Rather to my surprise, this episode has divided opinion among previewers far more than I thought it would (the slating in this week’s Radio Times honestly makes me wonder if I was watching the same episode!) To my mind, this is one of the best episodes of this season, and shows that Neil Gaiman has nailed the combination of children-accessible and children-frightening elements that are required for a good Doctor Who script.
It’s an episode that throws in a number of elements, any of which could probably have supported a tale on their own – Matt Smith in particular is given a very challenging role (or two or three or four), which takes notions from the Cybermen’s past stories and upgrades them for a new generation.
In fact, that sums up the whole episode: there are some new ideas in here (and a confirmation that the Cybermen really were the threat at one stage that the expanded universe tales have made them out to be), but they derive from the groundwork laid by Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis nearly fifty years ago. There’s also more than a nod to certain other Cybernetic species we have seen on screen!
Warwick Davis saunters through the episode giving it a naturalistic feel at times in the middle of the science fiction chaos – ironically, the scenes at the end are the only ones that don’t feel that comfortable.
Verdict: With a number of chilling sequences, and visual nods to the past, this is a great lead-in to the series finale. 8/10
Check out our reviews of the other episodes this season: