Saturday, June 3, 2017

Doctor Who 10.07: “The Pyramid at the End of the World”

“What it’s doing, Colonel, is sending a message: Bring it.”
- The Doctor

Where to start with this episode of “Doctor Who”. It felt rather disjointed for a lot of it until the last 10 minutes or so. Fresh off the weird simulation in “Extremis”, Bill is on a date with Penny but again they are interrupted by another important head of state: The Secretary General of the UN. He’s looking for the Doctor, because there’s a crisis and he’s the President of Earth in such situations. I believe that started with the Zygon drama a few seasons ago. Or when Missy turned all the dead people into Cybermen as a present for the Doctor. So, Bill gets whisked away and they pick up Nardole and the Doctor on their way to a made-up former Soviet bloc country where a 5,000-year-old pyramid has materialized overnight on a disputed military area split between the US, China and Russia. Man, if our current President had any say (although I did like Bill’s comment about how she didn’t vote for him, especially because he’s orange), we’d all be dead or enslaved.

The Doctor still hasn’t told anyone but Nardole that he’s blind and that’s going to prove problematic later on. When they first gather the heads of the three militaries, they think they can work things out, especially by coordinating attacks on the pyramid. The Doctor has confirmed that the monks are responsible and man are they creepy. Although, I almost prefer the Silence to these guys. They just give off weird vibes. Their whole thing is that they can show the future and the planet is just completely dead. They’re willing to save the planet but they need consent from the power of the planet and it has to be pure. So first, the Secretary General says he consents but it’s out of fear, so he gets turned to dust.

So, they regroup and the Doctor sets out trying to find what causes the planet to die. He gets Nardole to narrow down biochemical tests being monitored by UNIT to 428 but the other military leaders think it is the best strategy to surrender and let the monks do whatever it is they do. The Doctor sends Bill off with them to make sure they don’t screw up while he and Nardole figure out what’s going to kill the planet. As we’ve watched the Doctor and company overseas, we see a pair of scientists working in a lab. Due to the guy being out late and drinking, he puts in a decimal point in the wrong spot and creates a super bacteria that just turns everything to sludge (including the scientist). The Doctor and Nardole zero in on this facility after they shut down all the feeds and wait for the monks to turn the one they were watching back on.

The Doctor and Nardole arrive at the lab but things aren’t going well overseas. The monks determined the world leaders were consenting out of strategy and therefore were also impure. So, they, too, get turned to dust. Now it’s just Bill holding the fate of humanity and the world in her hands. The Doctor implores her not to consent and for a while she bides her time by asking questions about what the monks mean by consent and why it has to be pure but then she gets into a sticky situation. Or rather, the Doctor forces her into one. He’s decided that they are going to blow up the lab to keep the bacteria from being vented automatically into the atmosphere. That’s all well and good but when he gets to the second airlock door and it’s a combo lock, he can’t see it. And thanks to giving Nardole human lungs, he’s out of play too. Poor Nardole is passed out in the TARDIS. So, this leaves the Doctor with no choice but to come clean to Bill about being blind (he’d tried to do it twice before in the episode but kept getting interrupted. So, now the Doctor is running out of time and he can’t see to do the lock. Bill is furious and she goes to the monks with love in her heart for the Doctor, asking them to give him back his eyesight. The Doctor rails against this all the while, insisting that Bill has to let him blow up with the lab but she refuses to give up on him. With his eyesight restored, he is able to get clear before the bacteria explodes. So, they managed to stop the bacteria from getting out and decimating the world but Bill has given her consent and asked the monks to help her. So now the Doctor is going to have to find a way to oust the monsters from his second home. Although, based on trailers for the next episode it seems Bill may be the one who has to do the rescuing (perhaps with a recovered Nardole). I could see that team-up being interesting in a way.

Something I’ve noticed of late (and by that, I mean basically since Moffatt took over as showrunner) is that the episodes are far more convoluted than they need to be. Maybe I’m just getting fed up with the stories he’s telling because this feels so much like when the Silence took over in seasons 5 and 6. But at least then they were interesting and properly creepy. These monks are just weird. It’s a sad day when I’m just waiting to see when the Doctor regenerates and how both Missy and the Master factor in because we’ve been promised both of them and we are rapidly nearing the end of the season. I want to enjoy “Doctor Who” again but they are making it really hard for me to get there. I think what I loved best about the show was that the serialization of the season wasn’t so apparent and necessary in the early years. Now, everything is so connected. It just feels like a bit much.

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