(Note: Attempts at a spoiler-free review refers to not giving away any major reveals of the episode, and usually not more than what is found in the teaser given the week before. May contain spoilers of past weeks. Please avoid reading the reflection and comments for spoilers. Last week's review of "The Crimson Horror" is here.)
It's Saturday! So it's time for another foray into the adventures of Doctor Who. This week's episode was again penned by Neil Gaiman, who had previously wrote, "The Doctor's Wife". To those that geekasturbate over Mr. Gaiman and his works, this week's episode was probably a let-down, but for those of us whose nerd-juices don't flow at the mention of Neil Gaiman, it was another solid episode.
The cybermen are back to face off against the Doctor and Clara, and the one thing we've heard ahead of this episode is that Neil Gaiman was tasked with making the cybermen scary again. I'm not sure if they are "scary", but they are definitely much more competent.
Actually, they're too competent. The story seems to suffer from this as they become so competent and there is not the usual delaying speech by the Doctor to explain why they don't kill everyone immediately. Empowering them is one way of overcoming villain-decay, but it just makes it crazier when the cybermen don't kill/upgrade everyone immediately. It was a sour taste, but not as sour as the douchebag children accompanying the Doctor and Clara after having blackmailed Clara at the end of last week.
The boy character is alright in that he is a precocious, scared child, but the teenage girl is annoying in every scene she appears in. Luckily, they are not a major focus of the episode. They're terrible. Terribly un-entertaining.
Matt Smith has some brilliant acting in this one and his scenes that take place in his own head are fantastic. Clara is brilliant as usual and Jenna-Louise Coleman continues to do a bang-up job as the best companion of the eleventh Doctor.
No spoiler-full reflection this week as there was nothing revealed in the episode I am particularly exuberant about. I will say this:
I had occasion to re-watch the adventures of the ninth Doctor over the last couple of months and what strikes me the most is that the episodes of this series (or season) do not move me emotionally the way they easily did in previous years. I cannot recall the last time an episode of Doctor Who made me bawl (I assume Series 6 had a few), but I am hopeful for the series finale. Having built up Clara as being spectacular, it would be very easy to yank that chain attached to the hearts of the viewers, but every trailer seems to point towards the series finale focusing on the Doctor with Clara as an afterthought. I think it has been revealed that we will find out the impossible-ness of Clara, but I have a lot of ambiguous feelings moving forward and am very worried.
Episode's Final Rating: B 8.5/10
What were your thoughts?