You know, this episode is trying to be really clever. It works very hard to keep the reveal of the return of classic Doctor Who enemies a secret by barely showing them aside from some shots of feet or their standing in the background out-of-focus, but then we’d have to ignore both the title of the episode and the coming attraction for the previous episode telling the audience the Cybermen are back.
That’s never good.
On the other hand, if there is a good thing about the Cybermen’s return, it’s that its on an alternate Earth. See, the Doctor asked Mickey to hold something down, but then forgot to tell him when to stop, so the TARDIS goes a bit nuts and ends up back on Earth at about the same time it last left. Then if you glanced up, you’d see the sky was full of zeppelins.
See? Alternative Earth.
Also, Rose’s father is alive and very wealthy because one of his crazy schemes actually worked.
OK, it isn’t really Rose’s father. But there’s a Jackie, and even with loads of money, she’s still a demanding critic of everything her husband does. And there’s a Rose, but this Rose is a Yorkie.
Now, this isn’t good. The TARDIS is out of power, and Rose really shouldn’t go see alternate versions of her parents because that could just cause trouble. Not as much trouble as dying rich guy John Lumic, with his special earpods that feed the news directly into people’s heads, causing them to freeze in place while that all happens, but Lumic doesn’t want to die and he’s doing…something that is apparently very painful to some homeless folks who thought they were getting a good meal.
By the by, those earpods don’t look too crazy as I type this in 2020, but considering Rose still has a flip phone, it must have been something else that made everything look weird in this alternate reality.
Anyway, the Doctor does find one part in the TARDIS with some power, and if he can give it some power from its own reality, then he can fix the TARDIS. That’s actually easy since he can give it ten years of his own life and then he’s got 24 hours to wait in an alternative dimension.
That just convinces Rose she can go get a peep at her not-daddy. The Doctor says she shouldn’t, but she’s going anyway. Mickey then reasons that he can go check and see if his dead grandma is alive in this reality, and since the Doctor can only follow one of them and Mickey is sure the Doctor will follow Rose, off he goes.
And yes, the Doctor follows Rose, even getting in on what’s what by using psychic paper to sneak the pair in as servers at Jackie’s elaborate birthday party, where they even see the President of Great Britain.
Don’t get too attached to that guy.
The Doctor, being the Doctor, overhears something and heads off to check a computer. Rose, meanwhile, chats with both alternate versions of her parents. Pete is nice, admits his marriage is failing. Jackie is..not very pleasant at all.
Oh, and good news for Mickey! He does find his blind grandma! She’s glad to see him! But then he gets grabbed because he also exists in this reality, under the name “Rickey,” and he’s the leader of a rebel group looking to attack the birthday party. And yes, Rickey wants to know Mickey’s whole deal.
But then Lumic’s invention shows up. The Doctor knows they’re coming. Rose sees and hears them coming. Rickey’s Rebels spot them getting off a truck. And when they attack the party, the Doctor identifies them as Cybermen, emotionless cyborgs with human brains, the emotions turned off because otherwise it hurts too much.
And then they do the Borg thing, ordering the party attenders to either submit or be deleted. The President asks what that means, the Doctor says he shouldn’t, but the Cybermen deletes him anyway.
Told you not to get too attached to that guy.
That means killing him with their electric hands. And then they decide to do that to as many people as possible, with only the Doctor, Rose, and Pete escaping from a window, encountering the rebels–the Doctor is so pleased to see two Mickeys–and are soon surrounded by Cybermen.
The Doctor surrenders.
And the Cybermen say they’re going to delete him anyway.
Well, how’s the Doctor gonna get out of this one?
I don’t know yet. The episode ended with “to be continued”.