Recap: Doctor Who S28 E6 "The Age of Steel"

See ya, Mickey...

Mickey: Let's go liberate Paris.
Jake: What, you and me? In a van?
Mickey: Nothing wrong with a van. I once saved the universe with a big yellow truck.

Written by Tom MacRae, this episode was adapted in part from Marc Platt's Big Finish Doctor Who episode "Spare Parts".
When we left off, in "Rise of the Cybermen", Rose and the Doctor were unsuccessfully trying to surrender to Cybermen. The Doctor uses a trinket from the TARDIS to give the Cybermen a dose of Agony Beams. Pete reveals himself to have been The Mole for the good guys all along, and Ricky reveals himself to be much less of a badass than his friends thought he was (London's Most Wanted... for parking tickets) and promptly manages to get himself killed. The gang flees for now, but massive cyberconversion is already under way.

The Doctor decides that the best way to stop the invasion is to cancel the emotional inhibitors on the Cybermen, which would drive the humans inside insane and kill them. Rose and Pete infiltrate the factory by posing as brainwashed people, and encounter Jackie, who's already been turned into a Cyber(wo)man. Mickey and Jake (Ricky's boyfriend) infiltrate the zeppelin that's parked right on top of the factory, and watch from a screen as the Doctor, Rose and Pete are all taken in for questioning. When the Doctor realizes that Mickey can see and hear him, he and Pete surreptitiously give Mickey the code needed to hack the system. Mickey texts the solution to Rose's cell phone, the Doctor jams it into the control system, and the Cybermen regain their full consciousness and sanity. The ensuing Body Horror causes them to overload, and they die in anguish.

Mickey stays in the alternate reality with his not-dead grandmother and helps the now-dead Ricky's friend destroy the rest of the Cyberfactories. Rose and the Doctor return home.


Tropes:

  • And This Is for...: "JACKIE TYLER!!! THIS IS FOR HER!!!!"
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Ricky's group of freedom fighters. Despite claiming to be freedom fighters, stock-piling weapons and hacking into various organisations, Ricky's only most wanted... in London for parking violations. The Doctor backs him on the "park anywhere" thing, for obvious reasons.
  • Assimilation Plot: As Cybermen are known to do.
  • Behind the Black: Parodied. "I've been captured, but don't worry, Rose and Pete are still out there, they'll save me — oh, well, never mind."
  • Big Damn Heroes: Complete with very brief American accent. "Welcome to Mickey Smith Airlines! Please enjoy your flight. WOO!"
  • Big "NO!": Cyber-Controller / Lumic, as he falls to his death.
  • Badass Gay: Jake in a Straight Gay sort of way. He's a freedom fighter in love with his leader, who happens to be the same gender as him.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Lumic's dead, but the Cybermen are still upgrading, Pete (unlike his main universe counterpart) desperately wants to get away from the fact he's been followed around by his alternate-universe daughter, the Preachers are down to one, and Mickey decides to stay to replace Ricky.
  • Body Horror: Cyberconversion. Tellingly, the Cybus Cybermen include a vital component that represses their emotions so they won't react to their condition with suicidal despair.
  • Catch Phrase: The Doctor begins using "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." in earnest.
  • Chain Link Fence: When Mickey and Ricky are running away from a squad of Cybermen, they have to climb a chain-link fence to escape. Mickey makes it. Ricky doesn't.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Deadly Dodging: Mickey takes out a Cyberman this way.
    Mickey: Come on, you brainless lump of metal! Come and have a go.
  • Disney Villain Death: John Lumic falls from the rope-ladder he was climbing into a burning building and to his death when Pete Tyler cut it.
  • Ditto Aliens: Played for horror; Pete tries to think of a way to reverse what happened to Jackie, only to realize she's already lost in the crowd of identical Cybermen.
  • Expolabel: The transmitter controls, to Jake's surprise.
  • Face Palm: Doctor does this during the conversation with Cyber-Controller.
  • Fatal Family Photo: As soon as Mrs. Moore tells the Doctor her real name and mentions her family, she's doomed. She wasn't killed by the long line of dormant Cybermen they were sneaking past at the time, but rather in another encounter soon after.
  • Foreshadowing: The Doctor notes that the TARDIS fell through a crack in time to get to Pete's world. Something that won't become important until Series 5.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: The army of Cybermen once their emotional inhibitors are switched off.
  • Heel-Face Turn / Even Evil Has Standards: Crane, who watched over most of the Cybermen upgrades and made the mind-controlling ear pods, attempts to kill Lumic after seeing what the Cybermen are doing. Unfortunately, this only results in Crane getting killed and Lumic becoming Cyber-Controller.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Lumic's use of Plug 'n' Play Technology is what allows Mickey and the Doctor to broadcast the code deactivating the Cyber-army's emotional inhibitors.
  • Humans Are Morons: The Doctor briefly lapses into this when Lumic activates his mind control.
    The Doctor: Y'know, the human race, you aren't half susceptible sometimes. Anyone'd think you enjoy it. A simpler life.
  • Hypocrite: Lumic forces upgrading on everyone else, but refuses to upgrade himself until he's on his last breath. (Too bad for him, the Cybermen took this literally...)
  • I Choose to Stay: Mickey stays in the alternate universe because it's a world where his grandmother's still alive and he wants to honour the memory of the fallen Ricky, and one where he doesn't feel useless — taking up his alternate universe counterpart's mantle to fight the Cybermen.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: Mickey tells Jake that killing a guard would make them no better than the Cybermen.
  • I Know Mortal Kombat: Mickey sarcastically responds to his acquired Zeppelin skills with: "PlayStation".
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: Poor Sally Phelan. "Why am I so cold?"
  • Indy Ploy: Mickey calls the Doctor on it.
    Mickey: You're just making this up as you go along!
    The Doctor: Yeeep! But I do it brilliantly.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Complete with an oblique Shout-Out to Casablanca (see the page quote).
  • Lampshade Hanging: The "transmitter controls" exchange.
  • Mauve Shirt: Mrs. Moore gets just enough characterisation for it to matter when the Cybermen suddenly kill her.
  • Mercy Kill: The Doctor quietly shuts down the nervous system of Sally, a would-have-been bride "upgraded" into a cyberman and then incapacitated in such a way that her emotional-inhibitor chip was shut down. Particularly merciful in that she never realizes what's been done to her, unlike all the other upgrades.
  • The Mole: Pete, although he thought he was helping someone more impressive than "the Scooby Doo gang."
  • Nom de Guerre: Mrs. Moore works under an alias to protect her family, and reveals her real name to the Doctor soon before her death. The Doctor tells Jake her real name and asks him to find her family and tell them how she died saving the world.
  • No One Left Behind:
    Mickey: I'm not leaving them behind! (fighting Jake for the steering wheel) There's no way I'm leaving them behind!
  • One Scene, Two Monologues: Mickey and Ricky while fleeing the Cybermen.
  • Parental Abandonment: An odd variant. Instead of having a tender moment like his main universe counterpart did, Pete Tyler quickly makes an excuse and runs off when Rose reveals she's his daughter from another universe. Granted, it's understandable, given that Pete has never had a daughter (save for Jackie's yorkie). This changes some episodes later.
  • Poke the Poodle: Ricky is most wanted in London... for parking tickets.
  • Put on a Bus: Mickey, though he was dodging that inevitability since his first appearance anyway.
  • Slow Motion Fall: The Cyber-Controller's Disney Villain Death.
  • Stealth Pun: Lumic's conversion of Battersea Power Station into the Cyber-Factory just has to be a reference to the Pink Floyd song "Sheep" from Animals.
    Meek and obedient, you follow the leader
    Down well-trodden corridors
    Into the valley of steel.
  • Stock Sound Effect: That "ZORP!" sound Cyber-Controller!Lumic made as he fell to his death? Yeah, that was in The Little Mermaid, guess where!
  • Stuff Blowing Up: When the Doctor deactivates the emotional inhibitors, the Cybermen panicking leads to the entire factory exploding.
  • Stuffed In The Fridge: Cybus!Jackie is to pile emotional distress on her husband and Alt daughter.
  • Tempting Fate:
    John Lumic: I will upgrade only with my last breath!
    Cyberman: Then breathe no more.
  • Title Drop: "This is the Age of Steel, and I am its creator."
  • Unwilling Roboticisation: "Upgrading" is mandatory. If you disagree, then you will herded like sheep into the factory anyway. Yes, this applies to the Cybermen's master and creator.
  • Verb This!: "Upgrade this!"
  • Weak-Willed: Humans, according to the Doctor, are easy to herd and mind control.
  • The X of Y: "The Age of Steel"
  • Yaoi Guys: Ricky and Jake were boyfriends, though the scene explicitly stating this was cut for unspecified reasons.
  • You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: Pete's reaction to Mickey dropping the rope ladder.