elisi's humble abode
Have courage and be kind.
10 June 2017 02:36 am (UTC)
Watched it a second time. Agree there are some very neat ideas in there, and I liked it better the second time than I did the first. And, primed by having read your post, I saw many more parallels to other older stories – the Monks pretending to have been there from the beginning the way the Silence had been. (Unless the Silence were lying too. It seems a long break from a war to go back to the beginning of human history and take over the race that would eventually give rise to the church that would create you, when arguably all they needed to do is keep out of sight and raise River Song to be a weapon in the mid-twentieth century. So maybe when they said they’d been there since the wheel and the fire they were lying just like the Monks are. Except that River’s scanner showed the tunnels being all over the planet, and having been there for hundreds of years, so maybe not.) But the scene of people raising their fists against a remaining Monk just before the spaceship left to Twelve’s intoned “What oppressors always do when they realise who's really in power. They run.” felt like a very efficient callback to Eleventy getting rid of the Silence in The Day of the Moon.
You keep reminding me not to ask “why?” and I keep failing to do that when stories don’t sufficiently distract me from it. We know from Doctor Mysterio that Nardole can pilot the TARDIS to pick up the Doctor, so the whole bit with the ship was unnecessary – Nardole could have taken Bill to the TARDIS (from which he got the tracking device) and they could have materialized the TARDIS around the Doctor, rescuing him that way. Bonus points if taking Bill into the TARDIS actually also breaks the Monks’ signal and stops the false memories being transmitted. Or if the Doctor can summon up regeneration energy to fake a regeneration, he could have healed his eyes long ago.
But I don’t like the Malcolm testing Macduff scene in Macbeth either, and even Macduff doesn’t seem terribly impressed with it when Malcolm explains that it was all a trick to see if he could trust him (“Such welcome and unwelcome things at once 'Tis hard to reconcile”), so, fair enough: maybe for that whole confrontation the answer to “why” can be “because”. But sometimes it’s really distracting. The humans on the supply ship are all in on the plot, so they can act in contrived ways and laugh about it later. Why did the Monk just stare at Nardole and Bill and then let the rescue continue to take place? The Monk isn’t part of the plot. It feels like Whithouse wanted a heightening of dramatic tension for a moment, and wasn’t thinking about whether it made sense or not. Also, if the Monks can simulate human history to the point of knowing when reading glasses breaking and a hangover make it most likely that the world can be ended, why can’t they also predict the plot that’s going to stop them? It feels like the plot needs them to be particularly good at seeing how time is going to work at some moments, and particularly blind to it in others. (And sure, it has to be like that because otherwise the Doctor can’t win, and I’m asking “why” again which you keep reminding me I shouldn’t do, but... it would help me if they lampshaded it, somehow. Because we saw in Extremis that the Doctor was part of the simulations that they ran, so they would have seen what he does and how he works. So do they just chalk “being booted off the planet by the Doctor like all the others” up to experience? Again, it feels like they need to be particularly not-rubbish right up until the moment the plot needs them to be rubbish.)
All that said, I love the idea of the Monks being a mirror of a problematic aspect of the Doctor, just as you once suggested
the Weeping Angels were
– it feels very Moffat-era. And I suppose my previous collection of things that don’t fit well together could just be more evidence for Promethia’s suggestion that this is some sort of postmodern pastiche. But I want at the end of it all to have a feeling for why it all happened the way it did. I suppose one could argue that we won’t know we’re at the end of it until the end of the season (the Silence came back, after all), so... maybe it’s premature to expect sense at this point and we’ll have to rewatch these episodes in the context of the entire series. Maybe The Lie of the Land was the Monks learning first-hand the way the Doctor works just as Pyramid was the Doctor learning first-hand the way the Monks work, and the Doctor thinks he has won and they have fled but it will turn out that’s not really what happened. Hmm. That’s deeply disturbing, not least because we might be three/four weeks away from knowing how this story “really” ended.
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