The Pyramid at the End of the World by Peter Harness and Steven Moffat
Warning: Major Spoilers!
This isn’t a conventional three-parter so much as three interlinked standalone episodes, as very little of Extremis carries forward here (Missy doesn’t appear for one thing). The Monk’s real plan was the high point of the episode, as after totally misdirecting the Doctor they essentially blackmailed humanity into accepting their rule or be destroyed by a catastrophe of their own making. It was refreshing to see an alien race using humanity’s own mistakes against them rather than simply threatening them with some form of alien tech. I liked the use of the Doomsday clock as a warning, and The Doctor discovering where the threat was by tricking the Monks into revealing which security camera they were monitoring was very clever. However, the dragged-out reveal of the Doctor’s blindness to Bill was a bit frustrating, even if the final scenes delivered on the pay-off as the Doctor’s weakness nearly proved fatal for him, and was ultimately the reason the Monks won.
So the Doctor’s blindness is finally cured. As with last week, Nardole was actually a valuable addition here (the Doctor’s blindness plotline has really helped Nardole’s supporting role in the show find its feet) while Bill was back to her best as Pearl Mackie proved in the final scenes how well she can handle the emotional beats her character has to deal with. Bill putting the Doctor ahead of humanity’s safety should make things interesting for her next week as she deals with the inevitable guilt of that decision. Tony Gardner and especially Rachel Denning were also good value as the two lab scientists (wouldn’t mind seeing more of Rachel Denning – after David Suchet in Knock Knock she’s been the best guest star so far).
The Monks are more intriguing than anything else at this point. We’ve had two episodes of them now and still know very little other than they are methodical, strategic and that their monkish appearance isn’t their true form. This is creating a lot of theories that there is a more familiar foe hiding underneath the monks outer appearance, but I’m sure we’ll learn a bit more about them next episode. Their desire to rule through love rather than fear is a fair bit different from the normal alien invaders we see on who, while their test of the purity of surrendering (and their cold execution of those found wanting) all combined to make them something we’ve not seen before. However, it was another action-light episode, and I don’t know about the rest of you but I’m ready for more of an action packed adventure (which hopefully we may get next week!).
Overall an enjoyable episode that flirted with greatness but never quite went all the way. However, the stage is now set for the concluding part of this three-parter to be an absolute thriller, which this series is still crying out for. Hopefully Toby Whitehouse doesn’t let us down…
Rating: 4 out of 5
Next Time: The Monks have control of Earth and Missy’s giving advice on how to save it… what could possibly go wrong?