Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 8.5/10
Cast: Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, Matt Lucas, Nicholas Burns, Asiatu Koroma, Peter Singh, Simon Ludders, Tomi May, Austin Taylor, Ellie Shenker, Kishaina Thiruselvan, Badger Skelton.
There is always something reassuringly honest about Doctor Who when it finds itself within the past, a story that explains, even in the smallest detail or nugget of information, how history has been seen across the ages, how the unfolding of time is not that different after all from what we believe, or even how wildly inaccurate our modern day of thinking is and how biased it can be when we only use modern devices instead of books to check our facts.
We skate on Thin Ice all the time, our knowledge is precarious, we are pulled in many different directions, our attention is only there to be sucked upon and chewed out and yet when a television programme can show without mercy just how important history is to understand, then perhaps we have a chance of survival.
Pearl Mackie’s introduction as Bill may have had a few viewers in a tizz about her role in the series, after a run of very strong companions and even a wife thrown into the mix, would old ground be restored with a Tardis passenger who would be the conduit between the viewer and the fan and the Doctor? It has always been there, hiding in plain sight that the companion is by extension us, the viewer or the fan and by virtue of that extension we see the world through their eyes and the hardest discovery is just how dark and manipulative the Doctor can be. In this case Pearl Mackie’s reaction to how the Doctor accepts death is a true eye opener, it is not done in rage but merely fact and unlike previous companions this is a real shock.
These are the times when the companion truly finds out what they are dealing with, that the one closest to the Doctor is not them, not some alien creature or member of his own race but Death, death is the most constant of his allies and whilst he may be the most inspiring tutor, the most beguiling teacher, he is shrouded in the black cloak and holding hands with the smiling immortal beast.
How each companion takes this and deals with the revelation is surely a way to gauge the series, nobody likes death, we would not even wish it on our most aggravating enemy but if you can smile quickly after learning about its structure it surely cannot bode well for the mortal standing next to the Doctor.
A very motivating episode, the further realisation that the great industrial revolution was nothing more than a dream come nightmare sold to the Georgians and Victorians, that basically we are all but a commodity to those with power; history again proving that we allowed ourselves to become slaves to automation and industry. Thin Ice is one to tread upon carefully, after all, what dares live under the water but a way for humans to be exploited.
Ian D. Hall