The third part of the Monk trilogy starts off by revealing the consequences of Bill’s unorthodox decision to ask the Monks for their help. Turns out those red-robed jerks have taken the opportunity to implant their existence in humanity’s memory. Yep, they have gone and filled our heads with propaganda that places them with us from our primordial evolution to any all human achievements. To further that jerkiness, they have also taken credit for all of the Doctor’s victories. Like I said, total jerks.
This episode aptly titled, “The Lie of The Land,” features the much talked about and speculated over regeneration scene. But, don’t worry it made all of us into suckers. This fooled the absolute hell out of me by the way. In the promos for season ten, one of the most “what the hell” moments came from a shot of Capaldi going into full regeneration mode. With Capaldi exiting the show this season, this seemed to be the moment, but it turns out the ole Doc can fake regeneration, which he does to fool Bill in order to be sure she wasn’t being influenced by the Monks. It really makes no sense from a storytelling point of view. It was a pretty cruel and hilarious thing to do to fans, and ultimately was a great way to control misdirection of eagle-eyed trailer sleuths.
Boy, Nardole sure had me worried after last week. He collapsed without any real explanation as to why. Turns out he had been exposed to that doomsday bacteria. After some expositional dialogue about being laid up for six months to get well, he and Bill are back on track to locate the Doctor. This episode features a lot of Bill and Nardole banter and that is something you will never catch me complaining about. Speaking of the Doctor’s bald sidekick, we get a pretty great bit of homage paid to Spock’s iconic Vulcan neck pinch, when Nardole gives a Tarovian neck pinch of his very own. I’m a sucker for good Star Trek homages and this one was fun.
In order to defeat the Monks, the Doctor opens up the vault and asks Missy for advice, essentially making Missy the Hannibal Lecter to the Doctor’s Clarice Starling. Missy, still going “cold turkey” from being an evil Time Lord, is beginning to show cracks in her cold exterior. But not so much that her first bit of advice is to just kill Bill in order to best the Monks. In her own way, this was a more scaled back, diluted form of her evilness, she is offering a way to save humanity after all, even if it involves throwing away Bill’s life in the process. This is progress for someone as inherently bad as Missy.
Since the Doctor isn’t a dick, he devises a plan to break into Monk headquarters and broadcast the truth from their fake news broadcast booth. This is a place where the Monks broadcast their monky propaganda. It is the reason that all of humanity believes in their ruler’s existence and laws. Oh! Sick fake news burn, bro! I was pretty in love with the obvious satire contained within this episode. The addition of Trump and a lot of our current world fuckery was totally present on the Monk’s fake news monitor feeds. The irony was not lost on me. This little Easter egg ended up being the icing on the social commentary cake.
When the Monks are inevitably defeated by the Doctor and Bill, they bolt from the planet, leaving humanity confused about the laws that were in place but with no memory of them at all. Bill, on the other hand, still remembers the whole ordeal. She comes away talking to the Doctor about how society must have learned that they have the numbers and the knowledge to rise up against corrupt dictatorship. Unfortunately, no one was able to learn that lesson since we couldn’t learn from our erased Monk history. Pretty heavy handed message there, and I loved it.
This three-episode arc ended with some pretty great messages and some fun tidbits, like Nardole calling himself “Nardy,” the Doctor placing racists and people who talk in cinemas into the same category and the reveal of the Doc’s primary motive for saving Earth so many times. After a long corridor-centric stretch, I’m looking forward to getting back to monster of the week episodes, which by next week promo alone looks to bring back a favorite baddie.