DOCTOR WHO – SEASON 10 EPISODE 07
THE PYRAMID AT THE END OF THE WORLD
WRITTEN BY PETER HARNESS & STEVEN MOFFAT
DIRECTED BY DANIEL NETTHEIM
After last week’s headtrip into the Doctor watching an episode of Doctor Who, we continue the story of the monks and the Doctor’s blindness. This arc has the potential to be something very special so let’s see how it goes.
We begin with an odd previously on… as it shows events from last week but intercuts them with current events. I’m not going to rehash what came last week so I’ll focus on the now.. sections, which are basically Bill on a date with Penny rehashing the events of the past episode in an easy to understand way.
Bill tells Penny about the Pope barging in on their last date just as soldiers burst in on this one. They secure the room and then bring in the Secretary-General of the UN. He tells her he’s there to speak to the president and that she might be able to help him. She tells him she wouldn’t know how to reach the president and that she wouldn’t have voted for him anyway. Because he’s orange. The Secretary General clarifies that he wants to see the Doctor aka the President of Earth. He shows her a map of disputed territory near China, right between the Chinese, Russian, and American troops, where a 5000-year-old pyramid has appeared out of nowhere.
In the TARDIS the Doctor plays his guitar and waxes maudlin about mortality. As he does we see a woman getting ready to go to work and her glasses getting smashed.
He puts on his sonic sunglasses and we see through them that they’ve been upgraded so they’re closer to full vision than before. He leaves the TARDIS and finds himself on a plane with Bill, Nardole, and the UN people.
The Secretary-General explains to the Doctor what the issue is.
We cut to an agrofuel laboratory and see that the woman with the broken glasses works there. In the lab, she talks with her co-worker who is hungover and asks him if he’s okay ‘mixing it’ as she broke her reading glasses.
The woman, now in a hazmat suit, enters an airlock chamber full of plants. We see she is being watched through the CCTV by one of last week’s Monks.
The Doctor and crew arrive at Turmezistan and the pyramid. They theorise about the pyramid’s appearance and Bill decides that it is an alien spaceship. The Doctor tells them it’s a message. You only put your pyramid at the intersection of the three biggest armies on Earth if you want to start a fight.
The Doctor walks over to the pyramid after signalling Nardole about something, which we quickly see if that Nardole is describing things to him through some kind of communication device.
As the Doctor approaches, we see the Monks are watching him. A door opens and a Monk emerges. Nardole narrates for the Doctor.
The Monk tells him that they will take over the Earth and ruin its people but only after they’re invited to…and they will be invited to. The Monk tells the Doctor they will speak again at the end of the Earth and the door closes.
Suddenly, everyone’s phones and watches change to read 23:57:00. Three minutes to midnight. They’ve essentially set everyone’s clocks to the Doomsday Clock. The Doctor says that somewhere, the end has begun.
We cut to images of beer bottles and reading glasses smashing. The hungover scientist is entering figures in for the chemical mix and is so blurry eyed that he enters in the wrong amounts. The two scientists head off for lunch and we see they’re being watched from within the pyramid.
The TARDIS forms around a Russian soldier. The Doctor introduces himself, the Secretary General, and the head of the Chinese army. The Doctor gathers them all at the UN base and tells them about the Monks and how they’re watched humanity for all of our history but only decided to appear now. They must believe that humanity is at its weakest. The Chinese want to attack and the Doctor actually agrees. He tells them to coordinate their attacks and show strength. Bill and Nardole are both shocked at this turn of events. And everyone’s clocks go to 23:58:00. Two minutes to midnight.
Bill asks Nardole what is wrong with the Doctor but he doesn’t answer. She goes to the Doctor and tells him there must be something he wants to tell her. He starts to tell her something and then they are bathed in light as a beam extends from the top of the pyramid and into the sky.
The bombers begin their run towards the pyramid but are hit by the light which causes the pilots to be replaced by monks. From the ground, we see the beam from the pyramid has grabbed the plane and is holding it in the air. It gently lowers it to the ground. The monks from the plane return to the pyramid and the crew from the plane emerge along with some Russian soldiers too.
A voice from the pyramid announces that “We are ready to talk.”
At the lab, we see the chemicals have mixed and are spraying the plants in the airlock chamber.
The Doctor, crew, and some soldiers enter the pyramid. They walk around in the darkness until they encounter a monk who tells them that human race is about to end at their own hand. He leads them into a chamber in which other monks are using the simulation machine to ‘model the future’. From the strands of possible futures, they can predict, detect, and prevent catastrophes from occurring. They explain that they can save the human race if they are asked to. But if they are asked to help, they will help forever. The Doctor says that asking them to help will be the last free thing the human race ever does.
The monk offers up some strands of the future as proof of what they know. They each take one and see images of death and destruction. The monks tell them again to ask for help and the Doctor asks why they need to be asked. The monk tells him ‘Power must consent’. The Doctor asks what that means and before the monk answers the clocks all jump to 23:59:00. One minute to midnight.
The monk explains that ruling through fear is inefficient. They must be wanted and loved.
The Secretary-General gives his consent against the Doctor’s protests. The monk explains that consent out of fear is not consent and destroys the Secretary-General.
The Doctor tells them that Earth does not consent to their help or presence.
At the lab, the scientists are in the airlock chamber with the plants. Professor Hangover takes off his helmet because he was about to puke up in it. The plants all crumble and die. They run out of the chamber but not before Hangover scoops up a sample of the plant mulch.
BTW, he might be the worst scientist ever.
At the UN base, the heads of the army vow to not fight each other but the clock stays at one minute, meaning that perhaps the cataclysmic future won’t be brought about by war but by something else.
The scientists in the lab look at the samples and realise they need to seal off the lab so that the chemical killing the plants can’t get airborne.
The Doctor realises that the monks have tricked them. The monks land the pyramid in a war zone and say the world is going to end so everyone assumed it would be by war. They’ve wasted time thinking of military solutions when the real danger is elsewhere. They begin brainstorming what could end the world. They reason that it could be something viral and the Doctor says that whatever it is, perhaps its an accident and it’s an accident that’s already occurring.
He runs to the monitors and does some sonic sunglasses nonsense to them that puts all of the world’s top secret documents onto the internet (that was a silly sentence to write and yet a very Doctor Who one too.) He tells everyone to start googling for anything that can help them.
At the lab, Professor Hangover (who left the airlock chamber open) collapses and turns into goo.
At the base, they’re searching for ideas and brainstorming gets them to search for biochemical trials. Nardole narrows done the search while the Russians and the Americans argue with the Doctor about taking the deal with the Monks. The Chinese agree and even Bill reasons that it might be a good idea to buy them more time and that they don’t have a choice anyway. Against the Doctor’s protests, the army heads decide to surrender.
The Doctor begins to confess the Bill about his blindness then realises that they can blind the monks. He sends Bill to the pyramid and takes Nardole to the TARDIS.
At the lab, a lock down and evacuation is occurring. The competent scientist, Erica, is locked in the lab and finds out that Hangover has added ten times the amount of a certain chemical than he was supposed to.
In the TARDIS the Doctor tells Nardole to access all of the CCTV feeds of labs being watched by UNIT and switch them off.
Nardole switches them off and we see the monks lose their feed. In the TARDIS they see that of all the labs which lost their feeds, only one came back on. They TARDIS into the lab and the Doctor sends Nardole away to wait for him as he gets Erica to tell him what happened. In the TARDIS, Nardole pulls the lever and leaves, but not before having a coughing fit.
The Doctor calls Bill and tells her the situation. The army gives him two minutes to stop the contagion before they go to make the deal. Erica tells the Doctor that the lab has an automated venting system that will pump the virus into the air in twenty minutes.
Everyone’s clocks turn to 23:59:40. Twenty seconds to midnight.
As the heads of the army head into the pyramid, the Doctor realises that you can sterilise the contagion with fire. Erica realises that the plants are making flammable ethanol which has filled the lab and the Doctor asks her out on a date.
In the pyramid, the soldiers tell the monk that they have power and that they consent. The monk tells them that they consent for strategy and that that is not consent, so they get turned to dust.
The monks turn to Bill and tell her she represents the greatest power on the planet: the Doctor. They ask her if her consent is pure.
She calls the Doctor who has made a bomb, and he tells her to says thanks but no thanks and walk away. She asks the monks what consent means and they say that she must ask for help and want it. Only then, they say, the link can be formed.
She asks them what link and they ask her if she consents.
Erica gets to the other side of the airlock and guides the Doctor through the lab. The Doctor sets the timer on the bomb.
The doomsday clock begins to tick backwards and alarms sound within the pyramids. The Doctor tells Bill to get out of the pyramid.
Erica can’t open the airlock to let the Doctor out. She tells him that he needs to open it manually from his side by working the combination lock…which he can’t see. He tries to sonic it but it doesn’t work. He calls Nardole but Nardole is passed out on the floor of the TARDIS. Bill doesn’t understand why he can’t do it and he tells her that he’s blind. He tells her that she has no choice and no way to save him.
Bill refuses that and runs back towards the monks. She asks them if they can restore his sight and they say yes. They scan her and find that her consent is from love.
The Doctor calls out to Bill and then realises that he can see. He opens the, frankly ridiculous lock, and the lab explodes.
Bill tells him that now he can see, he better get her planet back.
And the monks tell him to enjoy his sight as now he can see their world.
This mini-arc with the blindness and the monks has been great so far. The monks are quite similar to another Moffat villain, the Silence, but something more sinister, especially with the whole consent thing. There’s a weird creepiness to them wanting to be asked for help that the writers play up, forcing Bill into no choice but to get their aid even though it dooms the planet.
I enjoyed this episode as a good middle part of a trilogy. It wouldn’t work by itself as too much is reliant upon next week’s episode as this is all set up for the monk’s domination of Earth so there was a lot of exposition and piece moving, whereas last week was a great horror episode that revealed itself to be the start of a bigger story as it went, this is clearly the middle bit so while the lab plot had an ending there were also mostly cliffhangers.
There were some hokey elements tonight such as the combination lock as a way to force the Doctor to reveal his blindness, and the army heads all shaking hands and declaring peace felt pretty cheesy. Bill, Nardole, and the Doctor were all in fine form and Rachel Denning as Erica was great. It’s always good when the Doctor meets capable people and it felt as though if this had been the first episode of the season, Erica would have ended up becoming the companion. I’m hoping we see more of her next week, especially considering the little love connection going on between her and the Doctor.
I’m excited for next week and if they manage to pull off a great ending to this arc, this episode will fit in neatly as a great second part even if it might not work as a standalone.
Body Count: 5
Best line: “Air, water, food, beer.” – Nardole listing what human beings rely upon.
Who is in the Vault: The vault wasn’t mentioned but the Next Week On… heavily implied it’s Missy…however until I see it with my own eyes I’m still convinced it’s someone else. And I’m probably wrong.
Predictions for next week: Alternate reality Doctor Who! This is my jam, I love these kinds of stories.
Featured Image: BBC