Note: For a full account of how we got to where we are as this story begins, read our recap of “Dark Water”
A Cyberman advances upon Clara, gun at the ready. She tells him (or her) that she is not Clara Oswald, that there is no Clara Oswald, and that she is the Doctor.
Meanwhile there real Doctor is appalled that the arrival of the Cybermen in the middle of London has been greeted with nothing but innocent glee, cameraphones and selfies by humankind. Just as Missy is mid-gloat, Osgood (remember Osgood?) appraches in a bow tie (remember bow ties?) and offers to take their picture. Seizing Missy’s weapon/communicator/thing she shouts “now!” and hey presto! UNIT appear.
Just as Kate Stewart appears have gained the upper hand by throwing an old Cyber-head on the floor in front of the men, the Cybermen stamp on the floor and fly off. Because they can fly now. And not only that, there’s a gaggle of them flying from the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral, and exploding into a black cloud. But why? According to Missy, they are “pollinating.”
Meanwhile, in the Nethersphere:
And down on the ground, the Doctor tries to get Missy to reveal her plan, but is interrupted when she is knocked out by a tranquilizer dart. And then he is. Just before he sleeps, he tells Osgood to guard the graveyards, which are being drenched with sentient Cyberwater from black clouds. The water contains Cyberpollen—the Cyberman equivalent of DNA—which attaches itself to dead human bodies, making fresh Cybermen, ready to have their (freshly edited) personalities downloaded from the Nethersphere. Like Danny Pink.
The Doctor and the rest of UNIT board a plane, and while the Doctor heaps sugarlumps into a cup of tea while Kate tells him he is now the President of Earth, for as long as the alien threat exists. And while we’re on shocking revelations, Clara (still in 3W headquarters), continues to insist to every Cyberman she meets that she is the Doctor. And just casually throws out the fact that she (meaning he) has been married four times and that she (meaning he) has children and grandchildren and they’re all presumed dead. But one Cyberman seems to have the measure of her, and knocks her out, killing three of his fellows, and all while holding a piece of paper with Danny Pink’s name on it.
Missy has awoken on the plane. She knows where Gallifrey is, but she won’t tell. She also observes the Doctor interacting with Osgood, and offering her the chance to travel with him, and then promptly slips her cuffs, teases Osgood, threatens her and then kills her. Because she’s “bananas,” that’s why.
Clara awakes in a cemetery under a black cloud, in which the ground shifts with Cyberhands coming to life. That one Cyberman from earlier is there too, looking far less confused, and much sadder than the others, who have yet to receive their downloads. Oh, and the Doctor has worked out the Nethersphere was stuffed with centuries of dead people. Millions upon millions of deceased humans are on their way back, and they’re weaponized.
The Cybermen attack the plane, and the Doctor rushes down the the hold to confront Missy, but down on Earth, the confrontation is between Clara and Danny, the Cyberman, who has taken his mask off. He asks her to switch on his inhibitor, to switch off his emotions, so Clara rings the Doctor. In the plane, Missy tells the Doctor she has a gift for him, and that she was the woman who gave Clara the Doctor’s number back in “The Bells of St. John” (remember the woman in the shop?). The Doctor refuses to help Clara turn Danny into a proper Cyberman, but it’s all rush and confusion as the Cybermen tear the plane apart. Missy blows a hole in the plane and Kate Stewart falls out, teleporting into the Nethersphere, and then, just as the plane explodes, so does the Doctor.
There follows a very James Bond moment in which the Doctor, pulling his key from his pocket, contrives to fall into the TARDIS and fly up into the sky. He goes to Clara, begging her not to erase Danny’s emotions. He asks Danny to tell him what the Cybermen have planned. Danny tells him he can’t see until he has been fully converted, leaving the Doctor in an impossible position: convert Danny and find out what he need stop know, or let him stay as human as he can be and risk losing the planet.
In the end it’s Clara that chooses, tearfully, with Danny angry and the Doctor looking away. She converts him, and then throws her arms around him. And the Danny Cyberman tells the Doctor that the rain will fall one more time, killing all of humanity, and then they will all be converted.
And that’s when Missy turns up, waving an umbrella like Mary Poppins. She explains that her gift to the Doctor is the full control of the Cyber-army. Of course, being bananas, she does this by getting them to pretend to be air stewards; a little insensitive, given the plane she just blew up. She locks the control bracelet to his wrist, and tells him he can use this army to right all the wrongs in the universe. But this horrifies the Doctor, who does not trust himself to be the heroic leader.
And then, with a cry of “I am an idiot!” he brightens. He reminds Missy that he’s no leader, he’s just a travelling man with a blue box, and he gives the bracelet to the Danny Cyberman, who is still tenderly holding Clara, despite being fully converted. The Danny Cyberman, Danny Pink in full soldier mode, leads the Cyber-army into the skies to burn up the clouds with the explosive power of their own bodies. And thus the threat to humanity is averted.
This just leaves the Doctor, Missy and Clara in a sunny graveyard. Missy gives the Doctor Gallifrey’s current coordinates, and Clara raises Missy’s device, ready to kill her. The Doctor offers to do it for her, and he really would have done it too, but for the blast of one final left-over Cyberman, who has just arrived from the sky bearing the unconscious body of Kate Stewart. It seems he was blessed with the downloaded mind of Brigadier Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, founder of UNIT, old friend of the Doctor’s and father of Kate. The Doctor offers him a long-overdue salute and he takes to the skies, following the Cyber hordes to oblivion.
Two weeks later, a moment of resolution. Danny speaks to Clara. Missy’s bracelet allowed her to travel across dimensions, and so can he, or rather, one person can. There’s only enough power for one trip, so he sends back the little boy he accidentally killed, back when he was a soldier. He’s not coming back.
Two weeks after that, the Doctor meets Clara in a cafe. She starts to tell him some bad news, but the Doctor interrupts, assuming that Danny is fine and that she wants to tell him she’s had enough of traveling. He also says he’s found Gallifrey, using the Master’s coordinates. Neither of these things is true and we see the Doctor beating on the TARDIS console in despair. But neither the Doctor or Clara will reveal their true feelings, and the Doctor consents to a hug, telling Clara he hates them because they’re “just a way to hide your face.”
And then later, back in the TARDIS, there’s a knock on the door, and Santa Claus comes in, asking the Doctor what he wants for Christmas.
To find out why, we’ll all have to watch the Christmas special:
‘Doctor Who’ Recap: ‘Dark Water’
‘Doctor Who’ Recap: ‘In The Forest of the Night’
‘Doctor Who’ Recap: ‘Flatline’
‘Doctor Who’ Recap: ‘Mummy on the Orient Express’
‘Doctor Who’ Recap: ‘Kill The Moon’
‘Doctor Who’ Recap: ‘The Caretaker’
‘Doctor Who’ Recap: ‘Time Heist’
‘Doctor Who’ Recap: ‘Listen’
‘Doctor Who’ Recap: ‘Robot of Sherwood’
‘Doctor Who’ Recap: ‘Into The Dalek’
‘Doctor Who’ Recap: ‘Deep Breath’