So the Monk trilogy is now over. You know that I loved Extremis, you know that I was on the fence in regards to The Pyramid At The End of The World, but how did I feel about the closing episode, The Lie of The Land? Let’s find out, shall we?
The idea of a three parter in Doctor Who really thrilled me; the last time we had something similar was way back in Series Three with the episodes Utopia, The Sound of Drums and The Last of The Time Lords. That was back in 2007, ten whole years ago. Anyway, a trilogy of stories should be great right? Especially considering I loved the semi-high concepts that kicked the trilogy off in Extremis. But, I have to say The Lie of The Land disappointed me.
Now, the first fifteen minutes I really enjoyed; I thought Pearl Mackie gave the best performance that we’ve had for Bill all series (so far), and Toby Whithouse wrote her so realistically; people in Bill’s situation would have totally said arse. But anyway, besides that and some bad-guy acting from Peter Capaldi, the rest of the episode sadly seemed like a rehash of other stories.
We never really got to know a lot about the Monks, and sadly, I’m not sure we’re going to get any more information about them (unless my theory that they’re Mondasian’s is right). We’ve had three episodes to learn about the Monks, and it seems like a lot of potential time was wasted. At the end of The Pyramid At The End of The World, the Monks got what they wanted; they got to control Earth. But why? Who knows.
Then at the beginning of The Lie of The Land, the Monks are in control, and the vast majority of the population is happy to go along with them for… some reason. What did the Monks want with Earth? Why Earth? Why now? What are the consequences? Who knows. Change the statues of the Monks for the statues of the Master and we’re back to the aforementioned three parter from Series Three.
Besides not knowing why the Monks actually wanted to invade and take over the world, the resolution also really annoyed the hell out of me. I loved the opening, when Bill is “talking” to her mum, it was so sweet and exactly the sort of thing I would do if I was way out of my depth, but the whole idea that the power of love could conquer this race that the Doctor couldn’t defeat really annoyed me. To me as a viewer, this either implied that:
A) The Doctor has never really loved anyone and wanted them safe
2) Bill’s mum’s death was inevitable to save humanity
Either of which annoys me. As nice as it would be, with the way the world is at the minute, the whole notion that love conquers all isn’t a realistic one. Yes, I know I’m talking about a science-fiction show, but let’s look at that shall we? The science? Emotional-fiction doesn’t quite have the same punch to me, and if I’m honest, it reminded me slightly of the discovery of the lost girl from In The Forest of The Night.
Personally, I think that Toby is an exceptional writer, and he did his best with what he was given from the previous two episodes; but I think that if he was given free reign of the entire trilogy, it could have been so much more successful. We could have had a better pacing, as it seemed that The Lie of The Land could have been a two-parter by itself, and having a singular vision for the Monks would have probably given them some more gravitas. It’s times like this I wish I had a TARDIS. And any authority in BBC Wales.
Oh well, it seems that next weeks episode, The Empress of Mars might be a fun romp. Don’t cock up, Gatiss.