10.7 The Pyramid At The End Of The World
Interesting. Not without a few problems, but interesting, and plenty in this one to make you want the gap between this and the next episode to be less than seven days.
Picking up in the aftermath of last week’s Extremis, The Pyramid At The End Of The World is an episode of Doctor Who that continues to ramp things up, as the threat to the world escalates. It’s the kind of episode, in fact, that you could imagine fitting a few episodes later in a run, with a growing threat and some other stuff I’m not going to talk about here.
To give you a flavour of what you get, though, it comes out of the traps very well indeed, slows right down in the middle, and then has a really interesting last five or ten minutes. No spoilers here, though, nor any hints. It’s not dissimilar to last week’s in the sense that there’s a good deal of people trying to work things out. But then I like scenes of people using their intelligence to try and work things out, and Doctor Who is very good at them.
The nominal centrepiece of the episode is the pyramid of its title. The fact that it’s a pyramid isn’t of massive importance. It could be a giant plant pot, a shed, a frozen collection of dancing zombies. The important factor is that it’s very big, and it wasn’t there the day before. It inevitably comes to the attention of the Doctor, Nardole and Bill, and the episode needs and utilises all three of them to work through the story challenges it presents.
For the stakes, in terms of the safety of the world, are getting bigger too, and I like the story’s refusal to go down the same old path to get this across. In fact, there’s a nice psychological edge running through this one, and a real sense that characters are being tested. I also got a little bit of a Torchwood: Children Of Earth flavour at times.
The episode marks a welcome return to Doctor Who writing duties for Peter Harness (following last series’ wonderful Zygon two-parter), and he co-scribes with Steven Moffat. What they do between them is genuinely build something of note, and capture the spirit at times of a horror-thriller-tinged impending threat.
What they also do is leave me wondering where Extremis fits in. The assumption has been that The Pyramid At The End Of The World is the second in a three parter, but it feels to me more like part one of two as it stands. There are ties to Extremis certainly, but I am left wondering over the significance of the earlier episode. It’ll be interesting to see how next week’s weaves everything together, certainly.
As for the here and now, it’s a good episode this, with moments as strong as anything else we’ve had this series. It does Pearl Mackie’s inevitably awards-nomination reel no harm at all either. The spoiler-y dissection will be with you on Saturday. Do note that any hints or clues to plot you may think you’ve spotted in this review are entirely coincidental. This is a very much spoiler-free…