Doctor Who Review: “Nightmare In Silver” (Series 7, Episode 13)

doctor who nightmare in silver

The Doctor finds the kids, but ends up being cyber-mated in the process. Of course being a Time-Lord, the Cybermites couldn’t take over his entire body, only a part of it. And both selves fight for control of the body. This is where the episode really kicks in and turns it from a good episode to a great one. Matt Smith is nothing short of brilliant in his work here, and it’s such a joy to see him play the dark Cyberman version. It’s even better to see him switch between that and his normal self in a matter of seconds and make it completely believable. I read in an interview that Neil Gaiman specifically added this role for the Doctor because he thought it was something only Matt Smith could pull off. And I think it was a great move. Smith also proves in the process that he can do great villain roles.

The scenes inside the Doctor’s head are some of the best parts of the episode, and long time fans are sure to be pleased by it as we see him mentioning his regeneration while his mind shows us the face of all his past selves, up to and including a clip of the Tenth Doctor’s regeneration. I suppose this counts as the reference-to-the-past of the week, as well as the “Allons-y” later on from Eleven. Definitely missed hearing that. On a side note, Matt Smith rocks that Cyber-jewelry on his face.

So how does the Doctor plan on getting control of his body? By playing chess of course. Winner gets complete control. And that’s what they do. In essence, Matt Smith plays chess with himself, and he makes it fun to watch. I really appreciated that they brought back the plot point from the first half of Series 7 where he’s erased himself from databases throughout history. Can’t wait to see where that leads.

Is it just me or have we been seeing lots of clone Doctors lately? Of course this time it’s only one body, but two minds. In The Bells of Saint John we saw the Spoonhead version of the Doctor. In Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS as well as last Series we saw two Doctors from different points in time. It’s just a bit weird.

Anyway, in an interesting scene, the Cyber-Doctor spills the beans to Clara about the real Doctor being interested in her and how she’s the “impossible girl.” Oddly though, Clara makes no mention of this after everything’s done and over. I suppose we have to wait till the finale for that confrontation then. We also have the Cyber-Doctor profess his love to Clara in order to fool her, and I’m not sure whether it’s implying that the Doctor has feelings for Clara or not. I sincerely hope it’s not, there’s nothing that’s happened so far to ever show us he was developing feelings for her, and it just doesn’t feel right for them.

We never really see much of an attack from the Cybermen army, and it’s for the better too I’d say. One Cyberman is way creepier than an army of them, especially if that one Cyberman is inside your head. It’s kind of similar to Asylum of the Daleks, where you see a whole army of Daleks but the Doctor mainly only has to face a few of them, and it’s that much scarier because of it.

The platoon and their Captain have a side plot about wanting to destroy the planet to get rid of the Cybermen, but Clara and the Doctor won’t allow it. Like I said, Clara gets to do a lot commanding everyone and it’s great. When the Captain disobeys them, she’s conveniently killed right before she can hit the trigger. The bomb also needed her voice to work, but fortunately Porridge’s voice will do fine because (surprise) he’s the Emperor that’s been missing from the platoon’s home planet. Once the Doctor gains control by cheating at chess, they’re all together and he convinces Porridge to activate the bomb.

This is foreshadowed earlier in the episode when Porridge talks about how the Cybermen were first defeated when the Tiberian Galaxy was destroyed. He feels like a monster because he felt more sorry for the guy who had to activate the bomb rather than for the millions of people who died from it. Now in this case Porridge is that guy who activates the bomb and kills all the Cybermen. Although to be fair, they are Cybermen. The story about the Tiberian galaxy also draws parallels to the Doctor, as it’s always been implied that he killed the Time Lords and his home planet of Gallifrey in order to defeat the Daleks.

In the end, they’re all safe as Porridge transmats all of them to his ship. I love the Doctor’s line about it not being blue enough. Weirdly, Porridge proposes marriage to Clara, but it’s not a bad scene because once again, Warwick Davis does a wonderful job with it. Clara fortunately declines (which annoys Angie) and they go on about their day. The kids and Clara leave the TARDIS and the Doctor is once again left wondering just who the heck Clara is.

There’s kind of a somber tone throughout the episode, a sad feeling rather than uplifting. It’s also reflected in the music, which fortunately is a bit more new and refreshing this time around. It’s not a super serious episode, but it’s not as fun as The Doctor’s Wife (not that I’m comparing). The episode ends on a somewhat sad note, especially since Porridge is still all alone.

Overall, Nightmare In Silver is a great episode, and while it’s no classic, it’s still one of the best episodes this Series. The Cybermen were much scarier than they’ve been since the show came back in 2005, while Clara gets much more to do. The kids were annoying, especially Angie, but Warwick Davis put on a brilliant performance. But it’s the Doctor who gets to shine even though he’s not really doing much except talking to himself. I would be absolutely thrilled if Neil Gaiman returns for a third time for Series 8.

Next week, it’s finale time as The Name Of The Doctor promises to answer lots of questions and lead right into the 50th anniversary special. Since Moffat’s hyped it up so much, I’ve avoided the Next Time trailer for now. But there’s also a great prequel for the finale that’s gotten me excited to see how it all ties together.

But let’s talk about Nightmare In Silver for now. What did you think of Neil Gaiman’s return to Doctor Who? Let us know in the comments, as always.