Title: “Doctor Who Season 10 Episode 8: The Lie of the Land”
Genre: Science fiction, Drama
Platform: TV – BBC America
Director: Wayne Yip
Writer: Toby Whithouse
Release: June 3 , 2017
Cast: Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, Matt Lucas
Feature image: Source
“So relax, do as you’re told. The future is taken care of.” The Doctor —Doctor Who
The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) does a broadcast telling humanity that the Monks have been with us since the beginning of time. (They show a sea creature walking on land with a Monk’s encouragement.) The audience sees pictures of the Monks intermingled with pictures of famous people and events throughout history. The Monks take credit for protecting us from the Daleks, Cybermen and Weeping Angels. The Monks only ask for our obedience. While the Doctor is telling the audience how great things are, stormtroopers break down the door of a family. They arrest the mother (Emma Handy) for being a memory criminal. The mother screams to her neighbors that the Monks have only been here for a few months. A distraught Bill (Pearl Mackie) looks on. A creepy looking Doctor grins and advises humanity, “So relax, do as you’re told. The future is taken care of.”
Bill is in her apartment talking to her imaginary ‘Mum’ (Rosie Jane). She knows the Monks have only been here six months. The Monks are doing something that makes her think that they have been here forever. She knows the Doctor’s broadcast are just him faking it; she knows he is coming up with a plan.
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from: Things From Another World
“However bad a situation is, if people think that’s how it’s always been, they put up with it. It’s 90% of the job done.” Nardole —Doctor Who
She hears someone at the door, she grabs something to defend herself, but fortunately it is Nardole (Matt Lucas). After asking him some questions only Nardole would know, they hug. Bill hits him on the arm and asks him where has he been. Nardole explains that he was laid up for six weeks because of the bacteria. Bill asks what he has been doing the rest of the time. He asks Bill who was she talking to before he came in. Bill explains she has been talking to her Mum. Nardole whispers he thought she was dead. Bill spoke to her to keep straight what is real. Seeing Nardole helps her know her adventures with the Doctor were real. Why would the Monks mess with their memories and make them think they have always been here? Nardole: “However bad a situation is, if people think that’s how it’s always been, they put up with it. It’s 90% of the job done.”
Bill still wants to know what he has been up to. He assures her he has spent the rest of the time looking for the Doctor. He found a device on the TARDIS that can triangulate the broadcasts to find his position. The Doctor is on a prison boat off Scotland. Bill and Nardole meet up with a boat captain who commands the boat that delivers supplies to the prison boat. He is willing to help them because his son is in a prison camp for having some comic books. When they arrive on the prison boat, the guards ask for their papers. Nardole doesn’t have any, but the guard is distracted when a Monk boards the boat. The Monk looks at Bill but moves on. The guard forgets to ask for Nardole’s papers and they move on.
Nardole and Bill sneak into the room the Doctor is being held. Bill is happy to see him. The Doctor calls for the guards. He expresses his concerns for humanity. The Doctor: “Human society is … stagnating. You’ve stopped moving forward. In fact, you’re regressing.” He continues that the Monks are there to protect humans. Bill brings up freewill and how that was his thing. The Doctor dismisses this by pointing out how we used our free will. The Doctor: “History was saying to you, ‘I have some examples of fascism to look at. No? Fundamentalism? Oh okay. You carry on.” The Doctor reminds her she used her free will to surrender to the Monks to save his eyesight. Bill thinks this is all an act, so she brings up the sea creature they found in the Seines. He tells the guards Bill is trying to talk in code, the sea creature was in the Thames. He tells them to put their guns down. A broken Bill tells him how hard it was for her to hold on to the truth. She grabs a handgun from a guard. The Doctor tells the guards not to shoot her. He tells her he has joined the Monks. Bill shoots him several times. The Doctor starts to regenerate as Bill looks on in horror. Then he stops and everyone laughs.
“Your version of good is not absolute. It’s vain, arrogant, sentimental. And if you’re waiting for me to become all that, I’m going to be here for a long time yet.” Missy —Doctor Who
The Doctor hasn’t gone over to the Monks. The guards are people he has deprogrammed. It was Nardole’s idea to do this to make sure Bill wasn’t being controlled by the Monks. (Nardole receives a deserved punch to the arm from Bill.) The Doctor needs some help to defeat the Monks from, “the only person I know almost as smart as me… the other Last of the Time Lords”. The Doctor’s crew steals the prison boat and rams it into the wharf, (with a delighted Doctor enjoying the crash.) Bill and the Doctor sneak back on the University campus, but they aren’t heading towards his office, instead they head for the vault. Bill meets Missy (Michelle Gomez). Bill: “It’s just a woman. The way you and Nardole have been carrying on, I thought you had some kind of monster in here or something.” The vault is very roomy inside; in the middle of the room is a clear cell where Missy is sitting at her piano. The Doctor asks Missy if she has met the Monks before, she confirms that she has tangled with them before. She helps the Doctor figure out how they are controlling the world’s population, through their memory and perception centers. The statues and monuments they placed everywhere on the planet are transmitters. The person who gave consent to the Monks is the lynchpin. They establish a psychic link with that person to control the population. The lynchpin’s descendants allow the Monks to continue to control the population after the lynchpin dies. Missy’s solution, Kill Bill! (Volumes one and two) Killing Bill will break the link, and better yet, instead of killing her and leaving false memories for a few months, just make her brain dead so people will see nothing. The Doctor tells Missy they can’t do that, it is not right to sacrifice a person. Missy: “Your version of good is not absolute. It’s vain, arrogant, sentimental. And if you’re waiting for me to become all that, I’m going to be here for a long time yet.”
When they get back to the rest of the gang, the Doctor doesn’t mention what Missy said, but Bill does. Nardole suggests they table the discussion for now. The Doctor looks at a map and determines that they need to go to Monk headquarters. (The Monks moved their pyramid to downtown London.) He has determined that the main transmitter is in there. He will plug his brain into it and send out the truth. Since the transmission waves will be stronger near the pyramid, the Doctor has Bill make a recording and he gives each of them a Walkman and headphones. Bill’s message to them is that the Monks have only been here six months, they are going to inside the pyramid to broadcast the truth. When they get in, the Monks attack, shooting electricity from their fingers and creating shields to block gunfire.
Alan’s (Stewart Wright) Walkman was damaged in the fight. He pulls a gun on the Doctor and tells him he is going to kill him since he is spreading lies about the Monks. Nardole uses a Torovian neck pinch on Alan to knock him out. They get into the main control room where one Monk spreads the fake news to the public by controlling our memories. Everyone can think clear in this room because it is like being in the eye of the storm. The Doctor puts his hands on the still Monk, but the Monk’s thoughts are too powerful and they knock the Doctor out. Bill and Nardole tie him up. When he wakes up, Bill says goodbye to the Doctor; she is ready to sacrifice herself to save humanity.
“She’s filling her mind with one pure, uncorrupted, irresistible image! And it’s broadcasting into the world because it can’t help it!” The Doctor —Doctor Who
Bill puts her hand on the Monk. At first, she is replacing the false memories with her own memories, but then Bill’s memories start erasing and the Monk’s false memories take over. The Doctor breaks loose and tries to help Bill. Bill starts thinking about her Mum and the made-up memories of her Mum replace the Monk’s false memories. “She’s filling her mind with one pure, uncorrupted, irresistible image!” yells a victorious Doctor. “And it’s broadcasting into the world because it can’t help it!” The humans on the streets suddenly get their true memories back. The Monk’s control is broken and humanity is free. Bill and the Doctor are back in the streets and watch people take control again. The Monks (and there was only 12 of them controlling the world) get back in their pyramid and take off.
“The Monks have erased themselves. Humanity is doomed to never learn from their mistakes.” The Doctor —Doctor Who
A few days later, Bill and the Doctor are back at the University sitting at the base of one of the Monk’s statutes. The only thing left of the statute is the base. Things are back to normal. Bill thinks everything has changed and people will realize that if they band together, they can overthrow tyranny. The Doctor isn’t so sure. He asks a student about the broken statue, she thinks they might have made a movie there. The Doctor: “The Monks have erased themselves. Humanity is doomed to never learn from their mistakes.” Bill: Well, I guess that is part of our charm.” The Doctor doesn’t agree and he wants Bill to work on the paper on freewill he had assigned to her, it is six months overdue. Bill asks the Doctor why he bothers with us. The Doctor: “In amongst seven billion there’s someone like you. That’s why I put up with the rest of them.”
The Doctor is in the vault with Missy. They are sitting by each other and there are tears flowing down her cheeks. She is remembering the number of people she has killed. Missy: “I didn’t know I even knew their names,’ she lamented, before fixing the Doctor with a cold stare. ‘You didn’t tell me about this bit.” The Doctor tells her this is good. I don’t know if she agrees.
I am a disappointed in this episode. As the final leg of the Monk trilogy, I was hoping for a strong final kick. The episode began great. The creepy Doctor voiceover, the greyish nature of the Monk dystopia, the pain on Bill’s face. It was all very dour and tense. We got some needed relief with Bill and Nardole’s reunion. We got back into the fire with Bill facing the horror that her beloved Doctor, the man she betrayed the human race for had joined the Monks because he felt humans needed someone to shepherd them. Once we learned it was all a ruse and the Doctor was still the hero we know and love, all the tension of the episode seeped out. There were the great scenes with Missy, but the rest of the episode fell flat. I knew that the Doctor would not betray humanity, but I thought that maybe the Doctor was under the Monk’s mind control, and Bill and Nardole were going to have to save him. Instead it was the Doctor in control as usual.
“How in the HELL did everything go back to normal?!”
I’ll admit that sometimes Doctor Who will have plot holes that a TARDIS could go through. When the episodes are really good, I’m able to ignore them. When an episode is meddling, they really stand out. In the first two episodes of the trilogy, the Monks were nearly all powerful. In this episode, Bill and Nardole easily get on the prison ship, and the Doctor, who is a prisoner, is able to deprogram nearly a dozen guards. They are able to go through the pyramid with minimum opposition from the Monks. Shouldn’t the Monks had human stormtroopers to help them protect it? Why was Bill, who is the lynchpin, running around without close supervision? One of the Monks saw Bill on the prison boat, and it didn’t do anything. If there is one human being the Monks should know, it is Bill. My biggest complaint was after the Monks left, everything went back to normal. How in the HELL did everything go back to normal?! I know there was a Monk erasure, but even with the Monks erased from everyone’s memory, there is still physical evidence of them being here. How are the deaths caused by the Monks explained? What about the people placed in prison camps? “Hi Honey, I’ve been gone for three months, it’s weird but I was in a prison camp. I don’t know why, what’s for dinner?” It bothers me.
For all of the episode’s failures, what kept it in the positive column was the acting. It was fantastic. Peter Capaldi was Peter Capaldi, I would be more amazed if he gave a bad performance. The co-MVPs were Pearl Mackie and Michelle Gomez. They nearly made me forgive all the plot holes. Ms. Mackie brought the whole range of emotions to her performance. She was even able to sell her pure love for her ‘Mum’ saving humanity. The scene with her and Capaldi on the boat was riveting. I felt every emotion Bill exhibited. Michelle Gomez didn’t have as much screen time as Ms. Mackie, but her two scenes were impactful. The scene in her cell reminded me of Hannibal Lector in Silence of the Lambs. She and Peter Capaldi have such great chemistry with each other. Her final scene when she was crying about remembering the people she has killed, was quiet and powerful. It makes you wonder if Missy might be becoming a good person (she is not).
Monk Trilogy grade: B+