Who Review: Nightmare in Silver
by Kevin Rigdon (@pralix1138)
All season long, it seems I have been waiting for something. Recently, I’ve taken to watching the early Matt Smith episodes and have come to a couple of earth-shattering conclusions. Well, not “earth-shattering” per se. More like fart bubbles in the pool conclusions. One is this: Matt Smith is now my favorite Doctor. Don’t shoot! Two: I cannot compare Clara to Amy, because anyone compared to Amy Pond will fail miserably. Whew! That feels good. On to the review!
Neil Gaiman is back as writer for “Nightmare in Silver,” in which the Doctor agrees to take Clara’s charges to Hedgewick’s World, the biggest, grandest, bestest amusement park in the galaxy, only it’s been closed down. Well there’s that, and there’s an infestation of Cybermen, but more about that later. Gaiman’s work here is top notch, and easily my favorite episode of the seventh season. It doesn’t match the emotional, and existential, quality of his first episode, “The Doctor’s Wife,” but he still proves himself a master storyteller. There is nothing in this episode not to like and everything to love.
The Doctor, Clara, with kids in tow, arrive at some point in the distant future when humanity rules the universe in a vast empire, and they have long since defeated the Cybermen. In fact, they’re thought to be extinct. As the crew lands, and the kids do a bit of kid attitude stuff, they meet a Mr Webley, who introduces them to his room of oddities and wonders including an inert, totally empty Cyberman who plays chess. Well, as they’re having a go at the chess match, they discover the “brains” of the Cyberman to be none other than Willow Ufgood…I mean, Warwick Davis, who tells them his name is Porridge. Oh joy! Keep an eye on that crafty Porridge. I mean, you don’t just stick Professor Flitwick in the middle of Doctor Who in a bit part, do you?
The long extinct Cybermen aren’t really extinct, and have managed a few upgrades through the centuries. They’ve developed these little bugs, mites as you might call them, and they get into your noggin, and around your face, maybe a hand, and so on, and upgrade you. Poor Mr Webley is the first to be upgraded, and then the children are taken before the Doctor discovers what’s going on. Luckily, there’s an imperial platoon placed on the planet to watch for Cybermen, though they never expected to find any. Well, surprise! Not only are there Cybermen, there are about 3 million of them on this planet, and they need the children for the processing power of their brains. Well, the Doctor’s brain is infinitely more capable of processing information than a couple of kids, and due to the upgrades, the Cybermen no longer need to use specifically human parts.
The Cybermites get to the Doctor, and start converting him. This, dear friends, is the type of situation that makes Matt Smith such a phenomenal Doctor. There is a conflict introduced into the Doctor’s psyche, the Doctor, and the Cyberiad. Smith plays the maniacal Cyberiad, and with a snap, the Doctor. It’s like watching a spastic Sméagol/Gollum with better hair. The Doctor poses a game of chess, and the winner of this little, internal war wins the brain of the last Time Lord. Of course, the bad guy cheats, and then the Doctor cheats, and lots of jerking, screaming, manipulation, and so on.
While the Doctor is having is small identity crisis, Clara’s in charge of the Platoon and setting up defenses against the Cybermen. Finally, it seems, that Clara is becoming the companion that we first glimpsed in “The Snowmen.” I attribute this, in large part, to the genius of Neil Gaiman, and his writing, but it is carried out beautifully by Coleman.
As I said, Mr Clever (the Cyber-intelligence that’s invaded the Doctor’s brain), cheats, and it’s a hell of a battle, as the multitude of Cybermen are closing in on Clara and the platoon in the comical castle they’re holed up in. In the midst of the battle, the Cybermen are reminiscent of the Borg, upgrading on the spot, and are on the verge of killing everyone when Porridge is revealed to be the emperor. I told you to keep an eye on that guy. He sets the bomb that will implode the planet, but not before transporting all of them onto the imperial flagship.
A wonderful episode full of the things that I love about Doctor Who. This season has been a bit lackluster for me with a few bright spots. This one is easily the best episode so far. We’re reminded that the Doctor has been erased from all databases, and the questions about Clara, who and what she is, the impossible girl, felt natural, and unforced like some past episodes. See, guys, this is how you do foreshadowing. Very much looking forward to the finale.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars