Series Ten, Episode Seven – “The Pyramid at the End of the World”
By Brandy Dykhuizen. It should go without saying that Doctor Who surpasses most programs in creature creation and sheer imagination.
On one hand, it’s understandable that you’d choose to err on the side of silly when building your baddies for a young audience to consume right before bedtime. When you’re penning a three part series, however, with monsters poised to take over the world, wouldn’t you want to shoot for something a little scarier than, say, mouth-breathing Monks in Freddy Krueger masks?
When Doctor Who does manage to be truly scary, the fear is cultivated in what you can’t see. (The memory-erasing powers of the Silents, the blink of an eye in which a Weeping Angel swoops in for the kill, etc.) As the Monks fawned over their fiber optic mainframe and co-opted the cockpit of an American bomber, they just seemed ridiculous.
There was a lot of talk about consent amongst the Monks, in a half-baked “moral of the story” kind of way. However, their repetition of what did or did not qualify as consent (fear is not consent, strategy is not consent, etc.) was far from fully formed. It all felt like a set up for a poignant epiphany that never quite happened. There is still one more episode to this three-part story, so maybe I’ll be eating these words next week.
While the Monks were busy dropping pyramids into war zones, The Doctor was occupied relishing his role as President of Earth once again. Being blind is merely a speed bump, a way to up the ante or tick another box. It was plain to see that he was excited about the challenge, so sure of his ability to fly solo that he continued to keep everyone at arm’s length. “I’m The Doctor, saving the world with eyes shut,” he said with a big smile.
And he’s right – he is indeed capable of saving the world while not being able to see any of it. But in his tenacity he managed to paint himself into a pretty tricky corner. So there he found himself, locked away in a lab on the brink of an explosion.
This lead Bill into the most human of all human errors – letting your love for someone eclipse the big picture. She consented to the Monks, in essence telling them they can have the whole human race if they just give The Doctor his sight back.
Either Bill is dumber than we thought or she has an unqualified amount of confidence in The Doctor’s ability to get the entire human race out of a life of servitude. Either way, here’s to hoping Missy pops back into the picture next week and knocks some sense back into everyone.
“Is it okay if I get an Uber?” – Penny, when things started to get weird.
Colonel: “Sir, what are you doing?” The Doctor: “Bringing it.”
“It’s impossible to make a trap without making a portrait of your own weaknesses.” – The Doctor.
Doctor: “Can you hack them?” Nardole: “Of course I can, I’m not just sexy.”
BEST MOMENT: The episode’s ending made slogging through the human and Monk war rooms more or less worthwhile. While the companions have delivered countless pride-before-fall moments, it’s rare that The Doctor has acted so foolishly. All his cleverness and cunning was thwarted by a simple combination lock that he could neither see nor Sonic Screwdriver his way out of. It’s true, he was able to save the world whilst blind, but if he had just told Bill or Erika about his predicament he could have made it out alive as well.
EPISODE’S MVP: In an episode in which our heroes acted fairly on-script, Erica was a breath of fresh air. We’ve had some excellent guest actors recently, and Rachel Denning added the type of no-nonsense intelligence that Bill sometimes lacks. The Doctor off-handedly offered her a spot on the TARDIS, so it’s possible we will see her again sometime.
– The Doctor is back to being President of Earth, now that we’ve gotten ourselves into another crisis.
– Douglas, the hungover scientists who brought about the end of days, is played by Tony Gardner, another The Thick of It alum.
– Conceptually, the Monks choosing a form to resemble human corpses because humans are “already dead” is terrifying, but there’s no coming back from how goofy they looked in the bomber cockpit.
– I like Bill. And I really like Pearl Mackie’s portrayal of her. But sometimes it seems like she’s getting a bit thicker in the head as the series progresses.
– How did the Monks restore The Doctor’s eyesight, anyways?
– Having Nardole faint at just the right moment just seemed like the easy way out, to me.
6 out of 10
Next: “The Lie of the Land”, in one week.
Before: “Extremis”, here.