Doctor Who: It’s the Small Things That Do Us In

Title: “Doctor Who Season 10 Episode 7: The Pyramid at the End of the World
Genre: Science fiction, Drama
Platform: TV – BBC America
Director: Daniel Nettheim
Writer: Peter Harness and Steven Moffat
Rating: TV-PG 
Release: May , 2017
Cast: Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, Matt Lucas
Feature image:  Source

The usual ‘Previously’ clips are intercut with Bill (Pearl Mackie) and Penny’s (Ronke Adekoluejo) first real date. Bill is telling Penny about the events from last week’s program. Penny is enjoying the story; especially the part about the Pope coming out of Bill’s bedroom. When they get to Bill’s apartment, UN troops burst in. The UN Secretary General (Togo Igawa) is with them. Penny asks for an Uber and bids adieu.  (Bill is out of her league.) The Secretary General informs Bill that they are looking for the President. Bill thinks they are talking about Trump and says she doesn’t care for him, he’s too ‘Orange’. The Secretary General explains that in moments of extreme crisis, the Doctor has been made President of Earth. On the way to the airport, the Secretary General updates Bill on the crisis. The U.S., Chinese, and Russian troops are in Turmezistan. (The same fictional country that was in last season’s The Zygon Invasion/The Zygon Inversion two-parter. The same writer wrote this one.) A 5,000-year-old pyramid is there. Col. Brabbit (Eben Young), U.S. military leader on site, reports that the pyramid is dormant. As they pull up to the President of Earth’s plane, (a new one obviously as the previous plane was shot down) the Secretary General drops this bomb, the pyramid just appeared there, yesterday.

“The end of the world is a billion, billion tiny moments. And somewhere, unnoticed, in silence or in darkness, it has already begun.” The Doctor —Doctor Who

The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) is still blind, and in the TARDIS playing his guitar and talking to himself. The Doctor: “The end of your life is already begun. There is a last place you will ever go, a last door you will ever walk through, a last sight you will ever see. And every step you ever take is moving you closer. The end of the world is a billion, billion tiny moments. And somewhere, unnoticed, in silence or in darkness, it has already begun.” Bill knocks on the door and tells the Doctor the UN needs him. When he opens the door, the TARDIS is in the plane. Nardole (Matt Lucas) and the Secretary General are there too. He shows the Doctor a picture of the pyramid. The Doctor asks him to tell him what is happening in the picture in his own words.

Erica’s (Rachel Denning) reading glasses are broken on her way to work. She is a scientist at the Agrofuel Research Operations lab. She is being watched by the corpse-like alien monks from last week’s episode.

“Then you’ll know there is a line in the sand, and I’m the man on the other side of it. You wanna keep me that way.” The Doctor —Doctor Who

They drive up to the pyramid in a caravan. They stop at an U.N. checkpoint. The Doctor has Bill describe what she sees and what she thinks is happening. Bill reasons that since the pyramid wasn’t there before, it is an alien spaceship in disguise.  The Doctor walks up to it with Nardole’s help. The monks open a door to the pyramid. Monk: “We know you.” The Doctor: “Then you’ll know there is a line in the sand, and I’m the man on the other side of it. You wanna keep me that way.” The monks aren’t afraid of the Doctor, they tell him they plan to take our planet and rule its people, and they are going to wait until we ask. The Doctor asks when he can talk to them again. The Monk says ominously, “At the end of the world.”

Douglas (Tony Gardner), Erica’s fellow scientist in the lab has a bad hangover from the previous evening. Erica asks him to put in some data for her because she broke her reading glasses. He’s in bad shape but he does it. Unfortunately, he’s in such bad shape that he doesn’t notice he put in a wrong decimal. Erica doesn’t have her reading glasses so she doesn’t notice his mistake either. Neither scientist notices that the plants are being sprayed with a mist. (That could be normal.)

In Turmezistan, the monks have set everyone on Earth’s clocks to 11:57 p.m. The Doctor realizes that the monks have set the clocks to the Doomsday Clock, and we are three minutes from global catastrophe. The TARDIS materializes over Ilya (Andrew Byron), the Russian general in charge. Xiaolian (Daphne Cheung), the Chinese general in charge, along with the Secretary General and Col. Brabbit are already there. General Xiaolian wants to attack the pyramid. Nardole tells them force isn’t the answer. He and Bill are surprised when the Doctor advises them to act in unison and attack the pyramid to show Earth’s strength and will. The monks easily handle our display. They catch a plane in midair, replacing the crew with themselves; they also softly place down a Russian sub that shot a missile at them. The clocks go to 11:58; the monks announce they are ready to talk.

Image source

 “We must be wanted. We must be loved. To rule through fear is inefficient.” Monk  —Doctor Who

The Doctor, Bill, Nardole, Secretary General, General Ilya, General Xiaolian, and Col. Brabbit go inside the pyramid. The monks tell them they want our consent to take over our planet. The Doctor: “You could take this planet in a heartbeat. Why do you need consent?”

Monk: “We must be wanted. We must be loved. To rule through fear is inefficient.”
The Doctor: “Of course… fear is temporary, love is… slavery.” The world will end without their help. The Doctor: “Yes! Well, it’s been ‘doomed’ before! And guess what happened? Me! The monks take them to a machine that shows the future. The TARDIS crew and the military leaders touch the strands of time and see the Earth in a year. The planet looks desolate. The Secretary General wants to give his consent. The Doctor advices him not to, but he isn’t listening. He gives his consent to the monks, but they say it is impure because it was given in fear, so they disintegrate him. The Doctor won’t give Earth’s consent because it will be giving away our free will. Back in the plane, the military leaders agree to not start World War III. They assume that starting a war in Turmezistan would be the incident that causes earth’s destruction. The Doomsday Clock doesn’t change. The Doctor feels like the pyramid is a misdirection to keep them from noticing the real threat.

In the lab, Douglass and Erica notice the plants are dying. They begin trying to figure out what is happening. They run tests and notice the bacteria is acting crazy. They have accidently created a toxic strain of bacteria. Douglass takes off his hazmat helmet because he feels like he is going to throw up. They seal the lab up. Without his helmet to protect him, Douglass is turned into gunk.

The Doctor unlocks all the classified files so that they can look for something else in the world that could end it today. There is too much for them to look at, so the military leaders discuss surrendering. Colonel Brabbit: “Listen, isn’t it just worth *considering* doing the deal?”
The Doctor: “What deal?” Colonel Brabbit: “All we have to do is consent.”
The Doctor: “That’s what the Secretary-General thought, and they burned him!”
Colonel Brabbit: “He was afraid. I’m not being afraid, I’m being smart.” The Doctor: “Yeah. Being smart is not giving away your planet! They decide to surrender under the theory of living to fight another day. The Doctor begs them not to. Bill wonders if they aren’t right. She doesn’t want to surrender, but do they have a choice. The military leaders leave to surrender. The Doctor is ready to tell Bill he is blind, but that gives him an idea. Why not blind the monks? He sends Bill to the pyramid to keep an eye on the military folks, and he and Nardole will leave in the TARDIS.

“Uh, it’s Nardole. He’s not my fault.” The Doctor  —Doctor Who

Using the Doctor’s instructions, Nardole looks for GM biochemical trials that have reached Stage two. Nardole has narrowed it down to 428. These 428 would be on the UNIT watch list. These labs would be under surveillance using camera feeds. The monks would have hacked into these feeds. The Doctor will cut the feeds to all 428. The Monks will turn back on the feed of the lab they are surveilling. After the Doctor turns off all the feeds; the monks turn the feed to Agrofuel Research Operations lab back on. The Doctor takes the TARDIS there. When they materialize, Erica is caught off guard. Erica [pointing at the TARDIS]: “What is that?”
The Doctor: “Uh, it’s Nardole. He’s not my fault.” The bacteria are making Nardole sick so the Doctor sends Nardole back into the TARDIS. The Doctor contacts Bill and tells her what is going on in the lab. The Doctor tells Erica what his plan is. The Doctor: “I’m not gonna lie to you, this means your insurance premiums are gonna go through the roof. In fact, pretty much everything is gonna go through the roof, because I’m gonna *blow up the lab*!” He is blowing up the lab to sterilize the bacteria.

The military leaders are in the Pyramid because the clocks are at 11:59:40. The military leaders consent, but it isn’t pure, because they are doing it for strategic purposes. The monks disintegrate the three leaders. They turn their attention to Bill. She tells them she is a nobody. They disagree, she is with the Doctor. She represents him. Does she give her consent?

“Enjoy your sight, Doctor. Now see our world.” The Monks  —Doctor Who

The Doctor sets the lab to explode. He sent Erica out of the room already. He calls Bill and tells her to get out of the pyramid. The Doctor is full of himself and thinks he has won. He gets to the door and it has a combination lock. Nardole is in the TARDIS passed out, so he can’t help the Doctor. Erica gives him the combination, but from where she is, she can’t see the lock and help him. He finally confesses to Bill that he is still blind. Against his wishes, Bill goes back to the monks to give her consent. She asks them to give the Doctor his eyesight back. Bill’s consent is pure because she is giving it out of love (for the Doctor). The Doctor gets his eyesight back and uses the combination to get out of the lab. The Monks: “Enjoy your sight, Doctor. Now see our world.”

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from: Things From Another World


­­­Erica and Douglas are the billions of billions of tiny moments that the Doctor spoke of. It all started innocently, Erica’s reading glasses were broken in her doorway, and Douglas had one too many the night before. They were going through their normal day, nothing out of the ordinary except for them starting the end of humanity. Same old, same old I guess. What usually causes the biggest trouble starts small, a slight error here, a slight error there, and all hell breaks loose. The monks were smart, they knew this catastrophe was happening, and to distract us they set a 5,000-year-old pyramid down to distract everyone. Douglas’ wrong decimal caused Earth to surrender.

Bill surrendered the planet to save the Doctor. I don’t know how that math adds up, trade away humanity’s free will for the Doctor’s eyesight.  Of course, if the Doctor had died sterilizing the bacteria, the monks would have gone with plan B, and we wouldn’t have the Doctor to combat it. So, within the logic of the show, Bill did the right thing. We know the Doctor will do something next week to save us.

It was a good episode, with very solid acting from Rachel Denning and Tony Gardner. They seemed like people who have worked together for years and have a comfortable rhythm with each other. I didn’t really care for the military side of the story. It seemed like a stock story you often get on Doctor Who. That might have been the purpose, we are used to seeing the Doctor surrounded by UNIT or the military trying to solve some big problem, but one of the main points of the episode; the small problems we don’t notice that grow big in the dark. They diverted our attention until we realized what was going on in the lab. Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackie were great again, especially in the scene when Bill finds out he is blind and in danger, and she gives her consent to the monks to save him. This looks like a trilogy, so this middle episode felt like it was the bridge to get us to next week’s episode.

Grade: B+







Anthony (Kbear!) Nichols | Editor-in-Chief
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