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The Cybermen and the Daleks are both cyborgs, but this is the first time that we have had the opportunity to compare them side-by-side in Doctor Who. They could have been portrayed as different versions of the same thing, dehumanised machines. In fact Russell T. Davies has done an excellent job of highlighting how different they really are. They represent the two possible extremes of our human nature.

The Cybermen offer us an existence that is free from those emotions that plague us as human beings. They are the final destination of the age of enlightenment that defined all living things, including human beings, in terms of the machine. Science would turn us into better people, by controlling (and possibly removing) all those elements that made us "bad."

 

The Cybermen’s mission therefore is to share their utopian (from their perspective) emotionless existence with us. It is only our irrational fear that prevents us embracing the "upgrade" that is offered, so logic decrees that force must be used.

This does not prevent them from attempting to appeal to our logical side, broadcasting an end to all those things which cause us discord and pain; race, gender, fear hate and individuality. But these things are also what make us human. Cybermen don’t go about killing unnecessarily. They attempt to negotiate with the Daleks, and politely ask the humans they encounter if they are surrendering, rather than killing them on sight. They are even open to a joint attack with humans against the Daleks. It is their Frankenstein nature, their parody of us as human beings, and their wanting to turn us into one of them, the undead, which makes them frightening.

 

All of this seems particularly repulsive to the Daleks, who have had only their "weak" emotions removed by their designer Davros in "Genesis of the Daleks" [1975]. At the same time he selectively retained those that would allow him to develop a being programmed to ruthlessly survive in competition with other species. Hence the Daleks’ favourite chant of ‘exterminate’. They are xenophobic, racist and arrogant, describing the war against the Cybermen as "vermin control". They are in fact emotional, paranoid, Nazi thugs, which means that Russell T. Davies has done an excellent job of presenting and contrasting them in this final episode of series 2. In the Daleks vs Cybermen world cup final I’d be sporting a Cybermen shirt (which would probably mean they’d lose in a penalty shoot-out).

 

A Companion leaving the series is problematic. Often (in the case of the females) they just get-off with some bloke and then say goodbye to the Doctor. This has never been very satisfactory or convincing. Rarely do they get killed (a particularly popular approach amongst fans of the programme I recall in the case of Adric in "Earthshock" [1982]), but this would not normally be a satisfactory solution. Occasionally they stay behind because they have found a noble mission for themselves, as Steven does in "The Savages" [1966] and Nyssa does in "Terminus" [1983]. RTD’s approach with Rose is original, believable and very satisfying.

 

This is a story that ticks all the boxes, and is one in which Russell T. Davies got everything right.



5 comments


    Sniz

    July 10, 2006

    Yes. Excellent write up Peter and an excellent finale too – a very good way to end it for Rose, her ‘father’ and her mum.
    But there was one part where the Torchwood leader (as a cyberman) saved the day, would this be because her most overwhelming emotion was devotion to duty? It puzzled me somewhat. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on that one.

    Peter

    July 10, 2006

    There’s often a “the human spirit is greater than we think” moment in these humans being taken over stories. What makes this more interesting is that something that was portrayed as a negative in “Army of Ghosts”, the patriotic desire for empire, could be used to show that any passion or love, even if it’s misguided, is what seperates us from the emotionless Cybermen and is what makes us human.

    That’s my take on it.

    Frank Sable

    July 10, 2006

    It’s interesting to see how Rose, her Mum and Dad, and Mickey have grown during their time with the Doctor. In a sense they were all companions. They were blinkered people with short term, limited asperations. By the end they had become heroic characters with a much wider world view. Perhaps that’s why some of them jarred so much when the new series started. RTD wanted them to grow, so perhaps he started them low to finish them high?

    David

    July 10, 2006

    Actually, relating to the departure of companions and the Daleks, I think Tegans departure was convincing in Resurrection of the Daleks, she had been getting increasingly distressed by the Doctors attitude to death, as demonstrated in Warriors of the Deep, and her tearful dash off, with head down was the kind of less emotional, but not less convincing breakup that often happens in real life.

    Stuart T

    July 10, 2006

    I felt RTD actually missed an opportunity with the series finale, and could have intelligently explored the idea that the Darleks and the Cybermen “represent two possible extremes of human nature?????? (read evolution). Instead, he went and did the easy thing and did a Matrix 3, which explored the idea of who would win in a fight between Agent Smith and Neo. Doctor Who is just another example of the BBC turning ‘Hollywood’ and dumbing down if you ask me.

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