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10 June 2017 @ 09:42 am
The Pyramid at the End of the World  
I have to agree with [personal profile] londonkds' assessment of this episode. It was clearly required to get events from point A to point B and it did so competently enough, but the scaffolding is a little too visible (particularly the somewhat bizarre set-up and protocols of the bio-hazard lab).

I'm in two minds about whether the overall structure, in which the audience is aware almost from the get-go that events in Turmezistan are a red herring. It is very rare that the viewer is significantly ahead of the Doctor in understanding a situation. On the one hand, it ups the tension as we wait for the Doctor to figure it out but on the other it drains the tension out of the suggestion that world war three might be looming.

I very rarely opt for head-canon when explaining a story, but I'm headcanoning here that whatever the Monks mean by "pure consent" is untranslatable into English. While Bill's motivation for giving consent is clearly different to that of the U.N. Secretary General or the three generals, it is not given out of any kind of pure love for the Monks and is clearly given in the expectation that if the Doctor remains alive he can somehow fix the situation. I actually think the nature of the Monks both here and in The Lie of the Land owes more to the fairytale tropes that Moffat was trying to evoke in his early years as show-runner than more recent monsters. The Monks require you to make a symbolic bargain with them the terms of which are unclear. I may write more on this when I get around to reviewing The Lie of the Land.

I also wasn't entirely convinced by the speed and readiness with which everyone took the Monks' assertion that the end of the world was nigh at face value.

There are some great visuals in this story and some great ideas, but I was left feeling that not quite enough thought had gone into actually linking everything together into a coherent whole. It's construction was workmanlike rather than actually good. I'd say it was the weakest story so far this season.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/451302.html.
bunnbunn on June 10th, 2017 09:15 am (UTC)
Agreed. I don't think my standards are very high when it comes to Doctor Who, but this series is testing my tolerance of WTF plots a bit.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on June 11th, 2017 07:49 pm (UTC)
It's that frustrating feeling that all of it is fixable just with the odd throwaway remark...
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on June 11th, 2017 04:09 pm (UTC)
I may be an idiot, but I was assuming the two plot threads would tie together more directly, so when the war thread turned out to be a red herring I was genuinely surprised.

I agree about the weakness of the episode, particularly the Monk's definition of either 'love' or 'consent'. Tbh, I don't like Peter Harness' solo stuff much. He seems to understand all the ingredients of a great Doctor Who story, but he doesn't know how to put them together. Also I hate, hate, hate the idea of the Doctor being President of the World; aside from the unlikeliness of all world governments agreeing on creating and appointing such a position, he's supposed to be a rebel, not an authority figure! Here and previously it just seems to be another way of putting him near soldiers so he can make sarky comments about them.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on June 11th, 2017 07:55 pm (UTC)
I may be an idiot,

Not necessarily. I assumed at the time that the WWIII stuff was a red herring, but when writing this I was thinking why create both a red herring and a countdown clock? Surely better to wait until the end is visibly nigh in some sense than fake an end is nigh, signpost the end is nigh and then point to the fake version... it really sort of makes no sense outside fairytale logic.

I don't mind the Doctor being President of the World in that it provides a simple way to get him to the centre of the action if needed and it is pretty clear the position is far from all powerful and he will be ignored and over-ruled if those around him feel like it.
daniel_saundersdaniel_saunders on June 11th, 2017 08:16 pm (UTC)
Re: red herrings, it occurs to me in writing this that the five thousand year old aspect of the pyramid isn't actually relevant to the plot other than providing a starting point. It could be a brand new pyramid for all the difference it makes. And the next episode implies it's a five thousand year old stone spaceship, which could be nicely alien (cf the stone spaceship in Ghost Light) but doesn't seem to have been deliberately thought through.

Re: presidents, I suppose given that I've finally grudgingly accepted the psychic paper and the all-powerful sonic, I might one day accept this, but at the risk of channelling my inner Verity Lambert, I still think he ought to be an anti-authority figure.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on June 12th, 2017 07:45 pm (UTC)
I think he grudgingly accepts the status so long as he can walk away once the immediate crisis is over. Not pure anti-authority, but not exactly of authority either.