Series Ten, Episode Three — “Thin Ice”

'Doctor Who' continues its Tenth Series at the BBC

© Copyright 2017, BBC Worldwide Limited. All Rights Reserved.

By Brandy DykhuizenPeter Capaldi’s final year as The Doctor has been off to a fantastic start, and “Thin Ice” may have made me start missing him already.

Everything you want in a Doctor Who episode was there – witty banter in spades, trickery of the baddie, a new(ish) monster and a down-to-business Capaldi monologue. This was one of those fantastically written episodes that punches you jovially in the arm, letting you know it’s perfectly normal to be sitting on the couch watching a kid’s show on a Saturday night.

Doctor Who has been touching on some heavy themes lately, and thus far has even managed to do so whilst keeping it completely relevant to the story and without sounding contrived. Last week we got a little taste of this new turn in “Smile”, when the colonists received a lecture on the errors of enslaving the Vardi.

That didn’t quite work for me, to be honest, as the solution was to wipe the enslaved race’s memory and push the reset button, which really felt like the wrong message to be slipping into a children’s program. “In Thin Ice”, however, the gloves came off and social justice was meted out appropriately — not only to those in charge of enslaving a beautiful creature, but also to the jerks who dared let Bill’s race cloud their judgment.

In previous years, the series seemed content and almost self-congratulatory just to have a companion of color. Now it’s dipping its toe into the 21st Century with actual onscreen exchanges about race and sexual preference. Welcome to the conversation, Moffat! Well done, you!

And, best of all, these thoughtful motifs are not played out at the expense of the silliness. The Doctor and Bill spent quite a bit of time on a lark, skipping around the Frost Fair, enjoying its rotisseries and sword swallowers, while slipping in cracks about black Jesus and whitewashed history. The show retains its classic kookiness without diving in over its head. If Doctor Who can keep it up like this all season, it will have truly outdone itself.


Bill: “Interesting. Regents England is a bit more black than they said it was.” The Doctor: “So was Jesus. History’s a whitewash.”

I’m 2,000 years old and I’ve never had the time or luxury of outrage.” – The Doctor. Well that’s certainly debatable, old man.

Don’t be smug. Smug belongs to me.” – The Doctor.

Never underestimate the collective human ability to overlook the inexplicable. Also, the Frost Fair included a lot of day drinking.” – The Doctor.

BEST MOMENT: The Doctor lectures Bill on the importance of reason over passion, telling her to keep her mouth shut and allow him to do the talking. This of course was all a setup to the literal punch line, when The Doctor slugs old Sutcliffe square in the face for being a racist monster towards Bill. This might actually be my favorite Doctor moment of all time.

EPISODE’S MVP: Bill had a lot to grapple with in “Thin Ice”, what with watching a child perish and coming to terms with traveling alongside a man who is no stranger to death. Pearl Mackie turns the corner from impassioned to light quite believably. In many ways, she’s the antidote to Clara Oswald, letting go of what she can’t control without the stewing and snarking.

'Doctor Who' continues its Tenth Series at the BBC

© Copyright 2017, BBC Worldwide Limited. All Rights Reserved.


– The special effects have gotten so good in Doctor Who in recent years, that I think sometimes they throw something completely ridiculous in there for their own amusement. That super rubbery anglerfish the coin tosser pulled out of the river, for instance.

– Peter Capaldi looks mighty dashing in a top hat. So much better than that ridiculous fez.

– And speaking of wardrobe, Bill’s boots are to die for.

– There is most definitely something alive in that vault, as we hear it knock thrice in Nardole’s presence. The Doctor may be distracted with a new friend, but Nardole will certainly not let the cat out of the bag. What (or who) do we think is in there? And will it be the reason Missy/The Master returns?

– We got pretty close to hearing a curse word when Bill’s “No Shit!” was muffled by the sound of a horse whinnying. Is that a series first?

– Did this week’s creature seem a bit derivative to anyone else? It was awfully similar to the Starwhale in “The Beast Below”. I loved the SeaWorld “thank you” he splashed at The Doctor and Bill as he made his way out of the Thames, though.

9.5 out of 10

Next: “Knock Knock”, in one week.

Before: “Smile”, here.