Doctor Who: The Cybermen Get Upgraded

Flashback
A Look Back at "Tomb of the Cybermen"
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It starts with Cybermats, or in this case Cybermites. The ridiculous remote-controlled rat-like contraptions the Cybermen use to scavenge parts have always been one of the dumber things about the mythos. Gaimain turns them into infesting maggot-like creatures that manage to overtake first Webley, then Angie and Artie for partial upgrading.

The second thing is that we see the Cybermen as they were at the end of a war that was only won by humanity eradicating an entire galaxy. The standard protocol at this time is that if a single Cyberman is found active anywhere in the universe, imploding the planet is the immediately used option. And you can see why.

The Pete's World Cybermen were always kind of stupid. The originals had cunning, they legitimately got better with every upgrade, and by now they have developed superhuman speed and the ability to attack with detached body parts, and, worst of all, they have set up shop in the brain of The Doctor.

It sounds like a terrible idea, but almost half of "Nightmare in Silver" is nothing more than Matt Smith talking to himself, trying to outwit the Cyberplanner that wants to use the knowledge and brain of a Time Lord to upgrade the universe in the image of the Cybermen.

Much of this takes place over a chess board that The Doctor has persuaded the Cyberplanner to use as a contest for control, and inside the actual mind of the Doctor. All those scenes in Spider-Man and The Lord of the Rings where we had someone arguing with himself, between good and evil? This is what they look like when they're actually done right.

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Gaiman penned some fantastic dialogue, having The Doctor square off against an evil counterpart while also giving Clara a chance to do the same. It's just the interaction that Clara so desperately needs in her character, and what has been lacking so much in the season. We simply don't get to watch The Doctor go on and on as he should, and it's only when he is, in a way, the enemy that everyone gets room to breathe and get some stuff done.

Coleman transforms Clara very abruptly in this episode, taking command of a military garrison with a strange ease that hints more and more at the connection between her and Rose Tyler. She sports a very Rose-like coat throughout the episode, and her skirt appears to have rose patterns to continue the multitude of hints in the last seven episodes. She also wields a gun in a manner that reminds me of Rose in "The Stolen Earth." The mystery deepens, but just watching Clara have an adventure was worth it this week.

One final note: Warwick Davis turns in a performance that spellbinds as a galactic emperor hiding from office. It's easy to forget sometimes that Davis is actually a tremendous actor, and kudos to Doctor Who for allowing him a considerable platform to show it off.

Wibbley Wobbly Writing: The transition of Clara into competent badass is just so...sudden. The only times she's ever shown herself this capable are in timelines where she's dead. Either that's a clue or just rather lazy characterization. I also find it difficult to believe that The Doctor doesn't exist in the memories of Cybermen who have lain dormant for thousands of years. This is, I believe, the first time a major recurring villain hasn't recognized The Doctor, and yet the Cyberplanner seems to know who the Time Lords are. Finally...the Cybermen apparently were waiting for children so they could have an exceptional mind to upgrade to planner, but settled on The Doctor instead after scanning his brain, and yet at no time decided it might be advantageous to take over the emperor of the freakin' galaxy.

Oh, and I just had a thought...what if Clara isn't a companion? What if she's all the companions?

The Cybermen are an iconic villain, but how do they stack up against The 5 Best New Doctor Who Monsters? As for Clara, it may be time to revisit the Top 10 Theories About the New Doctor Who Companion.

Jef With One F is a recovering rock star taking it one day at a time. You can read about his adventures in The Bible Spelled Backwards or connect with him on Facebook.


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3 comments
katydidknot
katydidknot

Was the phone the opening for future Cybermen episodes? The Cybermites were shown on the phone of one of the kids early in the episode, and the Doctor, in a somewhat unnecessary move, hands it back to her at the end. 

Anyway, the spoilers about next week's episodes have hit the net due to some Series 7 DVDs that were apparently sent out too early(!). I'm not looking. But apparently the Clara mystery is resolved...

JefWithOneF
JefWithOneF topcommenter

@katydidknot My wife asked the same thing. I think it leaves a convenient hole for the return of the Mondasian Cybermen.

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