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SYFY WIRE Doctor Who

Doctor Who, 'Ascension of the Cybermen': The end is the beginning is the end

By Courtney Enlow

"Tell the Doctor: The lone Cyberman. Don't give it what it wants. At all costs. Tell her."

A baby is adopted. A baby is loved. A baby is treasured. A baby becomes a soldier. A baby cannot die. So, what is this baby?

This is the question that permeates the first part of the two-part season finale of Doctor Who. The tiny ginger baby Brendan — is he the lone Cyberman, or is that too simple?

What I've said so far accounts for the entirety of Baby Brendan until the very end. But this is a story of human creations and cyber creations. And who will reign supreme?

The Doctor and fam arrive at the end of the Cyberwars. Most of humanity has been wiped out, and so has a lot of the Cyberman army. But there are signs of life. Well, seven signs of life. A small community of teachers, daycare workers, and nurses are all that remains. "We're just humans. Refugees. And we've all lost everything and everyone." 

As ever, this is the Doctor's catnip. They arrive with neural inhibitor tech that appeals to the remaining strains of humanity within the Cybermen, un-Cybermanning them and making them realize what they are, making them horrified. 

Hey, it worked for Yvonne Hartman

That said, it doesn't work great here. The Cybermen have evolved to have Cyberdrones, which are technically just flying Cyberheads, which, frankly, once you remove yourself from the suspension of disbelief, is very funny, but HEY WE DO NOT LIVE IN THAT SPACE, THEY ARE SCARY. 

DW_1209_Cyber head

The literal first person they kill is a nonverbal disabled man (*glares in autism mom*), and the Doctor tells her fam it's time for what we all expected at some point: They need to GTFO. She's been reckless. They're human, they're vulnerable, and her ever-present faith in the human race continues to get people either killed or almost killed, 57 years running. Graham and Yaz escape on a State Fair Gravitron, but Ryan is stuck earth-bound with the Doctor. 

Also, look, I just need to get it out of the way. You see this too, right?


Women are very good at taking down half-men/half-machines, and honestly we didn't even have the Cheese Man on our side for this one. But as Graham and Ravio (Julie Graham from The Sarah Jane Adventures) find, their sanctuary ship is filled with them. Thousands of them.

What comes next is your standard Doctor Who. The Doctor and humanity attempt to survive. We try. We potentially fail. We potentially succeed. It all depends on the whims of the writer and what they determine to be "fixed points in history" or not. Only the next episode can tell.

But then, things change.

The Doctor and Ryan find the mythical Ko Sharmus (Ian McElhinney), the fabled land of hope who turns out to be a human who was sent for "upgrade" but instead saved others, leading them through the Boundary. The Boundary is real — it's real and it's Gallifrey. How? Why? Whaaaaatt?

Before we can figure that out, at the very last moment, the Master (Sacha Dhawan) arrives. And everything we know — and the Doctor — is about to change.

This series has been about hope. We've watched our "fam" become family. Become harbingers of hope. Become the best of humanity. As they go into battle, ready for whatever comes, scared but not scared away, we know they're ready. And we are, too.

Next week's finale is "The Timeless Child." Who are these children? And what is this baby?

Only time will tell. And time, after time, after time.

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