“You sure he knows what he’s doing?!”“I wouldn’t go that far…”All season long, they’ve been hyping the return of the Cybermen. And while we appreciate the Cybermen due to their being classic, they never really have gotten us very excited. They are not terrifying like the Weeping Angels. They do not have their own following like the Daleks. And they are harder to remember than the Silents. It often seems like the writers never quite know what to do with the Cybermen.That is until Neil Gaiman.Of course, you probably want to know what happened in this episode before we gush about how awesome it was. The Doctor, Clara and “her children” (she’s a nanny) go off for an adventure. The kids had discovered that Clara is a time traveler last week and demanded to go with her. We learn that their names are Artie and Angie. The Doctor takes them to the largest amusement park in the universe. Except that it is currently closed.If you think the kids are disappointed, you should see The Doctor. Poor guy. And he only becomes sadder when their guide, Webley, doesn’t choose him to play chess. It must be really hard being a child trapped in a thousand year old body.Webley sits the kids down for a game of chess against a gutted Cyberman. Yet, the defunct scrap of metal consistently wins. The kids have to figure out how it works. Turns out, it is just a trick. They check under the table and a man named Porridge is controlling the Cyberman. For figuring it out, Artie is given an emperor’s coin. This will come in handy later. We should pause and talk about the kids. They are awfully annoying. Especially Angie, who seems to be in that awful tween “I hate everything” stage. So, when Angie and Artie are turned off during the Cybermen attack, it is the best news of the episode.The Doctor leaves to explore why this planet is crawling with little bugs. He instructs the military force stationed there not to blow up the planet. That’s when Webley, now a Cyberman, releases a hand full of these bugs that begin to infect The Doctor. This is the future and the Cybermen are far WAY MORE SAVVY than they used to be. They can now easily upgrade nonhumans.So, The Doctor does the only logical thing (yeah right) and challenges the Cybermen to a chess tournament. And since they are all connected inside his head, he has some pretty fierce competition. Thus begins one of the coolest and most interesting chess matches in all of history. If The Doctor wins, he gets his mind and children back. If the Cybermen win, they get his mind (including knowledge of time travel, etc).While all of the universe hangs in the balance as The Doctor moves his pawns, Clara tries to fight off the Cybermen with a group of military rejects and one gun. Did I mention that the Cybermen are really sophisticated at constant upgrading? The Doctor and the Cybermen, now calling themselves “Mr. Witty” while in The Doctor’s body, are equally matched. Ergo, it comes down to which is cleverer. Although we think The Doctor has a few more tricks up his sleeve than even all the Cybermen in the galaxy.Watching this episode reminds us of all the reasons we fell in love with Matt Smith. He does a fantastic job going between The Doctor and Mr. Clever. This self-interaction makes this episode incredibly fun to watch. It is especially funny watching Mr. Clever interact with Clara and egging her on. It is also very cool to see a much scarier and more sophisticated version of the Cybermen. These are not the evil robots of the 1960s that yell, “Delete.” They get into his very being and toy with him. They remind us of the Borg. They are terrifying, because they are unstoppable and they adapt to every trick The Doctor throws out. And their tiny cybermites are something out of Alien. Super creepy.
Gaiman managed to revive the Cybermen. We are actually looking forward to some good future Cybermen episodes to creep us out. That says something as this villain has never particularly excited us, but we sure the hell are now. Some people have suggested that Gaiman take over as the main writer of Doctor Who. What do you guys think?Clara is now aware that she is the “Impossible Girl.” Mr. Clever told her during the chess match when they had taken over The Doctor’s body and mind. They know that Clara is very important to The Doctor, but they did not reveal anything we didn’t already know. It will be interesting to see if the writers choose to use this information against The Doctor. We cannot imagine why they wouldn’t use it.And now there is only one episode left. And it looks like The Doctor is going to cross his own timeline. Only bad things can emerge from that.Den of Geeks Rating 4.5 out of 5 Stars (.5 deducted as the Captain Jack fee)