"Nightmare in Silver" was a bit of a nightmare in any color, really. My expectations were definitely higher for this Neil Gaiman penned episode, but it seems they've kept all the good bits for next week's finale, Gaiman be damned.
There were a few things that struck me right off the bat as a bit off, and I'll start there.
The first thing I wondered, based upon how unimpressed Artie and Angie were everything they saw, was just how long after "The Crimson Horror" this episode was supposed to have taken place. Have the As already come to know and get bored with The Doctor? Their whiny and rather arrogant behavior made it seem they had been and done everything else in the known universe except be to the closed down amusement park.
Had we been lead to believe the little lives of Artie and Angie had been fantastic, and that's why Clara didn't have any qualms in leaving them (note, she has not quit her job), then maybe I could understand their being such rotten kids. The pre-teen angst just didn't fit with what I expected from the children Clara was determined to protect. They were hugely disappointing, and their "coma" was extremely welcome.
As we learned at the end, it was arrogance pure and simple, as it was the first time they'd ever ever experienced the TARDIS. They're just poorly written characters. At least for the moment. If we don't see them again, that will be soon enough for me.
Also confusing was why Clara didn't bring up the photo they showed her from Victorian London. Did it really only occur to her to ask after the Cyber Planner taking over The Doctor called her Impossible? It seemed very odd for our extremely inquisitive and curious Clara let it slide until then.
Those were just the initial thoughts I had that ran through my brain as I watched the episode. Even though I never saw the movie, it reminded me of my expectations of what "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" would have been like to watch.
So, what else did the hour have going for it?
Matt Smith did an interesting job as The Doctor wriggling about as he tried to fight the Cyber Planner inside his brain. At one point, he almost had Clara fooled until the planner let loose that he might like her more than he should. She knew that even if he did feel that way he'd rather die than say it out loud. Good girl.
As the hibernating Cybermen came to life and continually upgraded with each setback, Clara never gave up the fight. At least we know she'll be feisty through even the worst circumstances; and if five hand weapons and one gun aren't enough to get you down against and entire army of Cybermen, I don't know what is.
The thing is, I wasn't remotely frightened of the Cybermen. They were cartoonish and if there was a big plan for their reconvening to take over the universe, they never really made clear what it was. Perhaps I missed it somewhere in the musings of The Doctor and the Cyber Planner as they played their game of chess.
There was very little of the signature banter that has gone on with The Doctor and Clara since they've met, and I missed it. It felt like a throwaway episode that had little purpose, especially since the remaining Cybermen were blown to smithereens at the end. We did meet the Emperor of the Universes, Porridge, and perhaps we'll be lucky enough to see him again. He was easily the best and most welcome addition to the Doctor Whoverse.
Now I'll settle in for next week. The big bang, shall we say. What looks like a traversing of the time lines that could put someone's life in jeopardy. Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax will be along for the ride and they're always a guarantee of at least a flurry of good lines.
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Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.