By The Book
♦Our man in Los Angeles, Robert Cave, takes a look at the sixth episode of Doctor Who Series 10, on last Saturday on BBC1 in the UK…
Director: Daniel Neittham
Writer: Steven Moffat
Stars: Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, Matt Lucas
And so we open what is billed as a three-part story with some revelations of sorts: the return of Michelle Gomez as The Master/Missy. She’s been sentenced to death since we last saw her, although for which of her doubtlessly countless crimes we don’t yet know.
We also learn that the Doctor was supposed to carry out the execution but was stopped by Nardole, who invoking the memory of River Song to change the Doctor’s mind to ensure that while Missy will still be imprisoned for 1,000 years, she will still be alive at the end of her period of incarceration. Compared to the millennia the Doctor spent in the Confession Dial last season, this seems like very small beer by comparison.
Later in the episode it is once again further implied that Missy is the inhabitant of the vault in the basement of the university the Doctor is now lecturing at, but this still seems a little too obvious and I now strongly suspect that whatever is in the really lurking in there, it probably won’t be Missy.
Then we get to the meat of the show: there is a new threat on its way to the Earth in the form of some desiccated-looking monks in red robes. They look kind of like the High Priestess of the Pyroviles from “The Fires of Pompeii”, Peter Capaldi’s first pre-Doctor appearance on the show, but as no-one mentions it, the similarity is probably coincidental.
However, unlike most of the other monsters who have failed in their attempts at invading Earth in the past, the monks have been practicing on a high-quality simulation of the planet that replicates a number of the planet’s key defences, including the Doctor and his companions.
While our heroes eventually discover their Matrix-like existence within the simulation, they are unable really fight back against the Monks themselves. The best the Doctor manages is to email what he has learned to his real-world self, hopefully leaving himself forewarned and fore-armed in advance of the Monks’ coming attack.
Back in the days of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the episodes I found the least engaging were the ones that took place on the holodeck. Compared to the tales of space and the final frontier that were promised each week in the show’s title sequence, holodeck stories felt less substantial, less consequential and more overtly fictional.
Consequently, although there was actually quite a lot of set up and revelation in this episode, and I really like the idea of an adversary that has really put a lot more effort into the planning and preparation of their invasion, it still didn’t quite click for me.
Maybe I will feel differently in a week or two, when I will have seen the rest of the storyline, but I already have a sneaking suspicion that the Monks invasion may prove more successful, or at least more consequential than all those we have seen thus far on the show.