In the final act of the Monks trilogy, the monstrous villains have won, because in the last episode of Doctor Who, companion Bill Potts negotiated with the Monks to get The Doctor’s vision restored, and in exchange, they get control over the Earth. As we open on this episode, the world is very different, yet eerily similar to a certain Marvel Comics event going on right now… Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on “The Lie of the Land.”
As we open on “The Lie of the Land,” there is a stink of Secret Empire in the air. The Monks are among us, ruling us, and have always been there. For those not familiar with the Marvel Comics event called Secret Empire, here’s the gist – a reality warping weapon has made it so Captain America is a Hydra agent, and has always been a Hydra agent. Further warping of reality has altered history in that Hydra are now our saviors and that America lost World War II.
We have a little bit of that here. The Monks’ conquest of Earth and mankind is complete and all encompassing. Like V, they are our friends, and have even defended us from alien invasion, against the Daleks, the Cybermen, and the Weeping Angels. They have always been here, they have always ruled us, and no one knows any different, except Bill Potts who brokered the deal, and a few select others. Not even The Doctor is aware of this. Welcome to Bill’s nightmare.
Monks, Memories, and Mum
And as in Secret Empire, the new reality is not all that perfect either. The Monks have secret police who arrest remember-ers for memory crimes. The Doctor has become a talking head for the Monks on television, sort of a televangelist Big Brother, telling everyone to relax, everything will be all right, the future is taken care of.
Bill turns to her mum, sort of an imaginary friend she talks to, someone she goes to when she’s in trouble. Mum is a focusing point, which kind of explains her appearances before this. If that’s all it is I like it, but this being Doctor Who nothing is rarely what it seems. Nardole finds Bill and that levels her sanity somewhat. At least he’s not dead.
Nardole has located The Doctor on an old prison hulk off the coast of Scotland, where he’s been broadcasting from. When they find him, he immediately calls the Monks, not because he’s been brainwashed or anything, but because he’s willingly sided with them. Mankind is better with a babysitter, better under the watchful eyes of a superior race. Is this our Doctor?
The Doctor is taking the stance that the law and order of a fascist regime is better than the free will and self-destructive spiral mankind was riding. He places the blame fully on Bill for her deal, and purposefully disillusions her with a verbal assault. The Doctor has joined the Monks, and it drives Bill to shoot him in the chest, twice, a bullet for each heart. And another just for being a bastard.
I accused Bill of forgetting the rule last episode, but here, I think we all forgot the rule. The Doctor lies. He even added the extra umph of pretending to start to regenerate. We were all holding our breath there, weren’t we? But it was a trick, he was testing Bill, and the fulfillment of another rule – The Doctor is cruel. I think Bill should have hit him, or at least hit Nardole.
The real trick though, and the person who really needs to be hit, although she might enjoy it, is The Doctor’s secret weapon against the Monks – Missy. He takes Bill to the vault to meet his archenemy. She’s dealt with the Monks before and knows how to stop them. Sadly the hard truth is that Bill has to die or become a vegetable to do that.
The Mum Effect
There was some really good stuff in this one. I loved the intermittent mental transmissions of ‘Truth’ from the Monks. I liked the Monks’ energy manifestations as well, very cool visuals. The Master Monk was rather frightening, but the way Bill beat them with her Mum was equally amazing, loved it.
And Michelle Gomez once again stole the show as Missy. For someone who is going cold turkey from villainy, she seems even more evil here. I cannot wait for her proper release and the return of her previous regeneration, the John Simm Master.
Next: The Ice Warriors return in “Empress of Mars!”