Thursday, 22 June 2017

TV Review No. 59 Doctor Who: The Lie Of The Land (S10, Ep8)

Strong Points:
Continuously throwing subliminal messages at us worked
Great acting all round
Interesting take on totalitarian dictatorship
Missy changing
Missy and The Doctor talking

Weak Points:
Felt cheated after a great build up - twice
The ending was messy at best
Monks have slowly been lowered in power throughout the arc
Missy still feels like an added extra
In-depth Review:
Argh. I feel cheated. We already know that this season is going to be Capaldi's last and it might be Pearl Mackie's as well, and we, much like with Clara, were given two parts in the episode where either could've made a satisfying exit. Of course, we're only just past halfway in this season so I didn't expect either to die, but it could've worked. Instead, we had lots of build up to Bill believing that The Doctor had been brain-washed and she ended up shooting him (more on that later) to stop him. He even started to regenerate and I thought 'wow, this is it, they've done a Game of Thrones here' but no, The Doctor and everyone else starts laughing and it turns out it was all a 'test'. Then we get to the end of the episode, and Bill's set up to sacrifice herself, but of course the memory of her mother (who she'd never seen until the photos of her were found by The Doctor) was apparently strong enough to render the Monks power's useless (more on that later).

After that rant, let's go back to the beginning, where the Monks have always been. Right? That's what we've been taught in school isn't it, that the Monks have always been here, and helped the greatest victories and scientific breakthroughs of all time? What do you mean, they've only been here six months?! I swear they've... Oh, subliminal messaging combined with human's instinctive nature to conform and survive. Right. I remember now. In all seriousness though, the use of subliminal messaging throughout the episode was a great touch, not really influencing my mind about whether the Monks had been there all this time, but more showing that they've really got eyes and ears everywhere, adding to the tension. Even if the Monks have been considerably reduced in power since Extremis.

The same Monks who stopped a missile in thin air and cured The Doctor's blindness were defeated by the memories of someone Bill never really met and who could die from gunshot fire. Their main form of attack this episode was a lighting attack against any disbelievers, or getting humans to do the dirty work for them and to be honest I expected better. They created an accurate simulation of Earth, complete with The Doctor and the TARDIS then teleported some pilots out of a plane into a pyramid and kept them alive and now they can't stop a group of humans who have to wear earmuffs from defeating them. Dear, oh dear.

Great acting, Bill's mother At least we can count on the acting this season, even if the story starts to lose its way - Capaldi, Mackie and Matt Lucas all excelled again in their respective parts, with Mackie's interpretation of what a Doctor's companion should be: strong-willed, independent but deeply loyal of particular note. She not only pulled a gun out at The Doctor, but actually shot him to stop him - could be seen as a slight departure from the 'I won't let you die' belief of last episode, but I guess she believed wholly that The Doctor had changed. I also like the use of Bill's mother as a way to give exposition without it seeming like a monologue, I wonder if we'll actually meet her?

Finally, we have Missy, who's having a time-out from being bad in a locked vault (that was the great 'mystery' we all saw coming due to the cursed cast listings!) but is still as unnerving as ever. I still haven't really felt that she's been in Doctor Who, more an outcast who happens to turn up and aggravate The Doctor, so it will be nice to spend more time with her, as long as she doesn't suddenly disappear like last season. Also, that final scene where she's grieving about all the people she's killed was a great duologue, even if I'm not particularly convinced she's being entirely truthful.

Conclusion: I wanted to like this episode more than I did, it had most of the hallmarks of a great Who episode, but just didn't go far enough. I enjoyed the overall arc in its entirety though, even if it started losing the atmosphere and tension at the end.

Rating: 72%

Thanks for reading, Satamer.

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