10.8 The Lie Of The Land
Lots going on here, in an episode of Doctor Who that does, as expected, ramp up the threat of the meddling Monks we’ve seen over the past two weeks. At the end of The Pyramid At The End Of The World last time, we saw Bill giving consent to the Monks to invade the Earth. It would be correct to assume we quickly see the consequences of that as The Lie Of The Land takes up the story, and we see what happens when that permission is given to take over. No spoilers here, of course, save for the fact that there are global consequences that reach far beyond the quarries of Wales.
The story this time comes from the pen of Toby Whithouse, back on Doctor Who duties (his most recent adventures being the Under The Lake/Before The Flood two parter from the last series). It finds the Doctor, Bill and Nardole in differing ways feeling the ramifications for each of them: after all, Nardole was left lying on the TARDIS floor, the Doctor got his sight back, and Bill made her dramatic decision. Each of those are addressed.
The story doesn’t pick up immediately afterwards, rather we’re quickly introduced to what’s happened since. A world where the Monks have accepted Bill’s request, and where propaganda, and controlling the message, is important. George Orwell’s 1984 is a handy reading companion alongside this one, and the Monks do that book proud.
The tone of the episode is often quite bleak, but in the midst of it, you get a couple of good laughs for your licence fee. I also felt that a few moments here weren’t too far away from the tone of a Who episode or two from the last decade, as well as a story before that. I won’t name them here, for fear of even hinting too much at spoilers.
Of the three leads, it’s Pearl Mackie who carries the slightly heavier workload, and in a series where she’s been very strong already, The Lie Of The Land sees her best work to date. We get a little less Nardole than the past few weeks, and a very controlled Capaldi performance. I think this trio, at the heart of the series, have gelled really well.
On the flipside, if you take The Lie Of The Land as the concluding part of a threesome of episodes, I don’t think this was the peak of the trilogy. I found it at its strongest in its first half in particular. The second half? It fizzled out for me. Perfectly entertaining, but after a certain point of the episode, it just felt less interesting, with the ending less interesting than the build up. After one viewing – and I’ll give it another run before penning Saturday’s spoiler review – it’s probably the weakest of the series to date, but that’s set against the fact that it’s been a strong seres.
There’s, inevitably, an awful lot I’ve not talked about here, nor would I dream of in a spoiler-free review. Furthermore, I do think that The Lie Of The Land has lots of good moments, too, and is a fine episode of Who, with some real highpoints. But also, by the end, it didn’t quite click for me.