Blackmailed by her two young charges, Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman) gets The Doctor (Matt Smith) to take Angie (Eve De Leon Allen) and Artie (Kassius Carey Johnson) to Hedgewick’s World of Wonders, the universe’s greatest amusement park which spans the breadth of an entire planet. There are only two problems with the trip. First, on arriving the travelers learn the park is closed. And second, with the arrival of fresh young minds, a small group of Cybermen begin to awaken after being dormant for 10,000 years. Things get even more complicated with the leader of a group of soldiers has standing orders to blow up the planet if the Cybermen ever reappear and The Doctor runs off to get himself assimilated leaving Clara in charge.
Fighting the Cyber-Planner, the competing intelligence trying to take over his mind, The Doctor proposes a game of chess while Clara tries to keep the soldiers alive and stop their leader from blowing up the entire planet to prevent another rise of the Cybermen. The game, and the lives of the entire group are shaved by a pair cheats and the smallest member of the group who just happens to be Emperor (Warwick Davis).
In the ranks of Doctor Who‘s coolest villains the Cybermen give the Daleks a run for their money. Writer Neil Gaiman who wrote the episode was tasked with making the villains scary again (an assumption I object to as the Cybermen, and their assimilation of the human race into cyborg monsters have always been one of the show’s creepier villains). Although the Cybermen are quite cool, and creepy, The Doctor’s goofy paranoid spams are really not. (I also thought the new design was a little too Iron Man-ish for my tastes. Who knew Cybermen ran on arc reactors?) The idea of The Doctor and his knowledge under the control of the Cybermen should be chilling, but Smith’s portrayal of the situation makes it more slapstick than scary.
“Nightmare in Silver,” like some of the other episodes of this season, runs into trouble in the final act in how The Doctor defeats the Cyber-Planner (without actually having to defeat them) and how the group so easily make it off the planet alive (by someone else rescuing them). With only a single episode left in the season the mystery of Clara has still yet to be solved, but next week’s season finale looks to focus more on The Doctor and the question that must never be answered.