Clara (Jenna Coleman) phones her boyfriend Danny (Samuel Anderson), ready to admit the truth of her travelling with the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and that she loves Danny. Midway through the call, he is hit by a car and killed. Terribly upset, she intends to use a hypnotic patch to force the Doctor to save Danny. It does not work, but he offers to find Danny in the afterlife.
He focuses on Danny with the TARDIS’ telepathic interface. They arrive at a mausoleum called the 3W Institute, which holds human skeletons submerged in a substance called Dark Water. It hides the metal exoskeletons that support the human remains. They are guarded by Missy (Michelle Gomez) who claims to be a welcome droid. Doctor Chang (Andrew Leung) explains that 3W was founded to protect the dead after it was learned that they are aware of being buried or cremated.
Danny is greeted by Seb (Chris Addison) in the Nethersphere, which is supposedly the afterlife. Seb helps Danny to adjust. He meets a young civilian boy (Antonio Bourouphael) he accidentally killed as a soldier. The boy runs off. Danny receives a call from Clara as the Doctor leaves with Chang to investigate. Not wanting her to die, Danny tricks her into ending the call. He is just about to delete his emotions when he sees the boy watching him.
Missy instructs the skeletons to rise and drain the tanks. She kills Chang. As the liquid drains away, the skeletons are revealed as Cybermen. Missy tells the Doctor that dying minds are uploaded to the Nethersphere, a Time-Lord invention where emotions are deleted, and the minds then downloaded into Cyber bodies. The Doctor realizes that Missy is not a droid, but a Time Lady. He finds that 3W is inside St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Missy is in fact The Mistress, a female incarnation of the Master. Clara is trapped in the lab with a Cyberman. To be continued.
Images refer to 1968’s The Invasion and 1967’s Tomb of the Cybermen. The episode, which was aired the day after Halloween, received critical acclaim as bone-rattling and spooky, but it was criticized for its use of death and cremation. Personally, I found the voices of the dead begging not to be cremated seriously disturbing, and there were several powerful and emotional scenes. Every Doctor Who season since Steven Moffat became the head writer has had a penultimate episode featuring the Cybermen. Apparently, Michelle Gomez modelled Missy after Johnny Depp. Missy had to make Saint Paul’s Cathedral bigger on the inside to hold all the dead. Her entrance music was Air on a G-String by Bach.