The Lie of the Land

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    nerys @nerys

    @serahni I too wondered where the TARDIS was through all of this. I suppose some might have considered it rather too MacGuffin-ish to have the TARDIS turn up and whisk Bill away from the Monks, thus breaking the connection. Maybe, for some reason not yet known to us, the Doctor needed Bill to overcome the Monks with her own mind, rather than solving the problem with a convenient getaway car. Perhaps it has something to do with Missy’s apparent desire to see another one of the Doctor’s “pets” (Missy’s term) destroyed. Rather than being destroyed, Bill prevailed.



    As a writer/production team if you aren’t willing to show the way the earth and human society is altered by a multiple large scale alien invasion (over 10 year period in the case of AG Who), with many deaths and damage to infrastructure then why bother writing that story line ?

    Because sometimes that isn’t what the story is about.

    GlasgowBoy @glasgowboy

    ‘Underwhelming’ would appear to be the general gist. Personally, I thought it was very poor. Perhaps I missed something but can someone explain the monk on the prison ship? If it was all a set up by the doctor, what was it doing there? Why wasn’t Bill imprisoned from the start? If she was the key to world domination (another very weak point) then why was she allowed to wander wherever she wanted?

    The whole ‘Power of Love’ thing was very poor. Straight out of Peter Pan, but they’ve done that before.

    And to end on a general whinge, the Doctor continually tells Bill (and us) how wonderful and exceptional she is. I’m still to be convinced.

    Glad that some really enjoyed it. Can’t please everyone I suppose.


    wolfweed @wolfweed


    To elaborate on post 58494,  I suspect that the Monks presumed that the only way for the Doctor to defeat them would be for him to remove the lynchpin – to ‘Kill Bill’ – and they knew he wouldn’t.


    I don’t think it was the power of love that defeated the monks – As has already been explained, I think it’s something to do with the anomaly that Bill’s mum was real, but Bill’s memories of her were made up – because that’s all she could do as a way of ‘having her mum’.

    The monk is on the ship because the Doctor is a prisoner on it. Only the Doctor’s seeming betrayal was a set up…

    wolfweed @wolfweed

    …A ‘willing prisoner’ – Like Missy?!?


    This is just my understanding of things. I could probably do with a rewatch – Too knackered just now though…

    Nick @nick


    Whatever the deeper, metaphorical, allegorical meaning your story is really meant to be about, as the writer/producer/show runner you are actively making a choice to write within a genre (even if you’re subverting it in some way) and you have deliberately chosen to make it an end of the world setting.

    Having made that creative choice, and having made whatever other point you want to, you have to live with the consequences of the setting you’ve chosen and the disaster elements you’ve shown on the screen or inferred. Avoiding the consequences of that choice, by hitting a reset button, is a failure of imagination or a lack of ability. Why use that setting if you don’t want to follow through on it. Surely it would have been equally possible to make the actual point you want to, but without an end of the world setting. Alternatively, set it somewhere else (this is sci-fi or speculative fiction after all) and leave the inhabitants to rebuild their society without further comment.


    Nick @nick


    Missy claims that the door to the vault couldn’t stop her leaving (but the Doctor could ?). Is this true or just hubris ? Only the Doctor and Missy know or suspect.

    She begged the Doctor for life and he made that possible. His oath (to himself essentially) was 1,000 years confinement and it appears he is determined to help Missy achieve the redemption she offered in exchange for her life. Is Missy capable of this ? Perhaps. Will she ? Probably not. Or perhaps she does attain redemption, but only for the remainder of this reincarnation.

    wolfweed @wolfweed


    nerys @nerys

    @nick, I agree with @pedant that the kind of detail you’re seeking isn’t what the story was about. Yes, sci-fi literalists will want those details, and be disappointed if they’re not there, but I don’t consider Doctor Who to be strictly science fiction. It’s a combination of science fiction and fantasy, and has been throughout its run. As such, the stories follow sci-fi themes, but certain threads and details are often dropped due to the fantasy nature of the series. That didn’t start with Steven Moffat … and likely won’t end with him, either.

    For me, this story (as with most of the others) has a much tighter focus. It’s about the relationship between the Doctor and his companion(s), and how they solve the problems set before them. In this case, it was about how Bill was able to resolve a serious problem she created, out of her love for the Doctor. Society, while looming large in the overall scheme of things, is really peripheral in the details. I can accept that, but clearly not everyone can.



    you have to live with the consequences  of the setting you’ve chosen

    Why? It’s not what the story is about, it is not a documentary and it’s not a Peter F Hamilton 300-page-story-squeezed-into-1200-pages doorstop. It is also something that Doctor Who has zero track record in doing.

    Also, you don’t get to decide what SF is, any more than I do or anyone else here. By all means don’t like the episode (I thought is was OK, with a few very good bits and a crappy pyramid launch from Cheapside and Gresham Street), but at least try to explain without stubborn insistence that it must fit in to your hideously narrow straitjacket conception of what SF is.

    “In amongst seven billion, there’s someone like you.”

    That is what the story was about, not the logistics of post-War reconstruction.

    nerys @nerys

    Oops, earlier I wrote “sci-fi literalists”; what I meant to type was sci-fi purists. Too late for an edit.

    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    Just rewatched this because I was at a friend’s house last night for drinks and apparently it is ‘widely anti-social’ to disappear into the living room to watch a tv program half way through the evening. Went onto vodka redbulls at one point so I could stay and watch it when everyone else went to bed, but unfortunately this morning I discovered a flaw in this plan…

    Scene at the end- I’ve always assumed that Moffart is a fan of/as a writer quite similar to Whedon, and this confirms it. And not only that, but the master/missy is more of a Spike than an Angel, a monster made not born which to be fair was pretty much hinted with Simms’ master. I’m a little concerned at the idea of the master’s reformation taking place while they are in a female regeneration, because if there is one thing more lacking than strong, powerful female heros, it’s strong powerful female villains. (In fiction at least.)

    I do wonder sometimes if Moffart is being intentionally misleading in trailers, and it can lead to disappointment because the trailer after last week suggested to me a couple of interesting plot lines that didn’t happen. But that’s Moffart, he provokes ‘theories more insane than what is actually happening’ (in fiction at least) then tends to go for Occams razor. The Doctor knows, he’s faking it. He’s encouraging people to report on people they know while he’s faking it, and that’s a rather pragmatic choice that Missy might have liked to be aware of when she was arguing with him. Of course, the memory of Bill’s mother isn’t a deux ex machine, it’s a pay off.

    I think the conclusion of this little arch is more satisfactory than The Sound Of Drums arch, but it does miss the slow build up that arch had. One thing I love is that in a way he did double down, and make Bill, for this time, The Most Important Person In The World, but in a different way to the girl who waited and the girl in his timestream. Her importance is, in a way, quite ordinary. And it focused on her mother, not on him, there really is no such thing as an unimportant person. And there is a level of normal, devastating human grief in this conclusion, love for a parent she doesn’t know, built out of photographs gifted partly out of embarrassment at an unexpected Christmas present.

    Bill turns her anger at the charade that made her shoot the doctor on Nardole. Understanding this doctor’s emotional limitations, or is it just easier to be angry with a kind of brother figure than a father/grandfather figure?

    Nick @nick

    @nerys @pedant

    I’m not going to get into any argument with either of you about the nature of science fiction verses science fantasy verses speculative fiction here, nor am i going to argue about my version of science fictions better than yours, or your version of science fiction is the best or whether I have a hideously narrow straight jacketed conception of what science fiction is or isnt (@pedant being an ARSE really doesn’t do you any favours in credibility stakes).

    My whole point regarding this ending and others similar we’ve seen in the past is similar the setting is a creative choice made by the show runner, idea originator and writers. They are absolutely free to chosse the setting. In the last part, they chose an end of the world as we now it setting, for their own creative reasons. Why depict thought police, interment or labour concentration camps if there isnt a dramatic reason for doing so. Why have massive statues every few hundred metres across every where in the world, have a pyramid squash a large chunk of central London and then write the line from the student at the end.

    Of course as writer you can do that. It’s purely your creative choice. I stated my opinion that it is a creative cop-out to decide that a nothing happened, pass along nothing to see here ending is appropriate. From a creative point of view, this sort of ending is up there with Pam Ewing’s Bobby’s dead dream season of Dallas.

    And no @pedant, I didnt in any way suggest that the story was about the logistics of post-War reconstruction. Sarcasm. Very intelligent of you.

    @nerys I fully understand the story wasnt about the details I’m seeking. I don’t know what you thought I expected to see I didn’t. I am merely suggesting that if you chose to have a global invasion and litter the world with physical evidence of that invasion (with the camps and possible deaths) have the creative bravery to live with the consequences rather than pretend it didnt happen.


    MissRori @missrori

    @miapatrick An interesting take on why Bill took it out on Nardole!  And yeah, I do agree about the Doctor being pragmatic with regards to being the propaganda minister.  Maybe the wrap-up should have gone into more detail on stuff like that — my understanding is that this one barely clocks in at 40 minutes without ads as it is; they had the time.

    I don’t think Moffat has all that much say in how the show is advertised; creative content makers rarely do.  IIRC, he was really excited about what he’d come up with for the “Heaven Sent” cliffhanger, how no one would see it coming…and then BBC promotional materials gave away that Gallifrey was waiting if he could survive his dark nights of the soul.  He also was upset that one of the Series 10 trailers gave away a major twist…

    lisa @lisa

    There ere aspects of this episode that felt some what cop out-ish to me too.   In the end it didn’t

    have a lot of power for me.   The resolution was too simple.

    @serahni      I get the same feeling about the Missy stuff as you.  Its the Missy stuff that potentially has

    the real surprising   ‘Missy-direction  for me’.   When the Doctor calls out  “Hey you appalling hair

    girl”    and then says “ok – move along now”   I  thought to myself   –   um  is Missy in your head?

    Then later at the very end   during  Missy’s  passionate remorseful heart  to heart  I was wondering

    ok  now,  what is this about??

    nerys @nerys

    @nick I fully understand the story wasnt about the details I’m seeking. I don’t know what you thought I expected to see I didn’t. I am merely suggesting that if you chose to have a global invasion and litter the world with physical evidence of that invasion (with the camps and possible deaths) have the creative bravery to live with the consequences rather than pretend it didnt happen.

    Sorry if I misinterpreted your comments, but I understood them to mean that you expected to see the details you are outlining, and were disappointed by their absence. I didn’t feel the writer pretended that those things didn’t happen, but rather sketched them in nebulous terms, leaving us to form the details in our own minds, while the storyline focused on what was happening between the Doctor and Bill (and also Missy).

    wolfweed @wolfweed

    @nick  Why depict thought police, interment or labour concentration camps if there isnt a dramatic reason for doing so.

    I don’t want to gang up on you here… But…..

    The depiction was it. The problem of being a 42 minute show. It may have seemed like a setup but it was just shorthand. If it was an hour long show or a movie, we may have seen the scrapping of the statues, the release and rehabilitation of the prisoners, the reinstallation of a human (& perhaps more humane) government…

    I can see how it can be perceived as ‘top heavy’ & ‘bottom empty’ though…..

    I suppose we just have to imagine those consequences for ourselves…..

    Ah -@nerys has just posted much the same…….

    nerys @nerys

    @wolfweed and @missrori I agree with you that one reason for dissatisfaction has to do with the episode’s time constraints. There’s only so much you can cram into a 40-minute episode without turning it into a three-parter. A two-parter may have been too short, while a three-parter might have felt like it was dragging things out. Dunno.

    @lisa I understand your comment about parts of this episode feeling a bit “cop out-ish”; I had that slight feeling, though perhaps not as strong as you did.

    It may be that the personal tragedy which coincided with the development of last week’s episode (mentioned in the “Pyramid at the End of the World” thread) interfered with the development of this week’s episode, as well. There’s so little that most of us know of the behind-the-scenes process.

    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    @MissRori- good point, although it’s hard to see the rational for the fake regeneration, given that Bill doesn’t, as far as we know, know about regeneration, and even if she did, her shooting the doctor was the point…
    It’s weird with this episode. One of A three parter, but so much shorthand necessary. I almost wonder if they could have made the first two of this arch shorter, and this one longer- it is an argument for the shorter episodes. Suppose the simulation episode ended early and the rest of the time slot had the set up for pyramids, and that ended about half way through or so of that 40ish minute slot, and this episode began and had about 60 or so minutes to do everything it wanted to do. Even the two parter episodes nowadays seem to feel they have to finish this part of the job between beginning and end. With episodes of about 20 minutes no one expected so much of a beginning, middle and end

    MissRori @missrori

    @miapatrick  Yeah, the fake-out regeneration was especially odd because he was so stingy with energy when it came to his blindness!  If he can control the energy that well…(shrug)

    As I said — it would have been cooler if he had been brainwashed, whereupon shooting him and triggering a quasi-regeneration would reset his mind to “factory settings”, a parallel to “Smile”‘s events.  It would also have downplayed the moral issue of his promoting the Monks’ imprisonments and executions to an extent if he really hadn’t been in control of his actions.  I’ve already seen one fanfic writer run with the idea that he actually was brainwashed by the Monks, and it took a while for his subconscious to fight back; by then some of the propaganda damage had already been done.  Also, the writer considered he might have thought the dissenters who were just imprisoned/forced to work were safer than those who’d be killed on the streets.

    AlexWho @alexwho

    Definately not the resolution I was looking for. Too many plot holes in the Monks Trilogy that were not covered.

    Lie of the Land did a great job showing the 1984 world created by the Monks but went downhill with the phony regeneration scene. What was the point of that if Bill was shooting blanks? Why put on the show for her if she didn’t even know what regeneration was?

    Veritas was such a strong start and to have it end with the Monks easily beaten was lame.

    Next week the Ice Warriors are up so I’m hoping for a good rebound.


    Nick @nick

    @wolfweed @nerys @pedant

    We are debating the last minute, the final scene of the episode. Nothing more or less. In the final scene the conversation with the passing student sets a scene where as soon as the mind link was gone, everyone forgot what had happened for the last 6 months, the physical evidence (which was not insubstantial) ignored and explained away as a filming a movie (or something similar as appropriate to each location and person affected.

    What was the essential point being made here about the nature of history and memory ? Was this point of sufficient dramatic purpose, to write the ending of that style. Alternative endings could have been written. This is a creative choice. Its not one that I would have chose.

    Instead of exclaiming I’m narrow minded in my opinion, I’d prefer to hear how the final scene capped the episode and 3 story arc as a whole and was more appropriate than one I’d prefer (which I think I have explained well enough already).

    @Thane15 originally listed a quite extensive list of items where Puro thought the episode could (would be) be critiqued (some tongue in cheek). I could have responded to several of them, but I chose this one. It’s a common one, which could equally apply to several previous AG and BG Who stories. I am not a creative, but I ask myself why write such dramatic story lines in the first place, if you arent willing to deal with the most likely outcome and need a reset button of some sort to make the consequences disappear ?

    Surely one point of Turn Left was to show what would have happened if the Doctor wasn’t there to fix things (dealing with the consequences Sontaran Stratagem and Voyage of the Damned on the UK in particular). However, the question of what happened after the Stolen Earth, Christmas Invasion amongst others is ignored and forgotten. Why ? It’s certainly not convenient that something that should have happened in the very recent past of this story might have made things different from today’s world it’s filmed in.

    nerys @nerys

    Hmmm, I guess I’ll have to watch the final scene again. I thought it was between the Doctor and Missy, but I must be forgetting something.

    Doctor Who almost always needs at least two viewings from me, because I find I often miss a lot on first viewing (not the least of which is because of those pesky commercials we have to endure on the Space channel, which really break up the flow of an episode; at least watching the DVR version, I can fast-forward through the commercials).

    wolfweed @wolfweed

    @nick   Sorry – I didn’t really catch the ending properly before…

    The Doctor said that ‘the Monks have erased themselves’, but they’ve left statue stumps behind… Surely some intelligent people will be able to posit some reasonable theories as to what happened ‘by the holes they left behind’? So was it really a memory wipe, or are people just ignorant?

    It’s debatable if this trilogy is actually a trilogy. Might have to invent a new terminology for it , like ‘A Soft Trilogy’. Probably partly why so many people are so pissed off. It doesn’t particularly join up all that well…

    Dr Who does resets 9.9 times out of 10, because otherwise it hampers the next show. Better to try to pull off a non-reset at the end of a series maybe…


    On another note entirely, I’m surprised nobody’s been calling ‘Deus’… Then we could repeat that old argument…

    Nick @nick

    @nerys the final scene between bill and the doctor. You’re correct the very last scene was with Missy. No transcript available yet (so far as I can see yet). The Doctor asked a passing student what the (remains) of the statue were., whilst the two of them were musing on recent events.

    Nick @nick


    Yes he said they had erased themselves from everyone’s memory (although since the original implantation wasn’t 100 % – nence the need for memory police – its reasonable to assume that the opposite wouldn’t be 100 % either). In many ways, that might be worse. For 7 billion people to wake up and find the remains of tens of thousands of tatues across the globe, hundreds of thousands of people in concentration camps, an unknown number of dead and no memories of the last 6 months… How would you feel if this happened ?

    As I previously commented, I thought the entire three parts were some of the finest Who we’ve seen overall (that doesn’t mean flawless of course). It’s certainly true that its really three different connected stories. I don’t see that as a major problem. Its not that unusual in thematic novels, although less common on TV. In some ways, the biggest inconsistency was the change in the presentation of the Monks between episode 2 and 3. That was explained away (there’s so few of them that they cant be everywhere at once). The other larger issue was the absence of motive in the first place. I would argue this is quite a reasonable thing to do (look at Childhood’s End where the motive only becomes clear at the very end), especially if there’s going to be a pay-off later in the series as has been speculated.

    wolfweed @wolfweed


    I like your ‘Not 100%’ theory. It would mean that some people remember what happened.  The rest would probably just have nightmares about it & know deep down that they’re true…..

    RorySmith @rorysmith

    The level of acting in this episode went up a notch. Pearl was amazing. I realize the talent we get to see in this show and how the dramatic performances keep mounting.

    Peter and Jenna had quite a few memorable speaches and now Pearl has had her chance.

    I tried not to overthink this episode and I really enjoyed it more. Michelle is also hot.


    wolfweed @wolfweed

    (For the stump scene, see also this, from ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’:)

    Ace: But this is Earth, 1963. Well someone would’ve noticed, I’d have heard about it!

    The Doctor: Do you remember the Zygon gambit with the Loch Ness monster? Or the Yetis in the underground?

    Ace: The what?

    The Doctor: Your species has the most amazing capacity for self-deception, matched only by its ingenuity when trying to destroy itself.



    @nick @nerys @wolfweed

    Pish. The people of Earth have forgotten:

    Giant cyberman stomping across Victorian London

    Giant fish eating Regency Londoners

    Starship Titanic nearly crashing into London

    The Sontarans gassing the Earth

    More Cybermen

    The Battle of Canary Wharf

    Earth being stolen.

    And that is just NuWho, as @wolfweed notes.

    That’s the sort of thing that gets overlooked when you indulge in minute-by-minute salami slicing.


    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    OK, I’m going to put it out there that I’m not massively sold on Toby Whithouse episodes which for me range from the ‘meh’ to the ‘flawed but interesting’. And this one personally falls right in the middle of that scale.

    This has been the oddest loose trilogy of stories and I’ve not really been sold on it — if anything it’s proved once again (as if proof were needed after Key to Time and Trial of a Time Lord) that it’s a format that doesn’t work in Who. Bona fide serials work and standalones work but this kind of halfway house doesn’t.

    Extremis was the strongest of the three I think, with Pyramid at the End of the World being the most disappointing. This I enjoyed (more on the second viewing) but it was still patchy as hell. The fundamental problem for me still is The Monks, who were underwritten, inconsistent, and just not really very threatening or memorable. This is a real shame on many levels, not least of which is the interesting interview with Gary Pollard on the After Show who comes across as a very talented, committed and personable figure and I found myself really wishing that I liked The Monks more. (The original concept of the kung-fu Monks sounds far cooler and it’s really annoying that they didn’t go for that, although I guess they just didn’t want to have to pay for a load of fight sequences.) But the idea of an invasion that requires to be invited first is a great one and I do wish it had been handled better/thought through a bit more. It clearly has political overtones with questions of regime change etc. which sound suspiciously Peter Harnessy to me and I’d have welcomed a clearer examination of that — and also of the religious overtones that having the villains just called Monks clearly implies.

    I was left last week, going mostly by the trailer for Lie of the Land, being strongly reminded of the whole Jasmine storyline from Angel s4 (just as the ‘rehabilitation’ of Missy storyline is somewhat reminding me of Angel and Faith’s similar storyline from that series). Hell, the Monks even look a bit like Jasmine in her true form and the idea of Bill as the lone voice of reason seems very similar to Fred’s role. Nothing wrong with all that, of course, and the idea of a Doctor on the wrong side is a great one. But it’s just a shame that the episode didn’t run with that a bit more instead of getting it out of the way with what felt like indecent haste and heading back on a more trad trajectory. It felt to me like the production team not having the courage of its convictions.

    There actually seemed to me to be an aura of cowardice going through this whole story (and possibly last week’s too). I got a real sense of punches being pulled. The ideas here are heady and interesting. Fake News, populaces being complicit in their own subjugation, propaganda, thoughtcrime (and am I the only one thinking that having that fake regeneration which was used to garner so much pre-series publicity veers dangerously close to being a bit of fake news itself? Talking about having your cake and eating it.)

    But more than once I just felt that decisions had been made to shy away from the issues beirue, this is Who and not a piece of political polemic, but the show has more than once shown more courage in its convictions than it did here. The vision of life under The Monks was just a bit too generic dystopia I thought. Why, for example, were citizens required to wear overalls? Does it suggest a still industrial society? Is it too remove individuality, perhaps with a religious underpinning? Or is it because they’d seen it 1984 and just lifted it wholesale. Similarly, why are the bin bags piled up? Is it because The Monks neither know nor care about sanitation? Or is it because it was seen in Children of Men (where it has a clear purpose. No one cares anymore because in a world without children people have no reason to live) and it was again just lifted without thought.

    The dreary, dysfunctional world had no thought behind it — except perhaps for falling back on familiar (and safely distant) tropes. It felt like care was taken to avoid anything that could be seen to have too many allusions to current events. The Monks’ UK had a East Germany/Soviet vibe to it, which made sense in 1984 but made less sense to me here. I’m in two minds about this punch-pulling.

    As someone mentioned above, a collaborating Doctor, even if not sincerely, is problematic too and presumably leads to some innocent deaths. That’s something that’s hard to reconcile personally.

    However, the episode as a whole is saved by Peter and Pearl who are once again brilliant. Bill is great in her confrontation with the Doctor, as is Capaldi, who gives his ‘evil’ Doctor a swagger and a righteousness that I think is the closest he’s actually been to Malcolm Tucker in Who.

    I notice there’s been significant anti-Moffat wailing over this story, which is bemusing since he didn’t write it, but despite the apparent complexity of Extremis, I think I’d reiterate my feeling that this ‘trilogy’ has been far more reminiscent of the RTD era than of the SM years. Sketchy aliens. Earth in peril. Love save the day (and I didn’t really have a problem with the denouement and thought it worked). They all seem far more like RTD-era devices. And on a more negative note, Bill curing the Doctor’s sight, the Doctor’s ‘betrayal’ and shooting, they felt like the sort of flawed moments that RTD occasionally gave us — demanding of us a big emotional pay-off without having put in the pre-requisite groundwork (more so in Torchwood than Who, of course, and I fully expect that we’ll see a lot more of this kind of scene when Chibbers arrives.)

    On the question of the story not dealing with the aftermath of invasions, I don’t think it’s entirely fair to lay this one at the door of the current production team and rather that it’s something you really have to take up with Terrance Dicks/Barry Letts/Malcolm Hulke. It’s a long-established Who trope and really all SM and co were doing in this story was servicing it. The best any production team can do now is merely acknowledge the loophole (as this story did do) and the carry on.

    Not that there’s not scope for a story to explore this fertile ground at some point in the future, of course — only not in the last few minutes of a story. I jokingly said a few weeks ago that perhaps it was time for the Doctor to return to Peladon now that Brexit was happening but maybe he should to see how Peladonian society has evolved thanks to his play-acting and interference all those years previously…

    Anonymous @


    honestly, stay away from tumblr for heaven’s sake.

    As for “being called out”  -we don’t know how many more there would’ve been: deaths, I mean. And who said 1000 times “don’t do it, please don’t!”   ?

    The Doctor

    The Doctor had to take humanity the way he found it and try to fix it.


    There is no evidence society has forgotten anything at all: the ducks in the pond is a good example as is the huge space ship over earth on Christmas day and the enormous ship sailing over the Palace!

    Other endings were changed because it was a decision made in an alternate universe.

    I think that’s dealt with in -story very well. Also no point going all “let’s count every single thing that happened” because a new viewer suddenly hearing “oh THAT happened. Hey? Did it? When?” requires a re-set button in a show, that in AG Who alone, is 12 years old. Cripes, Thane was 3 when it started.  Whoa. Scary thought :)<b></b><i></i><u></u>

    No mea culpa on the author’s behalf required. I re-set stuff all the time (including my brain. Happens after coffee usually)    🙂 But still, an interesting conversation, as ever.


    wolfweed @wolfweed


    I’m not sure that I’m expressing myself properly. What I mean to say is that some sort of a reset is usually in place after a grand Earth invasion, because it helps to stop people being unimpressed when there’s one next week…

    What seems to be suggested by this episode is that yes – there is a bit of a mind wipe, but that people choose to ignore the evidence which remains – because it’s easier. So it’s a reset, but a reset by choice.

    A suitably grim conclusion…

    It would explain why we’ve forgotten all that other stuff. That & fake news & new Pringles flavours…

    If I remember rightly, when the Master returned in The End of Time, it was revealed that people hadn’t forgotten the events that happened before the full reset in ‘Last of the Time Lords’. They had nightmares about him (exacerbated by his imminent return).


    Another one for the list: Remember when everyone forgot about that day when the entire Earth was coated in trees?!!!

    Nick @nick

    @pedant @wolfweed @nerys

    The people of this fictional earth will forget anything and everything the writer or show runner wants. That’s hardly a valid point.

    I think you’d also have to distinguish between something quite isolated and local (or in the depths of History) which might well pass into folk law or government cover up and hence into the hands of the Conspiracy Theory guys on the internet (I refer you to Clive in Rose as an example) and a global disaster. Tell me why would we forget a global disaster ?

    @pedant Your argument, at least as it seems to me, is that so long as the story tells its fundamental point (the 1 in 7 million as you described this story a few posts ago) it doesn’t matter or at least it shouldn’t be a point of criticism, if its non-sensical, full of plot holes, inconsistency or just plain stupid.

    As you put it to me elsewhere on this forum, the “why” is the only thing that’s important, not the “how” or macguffin needed to fix the story. I respect your point of view, but that doesn’t make you right, nor does it address the concerns of those like myself, who fundamentally disagree with you on that.

    As I stated above, I’m much more interested in hearing your (or anyone else’s) take on why Toby Whitehouse ended the story the way he (or Moff) chose to in the Bill/Doctor scene and how that casts a light on the preceding 45 (or even 140 minutes) than criticising me for a narrow minded view of what science fiction/fantasy should be, because I thought that that very ending was a cop out by the writer.

    I apologise to you for being a little pissed of with you right now and labouring this point as a result.

    Nick @nick


    The problem with the ignore the evidence because its easier argument, is that it is just not what we do as a species. The opposite in fact.

    However, I ultimately agree with you. After writing a present day global disaster, there has to be a reset and a mass forgetting. Its a narrative requirement in this fictional universe for the reasons you suggest (and others as well). If you didn’t do that you’d have to start to move your fictional earth away from the present day reality. Whilst it may well be interesting to create an alternative future present day earth, I would agree that Who probably isnt the place to do it.

    But then, why write a global disaster story on Earth today if you know before hand that you’re going to have to hit the reset button ? You could set it in the future (Dalek Invasion of the Earth), on another planet, in an alternative universe (Rise of the Cybermen, Inferno). Are ratings the only reason ?

    Nick @nick


    Puro I respectfully disagree with you on that. For example, The Daleks were on the earth exterminating thousands (millions perhaps) of people in the Stolen Earth. There wasnt a reset in the story that undid any of those Deaths that I recall [I haven’t seen it since and memory may well be flawed on that]. Are you suggesting that on present day Who Earth, only 9 years later, that its not had any effect on Humanity ?

    The Leftover’s TV show is based on the premise of what 2% of the population disappeared overnight has on US society]


    wolfweed @wolfweed


    Sometimes it’s easier to put trauma behind you. That’s often how we survive.

    Also, humans can’t even agree if climate change is real or not. Or if the the Earth is flat.

    Why have certainty in the existence of the Loch Ness Monster? (Plus nobody phone-cam filmed it…!)

    nerys @nerys

    @nick Ah yes, the passing student. I’d forgotten about that. But @pedant has a point with the list; this is not the first time it’s happened on Doctor Who. I’m not saying I’m completely sold on forgetting as a plot device, but for whatever reason it is a frequent occurrence in the Whoniverse.

    Hmmm, was this a three-parter? Speaking of forgetting … good grief, I’ve forgotten a lot. As I said in another thread, it’s been a crazy few weeks. Looking for things to settle down a bit now.

    Nick @nick


    Individually some, most of us even, put trauma behind us. For a significant number it destroys them. Most live with the consequences for all of their life or do something even worse. Does any one forget though ?

    I was in Nice last year, my wife and I planned to go to the firework display on 14 July, but when it was time to leave we couldn’t be bothered, because parking is difficult, she was tired. All the normal non-reasons not to do something you had planned on. We watched and listen to the local fireworks in the town where we were, just along the coast. People were dying less than 2 miles away, right as we listened to the end of the local display. I could talk about 7/7 (tube nervousness for a while afterwards) or being a car passenger after I was in a crash (who knew just how close the curb is to that front wheel). How about the  Brain hemorrhage I had in 2013. That really hurt. I wasn’t especially impressed when the Doctor (in Dubai) told my wife I could die any minute (while sweetening the picture for me). Yes we put trauma behind us. Life goes on. It changes most of us though surely ? I don’t think you forget too much either.

    So do you think it’s ok to write a story where thousands or millions die off screen, but its all forgotten at the end, because acknowledging the effect of that would be inconvenient for future stories set in essentially the same location ?. After all it’s ok really, as the real story was about something else entirely, something much more important, than that mere detail ?

    To a degree I am exaggerating. Its fiction after all and I’m salami slicing the end of several stories, picking on a minor detail and blowing it out of all proportion. It’s a creative choice. Just not one I’d choose to make.

    Nick @nick


    The fact that it wasn’t the first time, just makes it worse.

    Anonymous @

    @nick @pedant

    Hey now, Nick! I think I mentioned that maybe getting in someone’s face, doesn’t help! 🙂

    It doesn’t help, not really. If I could reply please? and I know I stated this last episode and in 2 posts up-thread.

    Yes, the  “why” is dramatically important. The what and the how is often something we can intercede with, on a metatextual level.

    Also, Leftovers was absolutely about the ‘why’ in that instance? In other words, “why did this 2% loss affect the population?” The ‘how’ was embedded into that.

    I might add that with Daleks exterminating millions of people it was also made very clear in story: “She didn’t make it. Rose, I mean” and Captain Jack states, “I’m sorry.”

    Jack’s a human, Martha herself lost someone close on the day the cyber army took hold so it is referenced. It’s referenced by Moffat as well but only in one line because as someone said, “he writes in sentences, not paragraphs.”

    This is also a PG show, if it were referenced more often then I believe the “warnings: explicit material about loss of life and mental illness” would appear before the show, it would change the timing of the programme and the limits of the 12 year old viewers would be tested. So, I do feel I agree with @nerys that it’s a frequent device used because it works -and it has over 12 years, no? @wolfweed‘s nuanced response is also significant:

    sometimes it’s easier to put trauma behind you” –

    and I’m not being all “gee, look at Puro, she’s making this about herself” “{please understand that I’m not, @nick} but I’ve survived unbelievable trauma -not just loss of a mum at seven or my own health issues but other truly horrific issues in my childhood/teens and believing I could change the colour palette of my life; believing I could be involved in a new adventure, believing I could write about it, use it in my music, chase the demons through conducting Brahms, facing it this way and then talking about it to one other person was my healing.

    If many thousands die during the monk’s invasion, what is there, anywhere in-story that tells you people have forgotten or pressed a re-set button to forget? Because I’ve seen, in-story places where there are definite beats of memory? When Sarah Jane is involved during Tennant’s era, you can see the reasons why she’s made her home a buffer against further incursion. To protect her son. Also, that episode cut through the Torchwood ‘time-line’ and linked back to the were-wolf episode where Torchwood is created: we see within the Who story, two ‘agents’ dealing with the dalek attack and how London’s own Torchwood’s office is destroyed? So yes, I guess I am suggesting that it HAS most definitely left a grim toll in people’s lives: we’ve seen it in story and we deduce from a sound and valid premise that it affects people individually. And people suffer. I hope that helps.

    Because, to me at least, if you say “they’re not dealing with it, they’re not calling the doctor out on it as he was implicit in the monk’s take-over” then there’s things in story that you might be missing?

    1st the Doctor had no choice. Bill was then link. 2nd, people grieve alone and try to forget. I grieved alone. I didn’t forget but no-one on earth knew what I went through. I allowed it to erupt through my music, my writing.

    ScaryB @scaryb

    Some quick thoughts, as it’s late! Overall I liked lots of it a lot, but not as much as the previous 2,  particularly Extremis (which I really liked). My problem with it was much as @jimthefish (and others) have pointed out – that the Monks were just a bit vague in what they wanted, after their set up as near omniscient beings, with their (literal) story strands, simulated worlds, and nasty habit of disintegrating people into dust.  What did they want from our earth? They didn’t seem to be doing much with it apart from building statues and creating fake histories! (Hmmm… a metaphor for the production team, maybe?!). And there’s only twelve of them. Really?

    I would also have preferred if Bill had joined the Doctor at the end rather than replace him at the “dreamweaver” monk’s head at the end, it did seem to sideline the Doctor a bit. Although he did create the means (her “memories” of her mother through his nip back in time in The Pilot to take the photos) for her to break the link. As @nick says (of another choice) “It’s a creative choice. Just not one I’d choose to make” Hey ho, that way lies ARSE! (Sorry to hear about your narrow squeaks Nick. Glad they were misses tho and you’re getting through them. We do all  get through these things differently tho – sometimes people choose to forget/bury memories as a survival mechanism).

    OTOH I liked that the Doctor demonstrated he will not do what Bill (attempted) to do to him – he won’t kill her even for the sake of the greater good. (Trust Missy to come up with that idea (and no, I don’t trust her an inch)). He finds the other option. I also liked that Bill’s fantasy of her Mum (fueled by the Doctor’s photos) was strong enough to break the link and defeat the Monks (I’m with @cathannabel – definitely a bit of grit in the eyes here too). It was also strongly foreshadowed throughout this episode (and previous ones). From the Pilot on, Bill’s need to remember her mum is very strong; and (like Clara in Asylum of the Daleks) it’s these thoughts of her mum which sustain her enough to allow her to resist the brainwashing and not succumb to the Monks’ influence. The scenes at the beginning where she actually sees her mum – An example of  Chekhov’s Mum perhaps…??!! (Ooops, I should probably get my coat very soon!!!).

    @wolfweed – Wow! VERY interesting link (the actor’s previous appearance in DW). If that panned out as being in-show, I can hear a lot of discussion boards cracking and being “dusted” with outrage, quicker than if they were touched by a Monk’s creepy finger, LOL!

    @pedant – I spluttered coffee on my keyboard when the “we’ve got the band back together” line came up (and thanks for your original post, was great)

    ScaryB @scaryb

    12’s coming up a lot this series.

    12 Monks

    Section 12 (Oxygen) (and at least 1 more that I’ve forgotten).

    The go to “random” number for this series, an in-house wee joke, or something else?

    Nick @nick


    You are absolutely right than many stories (though not especially in this particular one) have shown that the events have had individual impacts.  I am nit picking. I agree. But to continually inflict mass death every year (almost) without any significant change in the fabric of society is really lazy, bad writing and poor conception. So why do it most seasons ? Why write stories with mass deaths and then hit the reset button, have memory loss or just ignore it ? Ratings ? I dont see that as a good excuse really.

    Yes its convenient for the show runner and writers to use the reset button. I am not suggesting that it would be appropriate in anyway for Who to present the sort of post armageddon world that you might expect to see. Nor do I want it to. I am not arguing that global death should be in the basic fabric of each story or even that the individual stories were bad (although some were imo). I am high lighting one tiny little bit, which for me, isnt treated appropriately.

    It’s exciting to write and end of the world story for all the obvious reasons. I understand this creative choice and I might do it myself. What I wouldn’t chose to do is ignore the consequences or chose a lazy solution like the reset button. If you’re going to write story where the world ends then at least acknowledge that something extraordinary has happened on a global scale. A world in morning on RTD’s 24 hour news channel perhaps. Nothing heavy.

    Remember nobody forced RTD or Moff to write an end of the world story set in the present day, let alone do it multiple times. It’s a sci-fi show. There are plenty of ways to do that very subject without setting it in the present day (The 50th special for example). Alternatively, you can make a smaller scale story, with a more confined stage, where the end of the world is a possible outcome, but the actions plays out on a small local stage.

    Finally, if the story you’re actually writing is about something inter-personal (in this case between Bill and the Doctor) then do you really need the canvas to be the end of the world at all ?

    Suppose, Bill really existed and sacrificed the world to save the Doctor from that explosion (the world was already safe after all). Later, after the Earth is saved properly, Bill learns that 100,000 people have died. How guilty would the real Bill feel ? How much is that to cope with ? What effect would it have on her ? I have not made up this scenario. It’s an almost certain end product of the story that was told. It’s not anything we’ll see on screen (how could we given the nature of the show,). Nor should we imo. But is it appropriate to write that story without that follow up ? I think this is a very valid criticism of this particular story concept. That I’m critical hasnt stopped me enjoying watching it. Overall I thought the three parts to be one of the better stories Who has produced. Plot holes and inconsistencies not withstanding.

    @wolfweed posited that forgetting, putting it behind you is a realistic coping method for trauma. Of course it is, but to pretend that it leaves you unchanged or you forget it is unreasonable. Accordingly, I find that conception to be an unreasonable basis for the end of this particular story as set out in that particular scene between Bill, the Doctor and the passing Student.

    Most of us cope, in our own way and like yourself the results of coping can be fantastic achievements.  I don’t think that any of the three of us disagree in the slightest. I’m talking about the story context though. The idea that putting it behind you, forgetting is a sufficient justification for writing that scene between Bill, Doctor and the Student. I’m not convinced on that as yet. The rest was overkill on my part, which was certainly a mistake of mine. I didn’t need to use real world examples of small traumas to make that point. For that I’m sorry and would edit that out if I was able.

    lisa @lisa

    Just gave the episode a 2nd re watch and I’m still  not completely happy with how they brought

    this episode to conclusion.  I guess after the first 2 episodes I anticipated something a bit  different.

    Some one wrote ‘underwhelming’ on the thread for describing the ending -yes.

    And I wanted more Missy !  Well,  that’s only because I  always think she’s brilliant.  I actually

    felt bad that she’s cooped up in the vault and when she made  demands for some “goodies”

    I thought well can you just give her a  TV maybe?   She can catch up on the Teletubbies?

    With all the available  channels  she’d find something.


    Missy @missy

    Watched last night.  Turned off the TV and thought: “Did I enjoy that one?”

    Answer: YES I did.

    I shall watch again  carefully, because there is something wrong with the scene in the vault with Missy and co. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I can’t quite work out what it is that bothers me? Other than that I liked it.

    Looking forward to reading all your posts tomorrow, I shall have more time.

    @tardigrade;  I think that of the three, this one was the weakest, my favourite was Extremis.


    ichabod @ichabod

    @serahni   I can’t shake this feeling that the Doctor’s promise to “guard this body for 1000 years” was somehow a reference to himself. I did wonder if he managed to use the device to kill Missy to somehow transfer something of himself to her, since she had just asked him to teach her to be good. Is this remorse a reaction to a foreign empathy that’s been grafted onto her personality?

    Oh, that is *delicious*!  Great bonkerses!  But I wonder whether we’re going to such deeper places this season.  I think not, on the whole.  This is Moffat demonstrating that by Hell, of COURSE he can do old style, lighter, zanier, plottier stories with a much thinner layer of characterological (is that a word?) base and relational complexity.  And he’s doing fine at it, which is delighting many fans, disgruntling others who somehow want both at the same time (preferably without Moffat being involved at all, of course, so written by — ah — angels, weeping or not).  And then there are the ones I can claim to be among, I suppose, who absolutely feasted on the sable glories of S8-9 but know that you can’t carry on long like that unless you go into the pits of proper Hell, which can’t happen with “family viewing + kids”.

    This season so far is pretty much just what I’d been expecting, and it’s having an interesting effect: it’s letting me slowly back off a bit, see the show much more — lightly? — and prepare to say a relaxed goodbye to CapDoc when that moment does come.

    Well, maybe; maybe not.

    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    Finally saw it. Well, my reflections on the episode (on the package deal of all the Monk episodes, actually) require a bit more thought, but let me say this before I forget it:

    Allowing anyone except SM to write Missy was a big mistake! With Moffat’s dialogue in a Moffat story, Missy is incandescent. Here, she was strangely low wattage, by comparison.

    ichabod @ichabod

    @cathanabel   [memories of mum]  they aren’t part of ‘history’, part of Bill’s official story even. They’re therefore safe from Monkish interference

    Yes, that makes sense — the “love” that’s there, that’s really operating behind the scenes, is the simple kindness of the Doctor in traveling back to take those pictures and then planting them for Bill to see.  Thinking about it, most of us have a touch time doing “love” for people not very close to us for formative times in our lives, and time and circumstance breaks down love as easily as you’d swat a fly.  But *kindness* is the virtue that keeps on giving, time after time, to all sorts of people, never mind how long you’ve known them or how well.  That spark is united by a word, a glance, a touch, a glimpse — it’s one-on-one, usually, and if you are a kind person, it’s pretty damned reliable.

    Maybe that’s part of why — @missy — I loved this episode: light, sweet, harsh, a mite cynical, and not heavy handed in the “explanations” department.   Not really my pot of tea, but I enjoy a cup or two.

    @nick   the Doctor’s monologue about the seconds ticking away to Death as support for the idea that PC’s Doctor is aware that his end is nearing and that it is having an effect on him.

    Yes.  He knows, but he’s not going to let it bring him down — he’ll just jump higher.  And I’d say he was using a bit of his long experience with The Master to throw out that “Dear Leader” propaganda.

    . . . the Doctor’s immediate physical reaction (the facial impression, staggering backwards) suggests something more than blanks were fired. In context the beginning of the regeneration worked. Is it possible to speculate that live ammunition and not blanks were actually fired ?

    Yes, IMO.  Can he just *start* a regeneration at will when he’s unhurt, and then stop it midway?!  I was thinking, he needed real injury to get the thing started — and then stopped it, how?

    More importantly, *why* did he need that energy at that moment?  Is he just playing around with regeneration because he knows it’s coming, and he’s defying it, or trying to see whether he can control it to some degree?  That bit left me very confused.  Also, why isn’t he explaining regeneration, afterward (like while sitting on the statue base talking with Bill).  You’d expect her to at least ask!

    tardigrade @tardigrade

    A couple of other points I didn’t noticed being raised yet:
    * Again the Doctor’s plan consisted largely of taking the pyramid by force, which isn’t a particularly inspired solution, and force has been an increasing tactic of late. If the Monks had simply closed the door, it’s not clear there was a backup plan- pile into the Tardis, I suppose.
    * I found the Doctor addressing the student at the end as “appalling hair girl” an interesting choice, particularly on what was a “bad hair day” for both Bill and Missy. I momentarily thought he was addressing Bill 🙂


    Can he just *start* a regeneration at will when he’s unhurt, and then stop it midway?

    He has shown he can summon regeneration energy to heal another in the past. This seemed to go further than that, though probably shy of actual regeneration. Conceivably it was just faked in some way anyway- he was planning for this after all. I didn’t think there was a suggestion he was actually injured – the soldiers were all smiles immediately after the reveal. In checking it’s not a test, there’s not really any point in carrying on after the trigger is pulled, so the Doctor’s acting and fake regeneration are part of a practical joke then.

    I do wonder sometimes if Moffart is being intentionally misleading in trailers

    I get the feeling that some trailers may be put together by marketers, rather than the main creative team. Having said that, I’d expect some misdirection- I generally avoid trailers though.


    This has been the oddest loose trilogy of stories and I’ve not really been sold on it

    Similar here- I found the connections between the parts here to be a bit too loose and in terms of characterisation there was too big a shift between the 2nd and 3rd parts- the Doctor and Bill were on very tense terms, then their next contact is joking, and the Monks go from very powerful to pretty ineffectual.

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