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‘Doctor Who’ recap: 12×09 “Ascension of the Cybermen”

Doctor Who recap: Season 12, Episode 09, “Ascension of the Cybermen,” Aired Feb. 23, 2020

How is it already the penultimate episode of the season? These nine episodes have just flown by.

This week, we’re in the far future, after the Cyberwars and after the Cybermen have obliterated almost the entire human race – sans seven humans. The Doctor has a big job ahead of her to make up for reviving the Cyberman empire. Really should’ve listened to Captain Jack.

“Me again”

Almost immediately, the Cybermen send in Cyberdrones to destroy the anti-Cyber technology the Doctor brought along as her choice of weapon. I suppose it would’ve been all too easy if she could use it. 

And, of course, the Doctor feels guilty for putting yet more of her companions in danger. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting some Bill flashbacks.

The companions get separated, Yaz and Graham on a ship with most of what’s left of the humans and Ryan still on the ground. The Doctor catches up with Ryan, and the two, plus another human, take over a Cybership. I will admit I had trouble keeping track of the remaining humans. There weren’t that many of them, but none of them seemed terribly important either. I’ll probably end up taking that back next week, but I barely know their names right now.

“Ascension of the Cybermen”

Those seven humans are dropping quickly as the Cybermen attack. They do spare one human, though, and they request he spread word of their strength to others. Be afraid.

I do want to add that the use of the Cybermen means some super cool tech in this episode, from the Cyberdrones shaped like Cyberman heads to the Cyberships. Also, Ashad just looks super cool with his unfinished assimilation.


The episode began with a backstory involving a man discovering an abandoned baby on a bike ride. Police failed to find the baby’s parents, so the man and his wife adopted him. We saw small glimpses into this kid’s life, including birthdays and illness. He got shot and fell from a cliff and walked away without so much as a scratch. Then, at his retirement, he learned his father and the policeman who found him hadn’t aged a day in all those years. Oh, and they wiped his memory.

I have so many questions. How does this story factor in? Who, or what, are these characters? I just know this is going to be important.

Ko Sharmus

The Doctor, Ryan, and human Ethan commandeer a Cybership to “the boundary,” where – rumor has it – there is safety. The boundary is “guarded” by survivor Ko Sharmus, who led humans to the boundary during the Cyberwars and sacrificed his own safety to stand guard just in case there were other survivors out there.

I want to know who Ko Sharmus is. But more interestingly, the boundary is actually a portal to – guess where – Gallifrey. And as the Doctor and gang are peeking through the boundary, out comes the Master. “Be afraid, Doctor, because everything is about to change forever.”

I’m super ready to learn about the Timeless Child. But also, is the Master in league with the Cybermen again (think Missy)? Old habits do die hard.


Although a slow episode overall, I know it’s mostly buildup for next week, and I am entirely excited for this season finale. With Captain Jack not appearing this week, he’s sure to return next week. Plus, a trip to Gallifrey with the Master! I have lots of questions, and I am hopeful we’ll get some answers in the finale, especially with the episode titled “The Timeless Children.” If only I had a TARDIS to take me to next Sunday!

Next week:

What did you think of “Ascension of the Cybermen”? Let us know at @PureFandom on Twitter!

Doctor Who airs Sundays on BBC America at 8/7c.


Jordan Alperstein

Jordy has a degree in English literature and communication studies. When she isn't attending concerts, she's watching way too much TV for her own good and fangirling over fictional characters. Jordy is a self-proclaimed optimist and bookworm, and she's a sucker for fantasy, superheroes, and good old-fashioned villains.

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