Review: Doctor Who – Series 7 – Part 2 – Episode 12: Nightmare in Silver
Neil Gaiman returns to Doctor Who to try to top The Doctor’s Wife. But, has he? Find out in my review.
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS, INCLUDING A FULL PLOT SUMMARY OF THE EPISODE. IF YOU HAVE NOT YET SEEN THE EPISODE AND DO NOT WISH TO HAVE IT SPOILED FOR YOU, DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW UNTIL YOU HAVE SEEN THE EPISODE. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
A NOTE ABOUT REVIEWS: Each review will be broken into 3 parts. Part 1 is the Plot. This will contain a full plot summary of the episode. Part 2 is My Take, where I will give my personal thoughts and observations on the episode. Finally, Part 3 will be the Score, where I will rate the episode on a scale of 1 to 5.
Figures and More Television Episode Review
Show: Doctor Who
Series: 7, Part 2
Episode #: 12
Title: Nightmare in Silver
- The Doctor
- Matt Smith
- Jenna-Louise Coleman
- Jason Watkins
- Warwick Davis
- Eve de Leon Allen
- Kassius Carey Johnson
- Tamzin Outhwaite
- Eloise Joseph
- Will Merrick
- Calvin Dean
- Zahra Ahmadi
- Aidan Cook
- Neil Gaiman
- Stephen Woolfenden
- Marcus Wilson
The Doctor takes Clara and the two children, Angie and Artie, to whom she is nanny, to an extraterrestrial theme park. However, they find the park abandoned and closed down, and under military occupation. The Doctor convinces the troops and their Captain stationed there that he is an official looking for their missing Emperor and they find Webley, the owner of the theme park, who takes them on a tour. Webley then shows them several deactivated Cybermen, explaining that the Cybermen race was defeated and exterminated a thousand years ago. They are harmless museum pieces while one is converted into a chess-playing machine operated by Porridge, a chess champion with dwarfism. After having fun playing at some of the park’s attractions, Clara is ready to take Angie and Artie back home. However, the Doctor decides to stay, becoming suspicious of funny insects infesting the park. The bugs are revealed to be Cybermites, which reactivate the Cybermen in the museum. The Cybermen then abduct Webley, Angie, and Artie.
The Captain and her platoon are shocked that there are still active Cybermen, and admit that they are a punishment unit that was banished to this planet to keep them out of the way. The Doctor then puts Clara in charge of the troops, warning her not to let them destroy the planet while he goes to rescue Angie and Artie. Since communications with the rest of the Empire are cut off, Clara has them relocate to a nearby castle to fortify it. Meanwhile, the Doctor finds Angie and Artie have been infected with the Cybermites and are under the Cybermen’s control. A partially converted Webley reveals to the Doctor that the Cybermen have been secretly rebuilding themselves, kidnapping people from the amusement park before it closed. However, to further their plans, they need an advanced brain like the Doctor’s. The Doctor points out that Cybermen can only use humans, but Cyber-Webley reveals that they have upgraded themselves to the point where they can convert any organic lifeform, and infects the Doctor with Cybermites. The Cyberman consciousness known as the Cyber-Planner that attempts to take control of the Doctor’s mind, powered up by having access to a Time Lord brain, then dubs itself Mr. Clever. To prevent Mr. Clever from seizing control of his mind, the Doctor threatens to initiate a regeneration, which would destroy the Cyberman implants in his brain and anything connected to them. Realizing that they are at a stalemate, the Cyber-planner agrees to the Doctor’s challenge to play a game of chess, with the winner taking control of the Doctor’s mind.
Meanwhile, at the castle, Clara takes stock of the platoon’s anti-Cybermen weapons. However, they only possess one anti-Cyberman gun, several hand pulsers, and a planet-destroying bomb. Clara takes possession of the bomb trigger and orders the Captain not to use the bomb’s verbal command. In a private moment, the Captain reveals both that she knows Porridge and that she was once part of the Imperial Guard. Porridge tells Clara that drastic measures are the only way to fight the Cybermen, and if a Cyberman cannot be immediately destroyed, then the entire planet must be destroyed. The Captain, having been sent to the punishment platoon for disobeying orders, decides to make up for her past failure by activating the bomb, despite Clara and Porridge’s protests. However, the Captain is shot and killed by a Cyberman before she can give the detonation command. Clara decides to go on the offensive, and working with the platoon, she manages to destroy the Cyberman attacking them.
In the Cyberman base, the Doctor manages to temporarily disrupt the Cyber-planner’s control over him, and reunites with Clara, warning her that Mr. Clever will reactivate the rest of the dormant Cybermen in order to wipe them out. He then continues the chess game against Clever, knowing that it will not keep its promise if he wins. Posing as the Doctor, Clever then tricks Clara into coming close enoough to grab the bomb trigger and destroys it. With no more threats to himself, Clever then sends its entire Cyberman army against Clara and the platoon. As the humans and Cybermen battle, the Doctor agrees to sacrifice his Queen and guarantee his loss in return for setting Angie and Artie free. The Doctor then bluffs Clever, saying he has a way to defeat him in three moves. Falling for the bluff, Clever shuts down the Cyberman army to use their processing power to figure out the Doctor’s strategy. The Doctor then uses the distraction to disable his implants with a powered-up hand pulser, banishing Clever from his mind.
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, revealing that using this command will immediately summon his flagship which will automatically teleport him aboard. Everybody (plus the TARDIS) is transported to safety while the planet is destroyed along with all of the Cybermen. Porridge then asks Clara to marry him, impressed by her beauty and intelligence. However, Clara turns him down saying she has no wish to be the Queen of the Universe. The Doctor and Clara then return Angie and Artie home; the TARDIS gifts Angie with a new mobile as hers was left behind on Hedgewick’s World. Both children thank the Doctor for the amazing opputunity to see the future he granted them.
After scanning for any remaining Cyberman technology, Porridge orders his ship to return home. However, a single Cybermite is seen floating through space.
Last Year, Neil Gaiman wrote what many considered the best Episode of Series 6: The Hugo-Award The Doctor’s Wife. Now, he has returned to write an episode this series which sees the return of one of the Doctor’s oldest foes. Steven Moffat gave Neil Gaiman the job of making the Cybermen scary again. So, this episode must be reviewed based on the answer to two questions. Question One: Are the Cybermen scary again? And, Question Two: Is the episode good? Let’s answer these questions one at a time.
First, Question One: Are the Cybermen scary again? The answer here is an unequivocal YES! How does Neil Gaiman start this one off? With scary creepy, cyberbugs. The previous iteration of Cybermen had cybermites, which were little mouse-like robots with lots of teeth. This iteration has cybermites. I hate cybermites worse than i hated cybermats. Dormant Cybermen have always been scarier to me. Also, Cybermen can now sneak up on you?! 11 minutes in and I’m terrified. Poor Webley, upgrade by cybermite is gross. New Cybermen are REALLY fast! What a horrifying plan to use Children’s brains for new Cyberplanner and repair damaged units with park visitors. Cybermen can convert non-humans now. Icky bugs again! The CYBERDOCTOR! The Cyberplanner tries to take over the Doctor’s mind. Now that is truly terrifying. These Cybermen assimilate any organic matter, human or alien. Add to that the fact that the new Cybermen have detachable hands and heads that can swivel 180° and, yes, sufficed to say, I am scared of the Cybermen again. Thanks a lot, Neil Gaiman.
Next, Question Two: Is the episode good? Again, the Answer is, unsurprisingly, YES! SO, first off, this episode is WAY more in line with what you would expect from Neil Gaiman. For one, thing the names of certain characters and locations in this episode practically SCREAM Neil Gaiman: Hedgewick’s World of Wonders, Ha-Ha, Beauty, Brains, Porridge, Emperor Ludens Nimrod Cord Longstaff XLI, Dave’s Discount Interstellar Removals, Spacey-Zoomer, and, my personal favorite, Natty Longshoe’s Comical Castle. Warwick Davis is amazing as Porridge/Emperor Ludwig….etc. He really seems to enjoy himself and I hope we will see him in Doctor Who again. The actors playing the soldiers in the platoon are also very good in their respective parts, with all combining to make a wonderful “ragtag band of misfits” vibe. Particular kudos go to Tamzin Outhwaite, who played the Captain. Jenna’s performance is good, as always, though she has less to do in this episode. It is nice to see her take charge and try to stand up to Mr. Clever. It is also a true achievement that after the disrespect she is shown, she does not slap the kids, but more on them later. However, the stand-out performance award in this episode goes to Matt Smith. The showdown between the Doctor and the Cyberplanner takes place completely in the Doctor’s mind, and as such, the challenge of making this ambitious situation work falls solely on Matt Smith. And, I am pleased to say, he rises to the challenge. In fact, the two sides of the personality are so different, that you would swear that they were filmed separately, but they were not. In fact, the physical movement that accompanies the switching between the two sides was NOT IN THE SCRIPT. It was created by MATT HIMSELF. Sadly, there are two BIG problems with the episode: the two kids, or more appropriately, the child “actors” who play them. They are the least talented child actors I can ever remember seeing in Doctor Who. I can only assume that they were on a tight schedule and needed to cast them quickly. They might still redeem themselves in the finale. but I’m not counting on it.
Nightmare in Silver was more of a “Neil Gaiman” episode than his previous one. This one is more a straight-forward sci-fi episode. Thought it retains the penchant for unusual names that is Mr. Gaiman’s trademark. Aside from the two child actors, the cast is spectacular with a special standout award going to Matt Smith. It is unfair to compare it to The Doctor’s Wife, as they are different episodes. This one, though, updates an old foe with some deadly new capabilities that will, I’m sure, cause quite a few problems in the future. In my opinion, this is the best of the series so far. Nightmare in Silver gets a 5 out of 5.
Here we go. It’s Series Finale time. Steven Moffat pulls out all the stops for The Name of the Doctor. Here’s the trailer.