Last week, the Doctor and Clara fought a crazy old lady with a sucky monster stuck to her chest. This week – the Cybermen are back!
Nightmare in Silver begins with the Doctor and Clara bringing the children she babysits, Angie and Artie, to the biggest theme park in the Universe… only to find that it closed long ago, and there is a platoon of Imperial soldiers on board. The Doctor’s psychic paper gets them by, and a strange old man named Webley shows the four of them to his ship, filled with wax figurines (including the missing Emperor himself) and a Cyberman, one of the Doctor’s oldest and most deadly of enemies. Luckily this old Cyberman is just an empty shell, but can still miraculously beat anyone in chess. At least, until they open up the table underneath and find a small dwarf by the name of Porridge, who is controlling the Cyberman.
Unable to please Angie and Artie through any means, Clara decides that it’s time to leave the planet and head somewhere else – but the Doctor wants to stay. “Funny insects” is his explanation, and we’ve seen these weird electronic leech-worms scuttling about throughout the episode, eerily reminiscent of a Cybermat. The Doctor investigates while Angie and Artie decide to sleep the rest of the day away, and despite the Doctor’s usual warning of “don’t wander off”, Angie gets bored and wanders off anyway. She heads into the barracks and starts up a conversation with the Captain of the platoon, while Porridge explains to Clara the Great Cyberwar, between the Empire and the Cybermen, and how an entire system was destroyed, billions upon trillions of lives lost. Clara and the Doctor hurry after Angie, and whilst in the barracks, Webley is taken control of by the supposedly ‘empty’ Cyberman, and a new, upgraded version attacks the barracks, kidnapping Angie. Angie discovers that Artie has also been taken and is under the influence of the Cybermen.
The Doctor makes Clara in charge of the platoon and hurries after the Cyberman to find the children, and discovers that the Cybermen need children’s brains to create a new cyber world. However, the funny insects have been scanning the Doctor’s brain and decide that they want his more than theirs, and he gets taken over – although, not completely. The Cyber Planner, or ‘Mr. Clever’, has control of just under half of the Doctor’s mind, and they decide to play a game of chess to decide who gets full control. The stakes: Angie, Artie and the entire planet. The Doctor manages to take control quickly with a spare golden ticket he has, which interrupts the Cyber Planner’s impulses for long enough to get the two children back to Clara and the platoon, who have taken defensive positions in an abandoned castle.
The Doctor gets himself tied up, and the switching between him and the Cyber Planner is unbelievable, quick and efficient, a tribute
to the amazing acting of Matt Smith, and Clara is given control of a bomb that will implode the planet. Meanwhile, the Captain is killed by the rogue Cyberman, and the Cyber Planner gets control long enough to release the entire army he had hidden away, but the Doctor forfeits his Queen to release Angie and Artie. Clara isn’t sure what to do once all of the Cybermen start to attack, and goes to the Doctor-slash-Cyber Planner, who wants the detonation device. After an absolutely beautiful declaration of love, Clara slaps the Cyber Planner, and the Doctor gains control, however the detonation trigger is destroyed. Now, the entire army is amassing forward, they are severely outnumbered and outgunned, and everything they attempt is immediately rendered useless by the Cybermens’ defensive upgrading. The Doctor mentions that the Time Lords invented chess, and he can beat the Cyber Planner in three moves: 1) Get sonic screwdriver, 2) Activate the handheld electric pulse and 3) Amplify it.
The Doctor is back in control, the Cybermen are temporarily shut down, but their weapons are dead and the bomb could only be activated by the trigger or the now dead Captain’s voice command. Fortunately, Angie points out that Porridge is the Emperor – he looks the same as on the coin she’d gotten before and his wax figure. Porridge activates the bomb, which will take 80 seconds to detonate, and everyone is transmatted aboard an Imperial ship, along with the TARDIS. The planet implodes, destroying all of the Cybermen, and after a failed attempt from Porridge to get Clara to marry him, everybody heads home safe and sound.
Unfortunately, this was an extremely average episode of Doctor Who, more a filler than anything else, and the character of Angie was whiny yet mysteriously a handy deus ex machina for absolutely no reason at all. Neil Gaiman, one of my favourite authors, fell short in the writing of this episode, and it’s not really one I’d watch again. However, the interactions between the Doctor and the Cyber Planner were interesting and brilliant, and I enjoyed the scenes with both of them in it; Matt Smith’s acting skills were absolutely wonderful. Hopefully the next episode, The Name of the Doctor, the finale we have been waiting seasons for, will be more than enough to make up for this.