Doctor Who Recap: “Nightmare In Silver”

By May 13, 2013

The Cybermen are back in Neil Gaiman’s brand new episode, and they’re channeling the Borg…and Clark Kent.

They’ve got super speed and a new capacity to upgrade themselves. Fire off a few rounds of electric charge and the first few will fry…until they adapt.

It starts out as an innocent enough outing (don’t they all?). The Doctor has the perfect adventure planned for Clara’s charges: a trip to the best amusement park in the galaxy! Unfortunately, the park is closed down; the only attraction left is Webley’s World of Wonders, full of wax statues…and one hollow, chess-playing Cyberman, who easily bests Artie.

But, alas, it’s a trick; a man named Porridge is hiding underneath, controlling the Cyberman’s every move. Still, the Doctor is disturbed by the Cyber insects crawling about and wants to investigate; after some time playing in the remains of an anti-gravity ride, he leaves the children to sleep. Angie declares herself bored–and irritated by the lack of cellphone service–and decides to wander to the barracks that house a platoon of soldiers.

Meanwhile, Porridge tells Clara of the Cyber Wars, and shows her a hole in space. Billions of lives were lost as planets were destroyed to combat the cyber threat. Porridge admits to feeling sorry for the man who had to press the button. One cannot help but think of the Doctor, who destroyed his own planet to save the universe.

In Webley’s ship, the Cyberman awakens, grabbing and transforming him. Artie, too, is taken, and the Cybermen put him in a waking coma. Clara and the Doctor track Angie to the barracks, but a Cyberman attacks and, with Kryptonian-like speed, snags Angie. The Doctor leaves Clara in charge of the platoon, much to their captain’s annoyance.

The Doctor finds the kids, but Cyber Webley tells him there’s a new plan in place: transform the Doctor into the new Cyber Planner. He tosses the cyber bugs at the Doctor, partially converting him; the two battle for complete control of the Doctor’s brain. They agree to play a game of chess for ultimate domination. The Doctor temporarily disables the Cyber Planner by plastering a golden ticket to his cybernetic parts (apparently, gold is a Cyberman’s kryptonite).

The Captain shows Clara the platoon’s meager weaponry: a single gun, and numerous hand pulsers to deactivate the Cybermen at close range. Finally, there’s a bomb set to activate at the Captain’s vocal command. Clara takes the remote trigger and orders her not to set it off. She defies the order, but the Cybermen attack just in time, taking the Captain out before she can finish.

The Doctor finds Clara, and when he hesitates to tell her that the children are not alright, she points the gun straight at him! He admits that the children are in a walking coma, but assures the group that he has a good chance of winning his chess match (much to their confusion). He tells them to tie him up at the chess table, and, just as Clara finishes securing him, the Cyber Planner takes control again. The Doctor still has a trick up his sleeve, however; he writes Clara a note–“hit me!”–and she does, smacking him back to normal.

As Clara and the platoon plan their defensive strategy–run an electric cable through the water that separates them from the Cybermen–the Cyber Planner wakes up an army. Clara returns to the Doctor, who asks her to hand him the remote trigger. She refuses, and he tries to convince her that he’s the real Doctor…by confessing his romantic feelings for her! As he leans in for a kiss, she slaps him across the face, bringing back the real Doctor. After all, she tells him, even if he did have those feelings for her, he’d never confess it.

Even though the Doctor has control of his mouth, the Cyber Planner takes over his arm, grabbing the trigger and smashing it. The Cybermen start their attack, and the plan to electrocute them fails; they quickly adapt and make their way across the water. They begin firing their single gun at the Cyber army, blowing them up one by one…until the Cybermen adapt to that too. The army corners Clara and the Platoon, but just as they’re about to convert them, the Cybermen power down.

The Cyber Planner needs the collective’s brain power to beat the Doctor at chess! The Doctor claims he can beat the Cyber Planner in three moves, despite the fact that he sacrificed his Queen to free the children. One: Activate sonic screwdriver. Two: Grab a hand pulser and amplify it. Three: Press it to his cybernetic implants, and voila! Cyber Planner eliminated; game over.

They’re not out of the woods yet, however; there are still three million Cybermen on the planet. It’s time to blow it up…but there’s only one other person who can activate the bomb. It’s obvious to Angie, even though the rest of the team has missed it: Porridge is actually the Emperor. He’d run away to escape his royal duties, and activating the bomb would signal his flagship, giving away his location.

The flagship transmats them on board, along with the TARDIS, and the planet explodes. When Clara tells Porridge that being Emperor doesn’t mean he has to be lonely, he asks her to marry him. She turns him down, against Angie’s protestations. They return home, and Clara and the kids bid the Doctor goodnight. Apparently, he’s picking her up every Wednesday for outings!

So, the big question is: Is the Doctor attracted to Clara? He’s certainly intrigued by her–and, to prove that he was himself, he claimed that he didn’t find her attractive at all…but at the very end, when she leaves, he calls her “a mystery, wrapped in an enigma, squeezed into a skirt that’s just a little bit too…tight.” He ponders the last part for a very long moment (with a smile and a dreamy look)–before he panics and reverts to taking the hard line: she’s a mystery that needs solving.

This should make for a very interesting dynamic when River Song returns in next week’s season finale.