Doctor Who: What we’re thinking about after “The Pyramid at the End of the World”


The middle episode in Doctor Who’s three-part “Monks Trilogy” left us with a lot of questions about where we go from here. Here’s what we’re thinking about after “The Pyramid at the End of the World”.

Doctor Who is in the middle of its first three-part story in many years and thus far, the results are decidedly mixed. The first installment, titled “Extremis,” introduced new villains the Monks and featured a compellingly creepy premise. However, the episode also basically erased itself at the end, undoing much of what made it so interesting to begin with. The second, titled “The Pyramid at the End of the World,” definitely suffered from some middle episode syndrome. As the second segment in a three-part story, it dragged in places, and left us with a lot more questions than answers. But now, it’s time for the grand finale of the Monks’ story, where theoretically, things should finally get exciting.

Maybe? Fingers crossed. There is certainly a lot to work with, and many pieces of the story that need still explanation.

Here are a few of the things we’re thinking about in the wake of “The Pyramid at the End of the World”.

What do the Monks even want?

Despite being two episodes in to Doctor Who’s three-part “Monks Trilogy” story, we still know almost nothing what’s actually going on. Not for nothing, but we asked this question last week too, and seem no closer to any sort of answer.

Sure, the Monks invaded. Okay. What for? They wanted to do it so badly that they built an extremely involved computer simulation that created fake Earths so that they could practice their methods. Repeatedly. That indicates a certain (extreme) level of commitment and dedication to this plan, and we still have no idea why. Do they just love conquering other species? Do they need a new home world? Are humans important to the Monks in some way? What?

Usually by this point in a story, we have some idea of what the villain’s goal is. Or, barring that, at least a sense of what they want, or the things that drive them. Even if those reasons end up being something kind of lame like a revenge plot against the Doctor or a galactic accident. As it stands, it feels especially odd that this story is ostensibly a trilogy entering its final chapter. But we know little more about the Monks now than we did when we started.

And why did the Monks need the human race to not only surrender their planet willingly, but surrender it with a particular mindset? Sure, world-conquering villains tend to be fairly ego-driven, but the Monks’ obsession with having the humans love rather than fear them is weird. What does that sort of conquest give them? Would they have just let the human race be destroyed by weaponized bacteria if no one had managed to consent the “right” way? After all, most of those humans were afraid, or attempting to strategize a way for everyone to survive. It’s pure dumb luck they ended up with a blind Doctor, and a companion motivated to do anything for love of him. That’s real specific, and something I doubt their simulations could have ever predicted.

What happened to the Doctor and Bill?

To save the Doctor’s sight – and, subsequently, his life – Bill struck a deal with the Monks. She basically traded the Earth for Twelve, consenting to the surrender of humanity in exchange for some alien…magic, or something. (Don’t ask. No one’s entirely sure how the Monks managed it. It’s not like exotic healing abilities were a skill they demonstrated up until this point.) And so now the Monks have Earth. For what purpose, we don’t know. What do they get out of this? Devotion, it looks like. There are suddenly statues of them everywhere, and a populace that can’t seem to remember a time before they existed. As well as a Bill who suddenly seems a lot like Martha Jones in Season 3’s “The Last of the Time Lords”.

If the trailer for next week is anything to go by, the Monks seem to somehow create a sort of dystopian future where they’ve always existed. It seems unlikely that they rewrote the history of humanity in the six months between episodes. So that probably means its some kind of mind control. (Or maybe everyone’s living in another “Extremis”-style simulation. It’s certainly possible.) The Doctor, it would appear, has morphed into some sort of puppet for the monsters, claiming at one point that he’s “joined” their cause and doing regular promotional broadcasts for them. This is sort of exciting. Especially since it looks as though it will be up to Bill to save the day on her own. But how did they end up here – and why does it appear that Bill is the only one who realizes that the Monks’ version of Earth is a lie?

And how does Missy fit in?

 Another twist revealed in the trailer for “The Lie of the Land”? Whatever’s going on, Missy’s somehow involved. Is she on the Doctor’s side? Or is this another fakeout? (The Missy in “Extremis” was only in a flashback, after all.) Considering Missy is still – or at least ought to be – the one thing in the world the Monks don’t know about, since she was locked in the quantum fold chamber when they built their reality simulation. So she does make sense as a potential tool for the good guys. And what better way for Missy to prove she’s working on her self-improvement than helping to save the world?

In other thoughts, does Missy’s appearance in this episode indicate that she might not show up in both halves of the season finale two-parter? We know that Gomez will depart the show after Season 10 wraps up. And we also know that she’s somehow involved with former Master John Simm’s return at the end of the season. But initial reports suggested that she was only part of three episodes this year, which may indicateme that she won’t be part of both halves of the finale. As with so many things involving Missy, it all sees like quite a mystery. Hopefully, it’ll at least be a fun one to solve.

Next: Doctor Who review: “The Pyramid at the End of the World”

Doctor Who season 10 continues Saturday, June 3 on BBC One and BBC America.