Doctor Who (2005) Season 10 Episode 9: Empress of Mars Review

If you would like to read my review of the last episode, click here.

Synopsis: The Doctor, Bill and Nardole discover a female Ice Warrior on Mars in 1881. (IMDB)

Writer: Mark Gatiss

Director: Wayne Yip

Rating: TV-PG

Running Time: 45mins

The episode started at NASA where the Doctor, Bill, and Nardole showed up for some unclear reason. NASA was waiting to receive images from Mars. Once they did, one image showed the words “God save the Queen” displayed across the surface so of course they had to go and investigate. The Tardis traced the message to 1881 which raised obvious questions as to who may have been responsible for the message. They quickly found that humans may have been on Mars after all in the form of a group of Victorian era soldiers, along with a member of an alien race called the Ice Warriors (I’ve read that they have been prevalent in both series) for who they’ve named Friday (Richard Ashton). The contrast between the soldiers and the Martian setting was very reminiscent of classic sci-fi stories. What added to this were Bill’s constant movie references.

Bill fell down a hole and when Nardole was sent back to the Tardis to get supplies, it had a mind of its own and brought him back to the University where he begrudgingly asked for Missy’s help to get him back to Mars. The soldiers found Friday’s crashed ship and helped him repair it and brought him home to Mars. In exchange, he had provided them with an arsenal of mining equipment for them to plunder the planet’s resources in the name of Queen Victoria but there was nothing to be found. Morale was low and dissention was building amongst the soldiers. Friday’s motives were unclear until the soldiers found what appeared to be a tomb. The Doctor thought they should leave, however, their pride did not allow it. Little did they know, this tomb was of the Ice Warrior Queen Iraxxa (Adele Lynch) who wasn’t exactly thrilled with the humans, using her weapon to turn them into luggage. The Ice Warriors had slept for over 5,000 years which was far longer than they had anticipated, leaving Mars desolate and uninhabitable.

The soldiers wanted to retaliate so it was up to the Doctor to mediate their dispute. They now needed to help each other to survive. It looked like Iraxxa was willing to cooperate but she was not interested in mercy. What didn’t help was when the captain of the soldiers was exposed for being a deserter . Iraxxa woke up more of her soldiers to battle against the Victorian soldiers but the Doctor finally got the upper hand on them by threatening to bury everyone under Martian snow and ice. Once things looked grim, the exposed captain took charge by executing his usurper. He was willing to submit loyalty to Iraxxa so he was spared.

The Doctor managed to send a signal to Alpha Centauri to help the Ice Warriors and left the “God save the Queen” message on the surface for their ship to see. Nardole and Missy then arrived just in time to rescue the Doctor and Bill. The Doctor was surprised to see Missy but her primary concern was whether the Doctor was alright, meaning that she may know something that we don’t know.

Overall, this was another good episode and a welcome change of pace after the three-parter. The story may have been more of a throw away and the secondary characters were forgettable but it is has been fun this season to watch the Doctor, Bill, Nardole, and Missy, in another criminally short appearance, together and with Peter Capaldi’s time as the twelfth Doctor coming to an end, I can’t wait to see how it will all turn out.

Score: 7.5/10

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