Ascension of the Cybermen
Cast: Jodie Whittaker, Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill, Tosin Cole, Julie Graham, Matt Carver, Jack Osborn, Steve Toussaint, Alex Austin, Rhiannon Clements, Branwell Donaghey, Orla O’Rourke, Evan McCabe, Ian McElhinney, and Patrick O’Kane
Writer: Chris Chibnall
Producers: Chris Chibnall, Matt Strevens, Alex Mercer, and Nikki Wilson
Composer: Segun Akinola
Director: Jamie Magnus Stone
Doctor Who was created by Sydney Newman, and follows the adventures of the time-traveling alien known as the Doctor, along with their companions, as they explore and help the universe.
The Doctor and crew have failed to heed Jack’s warning. They’ve faced the Lone Cyberman, and were outsmarted and defeated, forced to give it what it wants. As it seeks to rebuild the Cyberman Empire in the far future, in the aftermath of the Cyber Wars, Team TARDIS gives chase, determined to stop it and save as many lives as they can. However, it won’t be that easy, as the Cyberium has not only given newfound strength to the remaining Cybermen, but in-depth foresight into what lies ahead as well. Can the Doctor and her friends survive, let alone defeat the Cybermen, as well as save all those put in harm’s way? Also, where exactly are the remaining humans trying to go?
Last week’s episode was definitely a surprise in terms of how it set up the finale. We finally got to meet the Lone Cyberman that Captain Jack Harkness warned us about, and it did not come to play. Not only was it truly threatening, but it breathed a fresh, newfound life into the age-old foe of the Doctor, presenting a Cyberman that still feels human emotions such as anger, hatred, and almost a sadistic glee in destruction. Needless to say, after that major introduction, I was far more than excited to see what happened in this first part to the finale of Series 12. I am more than happy to say that it did not disappoint, as this episode is filled with so many twists, turns, high stakes, and theory seeds that will only grow in our brains for the next seven days.
As she did last week, Jodie continues to excel and thrive in the Doctor’s anger and frustration, and she’s slowly but surely reaching her fever pitch here. One beautifully acted moment near the beginning of the episode truly shows that nothing we’ve seen thus far between her and the companions was an accident, and that everything is truly starting to come to fruition with their relationships. While the second half of the episode doesn’t feature her as much as the first half, it’s definitely understandable, considering the size and length of this story. Needless to say, the Thirteenth Doctor is reaching her breaking point, and I’m genuinely excited and somewhat anxious to see what happens when her inhibitions start to shatter.
Not only do we see how far the Doctor’s come, but how far the companions have come, as well. Graham and Yaz get a boatload to do this episode, and fully show just how capable they’ve become in their time spent with the Doctor. Ryan seems to draw the short straw this time around, however, as he’s mostly sticking like glue to the Doctor the majority of time. But again, it’s only part one of two, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens next week. The side characters were all pretty good, as well, especially the main ones. They’re all performed very well, and you truly get the sense of how tired, desperate, and scared they are of the Cybermen. Also, Stone’s direction is absolutely gorgeous, giving us some truly amazing shots and scenery that expand the scope of the episode tenfold. Not only that, but Akinola’s score continues to shine, especially in his motif of Thirteen’s theme. I’m genuinely looking forward to hearing what he’s cooked up in next week’s episode.
The Lone Cyberman, AKA Ashed, gets a whole lot more development this episode. Finding out more about him, especially what kind of person he was before the Cybermen came, truly shows him as a formidable foe, and probably one of the scariest in the Doctor’s rogue’s gallery. After the Series 10 finale, I felt somewhat drained in terms of the Cybermen, and wasn’t too keen on their return to the forefront this time around. However, Chibnall and co. have made the Cybermen truly formidable and terrifying again, much like they did with the Daleks in Resolution. Also, without spoiling, there is a side story that goes on throughout the episode, and while it definitely is confusing, it sparks so many interesting questions the more I think about it. It definitely isn’t what you think it’s gonna be, and to be quite honest, I’m more excited than anything to see if that gets explained next week as well.
Overall, Ascension of the Cybermen is a stellar first part to the Series 12 finale. It’s fun, enjoyable, and gives us more than enough to theorize about for the next week until this series draws to a close. The Cybermen have been reinvented yet again in a wholly unique and terrifying way, and I truly cannot wait to see more of them in the future. But more than anything, I can’t wait to see how the second part of this finale, The Timeless Children, wraps up some story threads, as well as whether or not it leaves some open for Series 13. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Chibnall and co. have truly improved in every aspect this year, from writing, to storytelling, to characterization, and so on. I can only hope this fantastic series goes out on a high note.