The Age of Steel
Cyberman: We think the same. We are uniform.
John Lumic: But you think of what?
Cyberman: We think of the humans. We think of their difference and their pain. They suffer in their skin. They must be upgraded.
John Lumic: Excellent!
Production Code: 2.6.
Doctor Who Season: S28 (Ep6).
Story Number: 172b.
After a rather abrupt resolution to the cliffhanger…
The extended cast of characters (The Doctor, Rose and Pete, Jake and Rickey and Mickey, Mrs Moore) hightail it out of there in the Preacher-Van. This episode then models itself on the “same quest, different routes” model of The Five Doctors and Lord of the Rings (though The Five Doctors more specifically) as that earlier story says “Who to Rassilon’s Tower would go / Must choose above, between, below.”
Although these are new Cybermen in origin and style, with the noise of machinery echoing from their heavy footsteps, these three plot-strands allow a sort of “greatest hits” of Classic Cybermen Moments to be showcased.
The Doctor and Mrs Moore, well they’re experiecing the classic “Tomb” Cybermen moments typified by The Tomb of the Cybermen. Rose and Pete encounter the converted Jackie of this world and there’s the horror of conversion reminiscent of “Attack of the Cybermen” with the scene. Mickey and Rickey – The Wheel in Space convoluted Cyberplan – as they try and foil the plan? No, nothing is convoluted as The Wheel in Space.
Noel Clarke portrayed differing character Rickey and Mickey in the previous part of the story; with this episode they’re shown to be not-so-differing. Rickey has some of Mickey’s haplessness, just as Mickey as the potential to have some or Rickey’s bravery. There’s a bit of a fake-out though, in the chaos of the Cybermen deleting of one of the duo, as the one who’s left gives a very emphatic “Rickey-sniff”, perhaps fooling the audience into thinking it’s “our Mickey” that’s gone.
The “journey” of Mickey is one of the more enjoyable aspects of the story, as we cheer on character who was too timid for the TARDIS in the first episode of the revival. Also there’s a lot of “wow” moments in this episode which elevate it above the sometimes clomping previous episode. The reveal of Lumic transformed to Cyberleader, still sitting though this time on a Cyberthrone instead of the chair, is epic – “THIS IS THE AGE OF STEEL AND I AM ITS CREATOR” – as is the zeppelin-based denoument to the story. However it another Doctor Who story which has a resolution to do with grappling with the controls of a transmitter, “a signal to all”, though in comparison to other stories this time the “humans” “controlled” are don’t meet a particularly happy fate once the the signal is changed.
The final moments with Rose returning to hug her mother after all this turmoil add to the ongoing arc of her realisation that galivanting away in the TARDIS isn’t all fun and games.
Rating: 4/5 (for this part of the story, previous ep 3/5)
and for the whole story, 3/5.