[Editor’s Note: The following review of “Doctor Who” Season 10, Episode 7, “The Pyramid at the End of the World,” contains spoilers.]
Last week’s excellent episode played mind games with us and “Doctor Who’s” characters when it was revealed that everyone’s journey that we were following (in that episode anyway) was fake, just part of an elaborate simulation of Earth by alien beings. While we know that they were all part of a program, it was nevertheless heartbreaking to see these “people,” who definitely seemed to have gained sentience, realize their lives were a lie. We also learned that the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) was supposed to execute Missy (Michelle Gomez), but instead agreed to watch over her for 1,000 years, presumably in the vault. We say “presumably” because, well, when Steven Moffat is writing, sneaky surprises might be in store.
This week’s episode is the second part of a three-episode arc and felt like a bit of a filler episode, although it had its fun bits. It turns out those aliens have a line on every possible outcome on Earth and have determined that life as we know it is about to end, thanks to a biochemical error that will soon be unleashed upon the world. Only if someone in power gives consent, pure, unadulterated consent from a place of love — not fear or strategy — can the aliens save the planet. But of course the catch is that in saving it, they control it forever. Circumstances force their hand and ultimately Bill (Pearl Mackie) gives consent since she represents the Doctor, who is the world’s President in times of crisis.
Unfortunately, there’s no Missy plot to be found… until the scenes from next week. Yeah, of course she had to get involved. Again, we assume she’s in the vault, but hey, anything can happen.
Here Be Monsters
The Monks, as they’re called, look a lot like Voldemort if he’d stayed out in the sun too long, but they at least have jazzy red robes with nifty embroidery: They’re hella stylish, even though they claim they picked these forms so that we’d relate to them. Oh yeah, and they think we’re just walking corpses anyway, so that’s why their faces are like that. So charming. The Monks feel sort of like one-off characters for now unless we learn more. They seem overly complicated when it comes to all of their rules about consent, and their look isn’t all that iconic. Meh.
The Companion Who Smiled
Bill gets to really be on a date this time, not just a simulation date in which the Pope crashes it, but it does seem like being a Companion just isn’t conducive to having a love life. That’s fine because she loves the Doctor anyway, and that’s why she gave the consent to save his life… in exchange for the planet’s freedom. It seems like a really big move to make this early on in her Companion career, but hey, Bill’s overall sweetness and her genuine chemistry with the Doctor allows us to buy it.
Also, did anyone get a little wigged out at first when it looked like her jacket changed color from one scene to the next? It turns out she just likes that style and has at least two in different colors. UPDATE: It turns out that is a reversible jacket, which makes so much more sense now.
The Spin Doctor
The Doctor has been an enigmatic being in the past, and since he knows so much and experienced so much, we appreciate that sometimes he has to suffer in silence and keep his own counsel. But come on! We don’t buy that he had to lie about being sightless. He’s the most competent being in the known universes and clearly wasn’t that hampered by it.
That is, until of course he needed sight to put in a combination to escape an airlock and a fiery death. This was also another suspension of disbelief. First of all, who has a combination lock like that? Most likely it should’ve been a keypad and thus easily manipulated by a blind man. Also, don’t tell me that the Doctor couldn’t have jiggered his sunglasses to show Bill on her phone what was in front of him. Having to knock Nardole out (since he was partly human) was also another stretch.
Straight From the Two Hearts
Bill continues to be the best, but the moment of her big choice was so quick that we could only be filled with dread for what her decision meant.
Simon Ridgway/BBC America
Those time strands that display events in the future were intriguing, if poorly explained. Could those strands be harnessed in any way? Also, why couldn’t the Doctor have used the TARDIS to go back in time to help stop the bacteria mistake, and thus the Monks’ involvement in the first place? OK, we know that this is the argument for almost everything, but still.
We return to the nation of Turmezistan, which we first saw in the Zygon rebellion where they had a training camp and imprisoned Osgood. Apparently, the UN denied to put a base there.
If the main Monk seems familiar (he doesn’t blame you if he doesn’t), that’s because we’ve seen the actor Jamie Hill embody another tall, decayed fella before: In “Mummy on the Orient Express,” he was the Foretold.
Finally, not really anything to do with the Whoniverse, but did you notice that Douglas had a chatty email from a P.Hilton? He certainly has interesting friends.
Simon Ridgway/BBC America
Bill: “How would I know the President? I wouldn’t’ve even voted for him. He’s… orange.”
Penny: “Is it OK if I get an Uber?”
Erica: “Oh my God”
Doctor: “No, I’m the Doctor. But an easy mistake to make. The eyebrows.”
Erica: “How did you do that? What is that thing?” (referring to TARDIS)
Doctor: “That is Nardole. He’s not my fault.”
The Doctor: “Trust me. I pop it in there, machine goes ping, lab goes boom, world is saved, you develop a pretty intense crush on me.”
Watch a sneak peek of next week’s episode below:
— Doctor Who BBCA (@DoctorWho_BBCA) May 28, 2017
“Doctor Who” airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. on BBC America.