A welcome return to the “three-part” stories from ‘Doctor Who’ of years gone by, ‘The Pyramid at the End of the World’ gives us the second portion of the current story saga, following up from last week’s ‘Extremis’ and concluding next week with ‘The Lie of the Land.’ So, without further ado – let’s jump in and talk ‘Who!’
WARNING: Spoilers for this episode of ‘Doctor Who’ lie ahead, obviously. If you haven’t seen the episode and don’t wish for any of its content to be spoiled for you, the time to turn back is NOW!
RECAP: Being the second part of the three-part serial, this episode was a bit up-and-down in the action department, but the premise was clear: continue the story as begun last week, when the Monks were revealed as working to take over the Earth by studying the past in order to extrapolate the future. In ‘The Pyramid at the End of the World,’ they finally make their presence known in the flesh, by plunking down a pyramid… and getting ready for… the end of the world…
The pyramid portion is a bit weird, but the effect is strong: the Monks are ready to take over the world, but they won’t do it by force. Rather, they have come to warn humankind that the world will indeed be ending, but not by their hand. They can actually save the world and the human race, fortuitously, but in order to do so, they have to be invited to step in by the human race themselves (or rather, someone in a position of power who’s kinda-sorta authorized to make that call).
So, who better to start with than the President of Earth – that’s right, it’s your friendly neighborhood Doctor! And also, since the Monks put their pyramid in a “strategic intersection” of the three most powerful nations on Earth, there are some other high-ranking folks there who might have an opinion about the situation as well.
The episode races through several questions towards its conclusion. Who will be the first world power to “flinch” and give the Monks permission to rule the Earth in exchange for saving them all? What’s going on in the biochemical lab we’re seeing interspersed throughout the episode? Will the Doctor finally tell Bill about his lingering blindness? Will we see more of Missy and the Vault this episode? The answer to that last question is “No,” but the rest of the questions do get resolved, I promise!
- The pyramid is an interesting and seemingly oddly-random choice for the Monks to create as their “home base” – is this just them plucking an ominous-looking structure at random out of Earth’s history, or is there more here than meets the eye? Pyramids have been used fairly routinely throughout the entire run of ‘Doctor Who’ – including for the first time in the very first season with the very First Doctor, in the 1965 episode ‘The Daleks’ Master Plan.’ That pyramid was, in fact, the Great Pyramid of Giza, on Earth, where the Doctor faced off against a foe called… The Monk… hmm…
- While we’re on the subject of the Monks: they pretty much come right out and say in this episode that what we’re seeing here is not, in fact, their “true form.” Is this a signal to let viewers know that we’ve got a returning villain here on our hands? Avid online theorists will likely note that the Monks do say the word “silence” more than a few times, and they certainly do look and sound (ahem) eerily similar to The Silence… but c’mon, that’s too easy. My money is on the Adipose! Who’s with me? Nobody? …okay, then, moving on.
- Fun fact: the primary Monk in both this week’s and last week’s episode is portrayed by actor Jamie Hill, who has experience playing the bad guy here in ‘Doctor Who’ – he was also the Foretold in the 2014 episode ‘Mummy on the Orient Express.’
- An interesting use of the “Doomsday Clock” here in the episode. A real-life social construct, the Clock is indeed used to represent how close to global Armageddon a group-think of scientists believe the human race to be. The clock is currently at two-and-a-half minutes to Midnight, the closest it’s been to Midnight since the Cold War in the 1960s. The clock was placed at the current time shortly after Donald Trump, who also gets a snarky shout-out in this episode, was elected US President.
CLOSING THOUGHTS: We’re now officially over halfway through this season, and it certainly does feel like the slow beginning of some plot threads in the early episodes are starting to pick up steam here a bit. We already know that we’re headed for some serious to-do with Capaldi’s farewell at the end of the season, so I for one am certainly intrigued to see what lies ahead in next week’s episode – and beyond!
PRINCIPAL CAST FEATURED IN THIS EPISODE:
Peter Capaldi as the Doctor
Bill Mackie as Pearl
Matt Lucas as Nardole
New episodes of ‘Doctor Who’ air on Saturday nights on BBC America.
Tony Schaab rolls his eyes when he hears kids reference a screen-cap of the original NES Super Mario game as a “Minecraft Mario” – you damn kids, get off my lawn! A lover of most things sci-fi and horror, Tony is an author by day and a DJ by night. Come hang out with Tony on Twitter or follow him on Facebook to hear him spew semi-funny nonsense and get your opportunity to finally put him in his place.