Thin Ice: An Unserious Review And Some Serious Questions 

Everyone is low key in love with Thin Ice.

The Review: Two thumbs up. Now that that’s out of the way, some questions…

What? That review wasn’t good enough? Come on, you watched it, right? What more do you need to know? You already know that it’s a really great episode. Brilliantly shot, a superior script by Sarah Dollard, and a full furlong of fantastic FX. Besides that, this review is a little on the late side, and by now you must have (or could have) read a huge number of other reviews that went over the episode with a fine tooth comb, reviews dashed out the next hour or day, reviews written by people who believe in words like “deadline,” and “punctuality,” and possibly even “chupacabra,” which doesn’t have anything to do with what we’re discussing right now, I’d just like to mention that while I may be late going to press with this, at least I’m not going to blame the Mexican Goat Sucker for my tardiness. I’m a realist, me. 

So there’s no real need for me to talk about the episode, especially if I can’t say something different about it. But perhaps I will touch on two things I haven’t seen mentioned too much when discussing Thin Ice. And the first one is Nardole. 

Nardole isn’t “Mum”, he’s the Jiminy Cricket to Twelve’s Pinocchio. The voice of his conscience, reminding him of his promise to guard the (mysterious) vault. Right now, half the Doctor’s fun comes from the fact he’s playing truant with Bill, putting off his responsibilities in order to have a good time. Nardole is taking the task of guarding the (mysterious) vault  to heart, and is upset about Bill giving the Doctor a reason to go galavanting all over time and space instead of sitting on his Gallifreyan gluteus maximus at St. Luke’s. He’s a bit of a noodge, he can’t help it!

Second: Sometimes the Doctor will do things that remind the viewer of last incarnations. This time it’s comparisons to McCoy’s Seventh, mainly because of his relationship with Bill, although I do think he’s keeping some information to himself for a big reveal (or two) later on down the road, which is also very Seven. In Thin Ice however, Twelve is starting to hit the same giddy notes as the legendary Fourth Doctor. (Really!) The manic smiles he breaks out into, especially when telling Bill the plan is to get eaten by the creature. The impulsive drive of scooping up some period diving equipment to use, for added danger, rather than just retrieving some space suits from the Tardis. His dealings with the Pie Man (“I love your work!”). Even the now legendary punching of the racist, it all has echoes of the Fourth Doctor’s embrace of life, adventure, and tom(baker)foolery. And that’s not to say Capaldi is imitating Tom Baker. He’s much too good of an actor for that. He’s just found the essence of madness that underlie the character. And huge credit to Sarah Dollard for locating it as well!

(I shouldn’t have to mention how very wonderful Pearl Mackie is. After all, it’s mentioned in every review of every episode this series. At this point it’s generally accepted and doesn’t need repeating. Nevertheless, Pearl Mackie is very, very wonderful.)

So there you go. Thin Ice. A great episode. It has sword swallowers, a beautiful, gorgeous elephant, Pre-Dickensian pickpocketing street urchins, each more adorable than the last, but only if you like them up properly and make sure Dottie is last, and, of course, Bull Penis Kebabs. It’s a great episode, and will rate highly in years to come. 

So, to recap: Two thumbs up. Now then, moving on to the questions! Note we do so, let’s get right to the root of the questions, which is:

I don’t trust Steven Moffat, and neither should you. 

He gets us to focus all out attention on the shiny object, and while we’re distracted, he throat punches us. Classic Moffat.

It’s true. I don’t trust Moffat. For one thing, he’s far smarter than I am. (Admittedly, that’s not very hard. I can generally be outsmarted by small children and medium sized squirrels.) Besides that, he’s sneaky.  He can sneak things past the viewer, hiding them in plain sight, and while we’re all concentrating on what’s in the (mysterious) vault, there could be other things at play, things he’s laying the groundwork for right now, and might be called back later in the Series. So let’s not trust Moffat and ask some questions about some of the things we’ve seen happen so far in Series 10. 

Question (From “The Pilot”): Where did that Sentient Oil Puddle come from?

When “The Pilot ” was aired, it was easy to overlook some things. We were excited to meet Bill Potts, there was a cameo by the Movelians, there was the (mysterious) vault, pictures of River and of Susan to obsess over, there was a lot to unpack from that episode. The main thing left unpacked was the fact that at some point an unknown spaceship landed at St. Luke’s and discharged a sentient oil puddle. Whose spaceship was that and what was their purpose for landing there? I have seen some suggestions that the ship might have been Zygonic, and that does make sense, what with the Zygon technology being organic based, so that sort of seems like the kind of biohazardous waste one could expect to leak from a Zygon ship. That’s a definite possibility. But that’s not to rule out someone else entirely! Also, who’s to say Heather the Oil Slick isn’t going to pop back up in a later episode? It’s not like she died, she just gave up chasing Bill across all time and space. Where did she go? Could she return? Could she bring a towel this time?

(Speaking of death and “The Pilot,” do the bookies have a good over/under yet on the odds of Bill running into her Mother in the past at some point? Given the show’s past history, I think that’s a pretty safe bet.)

Question (from “Thin Ice”): Just what the hell was Lord Sutcliffe up to? I mean, really?

Right after the scene when the Doctor punches out Lord Shitcliffe, his underlings take our heroes captive and then the villain gets to explain his dastardly plot. He explains that Tiny came from “nowhere,” and has been a family secret for generations and that he uses the poop fuel as an alternative to coal in his steel mills. 

Hey Sutty, pull the other one. 

 Does anyone take this explanation seriously? Tiny just came from “nowhere,” and somehow a bunch of Elizabethan era Sutcliffes managed to take time out of their busy schedules of exploiting the poor and disparaging other races to chain her to the bottom of the Thames? Really?Because I don’t think that’s what happened at all. No, I think some type of alien imprisoned Tiny and then needed a human agent to feed her and harvest her BMs. Lord Sutcliffe just wasn’t telling that part of it. The Doctor referred to the poop fuel as capable of interstellar travel, and even called it “rocket fuel.” And it’s just getting used to power steel mills on the cheap? As the memes say: nope nope nope. Not buying it. Sutcliffe is in league with some aliens. And there’s something else I can use to back this up! And it’s totally tenuous, but I’m throwing it out there anyway, just in case! It has to do with Sutcliffe’s office and the orrery on the table. 

The Orrery on the desk. Possible clue or just an incredibly anal-retentive period detail?

Did you notice the orrery, the desk top model of our solar system? The Doctor did. He was adjusting it, right before he told Bill to leave the talking to him. Leaving aside the opinion that it seems highly unlikely a money grubbing bigot like Lord Suxcliffe would be remotely interested in the heavens, the orrery must be there for a reason, the Doctor just isn’t telling us (and Bill) yet. (It’s all very Seventh Doctor, this point.) For starters, the orrery is wrong, or at least incomplete. I could see only five planets on it (Although I did watch this on my phone, and it’s not the most reliable device for picture quality. It’s very old. I don’t even have emojis, I have hieroglyphs.) At that point seven planets were known, but maybe that’s all Sutcliffe needed to see? This was at the point when Twelve mentioned interstellar travel, by the way.  And he was adjusting, I think, Mars. Something I’ll come back to. Until then, let’s notice the coaxial tubes located on the orrery ‘s spindle (a big shout out to Google for making me sound like I know what I’m talking about!). Those are the donuts where you stuck the stylus for each planet. This orrery has space for TEN PLANETS. Ten planets? As in Mondas? Could it be….? It seems like a long shot, absolutely, but at this point, it’s important to remember: You cannot trust Moffat. Or medium sized squirrels that will swipe your baked potato right off your outdoor grill when you go inside to get some butter. Bastards.
Question: Was Tiny an alien creature?

Bill referred to Tiny as an alien at one point, the Doctor said it was irrelevant where Tiny was from, and that was that, nothing more was said about Tiny’ s origins. By the end of the episode, the question seems to be totally forgotten, which is either a mistake or a deliberate dodge. When Bill referred to Tiny as an alien, it’s because they were discuss the possibility that she was causing the cold weather. Is that something a lot of terrestrial fish can do, the manipulations of weather patterns? We never find out for sure if Tiny can indeed mess with the local forecast. But what if she could? Why would she make it so cold? Is she from a very cold planet, populated with bipedal humanoids who also thrive in the cold? You know, like Mars, for instance? (We know the Ice Warriors will be showing up later on in Series 10. Is this the groundwork to their appearance? Are they the shadowy benefactors to the Sutcliffe family, entrusting them with the care of their fuel supply in exchange do a share in the harvest? And if they have a deal with the Sutcliffe family, and now that the racist one is dead and one of the urchins (Perry) is the new Lord Sutcliffe, will he have dealings with the Ice Warriors? And did you know Perry is short for “Peregrine,” which literally means “foreign traveller” and “alien”? Just how deep is this freaking rabbit hole anyway?!?

 Okay, let’s pull back a little bit here…

I was also thinking that those angler fish much be an alien species. Not so much the bioluminesence thing, that’s fairly normal, but that spin rapidly in a circle until a hole in the ice opens up and suck a person down through it and then reseal the hole with ice so no one’s the wiser thing. That seems a little exotic for an earthbound species. But then I remembered the Sea Cucumber. 

The Sea Cucumber is a distant relative of the Starfish, close enough that the Starfish will follow the Sea Cucumber on Facebook, but distant enough that they will avoid them at the family reunion. The are many different types of Sea Cucumbers, but they all look like what would happen if Heironymus Bosch and H.P. Lovecraft got to design a slug. They have mouth tentacles, for God’s sake. 

A sea cucumber, just out for a crawl from his home in Rhy’leh, where Dead Cthulu lies dreaming.

But here’s the thing with certain types of Sea Cucumbers: they can turn themselves into a liquid. If they wish to pass through a narrow opening, the Sea Cucumber can unhook it’s cell bonds and become a liquid and then seep through the opening. Once on in the other side, it reverses the process and becomes a solid, yet hideously ugly, sea cucumber again. Now if a sea creature has the ability to do that, is it really too far a stretch to say some fish couldn’t melt a hole, yank some two-legged entree through it, and then patch up the hole? So I’m comfortable in assuming they’re a terrestrial species and you should stay off the ice at all times, including indoor skating rinks. Why take chances? 

(The Sea Cucumber also breathes through it’s anus. If it could talk through it’s anus, it could become President of the United States. Or at least pass for the current one.) 

These are just some of the things we have to pay attention to during Series 10. The main thing is to keep your eyes and ears open, and don’t trust Moffat, he’s trying to sneak something past us every chance he gets! He’s a very smart guy, and you have to get up pretty early to catch him red handed. Me? I’m setting my alarm for five a.m. That’ll also help me get a jump on those squirrels.  

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