‘Doctor Who’ Recap: ‘Nightmare In Silver’

Nightmare In Silver

Nightmare In Silver

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OK, let’s start:

The TARDIS lands on the moon! And yet the Doctor, Clara, Angie and Archie can breathe. Oh wait, it’s not the real moon, it’s Hedgewick’s World of Wonders, the biggest theme park in the universe. The Doctor has a golden ticket and he wants to go on the Spacey Zoomer ride.

But oh dear! He’s a bit late. It seems Hedgewick’s World is shut, and worse, overrun by soldiers. A top-hatted man called Webley leads the gang into a treasure trove of bits and bobs he has collected since the park closed down. He’s got a strange device that will beat all comers at chess. It’s a Cyberman!

Oh, hang on, it’s OK. All the Cybermen are dead. This one is empty, but somehow jolly good at chess. Just don’t turn around and look at the two robot mites watching proceedings from the shoulder of a nearby waxwork.

Inside a box, they find a small man called Porridge who has been the brains of the chess-playing Cyberman. He sets off the Spacey Zoomer ride, and the kids are almost appreciative. Clara wants to take them home, but the Doctor would rather hang about, investigating the strange robot-mite things. So Clara settles them down for a nap, the Doctor tries to scare them into staying put, and the investigation begins.

As Webley prepares to put the chess set back together, the Cyberman’s hands grab his, and a swarm of the robot-mites attack him. And that’s the moment at which Angie decides she wants to explore the barracks. Not clever.

Meanwhile, Clara’s having a chat with Porridge:

It turns out the only way they’ve kept the Cyber-menace at bay was to sacrifice a whole galaxy, a billion trillion people, and now Archie has been seized by a Cyberman.

Then, as Clara tracks Angie down, this happens:

The Cyberman walks off with Angie, and, rather than give chase, the Doctor spots that Captain Alice’s first instinct will be to blow the whole planet up, so he deputizes Clara, to make sure nothing untoward happens. She begins work straight away, setting up a defensible position at Natty Longshoe’s Comical Castle.

Angie is brought to Archie, and Mr Webley, both of whom are under the control of the cyber-mites. The Doctor gives chase, tracking one of the mites down and using it to transmat across to where the kids are. The newly-half-robot Mr Webley explains that Hedgewick’s isn’t just a World of Wonder, it’s also the site of a Cyber-repair shop, for wounded warriors. They put it in a theme park because they need flexible children’s brains to make Cyber-planners. However, they don’t want the children any more. Now they’re after the Doctor. And with one swift toss of a handful of Cybermites, they’ve got him!

It’s at this point the Doctor starts to develop something of a split personality. Half smug and slightly louche Cyberplanner (with a predilection for standing on tables), half furious Time Lord.

The Doctor threatens the Cyberplanner with a regeneration, a blast of energy that would fry the circuits. But he doesn’t want to regenerate, so it’s a stalemate. One which will only be broken when one side beats the other at chess (chess though!). The battle for the Doctor’s brain has begun.

Back at the castle, the Cyberman has dropped his hand, and used it to attack a soldier called Missy. Clara has taken control of the trigger unit to the bomb that will implode the planet, but there are other weapons in their meagre armory too.

The Doctor is still bickering with himself, reminding the Cyberplannerdoctor of the olden days when Cybermen were susceptible to cleaning fluid, and gold… like the gold on a golden ticket! He slaps the ticket on his own face, and with a mighty bound, he is FREE!

Captain Alice recognizes Porridge as a person of some importance, but we don’t get to find out more because a row begins over whether to implode the planet. Just as she is about to set the bomb off, and ensure no future Cyberactivity, she gets shot by the Cyberman.

So, Clara orders the rest of the squad to sneak up behind the Cyberman and fry the brain circuits. Clara shoots him with a big gun instead. However, some more soldiers have been Cybermited, so it’s not looking too good.

The Doctor brings the kids back to Clara, but they’re still immobile. He demands to be tied up, and sets up the chess game again. The Cyberplanner is back, and this time he’s a northerner! He also tells Clara she’s the impossible girl. The Doctor gets Clara to hit him, which knocks the Doctor back in charge for a bit. Not a very long bit though.

So, the chess game continues, and Clara has electrified the moat. Just as well, as a new Cyberarmy is emerging from the underground garage they’ve been living in. The Doctor asks Clara to show him the bomb trigger, and she warily refuses, asking him to prove who he really is. With a declaration of amorous intent and a big slap she realizes he’s the Cybercontroller, but one deft hand is all he needs to take the trigger and crush it. Their armoury is even smaller, and they’re surrounded.

The first Cyberman across the moat gets a bit of a fry from the power cable, but it soon upgrades itself, and then they’re all coming across. The one good gun they’ve got will soon run out of charge and then what?

Now the Doctor’s chess game is getting nasty. He sacrifices his queen, and gets the children back from Cybercontrol, but it leaves him open to a checkmate in five moves. Are his emotions clouding his judgement?

Mr. Webley tries to kill the children, but is stopped by Porridge, who applies a pulse weapon to his leg. Then the Doctor begins to talk. The Time Lords invented chess! He’s going to win in three moves!

(And he’d better hurry up because the Cybermen have won the battle outside and they’re going to kill everyone)

The Cybercontroller takes over the processors of all available Cybermen in order to work out how he could possibly win in three moves. They’re all frozen. The humans escape, and the Doctor uses his three moves: sonic ON, pulser ACTIVATED and AMPLIFIED, own face SLAPPED! Bye-bye, Cybercontroller!

After this, the revelations come thick and fast. Porridge is outed as the Emporer by Angie. He can set off the voice-activation on the bomb, the planet will implode, everyone will get transmatted aboard the imperial cruiser, they’ll even fetch the TARDIS, and once again the Cybermenace has been eradicated.

Then the Emperor proposes to Clara.

For one fleeting moment the prospect of a Porridge marriage hangs in the air! Except Clara doesn’t want to marry him, no matter what Angie has to say on the subject. Time to leave.

Next: The Name of the Doctor

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 15 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME, Guardian and MSN. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Radio 2.

He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.

Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic

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