BBC One – 7:25pm – Saturday 27th May 2017
Written by: Peter Harness and Steven Moffat
Directed by: Daniel Nettheim
The Doctor may have rumbled the planet-wide VR simulation used by the desiccated coven of alien Monks to prepare their invasion of Earth last week (see my review of 10.6 “Extremis” HERE), but he didn’t vanquish them. And now they are back, bringing with them a 5,000-year-old pyramid which suddenly appears in the desert of Turmezistan – their invasion has begun and the countdown clock to global catastrophe is closing in on midnight!
“We are ready to talk.”
Interrupting another of Bill’s (Pearl Mackie) dates, the UN Secretary General (Togo Igawa) demands to see “the President,” which affords Bill an unsubtle-but-timely dig at Trump, but in actuality he needs to see the President of Earth, a title bestowed upon the Doctor in times of great planetary need. The Monks require consent; an invitation to begin their dominion, which the Doctor is unwilling to grant them – until he becomes trapped in a chemist’s lab in an attempt to foil a G.M. bacterial bio-attack, and Bill acquiesces to the Monk’s demand for power in exchange for returning the Doctor’s sight and guaranteeing his survival.
By bringing together nations in the name of global peace, transporting pyramids in the blink of an eye and controlling airplanes and submarines using a magical tractor beam, “The Pyramid at the End of the World” cannot be accused of not having vision – its scope and scale is awesome and its special effects grandiose. However, I cannot claim to have been enraptured by the story, which bordered on contrived.
The Monks we have seen before (and, indeed, they will return again in the trilogy-concluding next episode), the Doctor’s continued attempts to hide his blindness to maintain a sense of pride becomes increasingly frustrating (not to mention dangerous), while the scenes at Agrofuel Research Operations felt like random cutaways which belonged in a completely separate episode.
I know you can wave it away with the excuse that it’s a fictional plot that requires story-progressing complications and the opportunity of resolution for our intrepid heroes, but for a race as powerful as the future-shaping, simulation-creating, transport-hijacking, portal-hopping, human-evaporating Monks to be restricted by a vampire-like constraint which makes them beholden to “pure-hearted” verbal acquiescence from a people they plan to enslave is mighty convenient and surely asking for trouble?
What Doctor Who series ten has demonstrated to me in its first seven episodes is that I am not against established villains and scenarios being reused (or clichés being played on), provided the new script revitalises them into a fresh and exciting adventure. Repetition leads to boredom, which should never be the case when your concept allows infinite adventures in time and space. I also feel like the strongest instalments in this run have been the quirky, stand-alone romps (in particular “The Pilot” and “Knock, Knock”), which means – through no fault of its own – I am less disposed to enjoy strung-out story arcs. Part #3 next week should be interesting for me, then…
CR@B’s Claw Score: