Sunday, 4 June 2017

Doctor Who: The Lie of the Land

"Worse than that, you had history. History was saying to you, 'Look I've got some examples of fascism here for you to look at. No? Fundamentalism? No? Oh, OK, you carry on."

So at last this three or four-part mid-season arc comes to an end and it's a perfectly well-structured and composed piece of narratively interesting dystopian drama. I like it. It's good. It certainly continues this season's run of form. And yet... Toby Whithouse's script, while good, lacks a certain extra sparkle.

Not that it isn't a compelling scenario, and one with real power in our current era of "fake news"; the monks, after last week's dramatic denouement, have ruled the world utterly for six months, and have falsified all of history to force people, chillingly, to believe that things were always this way. We see first hand how those who question this new narrative are arrested and disappeared.

One of those who still remembers, much as she thinks she's going mad, is Bill. Yet the Doctor, it seems, is the Monks' propaganda mouthpiece and there's a wonderful scene where he goes full force propaganda to Bill and Nardole, convincing them, but not we of the audience who know the Doctor much better, that he really believes all that stuff. The dialogue, and Peter Capaldi, are superb here, much as the reveal that the Doctor is (duh) obviously anti-monk comes as no surprise whatsoever and is played for laughs. 

And then there's Missy, finally shown in the vault and allowed to say cool stuff while utterly stealing the episode and, interestingly, seeming to have a genuine crisis of conscience in spite of her lingering villainous habits. Is it me, or did she also remind you of the evil simprisobed sister from the last episode of Sherlock?

Yes, the whole episode inevitably feels rushed given the scale of what it's depicting, but the episode ends up working, despite the somewhat forced denouement with Bill being all heroic and cool, being a bit forced. It's a good episode. The fact that an episode like this should be my least favourite of the season so far just goes to show what a bloody good season it is.

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