Sunday, 28 May 2017

The Pyramid at the End of the World - Review

The middle episode of The Monks trilogy could have been a lull between the opening segment and conclusion, but it turned out to be a cracking 45 minutes. In some ways we didn't actually need last week's story at all. They could have simply started things going with the appearance of the titular pyramid in the middle of Turmezistan, with the Monks declaring they will take over the Earth, by invite. Last week I queried why the Monks should look the way they do, and this week we got an answer. They don't look like this all the time. They have chosen their shape to resemble humans - dead humans, as they see us as little more than corpses. Their MO is an interesting one. They don't just need to be invited in to take over the planet. The consent must be pure, with no ulterior motive other than love. Of all the invasions over the last 54 years, no alien has ever done it for this reason. Quite why they want the planet - what they want to do with it - hasn't yet been explained, but there is still one more section to go.

Initially we don't know why we're seeing events at the Agrofuel research centre. Definite shades of Terry Nation's Survivors. First Erica has her reading glasses smashed, then hungover Douglas gets a decimal point in the wrong place. You see disaster starting to loom, as a GM substance threatens to get into the environment, destroying all living matter. Douglas' death was particularly nasty, as he dissolved into gloop, so it was lucky that this episode aired a little later than usual for this series.
What was nice to see was equal prominence given to all three of the regulars. Capaldi in particular had a very good episode, from his guitar based musings in the TARDIS at the start, to his almost snatching victory at the last moment. He did manage to stop the life-killing virus, but his admission of his blindness to Bill, and that it had lead him to be trapped in an about to blow up lab, spurred Bill into consenting to the invasion. Despite knowing that there was still another episode to go, it looked as if the Doctor was going to win. Bill had yet another disastrous date with Penny. First the Pope, and then the Secretary General of the UN interrupting things. Nardole began life as a bumbling fool a couple of Christmases ago, but he is now much more companion material, working things out along with the Doctor.

One element that was missing was UNIT, save for a mention that they would be observing the labs via CCTV. Peter Harness had, of course, written the Zygon story last season, set in the same fictitious Asian country. He clearly likes to write stories with a topical bent - the Doomsday Clock has been in the news since this episode was recorded. I'd like to see him tackle something more fantastical at some point in the future, should Chris Chibnall invite him back.
The throw forward to next week's conclusion reminded me strongly of Last of the Time Lords, with the Earth already subjugated and massive statues of the subjugator in evidence. The series trailer featured a scene in which it looked like the Doctor was beginning to regenerate. It looks like this scene comes from next week's Lie of the Land, presumably after Bill shoots him. We will also be seeing Missy again.

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