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Recap / Doctor Who S28E6 "The Age of Steel"

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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.

The one with a Cyberman that left its high-beams on.

Alternatively, the one with not-AVALANCHE and not-Shinra.

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 — the small Artron cell — to give the Cybermen a dose of Agony Beams. After the getaway, 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, deciding that he's grown from his experiences in Pete's World, wants to see its liberation through to the end. He stays in the alternate reality with his not-dead grandmother (who will live for a few more years) and helps the now-dead Ricky's friend destroy the rest of the Cyberfactories. Rose and the Doctor return home.


  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The Cybermen lurk in the "cooling tunnels" beneath Lumic's factory. Justified in that Lumic's factory is based out of the iconic former Battersea Power Station, which actually does have tunnels underneath it, though nowhere near as extensive as depicted.
  • Age of Titles: "The Age of Steel".
  • All There in the Manual: A deleted scene reveals Jake is gay. There's still enough moments within the episode to deduce that he's homosexual.
  • And This Is for...: "JACKIE TYLER!!! THIS IS FOR HER!!!!"
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  • Apologetic Attacker: After shutting down the emotional inhibitors en masse, the Doctor sadly says "I'm sorry" to a Cyberman reacting in horror to the sight of what it's become in a reflective surface.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Ricky's group of freedom fighters. Despite claiming to be freedom fighters, stockpiling 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.
  • 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.
  • 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."
    • Played straight with a couple of the deaths at the hands of the Cyberman, who always make very loud noises whenever they take a step, except when they need to suddenly show up in the picture, right behind someone.
  • 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 his planetary conversion plans fall apart thanks to the Doctor and Mickey, and later as he falls to his death.
  • 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.
  • Book-Ends: The Doctor, who often scornfully referred to Mickey as "Mickey the Idiot" in his ninth incarnation, uses it as a term of affection as Mickey departs.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: While rescuing his friends from an exploding factory via zeppelin, Mickey seems to decide airship captain = American accent. "Welcome to Mickey Smith Airlines; please enjoy your flight."
  • Brought to You by the Letter "S": The new Cybermen's letter-C Chest Insignia is commented on by the Doctor, who notes that Lumic's "turned them into a brand".
  • Canned Orders over Loudspeaker: An unpleasantly angry voice can be heard calling out through the Cyberconversion factory.
    "Chamber 5 now open for human upgrading. Chamber 7 now open for human upgrading. Chamber 12 now closed for sterilisation. All reject stock will be incinerated."
  • Catchphrase: 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 wind up on opposite sides of one. Ricky has to climb it to escape the pursuing Cybermen, but doesn't make it.
  • Cliffhanger Copout: At the end of "Rise of the Cybermen", the Doctor tries to convince the Cybermen who've cornered his group that they're surrendering, only for the Cybermen to ignore this and ominously chant "Delete! Delete!" as the episode ends; when this episode begins, the Doctor suddenly pulls a tool out of nowhere which kills the Cybermen then and there. Because if the Doctor had this tool at his disposal, there was little reason to try and surrender and even less to hesitate for about 10 seconds before killing the enemy; they don't even suggest that he was possibly trying to buy enough time until the tool was fully charged to destroy the Cybermen, which actually make sense if it's the case. This is justified by the "tool" actually being the TARDIS's charging power cell, whose use as a weapon started the charging process all over again. For obvious reasons, the Doctor was reluctant to cut off his ultimate escape route.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Creative Sterility: The Doctor points out that Lumic's Assimilation Plot is robbing his victims of the one thing that powered all his efforts to survive: imagination.
  • Curse Cut Short: Mr. Crane's last words: "Die, you bas–"
  • Deadly Dodging: Mickey takes out a Cyberman this way, also destroying the transmitter controls in the process.
    Mickey: Come on, you brainless lump of metal! Come and have a go.
  • Deus ex Machina: The Doctor's power source for the TARDIS also emits an energy beam that selectively zaps all surrounding Cybermen.
  • Disney Villain Death: John Lumic is climbing a rope ladder when Pete Tyler cuts it, causing Lumic to fall to his death in his exploding factory.
  • 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.
  • Doppelgänger Gets Same Sentiment: Rose and her parents' alternate selves.
    Pete: We could die in there. Why are you doing this?
    Rose: Let's just say I'm doing it for my mum and dad.
  • Dying as Yourself: The Doctor destroys all the Cybermen's emotional inhibitors, causing them to remember their humanity and realise what they've become, which in turn causes their heads to explode.
    Cyber Controller: What have you done?!
    The Doctor: I gave them back their souls!
  • Evil Is Sterile: The Doctor accuses the Cybermen of this. They're programmed to simply expand and "upgrade" all other life-forms, lacking any of the creativity that led Lumic to make them in the first place.
    The Doctor: The Cybermen won't advance. You'll just stop. You'll stay like this forever. A metal Earth with metal men and metal thoughts, lacking the one thing that makes this planet so alive: people! Ordinary, stupid, brilliant people.
  • Exact Words: John Lumic insists on postponing his own cyber-conversion until "his last breath". Since his life support has just been damaged, the Cybermen immediately take him to a conversion chamber.
  • Expo Label: Lampshaded: Mickey and Jake are looking for the transmitter controls, and Mickey asks what it looks like. Jake responds sarcastically that it'll have a sign with "Transmitter Controls" in big red letters on it. It does.
  • Facepalm: The Doctor does this during the conversation with the 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.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: The army of Cybermen once their emotional inhibitors are switched off.
    The Doctor: It's still got a human brain. Imagine its reaction if it could see itself, realise itself inside this thing... it would go insane.
  • Go Through Me: The Doctor after the Cyber-Controller offers to convert him:
    The Doctor: You might as well kill me.
    Cyber-Controller: Then I take that option.
  • 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 I think you like 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...: Subverted when a downed Cyberman whose emotional inhibitor has been removed asks "why... am... I... cold?" It's revealed she has no idea what has happened, and still thinks she's on the way to her wedding. (The trope name drop is especially apt, as this is what finally convinces the Doctor that the Cybermen are no longer really alive, and therefore can be destroyed.)
  • 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 Say What I Say: Mickey and Ricky, while fleeing the Cybermen, at one point stop to catch their breath, each go off on their own panicked monologue, and culminate with reciting, in unison, "They know where we are!"
  • 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.
    The Doctor: No, no! You didn't need to kill her!
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Crane turns on Lumic and sabotages his life support after narrowly escaping the activation of his earpods to bring him to the Cyberman factory.
  • Multitasked Conversation: The second half of the Doctor's big speech during the climax is a blatantly transparent conversation with Mickey via the security cameras.
    The Doctor: You just don't get it, do you? An army's nothing! Because those ordinary people, they're the key. The most ordinary person could change the world! (The Doctor glances up at the security camera) Some ordinary man or woman... some idiot. All it takes is for him to find, say, the right numbers. Say the right codes. Say, for example, the code behind the emotional inhibitor. The code right in front of him. Because even an idiot knows how to use computers these days.
  • 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.
  • Nom de Guerre: Mrs. Moore works under an alias to protect her family, and reveals her real name to the Doctor shortly 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 Gets 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.
  • Pretend to Be Brainwashed: Rose and Pete, with the help of fake earpods, infiltrate the Cyberman factory by pretending to be two more of the mind-controlled civilians marching in to be Cyberconverted.
  • Put on a Bus: Mickey, though he was dodging that inevitability since his first appearance anyway.
  • The Quisling: In this reality, Pete Tyler is a high-ranking official in Lumic's company. When he's captured by the resistance, he reveals that he's actually working as The Mole, being the insider reponsible for sending them information on the Cybermen.
  • Remember When You Blew Up a Sun?: When Mickey and Jake set out to stop a Cyberman army with nothing but a blue van, Mickey explains how he once "saved the whole universe with a big yellow truck".
  • Reverse Mole: Pete, although he thought he was helping someone more impressive than "Scooby-Doo and his gang".
  • Shout-Out: Pete compares the Preachers to the main characters of Scooby-Doo, saying "They even got the van!"
  • Slow-Motion Fall: The parallel universe Cyber-Controller falls to his doom after Pete Tyler cuts the ladder the Controller is climbing with the sonic screwdriver.
  • Something Only They Would Say: What winds up cluing Mickey in to the fact that the Doctor is more talking to him than the Cyber-Controller during the climax? The Doctor mentioning the various kinds of ordinary people that could change the world... including "some idiot".
  • 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 be herded like sheep into the factory anyway. Yes, this also applies to the Cybermen's master and creator (though only after Crane damaged his life support).
  • [Verb] This!: "Upgrade this!"
  • Villainous Breakdown: Lumic goes through one after the Doctor shuts down the emotional inhibitors, driving the Cybermen into suicidal insanity:
    Lumic: What have you done?!
    The Doctor: I gave them back their souls! They can see what you've done, Lumic, and it's KILLING them!
  • 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.
  • Your Head Asplode: One of the Cybermen.


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