You slip out of your depth and out of your mind

Doctor Who: “Thin Ice”

So you think that Sarah Dollard — oh.

(Hold on. A female writer on Doctor Who, whatever next? She also did “Face the Raven”.)

So you think that Sarah Dollard has made a smart choice in “Thin Ice”, to have the sonic screwdriver stolen by a street urchin so that it isn’t a convenient plot device to get them out of a scrape. In fact, there are three or four moments in the episode — falling through ice, being stolen again, being blown up — when it could be destroyed, but she can’t help but use it.

Can you say, “Merchandising”?

So we’re back on the ice seen at the end of “Smile” — only the elephant has acquired a dozen extras surrounding it. We’re at an ice fair in 1814 — where we know the Doctor has been with River Song, so it could get awkward — and Something Is Going On. The TARDIS has even detected a lifeform under the Thames, which seems to be a new feature? I guess they didn’t think to scan first, even they’ve time to change close — after all, the TARDIS has a tendency to take them into trouble,

The Doctor is given a nice line about the whitewashing of history, as Bill is worried that she will be viewed as a slave in Regency England. By 1814, the Transatlantic Slave Trade had been abolished, although slaves were still allowed in the colonies and owners were to paid compensation. We do later see the villain, Lord Sutcliffe, being racist and getting punched by the Doctor for his nastiness. Nu Who has been rather more multicultural than Classic Who, although Capaldi’s Doctor went through a period of assuming black men were criminals.

So, there is something under the ice, eating people and, it is later revealed, shitting people’s remains, said remains being scooped up and turned into bricks being used as coal. Perhaps it’s the influence of The Matrix, or memories of [SPOILER] S*ly*nt Gr**n, but this is not the first time we’ve had people as power, and obviously there’s a Marxist parable about capitalism to be picked out, which we also have.

For that matter, we’re in Our Mutual Friend territory with the Victorian dust mounds and poop scoopers and mud scrapers — there’s a lot of power in recycled waste. Sutcliffe is a bit off the peg villain, and we’re a little uncaring when he is killed off, although Bill briefly winces. Bill has been emotional over the death of a little urchin and is pissed at the Doctor for not caring and for being a killer — well, not only of various humans, but thousands of Daleks, Cybermen and so forth — and she claims she’s never seen anyone die.

This is odd.

Didn’t she observe people attacked by robolocusts earlier that day?

But by this point we should be calling her Rita, because the Doctor as father/grandfather figure is always there with the lecture or lesson. I suspect it must be relevant that he asks permission from her to save the world.

Then, at the end, we return to Story Arc — Margot arrives with the tea as promised, but latches on to their deceit. The Doctor has already said, leave the smug to me, and I foresee hubris ahoy. Something, someone, is banging from inside the Vault. We’re being teased for a surprise. If it’s another Pandorica, it might be the Doctor, or even Amy, but the knocking makes me think of The Master (glimpsed in the series trail) or Missy.

Politically, an interesting episode. And I wonder if Dollard notes my unease with the sonic screwdriver (which also seems to untie knots) by having Bill call it a magic wand?

But there’s money in shit.

Can you say, “Merchandising”?


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