So… this was an odd episode, as ‘Doctor Who’ eps go. It starts off incredibly strong, giving us a great vibe that this intriguing story was really ramping up for a big finale. Halfway through the episode, however… things kind of “crash and burn” in a story-telling sense, and there’s a very rushed feel to try and put a bow on it all. Read on for more thoughts.
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: Similar to other “sweeping” style storylines in recent seasons of ‘Doctor Who’ (think 2007’s ‘The Last of the Time Lords’ as a prime example), this episode picks up six months after the conclusion of last week’s story. The Monks have moved into Earth and have made themselves very comfortable, by all accounts: they’ve planted statues of themselves in pretty much every city around the globe, and the have inserted themselves comfortably into Earth’s history, getting the general populace to (mostly) believe that they’ve been a part of the planet’s history for as long as anyone can remember.
In fact, even the Doctor seems to be on their side – he’s helping to “spread the good word” by creating pro-Monk propaganda pieces and sharing the message all over the world. Bill, of course, isn’t buying any of it; she believes that the Doctor has a secret plan to fight back against the Monks, and his current work as their head PR person is just a part of that. She spends a fair amount of time talking with her make-believe version of her mother about it – until Nardole comes crashing in to her apartment and tells her that he’s found where the Doctor is holed up.
Now, it’s up to the two of them to find the Doctor, find out what he’s up to, and if possible, continue their work to overthrow the Monks and free the Earth. Oh, and Missy and the Vault – can’t forget that stuff in every episode, either…
- It’s clear that Steven Moffat is working towards something bigger this season in terms of overall storyline – it’s just been a little confusing to viewers as to what exactly that might be. Early on in the season, the vault was far and away the most intriguing game in town, but recently it’s started to feel like something that has to be inserted somewhere in every episode, just because. The recent revelation that it’s Missy inside, to me, felt a little anticlimactic, although I will say it was great seeing Michelle Rodriguez get a bit more screen time in this episode.
- For all of us who saw the pre-season preview videos and couldn’t help but see Capaldi start to “regenerate” in them… well, now we’ve seen the full scene. To be frank, it felt like a bit of a cop-out to me. I understand the significance of Bill choosing to shoot the Doctor – most companions follow him relatively blindly, and we now know that’s definitely not the case with Ms. Potts – but she didn’t actually hurt him, as the gun was filled with blanks (unbeknownst to her)… so why – and more importantly, how? – did Twelve feel the need to put his body through the regenerative glow? It just doesn’t seem to add up for me.
- For all the calling back to previous iterations of ‘Who’ this season has gloriously done so far, this episode, in particular, seemed to enjoy referencing things that happened earlier in this very season. There was mention of the quick pit-stop in Austrailia that happened in ‘The Pilot,’ the talk of the sounds that space doors make in ‘Oxygen,’ and the litmus-test reference to the “big fish” adventure in ‘Thin Ice.’
- It’s important to remember the line in last week’s episode, muttered by the Monks themselves: we have not yet seen them in their true form. For as easily as they were scared off the planet, this tidbit of information obviously bodes well for their return to ‘Doctor Who” – now the real question becomes, will that return be later this season or sometime in future seasons? With Chris Chibnall taking over showrunning duties from Moffat at the end of this season, it seems like the former option is the safer bet than the latter, but we are starting to grow short on available episodes left this season…
CLOSING THOUGHTS: One thing I have been noticing in particular as this season has progressed – the creative team is leaning heavily on creating Bill’s Mom as an almost “extra character” to the overall narrative. I’ll be interested to see how this continues to play out as the season – and Capaldi’s run as the Doctor, frowny face – moves towards wrapping things up. For ‘The Lie of the Land,’ however, it’s by no means a bad episode… I just wish it was a bit stronger of a finish to what was a particularly engaging multi-episode story arc.
PRINCIPAL CAST FEATURED IN THIS EPISODE:
Peter Capaldi as the Doctor
Bill Mackie as Pearl
Matt Lucas as Nardole
Michelle Gomez as Missy
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.