Empress of Mars

The nobility of the warrior, the code of conduct to which they adhere, has been the subject of dramatic entertainment for millennia. From the amphitheaters of Ancient Greece, to the television programs of today, we can still be awed by the discipline and honor exemplified by history’s greatest warrior civilizations. The reptilian species of Mars once held this level of esteem — one facet of a complex and unique nature — and the Doctor himself recognizes it. “They could slaughter entire civilizations…and weep at the crushing of a flower.”

In the latest Doctor Who episode, the Ice Warriors are once again formidable, noble, and fierce. Long Live the Queen.

This week, we look to Mark Gatiss one more time, perhaps the last time, to tell a Whovian tale in “The Empress of Mars”. In a set of circumstances wonderfully unique to this program, our Doctor takes Bill and Nardole to the red planet in 1881, only to find the British Royal Army already there, making short work of crossing a very powerful — and irascible — queen. We discuss the deflation of patriarchy, the true villains of the tale (hint: they aren’t reptilian), the restored glory of the Ice Warrior species, and the return of a Pertwee-era character that closes a wholly entertaining continuity loop.

Bonus Segment:

As more entries roll in for our “Let’s Discuss Gatiss” contest on Facebook (open until 23 June), we pull on one of the threads within to reflect on Gatiss’ many episode contributions to Doctor Who, from ‘The Unquiet Dead’ all the way up to ‘Empress of Mars’. Reactions to his legacy seem to fall into two camps: he’s either a skilled storyteller who incorporates “moments” from time to time that throw viewers; or he’s a mediocre writer who occasionally has moments of brilliance. Got an opinion? Join the discussion — and be entered to win some DW swag, in the process! [Note: we recorded this episode before the recent interview Gatiss held where he discussed his controversial “protest” to casting in ‘Empress of Mars’. More on that next week…it would have had a profound impact on our opinions, for sure.]

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