Doctor Who S7 Ep13 – Nightmare in Silver

Ah, Neil Gaiman. Am I ever the fanboy of his work. I was super excited to hear he would contribute a second entry to Doctor Who, and I awaited it’s airing like a young child awaiting their birthday party. And when the long wait was over, I opened the present from my favorite scribe with glee and excitement and confusion and slight disappointment.

Was this episode a dud? Was it a failure? Was it insulting? No to all of those. It suffered from two things right off the bat: one is that everyone so loved “The Doctor’s Wife” and a rather large chunk of Gaiman’s body of work that we held this episode up on too high a pedestal. Two, it has all the same problems that the second half of the season has been plagued by, i.e., not getting the full attention it deserves because of the looming 50th anniversary.

Those things aside, though I’ll likely add other flaws later, the episode was actually really good. Let’s discuss!Doctor Who S7 Ep13 poster

The episode starts off with The Doctor and Clara taking Angie and Artie out for a trip in the TARDIS, as they had blackmailed Clara at the end of last episode. No sooner have they arrived on a future-planet-turned-amusement park, which is also now abandoned, they are surrounded at gunpoint by a ragtag military squad. After flashing some psychic paper The Doctor and co. are permitted access to roam about, and are approached by Webley (Jason Watkins), the owner of the planet park. Webley takes the group on a guided tour to one of the last remaining working attractions of the park, a chess-playing Cyberman. It is revealed that this is just a shell operated by Porridge (Warwick Davis), who challenges people to chess under the guise that they are playing against the robot and not a person.

After a playing on an anti-gravity ride, Clara announces it’s time to go home. The Doctor says he’s not ready to because he’s spotted interesting little robot insects. The bugs are revealed to be Cybermites, which reactivate the chess-playing Cybermen after stealing Angie’s phone and spare parts from the encamped military squad’s communications equipment. The Cybermen then abduct Webley, Angie, and Artie.

Doctor Who S7 Ep13 Cyberman

As the squad tries to take control of the situation, The Doctor relieves their commander of rank and gives it to Clara, as he knows they will stop at nothing, even imploding the planet itself, to destroy the Cyberman. He goes off to find those abducted to return them to safety. The Doctor is confronted and attacked by Webley, using the Cybermites in an attempt to Locutus of Borg him into the Cyber-Planner. This doesn’t go exactly as planned, as Cybermen aren’t great at converting nonhumans, thus leaving The Doctor in control of one half of his mind. The only logical way to end the stalemate between The Doctor and the Cyber-Planner is a winner-takes-all chess match.

The Doctor forces a hiatus on the chess match by using the gold plated ticket on the Cyber bits of his face to take the kids and Webley back to Clara. Clara has holed up in a castle with the army, already under siege by a lone Cyberman who has already killed off the captain and a few others. After explaining the stakes of the match, The Doctor then continues the chess game against his other half, knowing that it will not keep its promise if he wins. Shortly after being tied down, the Cyber-Planner tricks Clara and destroys the remote detonator to the world-imploding bomb. With no more threats to itself, it then sends its entire Cyberman army against Clara and the platoon. As the army battles the Cybermen The Doctor bargains for the lives of the children, and bluffs the Cyber-Planner into taxing the Cybermen’s processing abilities to figure out The Doctor’s next set of movements. With Clara and the kids safe, The Doctor uses his sonic and a disruptor to remove the implants from his face, and releases his mind from the Cyber-Planner. If you are going against someone who isn’t going to honor the rules and rewards of the game, then by all means cheat.

Doctor Who S7 Ep13 Doctor Porridge

However, the Cybermen begin to reactivate. Angie points out that Porridge is the Emperor, something she has known since she saw his face on an Imperial penny. Porridge, who never wanted to be Emperor in the first place, reluctantly uses his voice command to activate the bomb. He reveals that using this command will immediately summon his flagship, which will automatically teleport him aboard.  After all is accounted for, the planet blown up rather than imploded, and Clara refusing the Emperor’s marriage proposal, everyone gets to go home. Even though one tiny single Cybermite is seen floating through space at the end.

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