In many ways this review is a cheat. It’s not a real review and it’s conclusions are very much subject to change. In fact, as was made clear at the end, everything will change. The truth is Ascension of the Cybermen was intriguing and tantalising, but in the end incomplete. Everything pivots on The Timeless Children and until we see that, we can’t fully judge Ascension of the Cybermen. Of course that won’t stop me trying! There will, of course, be spoilers.
Ascension of the Cybermen
As I see it there are two main threads in Ascension of the Cybermen and a third if you take the pov of the Lone Cyberman. These threads are the Garda thread in twentieth century Ireland (or is it?) with Brendan (played by Evan McCabe as shown) and the regular TARDIS team thread. The TARDIS team then breaks into two. So far so good.
The Garda story
This is for me the most intriguing. It develops nicely from quaint rural setting to baby growing up to man joins the Guards. They it gets strange with his survival from a shooting and fall (regeneration?) then more strange still when he retires yet his father seems little older, likewise his former boss. Then there’s the torture mind wipe.
This thread got a lot of time to breathe in terms of screen minutes and in my mind reeks of something to do withe Time Lords. What I have no idea. Is the presence of a baby meant to connect to timeless children?
At one point I thought the escape to utopia of the remnants of humanity in the main thread was in fact rebirth by being scattered back in time. I read that a very long time ago in a short story. I’ve gone off that idea.
The Doctor and chums story
Team TARDIS arrives following the events of Haunting of Villa Diodati allowing some time to cobble together some anti-cybermen defences. Cyberdrones in the form of heads blow the devices up and it’s then down to shouting, splitting up the team, confronting the Lone Cyberman and killing off some newbies. We also get enough exposition to last an episode (unlike the Garda thread) and then it’s all off into space.
Of the newcomers I detect signs of something budding for Ravio (Julie Graham doing a great job) and Graham, the others are interesting enough and act more to give Graham something to react to and then it’s the time for swathes of CGI and a set reminding me (no surprise) of Tomb of the Cybermen. Then we get the (very boring) reveal of the 100s, no 1000s, no 100s of 1000s if no 1,000,000s of cyber warriors! Those few people had better get to utopia quickly. Cue Ko Sharmus.
The Cybermen are set to conquer and we had a very disturbing scene involving the Lone Cyberman torturing a newly revived cyberman warrior. I do hope there was a reason for this other gratuitously nasty scene.
The mythical utopia of Ko Sharmus turns out to be a Gandalf lookalike called Ko Sharmus. Ian McElhinney plays the part very differently to his role in Derry Girls yet with the same compelling gravitas.
The story gets very mythical here and it’s cue the big reveal of Gallifrey and end the Master. All very broad brush and an exciting canvas.
What of it? Ask me again next week!