This week, the long awaited return of the Ice Warriors!
I can't say that I've done as much research on the Ice Warriors as I did on the Great Intelligence. One reason is that I remember a little more about the Ice Warriors than I do about the GI. The other reason is that they have a few more episodes. Also, there's a ton about them in expanded universe, so many of the things we know about them are outside of actual canon. But they're a very interesting villain. They debuted in "The Ice Warriors," a 2nd Doctor episode. While we have not seen the Ice Warriors since the 3rd Doctor era, interestingly enough, we haven't actually seen them as a villain since the 2nd Doctor era. In both of their appearances in the 3rd Doctor era ("The Curse of Peladon" and "The Monster of Peladon"), they were a neutral force. Seeing them come back this season is going to be interesting because, it seems, they're finally back as a villain.
So, who are the Ice Warriors? Well, they're the ancient inhabitants of Mars. How exactly did the barren planet of Mars ever produce life? Good question! In the Doctor Who universe, there was a huge, wonderful, thriving society on Mars. The society existed millions of years before any life of any kind formed on Earth. So by the time the Human Race developed the ability to even look into space, any sign of the ancient Martian civilization had long since been ground to rubble. It's interesting that, in the 1960's, they came up with this plot, as decades later it would be proven that there are traces of there once having been water on Mars, and that there are signs of at least bacterial life having existed on Mars. The show, strangely, predicted this correctly...sort of.
The early episodes depicted Ice Warriors who had managed to survive the destruction of their planet and wanted to restart their society on another planet. In "The Ice Warriors," the Earth had undergone a massive temperature shift and was beginning to become an ice planet, making it a perfect planet for the Ice Warriors to try to conquer. In the two "Peladon" episodes in the Third Doctor era, they had become a part of the Galactic Federation, meaning that somehow some of them survived and decided to become upstanding members of intergalactic society.
In deleted dialogue from "The Waters of Mars," it was explained that the virus that got into the water was something left behind by the Ice Warriors, possibly as a trap for anyone who would choose to disturb the remains of their civilization. Regardless of that dialogue not being in the episode, there's no denying that the Ice Warriors are the unspoken ghost presiding over the episode. Those infected by the virus had the ability to understand ancient north Martian, a language that, undoubtedly, was the language of some era of the Ice Warriors' culture. They may not have appeared in the episode, but they were a major part of it.
They're a great classic villain, and they're properly creepy. There are some similarities between them and the Silurians, in that both are cold blooded, reptilian, war like, and both want to take over Earth, not out of some sort of vain desire to rule a planet, but simply for the survival of their planet. It's possible that the reason that we haven't seen the Ice Warriors in a while is because they are too much like the Silurians. But, personally, I find the Ice Warriors really creepy, in a way that the Silurians could never hope to be. And the way they speak is awesome! There have been unfulfilled promises to bring the Ice Warriors back for several decades. If there had been a season in 1990, there would have been an Ice Warriors episode that took place on a college campus in the 1960s. Thankfully, they're finally back!
If only the episode was written by someone other than Mark Gatiss. #anyonebutgatiss