Now everyone else has had their say on Lie of the Land [note to self – it’s The Lie of the Land], I’ve decided too add my two penneth. For the first time this series, I liked the episode a lot more than I found fault. It’s not perfect, there are obvious holes, but it took me a lot of air time before I got irritated with Toby Whithouse’s story. Some elements don’t really bear deep consideration (the curse of the reviewer) but for the most it’s a decent ending to a trilogy I’ve been disappointed with.
Let’s have a closer look at this dark version of Britain…
The Lie of the Land
Bill is unsure how she left the pyramid, and now keeps her head down in a dystopian Britain more than familiar to anyone enjoying Edward Woodward in the new 1990 DVD. The Doctor is broadcasting propaganda from location unknown (OK he’s now a mad pirate DJ in the North Sea), while Nardole has vanished. Everyone knows the Monks have been here forever, and those who mis-remember are taken off and disposed off. George Orwell would be proud.
Recovered from the disease caught previously, Nardole appears as Bill is consoling herself in memories of her mother. They go to rescue the Doctor, find he is a traitor and Bill shoots him — cue regeneration.
It’s all a trick, now freed the Doctor can open the vault and get advice from Missy. Less frenetic than studied, Missy suggests the only solution is for Bill to die. Rejecting this the Doctor figures out the Monk’s communications network, they enter the HQ and the Doctor joins the machine to defeat it. And fails!
Bill is the one, and she risks death but is saved by memories of her mother. All ends well, the Monks leave and are quickly forgotten and the Doctor reflects on events with Missy who appears to be regretting past actions.
I think the faux regeneration was a step too far, and didn’t work in context as it would mean nothing to Bill. I also thought Bill was too forgiving, never mind the prison ship would never have held the Doctor for six months. If Bill is the centre of the Monks’ power over the human race, why is she left to her own devices so much? Really?
There was no need to talk to Missy, and it clearly was put in for the series arc (but in its own right a nice scene). The Doctor could easily have wondered about mental control and the statues.
The resolution was the power of family love, and this has been the answer in many stories in new Who. And you know what? I thought it was fine. I did also, for a moment, wonder if Bill might die. Imagine how powerful that would have been?!
Once more the human race forgets an alien invasion. Overused and over-stretched.
Some other thoughts
When first we meet Missy, she plays a version of Scott Joplin’s The Entertainer. For me this song means only one thing: the film The Sting as if we didn’t know already, this must mean Missy is lying. I did like Missy in this story, and it’s great to get a range of character for Michelle Gomez.
I’m also really enjoying Matt Lucas / Nardole, and I have to own to being very sceptical when he was revealed for his second Christmas special. I now see this is more evidence of the power of two companions (Jamie / Zoe anyone?) and hope it continues.
There’s also an undeveloped theme. Bill is the focus of the Monks’ power, and it would continue through her line. Given Bill’s sexuality it might have been (and maybe this isn’t suitable for Doctor Who) an interesting line of story to explore. Does Bill want children? We’ve missed an opportunity to learn a lot more about Miss Potts.
So, I got a lot from The Lie of the Land, even if others felt it the weakest of the trilogy. What did you think? Let me know!