Doctor Who: The War Games - The Cold War - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Doctor Who: The War Games - The Cold War

Chris Morley doesn't fire a shot.

We find ourselves back in the USSR now, as we examine the Cold War - not a shot fired but plenty of itchy trigger fingers, as the Doctor & Clara discovers when traveling to 1983 and unwittingly boarding a Soviet submarine with a fellow passenger from the Red Planet itself. And he's not a particularly happy camper - so much for a mammoth! But of course it being the Eighties, everything's bigger including the nuclear weapons.

Suspicion is in play straight off the bat, the Russians inclined to treat their bow-tied intended provisional captive as a spy for the British - of whom three from Cambridge defected to Moscow as detailed in Endgame.

The three men concerned are scientists Kim Philby, Donald McLean & Guy Burgess who had helped develop the nuclear bomb. In 1949, convinced that it was wrong for one country to have a monopoly on nuclear weapons, the three passed on the secrets to the Soviet Union who developed their own nuclear weapons, bringing about the nuclear standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union which largely defined the Cold War. The major powers then aimed nuclear missiles at one another, ensuring a stalemate through mutually assured destruction.

Even space itself became a Soviet-United States battleground - with an unseen presence manipulating things, suspicion rife in the lead up to America's Neil Armstrong setting foot on the lunar surface. Technically, though, he was beaten in leaving Earth by Russian Yuri Gagarin and then Valentina Tereshkova, who took flight in 1961 & '63 respectively well before his own giant leap for mankind. The Doctor has of course done similar space walks of sorts during Four To Doomsday and then again at the conclusion of The Woman Who Fell To Earth .

Having undertaken the first of these stories outside the confines of the police box during his Fifth guise, a trip into his own recent-ish past to counter the Warriors Of The Deep in a story which would later be seen as an analogy for the Cold War itself well before Cold War hit our screens. As A Brief History Of Time Travel would note,
“Johnny Byrne began working on his storyline around June 1982. At the time, the Cold War between the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was still being waged, and Byrne wanted to explore the dynamics of a world in which two supremely powerful blocs sit in opposition to one another, each waiting for the other to pull the trigger.

In particular, Byrne was interested in the notion that those in charge of the weapons might not be reliable in an atmosphere of such heightened tension. “
And pull the trigger they certainly do, much to the Doctor's dismay, having arrived at the Sea Base- “A rather special kind of undersea military colony. Armed with the sort of missiles that kill life but leave everything else intact.”

The Black Orchid rule in operation once more, adhered to across varying permutations as the one constant of our War Games here, Peter Davison's tenure going on to influence the Doctor's dealings with the past across future incarnations. Here, as always, the conflict never ends well. The day is saved but hardly anyone lives minus the now Panama-hatted & cricket enamoured Doctor & his companions.
“They're all dead, you know.”
As true of the pure historical format of the early years of Who, for the most part, as the deaths of humans, Silurians & Sea Devils alike.

A short hop forward reveals that there is actually another way after all, as devised by the man who put at least two references to that time spent trying to get Tegan back to Heathrow in The Crimson Horror. For after spending practically the whole time threatening vengeance through mutual destruction (a similar gambit having been used by the Doctor against the Daleks to try to get them away from wartime London), Grand Marshal Skaldak does a previously very un-Ice Warrior like thing and shows a degree of mercy in not activating the big red button after all!
DOCTOR: We've surfaced. Your people have saved us.
SKALDAK: Saved me, not you.
DOCTOR: Just go, Skaldak, please. Please, go in peace.
CLARA: We did it. We did it!
DOCTOR: No. No, no, no, no, no. It's still armed. A single pulse from that ship. I'll destroy us if I have to. I will destroy us if I have to. Show mercy, Skaldak. Come on. Show mercy.
Luckily the big cheese of the Thasisian Caste does just that, averting obliteration by mere seconds. The Daleks, meanwhile, had earlier tried to turn mutually assured destruction on its head as part of an elaborate trap for the then recently regenerated Eleventh Doctor, turning London's lights on from above & threatening to expose it to the Luftwaffe at the height of Nazi Germany's bombing raids on England's fair capital.
“Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah. No scans. No nothing. One move and I'll destroy us all, you got that? TARDIS bang bang, Daleks boom! Good boy.”

Card one played in a massive game of bluff. One-all. Like many a great tennis match, though, there's a tension brewing going into the final set. “Question is, what do we do now? Either you turn off your clever machine or I'll blow you and your new paradigm into eternity." Except, he can't! “Scan reveals nothing. TARDIS self destruct device non-existent." His old foes, though, do possess the means to do something similar through their “creator”, Professor Bracewell actually a living bomb powered by an Oblivion Continuum. A threat initially underestimated.
“You're bluffing. Deception's second nature to you. There isn't a sincere bone in your body. There isn't a bone in your body.”
But there's a choice to be made - destroy the Daleks and in doing so bring about their final end as he'd tried to when he was a younger but similarly bow-tied man, or let them escape but spare the Earth? Decisions, decisions. So much, then, for his initial prediction to Jamie & Victoria that the three of them had “seen the end of the Daleks forever.” - the positively freezing cold war of sorts between he and they subsequently showing little sign of thawing - one side unable to wipe out the other across various skirmishes!

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