Doctor Who: The Lie Of The Land Recap

Synopsis of 10×8: It’s the end of the epic three-part episode arc. The Doctor takes on fakes news and we see the return of an old friend.

Rating:
It’s been a while since we had an enslaved, dystopian Earth on Doctor Who. This episode harks back to the darkest timeline, aka “Turn Left” when Bad Wolf returned and Donna became the most important person in the universe. They have the same grey, cold look, and the same idea: resist. It also feels like Doctor Who is trolling the USA.

Earth is stuck in an age of gaslighting, propaganda, and fake news. The Monks have been brainwashing humans into thinking that they live in a symbiotic society with the Monks. In the process, they’ve been re-writing history, claiming to have been helping and caring for humans since the dawn of time. It’s revisionist history, and The Doctor has been helping spread this fake news by appearing in a series of ads on the telly. He keeps proclaiming that the Monks are a good thing. And people are buying it. Except Bill.

She hasn’t seen the Doctor since the Pyramid. During that time, she’s been trying to remember a life before the Monks, only six months ago. Her brain feels scrambled from the brainwashing. But imagined conversations with her mother keep her sane (also, where is her foster-mother?).

Nardole, who did not die after the toxic chemical incident, arrives suddenly. He’s been healing and trying to find the Doctor. And he did! He and Bill manage to sneak into the Monks’ headquarters to find the Doctor. And when they do, he’s switched sides.

The Doctor claims he’s been working with the Monks. He’s given up. Bill, outraged and upset, does the unthinkable, sparking the scariest moment in the show for all Whovians.

She shoots the Doctor and he must regenerate.

What? Except it’s all a trick! A very mean trick considering Bill had to be emotionally outraged enough to murder someone she cared for. And since there were rumors that the Doctor was going to become Chris Marshall during the current season, I was certain this was it. I almost had a heart attack. Thanks, Toby Whithouse (who wrote this episode).

Anyway, the Doctor was testing Bill, to see how brainwashed she really was. Lucky for her, the Doctor has gained his own little army of soldiers (people who remember the real timeline), and they’ve replaced their bullets with rubber bullets. So everyone is fine. No psychological damage here.

The Doctor has a plan. And his plan is: Missy. If you remember from “Extremis,” Missy is in the vault atoning for her crimes and she has the answers the Doctor needs to defeat the Monks. He needs to kill the one who gave consent: Bill.

Clearly, the Doctor isn’t going to do that. So they come up with another way. The Monks have been using statues set up around the world to scramble the human’s memories. So the wise old Doctor realizes they must be transmitting these reworked memories from the Pyramid.

They sneak in with only a little scuffle. What’s an adventure without a little scuffle, eh? And the Doctor realizes what must be done to save the day. His Time Lord brain must override the Monks’ transmission, spreading the truth. He tries, but he fails. While his brain isn’t fried, he passes out long enough for Bill to tie him up. It’s her turn.

Bill will try to override the Monks transmission, probably dying in the process. Bill is like a noncommittal Kenny (or Rory). Every episode there’s talk of her dying, and every episode she lives. She remembers her mother, a pure memory, a memory that the Monks can’t touch. The pictures the Doctor sent her from years ago take over her memories and, with those in mind, she frees the Monks hold on Mankind. The Monks flee, as many failed dictators do.

They take their presence with them, leaving humans to forget they were ever enslaved. Humans are doomed to repeat their mistakes, never to learn from the past. This giving the writers plenty more fodder for future alien invasions.

Missy is still trapped in the vault, remembering her past. She remembers the names of those she killed. Declawing the Master in this fashion isn’t what I want for my favorite villain. But Moffat’s overall theme for the Doctor is that he can make people heroes (like Bill or Donna), or he can make people weapons (like Bad Wolf or Clara’s attempt to be the Doctor). Maybe he’ll make a compassionate weapon out of Missy.

Highlights:

Nardole’s return! I genuinely was concerned. Maybe Matt Lucas’ contract was up? Maybe he was like Wilf, meant to travel only for a short while. Glad he’s back.

Seeing Missy is always a joy. Though she was a bit of a downer this week. Less kooky; more melancholic.

This episode gave me hope for the future. Like maybe, the Doctor will actually arrive and save the planet from America’s fake news problem and science denial!