elisi: (12 and Bill)
[personal profile] elisi
Since Promethia wrote a fabulous post mining all the imagery, I am just sharing a few quick notes.

First of all a few bullet points:

- Bill will NEVER have a straight-forward date. Bless her.

- I never get tired of the Doctor poncing about on his private plane.

- Erica is just lovely. I'll be very cross if they kill her.

- The army captains being all Peace & Love and that then solving nothing? I LOL'd.

- The Doctor saying: 'Go on do a show of force!' was a very nice touch. He's still got that steel, and it’s good to be reminded that he has that warrior side, however much he doesn’t usually like to show it. (Also: Not a pacifist.)

- Ditto him being all ‘Not my first dead planet’. He has seen such destruction, and lived with having destroyed his own people for 400 years, it would be unreasonable for him to act shocked here.

OK, so like ¾ of this is Promethia’s. Been busy with Class (Episode 7 specifically). Hurrah for team work! (Especially when you can steal their work…)

The Doctor

One thing I really like about this episode is the undisputed assumption (on all sides) that the Doctor belongs to this world. I don't think there's another big alien invasion story that does quite the same thing: the Doctor is always around, always going to protect the earth, but I feel like always before there's been this acknowledgment that he's an interloper. He's swanned in again, but you can't assume he's going to stay. Heck, Kate Steward kidnapped him on the assumption that he would be unreliable. And, granted, he was kidnapped again here, but it's different somehow.

It might be the Monks, frankly. They never mention that he's an alien. There's no questioning of why he's there or what gives him the authority to represent earth (which I was totally waiting for for much of the episode). To them he's just the most powerful earthling.

Of course the Monks know the whole history of the Doctor on earth, having simulated it. But you can easily, easily see in another era them using the knowledge to get under his skin, Davros-style: what are you doing here, Doctor? What makes you think you have the right to speak for these people? etc, etc. But no. They've simulated the entire history of the earth and of course the Doctor belongs to the planet. It's a non-issue.

Some people have complained that Bill didn’t catch on that the Doctor was blind, but she literally asks Nardole what’s wrong. I’m not sure what more they want? They also complain that the Doctor doesn’t confess until the last minute, but he actually confesses or prepares to confess his blindness to Bill four separate times (oh, and look at that: confession! Definitely something he needs.).

The first time it's in the simulation and he doesn't actually say anything, just takes off his glasses, but I presume that was the intention. And I was really pleased when that scene started that he was realizing so quickly that the time for vanity was over. Then, of course, we find out none of it's real and he's basically figured out that it doesn't matter anymore. Still, a beautiful scene.

Then in this episode I was once again please/surprised that he seemed to be ready to tell her so soon and with so little pretext ('Nardole sent you to speak to me, didn't he?') And he admits that he's scared to tell her and being silly before he gets interrupted by the pyramid spewing tractor beams. Then he decides to tell her before the generals run off to sell the planet because, ok, things are getting a bit dire and he needs to tell her 'the truth' (Without hope, without witness, without reward? Oh! I bet we end up with Bill/Twelve parallels before this is over. Will Twelve saving Missy end up being as disastrous as Bill saving Twelve? Well, that's a rhetorical question, of course it will. His intention was pure, but he is being an idiot.) And he's interrupted by a brilliant idea (TM).

And then, finally, he finally has to tell her… ‘in extremis’, literally.


There is a nice parallel between the Doctor using that Time Lord machine to trade some unknown thing from his future to get his sight back for a few minutes with Bill trading the whole human race (not knowing what this means) to give him his sight back in this episode.

But more than that, this was The Wedding of River Song ALL OVER. The Doctor had to die or the world would go to pot. River/Bill refused, world went to pot. Except he seems a bit more doomed here? Could he regenerate after being blown up?

Drilling into it a little deeper, then *why* did Bill do what she did? Save the Doctor but doom the world?

Well it helps to consider what the Doctor means to her.

Bill is an orphan, who never even knew her mum, who has a foster mother so oblivious that she hasn't even noticed Bill is gay, and whose life was on a road to nowhere, serving chips.

And then the Doctor comes along, and first of all he picks her out of the crowd as someone interesting and smart enough to tutor, meaning that she can study the way she probably always dreamed. And then it turns out he's an alien and can show her all of time and space and have amazing adventures, but more than that he *cares*. He is nosy and overly helpful (see Knock Knocl) in the way of family, and not only does he even tell her to go get the girl she thinks is out of her league, but he sacrifices his eyesight for her in Oxygen.

How can you not only love that – having never had it before – but moreover surely it would make you desperate to keep it at any cost? Bill is quite passive, compared to companions past. Look at how she pleads to keep her memories, and then eventually just capitulates, resigned. She is not used to being allowed nice things.

Generally my heart just breaks. She is young, and suddenly the one – the only - person who really sees her, is about to be ripped away from her.

Like River, she can’t deal with it, and decides to save him whatever way she can. No matter the price… (in a pyramid. Isn’t it wonderful?)

The Monks/story structure

ETA: The Monks are a mirror hall of Time Lords traits. They have red robes, they run insanely powerful computer programmes that can, essentially, predict the future. Their spaceship has something like a chameleon circuit. And, judging from next week, they can manipulate time and space. We also know they can change form. So that is... interesting.

We don’t often get three-parters. And especially not ones that start out as meta as these three. Here is how it all hangs together:

Ep 6: Here is a concept
Ep 7: Now let's put it into action (the whole world in extremis)
Ep 8: The fallout

Re. being in extremis... In the game, people killed themselves to leave the game because it wasn't real. Now people are prepared to give up their free will to stay alive, because it's real.

However, the episodes could also be seen like nested layers? A simulation in the 'real world' in an AU. Slightly different than dreams within dreams, but similar structure. And someone on Tumblr pointed out that Extremis and this episode actually work similarly in that both involve two parallel stories, seemingly unrelated, that we're jumping between and a lot of the tension of the episode is in waiting to see how these disparate strands come together. I wonder if the third episode will do the same?

And if the trilogy is a bit like the same thing in macro: three very different-seeming episodes (that could technically all be happening in parallel even if we're seeing them in sequence) that then come together? That would be brilliant. Bet you the next episode starts with Bill on a date with Penny. Bonus points if somehow the Monks have to be defeated in all three levels of reality at once (technically we never saw what happened to simulation!Doctor because our information cuts out when he hits send.)

Also thinking about how the true danger of being in a simulation is that someone else controlling your reality means that they are able to take away your free will--whether you run on atoms or bits is of no consequence . . . unless someone else is controlling the bits. The next time trailer suggests that the Monks don't just move in and establish a new world government or something: somehow they have always been here. How do they do that? It's like somehow reality is a simulation as well and they're able to throw a switch and suddenly things have always been this way.

All this also made me think of Fascism arrives as your friend - bit of a long shot you may think, but considering how the next episode looks like 1984, maybe not. Remember (spoiler alert!) Winston ends up loving Big Brother…

The ‘love’ thing is important too. It sounds as if the Monks require people to love them, but it turns out that people’s *motives” have to be pure (based on love). If you think this is silly, please remember that Moffat Who isn’t sci-fi proper, it’s a fairy tale. And this fits perfectly. Much like the characters in Once Upon A Time might try ‘Love’s True Kiss’ to solve a problem, thus it’s nicely logical for the Monks to require ‘a pure heart’ upon which to build the empire…

So bring on 1984 – I mean ‘The Lie of the Land’! Especially since it looks like it’s drawing on The Year That Never Was and TwoRS. :D

ETA: 1) From Tumblr: 'The Monks’ offer, give us your consent (your love/trust) and the aliens will save the world (their world, now), is not… is not a million miles from what the Doctor does, either.'

2) Via [personal profile] enevarim: From Phil Sandifer's interview with Peter Harness about The Pyramid at the End of the World: Not only was the in-error chemical that nearly destroyed the world actually developed in the real world and only one clever scientist away from being released and destroying all plant life on the planet (there was a release plan for it and everything, if not an automatic venting system on a thirty-minute timer), but the original script featured not the three military leaders but (fairly obvious stand-ins for) Donald Trump, Jeremy Corbyn, and Kim Jong Un.

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