Doctor Who: Spoiler free preview for The Lie of the Land
The Lie of the Land, particularly in its first half, is going to share a lot of comparison with series three finale The last of the Time Lords. It might also share comparisons with season six opener The Impossible Astronaut and Day of the Moon. You might wonder as a result, if Doctor Who is running out of ideas.
However, what The Lie of the Land does is take some of the best bits from both episodes to tell a really great story. Personally, this Saturday's episode was the best of the 'monks trilogy'. It puts Bill through a similar journey to Martha (which was always the best part of The last of the Time Lords for me) and the monks' influence on Earth 'post invasion' feels like a fitting tribute to the Silence with its own twist. What I continued to enjoy about this episode, like Extremis and The Pyramid at the end of the World before it, is that it doesn't play out the standard alien invasion and resistance formula. It's much cleverer than that and it delivers one or two surprises...none of which I will spoil here.
Peal Mackie shone in the first five episodes, taking perhaps a bit of a back step until her choice at the end of last Saturday's episode. Here she shines better than ever before and there is one scene between her and the Doctor that gave me goose bumps. Visually and emotionally, she shares some of the same themes of Martha's battle against the Master from season three and certainly rises to the occasion, getting to play a more subdued but just as compelling version of the character we have quickly come to love.
Like Extremis, there's very little I can actually say here for fear of spoiling the surprises to come. The Lie of the Land could have worked as the series 10 finale, which makes me wonder just what Steven Moffat has in store for us in a few weeks. Toby Whitehouse doesn't quite top his excellent ghost under the lake two-parter from series nine, but this is certainly one of his best. The monks are a major threat and the stakes for Earth are higher than ever, but what is most compelling about this episode are the character moments. This episode of chock full of them and they're all bloody marvellous.
If you didn't like the previous two episodes, The Lie of the Land probably won't change your mind. But it is also different again, making them an interconnected set of stories rather than a standard three-part tale. If nothing else, this will make you love Bill even more...I just wish we had more than four episodes and (I assume) the Christmas special before her time together with the Twelfth Doctor is over.