of reptilian humanoid types who wear suits of rather clunky bio-mechanical armor. The last time we saw these monsters was back in 2013 episode “Cold War,” when Matt Smith was the Doctor. That marked the first time we saw the Ice Warriors in New Who. Prior to that, they last appeared in Third Doctor adventure “The Monster of Peladon.”
However, beyond the fact that the Ice Warriors are returning, we don’t actually know that much about this episode. Or what to expect from it.
The official BBC synopsis is especially sparse this week:
"‘God save the Queen’ has been scrawled on the surface of Mars. What are Victorians doing on the home of the Ice Warriors? And what will they find beneath the Martian soil?"
Happily, the version over at Doctor Who TV includes a few more details.
"The Doctor, Bill and Nardole arrive on Mars, and find themselves in an impossible conflict between Ice Warriors… and Victorian soldiers. As the Martian hive awakens around them, the Doctor faces a unique dilemma – this time the humans, not the Ice Warriors are the invaders. When Earth is invading Mars, whose side is he on?"
Generally, these sorts of episodes – where the Doctor finds himself in an unexpected position in a standoff between humans and aliens – are some of Doctor Who’s best. Here’s hoping that is the case once again here. (It would be lovely to have a particularly strong episode here, following the disappointment of the Monks story. Just saying.)
Watch the trailer for yourself:
“The Empress of Mars” is written by Mark Gatiss. You may know him best as one of the co-creators of hit BBC mystery series Sherlock, but he’s been a fairly regular Who scribe since 2005 episode “The Unquiet Dead”. His other writing credits include “The Idiot’s Lantern,” “Night Terrors,” “The Crimson Horror,” the aforementioned “Cold War” and more. Gatiss also appeared onscreen as Professor Lazarus in “The Lazarus Experiment”. In short, he’s basically the definition of a big Doctor Who fan, and it shows in all his work.
So, at the very least, his story should be pretty fun to watch.
Doctor Who season 10 continues Saturday, June 10 on BBC One and BBC America.