The Doctor’s blindness is cured. Hooray! The three biggest armies on Earth have agreed to peace. Hooray! Bill’s given control of the Earth over to a bunch of murdering monks. Um… not so much hooray. This week’s episode was full of heavy drama and political overtones, but what did our team make of it? Let’s find out…
Ben (Assistant Editor)
I love a good three-parter. It really gives the writers chance to develop the story, and with the ‘Monk trilogy’ we’ve seen the set up, the decision and the repercussions spread out over three episodes. Whilst we’re still yet to see The Lie of the Land, it is already shaping up to be a great run of stories, building up to Twelve’s demise.
Since each part of the trilogy has different writers, this also gives us a different tone each time, as the seriousness of the situation unfolds. Whilst the Doctor and the atmosphere in Extremis was quite lighthearted, in The Pyramid there is more a sense of danger and urgency, with the almost cliché visual countdown ticking away and supposed saviours of the Earth being killed off every few minutes.
The Pyramid At The End Of The World also tackles the tricky subject of war and peace, reflecting some of the issues currently happening in the world – to the point where the world’s leading authority figures touching glowing objects feels almost too coincidental. This episode then perhaps comes at an appropriate time, as once again Moffat and Harness deliver a positive message of peace to a world in need of hope. Sadly, the three military leaders are killed off, but still, this is because they are not acting out of ‘love’. Although this idea feels a bit cheesy, it is still a nice sentiment that holds true the ethos of the show.
It is perhaps surprising that we are at a point already where Bill feels like an established companion and we are no longer looking to discover more about her and how she handles life with the Doctor. Whilst there is still an element of surprise and curiosity, I do think that we have jumped to this point a little too quickly. However, if rumours are to believed that her time is also nearly up, it’s understandable. Similarly, Nardole is also becoming more developed, with a clear necessity for his being there as well as just making us laugh.
When we write these reviews, we’re often in a state of excitement after just watching a new episode, but often when we look back and analyse the story, it doesn’t hold up quite as strong as we first thought. This episode is no exception. There are a number of trivial things that puzzled me. How could the Monks expect the humans not be acting out of fear when their world is about to be blown up? Why was their base a giant pyramid when we only ever saw them in one little room? Where was Missy in all this after her big reveal last week? Why were the two lazy, incompetent scientists in charge of potentially lethal chemicals? Where was UNIT in all of this? Also, the reused gag of a powerful figure interrupting Bill’s date was far too predictable and not nearly as funny as last time.
However, there were also moments that saved the episode; mainly the final scene, where it genuinely feels like the end for the Doctor. Though normally we know he survives and it’s just a case of seeing how, this time it was different. With evidence that he regenerates partway through the series, the danger felt like a real threat and I was quite prepared for the Doctor to start glowing. But it seems we’ll have to wait for next week to see that.
Overall, The Pyramid At The End Of The World was an episode packed with excitement and suspense and acts well as the second part of what feels like an already memorable trilogy.
Wow. Yes wow, again. The Pyramid at the end of the World is an astonishing episode. Moffat and Harness have gone barmy and actually tried to set up a situation where the three greatest military powers here on earth agree to shake hands and act together despite being in all but actual ways currently at war with each other.
I thought the murky Vatican monks are easily one of the scariest, creepiest enemies the Doctor has ever faced. Almost an upgrade to the great intelligence or the Silence of previous series’ and visually haunting and horrific. But the horrific and sadistic monks are not going to relent just yet so we have even more dark capers ahead of us.
For a whole third episode Peter Capaldi acted wonderfully as a blind Doctor. Those irksome Sonic Sunglasses many moaned about in Series 9 have now come to have real importance, as well as Nardole cleverly guiding the Doctor and by way of his Duffel Coat communication link. This is a tale where every character in the show is depicted to us via the Doctor’s blindness so as a viewer we really start to know and understand minority groups (such as Doctor Who fans) are as human and brilliant and beautiful as the rest of the world.
I have to say once again it is Bill, together with the Doctor, that steal the show, Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackie have a very special chemistry. The Doctor respects Bill as his brightest student (let’s remember Bill serves chips and attends the Doctor’s lectures for fun and fascination) yet when it comes to assessments of situations it is Bill’s no nonsense logic which helps the Doctor know what has to be done.
I’ve previously said Bill is in awe of the Doctor but in this episode she shows and proves ‘love’ towards him, in just these early stages of their knowing one another. In a pure way she begs for the monks to restore the Doctor’s sight – this after the Doctor has displayed some absolute genius in zooming in on the focal point of the Earth’s dilemma and how he can fix things, partly and brilliantly ironically by ‘blinding’ the monks temporarily and thereby tricking them.
There are some memorable lines in this episode, especially the moment where the Doctor talks about fear and says how once you become totally aware of fear you forget what it is you are afraid of. Bill gets this without knowing that maybe the Doctor’s thoughts have been heightened by his painful blindness. The line however which really stood out to me was ‘Fear is temporary, love is Slavery’. My jaw dropped as I tried to feel that moment in the context it was put, basically as the monks are dabbling with time and reality, forthcoming total destruction of Earth is approaching unless by ‘pure’ consent through negotiation ownership of the Earth is handed to the sinister monks in an act of total love.
This was a fine episode of Doctor Who and overall I think Peter Capaldi is proving himself to be a legend of a Doctor by any standards of each of our favourite Doctors. Similarly, Bill Potts is an wonderful character that has worked extremely well. The strength of the show too is balanced perfectly with the fleeting and nuanced edges added by Nardole (who’s lungs the Doctor bought on the cheap!). This series is a sheer pleasure and exhilaration to watch.