"The Pyramid at the End of the World” was co-written by Steven Moffat and Peter Harness and directed by Daniel Nettheim - Saturday, May 27.
Spoilers ahead for "The Pyramid at the End of the World" because hey ... it's a TV Recap.
The Short Version: When a 5,000-year-old pyramid appears overnight between three opposing armies, the President of the Earth, aka the Doctor, is called to help. Meanwhile, every clock in the world becomes a Doomsday Clock counting down to the destruction of the human race. The Doctor quickly learns that the Monks are behind the events and that those Monks have an offer for the people of Earth. They tell the Doctor and the leaders of the three armies that events have begun that will end all life on the planet, but that they can stop that from happening if they give their consent for the Monks to help and they submit to the Monk's dominion over the human race. Meanwhile, in a lab two scientists are about to accidentally unleash something terrible on the world.
The Good: Bill's dating woes, the Monks are back, and the Doctor's still blind
In the second episode of "The Monks Trilogy," those computer simulating corpse-like Monks are back, and they have a plot in place to take over the Earth.
The episode opens with clips from last week mixed in with Bill's date with Penny. Bill's trying to explain that her tutor is "an alien ... a space one. A space alien" who's been dealing with "this computer simulation dream thing" when the Secretary General and his UN forces burst into her flat. First the Pope and now the Secretary General? Bill's so never getting another chance with Penny if she doesn't stop taking her home.
Penny takes an Uber home while Bill, Nardole and the Doctor are whisked away to Turmezistan, where a 5,000-year-old pyramid has suddenly appeared between three opposing armed forces, the Chinese, the Russians and the Americans. The Doctor, who's still blind and not admitting it, walks up to the pyramid with the help of his sonic sunglasses and Nardole and is greeted by the red Monk. The Monk tells him, "We will be invited. We will take this world. We will ruin its people but only when we are asked."
The Monks appeared in last week's episode, "Extremis." They are creatures who've run endless computer simulations trying to figure out the perfect time to step in to take over the Earth. In "Extremis," during a computer simulation a shadow Doctor was able to warn the real Doctor about the Monks. Unfortunately for the real Doctor and the real human race, the Monks appear to have figured out that now is the perfect time in history to make their move.
Meanwhile, in a lab at Agrofuel Research Operations in Yorkshire, scientists Erica and Douglas are doing experiments on plants. Unfortunately, Erica's glasses just broke that morning and Douglas is hung over. Douglas is about to make a very, very bad mistake.
Back at the pyramid site, every clock on Earth suddenly goes off and reads 11:57, or three minutes to midnight just like the Doomsday Clock. The Doctor, who's not about to let the Monks get their evil claws into humanity, unites the commanders of the three armies. However, that doesn't stop the count down. Next he agrees that the armies should attack and they do. But the Monks easily stop it.
With their simulation machine, the Monks offer to show the Doctor's group what the world will look like in a year if they are not invited to save the world at a cost. What they see is a world with no life at all. Everything has died.
The Secretary General freaks and consents, asking the Monks to save the world. But the Monks decide that his desire for their help and his consent isn't good enough and he's killed. "We must be wanted. We must be loved. To rule through fear is inefficient," says the Monk.
At the UN Base in Turmezistan, the Doctor is determined to figure out what's about to kill the Earth and stop it before humanity accepts the Monk's help at the cost of enslaving themselves. While the three commanders are ready to surrender, the Doctor and Nardole try to narrow down what could possibly kill all life on Earth. The Doctor figures out it must be something bacterial.
Meanwhile, back at the lab, Douglas has accidentally created a super-bacterium and he dies leaving Erica in a mess. As the commanders and Bill go to give their consent to the Monks, the Doctor and Nardole locate the lab and arrive in the TARDIS to save the day. Nardole is exposed to the bacteria, and although he's not human, the Doctor quips that he's human enough. "I got your lungs cheap." He's sent back to the TARDIS while the Doctor tries to help Erica stop the Earth-killing bacteria from being vented into the atmosphere through the building's automatic venting process.
The commanders face the Monks, who quickly decide that their consent isn't given out of "love" and they are killed. The Monks turn to Bill and offer her the same deal because she speaks for the Doctor. As the Doomsday Clock begins to move backward, the Monks get distracted and Bill tries to make her way out of the pyramid.
The Doctor figures a good fiery explosion should do the trick. Erica goes to safety as the Doctor MacGyver's an explosive devise. Only one problem: he can't put the code into the door to get out because of his blindness and he's about to be fried with the lab. On the phone with the Doctor, Bill finally learns that the Doctor is still blind. She makes an executive decision and goes back to the Monks to give her consent: save the Doctor's eyesight so he can save himself and they can have the world. The Monks determine that she is giving her consent out of love and the Doctor's sight returns just in time to escape the lab.
It's an exciting episode and the Monks appear to be a worthy new Big Bad for the Doctor. It's also great to see the least powerful person in the room, Bill, become the most powerful person on Earth who can give up humanity's future destiny to save the Doctor. I like Bill more all the time and I believed her in that moment.
The Bad: The world's leaders, convenient computering, and that vent
Once again the Doctor has been deemed the President of Earth and he quickly gets the commanders of the three armies to join forces against the Monks. Except are all acting on their own. Don't they have phones to call their leaders? And why can't President Doctor just order them not to make a deal with the Monks? Why do they believe the Monks? Even the Monks admit they are showing them a computer simulation. It could be a lie. It could be wrong. They could be in another computer simulation and they could be shadow people. Why can't they give the Doctor some time to work out the problem when he's narrowing down the lab location? Haven't they been around all the other times he's saved the world?
The episode has a very quick pace and it almost makes you skip the convenient plot holes. The Doctor uses his magic sonic screwdriver to make all the super secret databases public so they can be searched on Google so the lab with a problem can be found. Okay. You've got to give the Doctor a free one now and then. But then Nardole hacks into all the video feeds of 400+ labs and shuts them down so the Monks, who are watching, will turn on the one they care about ... so the Doctor and Nardole find out which lab is about to cause Armageddon. Again, okay. Maybe it works if you don't think about it too hard. Still it feels a little like the writers got tired and wrote over this section.
Just as the Doctor and Nardole seem to have magic powers regarding computers, the Monks appear to have their own magic powers. They force-field an airplane and a sub that's attacking their pyramid, and they magically cure the Doctor's eyesight in moments. They can figure out what's in someone's heart and kill them with a touch. What are these all-powerful creatures? Why do they want the Earth?
And finally there's the lab building vent which is going to vent the life-killing super-bacterium into the world and no one has an off button? It's a lab that deals with dangerous things and the lab is designed to vent bad things out into the atmosphere? Really?
By it's nature, this is the second part of a three-part serial about the evil Monks, so there's lots of questions. Yes, the Doctor's blindness appears to be gone. But what does Bill's consent really mean to the Monks? What are the Monk's evil plans for humanity? Will the Doctor be able to save the world from the Monks? Will Bill be wracked with guilt over trading the Doctor for whatever the human races is about to face?
Will Nardole recover? Will the Doctor take Erica out on a date? Will Bill and Penny ever make it to Bill's bedroom without someone popping up to interrupt? And will Missy finally make it out of that vault? And that leads to all those vault questions regarding the Doctor breaking his oath.
Lines of the Night:
"We will be invited. We will take this world. We will ruin its people, but only when we're asked." - Red Monk
"The human race is about to end. The chain of events is already in motion. Life on Earth will cease by humanity's own hand." - Red Monk
"Say hi to each other. Now we've been having a bit of a chat. The thing is World War III. What do you think? Basically, we're against it." - The Doctor to the Russian Commander about the Commanders agreeing not to fight each other
Best Line of the Night:
"Enjoy your sight, Doctor. Now you'll see our world." - Red Monk
Here's the trailer for next week's episode, "The Lie of the Land," written by Toby Whithouse: