Synopsis: Six months after Earth has been invaded Bill is living alone, an isolated figure surviving in occupied Britain. The Doctor is imprisoned and appears to be on the side of the enemy, flooding the airwaves with fake news. Bill and Nardole must embark on a deadly mission to rescue the Time Lord and lead the resistance against the new regime, whatever the cost…
Review: This episode starts with an alternate history of Earth narrated by the Doctor in which the Monks are responsible for all of humanity’s achievements. We then see Bill and Nardole meet and devise a plan to find the Doctor, which involves sneaking onto a ship. When Bill finds the Doctor she is horrified to find that he is in league with the Monks and she shoots him. The Doctor seems to regenerate but he reveals that he was just testing Bill. Together the time travellers visit Missy and they discover that to defeat the Monks Bill must die, as her consent formed the psychic link the Monks needed to brainwash mankind. The Doctor comes up with another plan and he, his companions and a team of soldiers storm the main transmitter and attempt to overthrow the Monks. After a failed attempt by the Doctor to reverse the Monks’ broadcast Bill draws on her memories of her mum to overcome the false history they implanted. The people of Earth rise up against the alien threat and the Monks leave the planet.
This was a phenomenal episode. Both Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackie show their outstanding acting ability in every scene they are in. The scene that gripped me most was when Bill confronted the Doctor on the ship. Peter Capaldi performs brilliantly as a turncoat Time Lord and Bill’s horror and disbelief at the man she thought she knew betraying her and the rest of the world was stupendously conveyed by Pearl Mackie. Bill’s scenes with her mum were reminiscent of Alice Obiefune from the Titan Comics 11th Doctor stories and her confrontation with 12 on the ship was similar to Alice’s meeting with 11 when he became the Chief Executive.
This episode felt similar to the Master 3 parter from series 3. Bill and Nardole sneaking onto the ship put me in mind of when Martha walked the Earth during the year that never was. The music throughout this episode was excellent, from the Matrix like score when the soldiers do battle with the Monks to the Donna-esque theme when the Doctor reveals that he is not really on the Monks’ side. We also see a bit more of Missy this episode and learn that she has adventures of her own, which is intriguing. Bill’s reaction to Missy was great and at the end of the episode the Doctor’s oldest friend seemed to be repenting her evil deeds. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
The shots used in this episode were superb, with a very gritty and washed out reality presented in contrast to the safe world shown in the Doctor’s broadcasts. Very, very touching was the use of Bill’s memories of her mum to override the Monks’ programming at the episode’s climax and the Doctor’s impotent anger at the prospect of Bill dying was well performed by Peter Capaldi. It was incredible to see the Doctor almost regenerate in this episode and there was a touching moment at the end when he said “In amongst 7 billion people there’s one like you” to Bill. It must be said that Stewart Wright performed well as a brainwashed soldier who threatens the Doctor as they storm the transmitter.
Overall, a phenomenal episode and one that I would recommend to those new to Doctor Who.
- Incidental Music9.5