DOCTOR WHO – SEASON 10 EPISODE 08
THE LIE OF THE LAND
WRITTEN BY TOBY WHITHOUSE
DIRECTED BY WAYNE YIP

This week promises a lot: the finale of the Monks trilogy, the return of Missy from the Vault (if it is her in the vault), and someone getting shot. From the trailers, it looks like this is going to be a Bill-centric episode with a plot like one of those awesome alternate universe episodes of Fringe, so basically, all the things I like. If you’re sitting comfortably, let’s begin.

We open with a David Attenborough style history lesson (narrated by the Doctor) detailing how the Monks have been with us since the dawn of time, shepherding our evolution, and being responsible for every advance we’ve ever made in art and technology and everything else. They even managed to defeat the Daleks, Cybermen, and the Weeping Angels.

We see this narration is coming from a broadcast that the Doctor is giving on TV. A family watches in their homes and the Doctor’s voice is interrupted by a stern knocking at their door. The door is broken open and armed troops swarm the house, ransacking it in search of something. An officer enters and accuses the mother of being guilty of making propaganda against the Monks, something that has been a crime since 1975. The mother argues that the Monks have only been around for a few months. She is sentenced to ten years in a labour camp and dragged outside. A crowd watches her and one person, in particular, looks more perturbed than the others: Bill.

After the credits, Bill sits somewhere having a cup of tea. We see flashes of the Monks and their symbol and Bill begins to smile. She snaps out of it. It’s like the flashes are what’s brainwashing them and she needs to fight against it. We see she has poured a second cup of tea. She takes a second to focus and when she looks up her mum is sat across from her with the other cup of tea. Bill recaps the previous events and how the Monks have only been there for six months. Bill tries to convince memory mum that the Doctor, while looking like a mouthpiece for the Monks, must really be hatching a plan and any day now he’s going to spring the trap.

Bill’s door opens and she ambushes the person who comes in: Nardole.

She quizzes Nardole (or Nardy as he calls himself) and finds that he remembers the time before too. Apparently, after he got ill in the last episode he was out of commission for six weeks and then went looking for the Doctor. He managed to work out that the Doctor is being held on a prison boat off the coast. Bill is convinced that he’s faking his love of the Monks and biding his time. I have a sneaking suspicion that she’s wrong.

The Monks are resupplying the boat in two days so that’s how they can get aboard.

They travel to Scotland and get passage on the supply boat from a sympathetic captain. Throughout this sequence, Bill narrates to her mum as they get aboard and how they manage to avoid an ID papers check because the Monks arrive. A Monk arrives, looks at Bill and Nardole, and then leaves. And that’s it.

Bill and Nardole sneak into the hold of the prison ship. They make their way to the room in which the Doctor is giving his broadcasts. The Doctor summons his guards but at the same time tells off Nardole for bringing her. He warns them the guards will kill them but not as a threat. He summons the Monks and tells them he’ll do the talking. Bill calls him a nutter for calling the Monks and the Doctor tells her she deserves an explanation.

The Doctor explains that the human race was stagnating the Monks are now protecting them. Bill argues that people should have free will and the Doctor tells her to look what free will did for the human race. Not only did they have free will, they had history and history gives examples of fascism all the time and people ignore them. And may I, Sean Fallon, just note that this season of Doctor Who is killing it in terms of reacting to the real world and the mess we find ourselves in. It may be a kids show about monsters but any kid that watches it and takes the lessons it’s been dishing out this year is going to grow up to be one of the good ones.

Anyway, the Doctor blames Bill for the Monk’s invasion but tells her that it’s a good job a benevolent race like the Monks took over and not the Daleks. Bill tries to give him a coded message but he lets the guards know what she’s trying to do and crushes her hopes that he’s playing a part. It would appear the Doctor has partaken of the Kool-Aid.

A tearful Bill tells him how hard the months have been as she fought against the Monk’s brainwashing, only for her to now find that the Doctor had given up. Bill grabs a pistol from one of the guards and points it at the Doctor. She gives him a chance to reveal his loyalty to be a trick because if he doesn’t then they’ve got no chance of winning. He tells her it is no trick and that he has joined them.

So she shoots him. And he begins to glow. And regenerate. And then he doesn’t. He tells her, ‘Good girl’ and everyone applauds. It was all a bluff. A test to see where Bill stood. The Doctor has un-brainwashed some guards and begun building an army. The Doctor tells them it’s good to get the band back together but they’re going to need some help. And there’s only one person as smart as the Doctor.

To get back to the mainland they drive the prison ship into the docks.

They head to the university where the Monks are waiting. They sneak down to the Vault. The Doctor opens it and, yes, it’s Missy inside, going cold turkey from evil. The Doctor asks her if she’s ever met the Monks before, which she has. But she won’t tell them without getting something in return. Bill tells her they’ll give her what she wants and she tells them that whoever the human is that consenting to the Monks’ help would create a psychic link which they amplify with the statues of the Monks that are in every city. Missy explains that all they need to do now is find the consenting adult and kill them. Bill tells her that she is the link and Missy explains the ideal situation which would be to kill Bill but keep her in a vegetative state while the brainwashing faded away.

The Doctor is less than pleased with this plan.

The Doctor and Bill travel to the rebel base. Bill tries to convince the Doctor that maybe Missy is right. The Doctor is, again, less than pleased. He has a brainwave that they need to break into the Monks headquarters. The Monks must have some sort of machine to broadcast the psychic signal, so if they can beam out the truth, the real truth, it might break the Monks’ hold.

They watch the cathedral, which is a giant pyramid in the middle of London, and Nardole first says there are no guards but when he looks away he says there were twelve. The Monks are making them think there are more than there are to consolidate power.

The rebels put on headphones and head to the pyramid. In their ears, the rebel soldiers hear Bill telling them the truth about the Monks. They enter the pyramid and are attacked by a Monk who kills a few of them. They get into a firefight and one of the soldiers breaks his radio, cutting off Bill’s voice. The soldier, Alan, pulls his gun on the Doctor and accuses him of tricking them into thinking the Monks were invaders.

Alan collapses revealing Nardole who has given him sort of incapacitating neck pinch. They walk into the broadcast room, or fake news central as the Doctor calls it. In the centre of the room is a Monk wired to machines that are pumping out the fake history. The Doctor touches his head and becomes connected to the machine, rewriting history to correct it. At first, it works but the Monk in the machine fights back. They fight but the machine Monk is too powerful, blowing the Doctor across the room.

The Doctor wakes up and finds himself tied up. Bill tells him she would have to do what she’s going to do before he woke up but she wanted to say goodbye. The Doctor begs her that they can find another way but Bill says goodbye and heads to the machine. Note: there are screens all around the room showing the evil Monks, except one that shows Donald Trump’s grinning face. The Doctor continues to beg, even going as far as to order Bill to stop. She says goodbye to Nardole and touches the machine Monk.

The screens fill with images of Bill, her childhood, a pride flag, her mother. The Monk corrupts her memories, strengthening their hold on the world. Bill thinks of her mother, the pictures the Doctor gave her in episode one, and the imaginary version she’s been speaking to all episode. The Doctor tells her to think of her mother and push her into every corner of her mind. The Monk broadcasts it out into the world because it can’t help, it can’t corrupt the memory that Bill has of her mum. We see, all around the world, people are remembering freedom from the Monks and the way the world used to be. The people turn on the Monks and the Monks flee.

Later, Bill and the Doctor are at the University. They ask a passerby about the Monks and find that the Monks have erased themselves again. The Doctor sends Bill off to do her homework and goes to the Vault to visit Missy.

Missy is crying, thinking of all the people that she has killed. The Doctor assures her that it’s all part of the process. And she agrees.

It’s good to have Missy back. The trailer bait and switched us a bit to make this episode seem as though it would be a Bill and Missy adventure when really Missy was in two scenes and Bill reunited with the Doctor pretty quickly. For the scenes with Missy though we got to see Michelle Gomez be her wonderful, unhinged self. The wonderful thing about Gomez’s portrayal is that it has the wackiness of the Doctor but it is tempered with menace. John Simm was a great Master (and will be again) but he always came across as cartoonishly insane whole Gomez is legitimately scary at times. I’m very intrigued to see where her rehabilitation takes her and if it sticks. Will be interesting if the plotline becomes Missy and the Doctor versus the Master but we shall see.

Overall, this was a great end to the Monks trilogy and though it wasn’t completely Bill-centric it did put her front and centre to save the day after she had had to doom humanity last week to save the Doctor. It was also a great, and tear-inducing, payoff to the Bill’s mum plot that has weaved through the season so far. I still think we’re going to get an actual meeting between the two at some point but we shall see.

Interestingly now that the Vault is open, it seems odd that there’s still four more episodes to go as I think we all believed that the Vault signified the end game for the season. Of course, it probably still does considering the occupant of the Vault and her propensity for causing chaos.

Finally, I keep saying this but this year has been the most overtly political of new Doctor Who. Each episode has contained something, big or small, that speaks to the world as it is today and the people in charge. Tonight’s theme of defeating fascism by first realising that you’re living under fascism is very fitting, and something that hopefully bleeds into the subconscious of impressionable children who will one day save us all.

Body Count: Couldn’t lock down a number. The rebel soldiers were nearly all killed in the pyramid but not sure how many there were.

Who is in the Vault: Missy. Probably should retire this bit now.

Best line: Pretty much anything Missy said. 

Predictions for next week: Mark Gatiss is really good at writing old fashioned stories and his first go at the Ice Warriors was the excellent Cold War, so I think next week should be a lot of Victorian-era derring-doo but on Mars.

Featured Image: BBC