This week, I'm offering up an abbreviated and more musings-y recap of Doctor Who. After patiently waiting 16 months for Series 10 to arrive, I couldn't leave you hanging for two weeks in the middle of it, could I?
In "The Lie of the Land", we see the fall-out of Bill consenting to the Monks' takeover of Earth to give The Doctor his sight back. She was so sure he could eventually win the day that she was willing to give up the entire planet to conquest to save him.
This week's thoughts:
- If the Monks have always been here and have been shepherding us through history, why did they let serious atrocities happen? (In my best West Country accent: The greater good?)
- Peter Capaldi brings such gravitas that I kind of think I'd buy into his retellings of human history. He's great Fake News. I don't know how much of an anarchist he is these days, but he might have found his post-Who career.
- I know it's incredibly timely, but I am so weary of dystopias right now.
- "Memory crimes" is very "thought police", isn't it?
- Bill's mum is just lovely, isn't she? The actress's name is Rosie Jane, and, while you won't know her from anywhere and she doesn't even speak in this role (yet?), she has such a presence about her.
- I have to admit to not having much time for Matt Lucas before this series of Doctor Who. I've never taken in Little Britain, and the main exposure I would have had to him was as Tweedledee/Tweedledum and in his Who-y turn in Community a few years back. I was not impressed when it was announced that he would be adventuring this year with Capaldi. Nardole, however, is not just a shtick and a lapdog; he is a character with genuine nuance, and Lucas can pull of slapstick as well as considered emotion. Read this as my mea culpa.
- So the Monks are taking credit for everything The Doctor has done throughout Earth's history? He has seen both the beginning and end of the planet -- the beginning and end of humanity, itself -- and saved it on the daily. Is there a point where we'll learn he's also Fake News?
- I know, I know: it's an oppressive society. Still, those jumpsuits and woolly jumpers look hella comfy.
- Bill should know better than to think Nardole has a plan. This isn't going to end well.
- The Doctor is being held on a prison ship, and the Monks are worried about him getting out. Why would they care if he got out if he's their greatest spokesperson? Surely they would want to send him on a lecture tour!
- I wonder why Bill's identity papers say she is university kitchen staff. Has she still been serving chips while becoming a student and traveling with The Doctor? Is she still doing that with the Monks in charge? They know who she really is. Surely they have her flagged.
- I'm so hurt that The Doctor is working for the Monks. I trust him implicitly, and he doesn't really really believe that they're good. It's just what he has to do. But we've never known him to just do what he has to do.
- Okay, we need to talk about the shooting-regeneration-fakeout scene. Because...
- Pearl Mackie is killing it with these emotions. She gave up the world for this man, and now she thinks she has to take him out.
- She is surrounded by soldiers. It's pretty clear she'd be dead if she actually killed The Doctor.
- He can just play around with regen energy now? That's new. And problematic. Is this an example of this cycle of regenerations he's been granted having slightly different rules? Is this Moffat forgetting/ignoring what came before?
- Why did he need to start regenerating? Surely that's just for the home audience -- no one in that room has ever seen him regenerate before, and likely only Nardole would be aware that it's even a thing. We've seen The Doctor avoid telling Bill about it.
- Also yay The Doctor being good.
- The Doctor's cadre of turned soldiers is so deliciously diverse.
- Are we just going to long-term ignore that Missy has clearly met the Monks before? She just helps them, and they move along. We need to come back to this. I wonder what her role in that situation was...
- I love love love the interplay of Peter Capaldi and Michelle Gomez. Scratch going into Fake News; I need them to have a Sonny and Cher-style variety show after he regenerates.
- Basically, Bill is the link to the Monks' mind control, but the statues on every bloody corner work as transmitters. She doesn't need to die -- she just needs to become an empty husk of a brain-dead person. Coooool.
- "Your version of 'good' is not absolute. It's vain, arrogant, and sentimental. If you're waiting for me to become all that, I'm going to be here for a long time yet." Oh snap, Missy.
- They can block out the transmissions with headphones. Not that those can be knocked off or anything.
- Remember Nardole is a secret badass?! The Monks less so.
- I have to admit, mostly because I'm a wuss when it comes to jump shots, that I was terrified the big-brained transmitter Monk was going to jump up at any moment. I guess it's more insidious that he fights with sheer thought control, but it makes for less entertaining television.
- Seriously, Bill sacrificing herself is reminiscent of Clara's goodbye in "Face the Raven" in the best ways. It also shows her growth over this episode/the past six months; she sacrificed the planet for someone she loved, but she can sacrifice herself for the planet.
- Holy crap, #12 has gone through some stuff. Even if he doesn't remember her, he still feels the loss of Clara. He had to say goodbye to River. Bill is sacrificing herself in front of him.
- Bill's radiant mum and the imaginary memories Bill has created (through The Doctor's efforts to photograph her back in time!) save the day. Because she's not a real person -- not what Bill knows of her, anyway -- she is pure love. The naff, gorgeous, sappy, amazing kind of love. The Monks can't touch it because it wasn't part of history.
- Love is the ultimate power.
- Humans are silly things. Nevermind their history being rewritten for them; they've already rewritten their own history to whatever is most convenient. That's why we make the same mistakes (ahem: fascism) over again.
- Bill is going to need some therapy. At best, she was violated by coerced consent (regardless of how "pure" the Monks insisted her consent was -- she didn't know what she was truly consenting to). At worst, she allowed the entire human population to be literally enslaved. Work camps, murders, memory crimes. Heavy stuff.
- "In amongst seven billion, there's someone like you. That's why I put up with the rest of them." Aw, you old softy.
- Do you buy Missy's tears? Is she changing? Having a breakdown? Pretending? I don't care. It's great storytelling.
This episode started a bit slow but became an emotional juggernaut by the end. Series 10 is a very character-driven series, and I am going to miss this cast if they all go when Moffat and Capaldi do.
Let us know your latest theories and how much you’re enjoying this series of Doctor Who by chatting with us on Twitter using #PWDW and @PopWrapped. Remember that you can see Doctor Who next Saturday in the UK on BBCOne at the earlier time of 7:15pm and in the US on BBCAmerica at its regular time of 9/8c.