Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Know Your Cybermen No.19

Dark Water / Death In Heaven (2014).
The new version of the Cybermen return for Peter Capaldi's first series as Doctor - getting a two-part season finale. At the time of writing, this is their last appearance in the series, though the Radio Times has said that they will be appearing in Series 9 at some point. (As such, this blog post series will be coming to a temporary end).
Design-wise, there is nothing new. They do have a new attribute - flight. They have rockets built into the soles of their feet.
The biggest development in this story is the manner in which new Cybermen are created.
If we go right back to the beginning, the Cybermen were the product of spare-part surgery, along with some brain surgery. This remained the case right up to the end of the Classic Series.
John Lumic started inserting human brains directly into ready-made armoured bodies - although Ianto Jones' girlfriend was also converted piecemeal.
When the Cybermen attempted to convert Craig Owens, it looked as if his whole body was going to be encased in metal - similar to what we had seen with the sentinel in the Underhenge which attacked Amy.
With these new versions, we have seen conversion through "infection" by Cybermite.
Now, Cybermen are created from dead bodies at a molecular level by genetically modified water. Plain old rain water can do the trick. Clouds can be seeded by self-destructing Cybermen.
Additionally, the minds of the deceased can be saved using Gallifreyan technology, then downloaded into the new bodies. From the 3W facility, we see that there is a full skeleton within each shell.
The emotional inhibitor is still in the chest, now behind the circular glowing panel.
Cyberman weapons can blow up other Cybermen, not just kill them.
Missy creates this new force on Earth as a birthday gift for the Doctor - so that he can have an army to help him fight evil and injustice. Naturally, he refuses it, and the resurrected Danny Pink, who is able to overcome the emotional inhibitor, orders the entire army to destroy itself as well as the seeded clouds.

Story Notes:

  • Way back just before Series 1 began, the writers were each asked about their favourite stories / monsters. Moffat chose Cybermen. Apart from their cameo as part of the Pandorica Alliance, this is his first proper stab at them - and it is a huge improvement on their last few outings.
  • It does, however, follow Moffat's usual problem of setting something up in the first half of a two-parter, which is dropped entirely in the second half - the whole Dark Water business. There is no clear reason why the Cybermen have to be "naked" in the water tombs.
  • It's the fourth consecutive appearance by Cybermen in the penultimate episode of a series (all of Moffat's ones, basically).
  • We see a Cyber version of the late Brigadier, but not the Cyber versions of Amy and Rory.
  • Do I need to say that the Cybermen outside St Paul's Cathedral is a homage to The Invasion? Of course not. We do get to see that UNIT have kept a damaged Cyber-head from that story.
  • As I type this, we are in between two 3-D cinema screenings of this story - but only in the US.

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