The Lie of the Land

Writer: Toby Whithouse
Director: Wayne Yip
Starring: Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, Matt Lucas, Michelle Gomez, Rosie Jane, Jamie Hall

(Slight Spoilers Ahead)

I’ll preface this by saying that I didn’t know how to feel about this trilogy as a whole. Extremis and The Pyramid at the End of the World set itself up to be the granddaddy of trilogies, something that you’d think could fly and be epic. However, the episodes, in my opinion, fall flat in execution, bringing up a number of issues within the writing that needed to be addressed. This week’s The Lie of the Land brings the trilogy together, holding back on the Moffat flair and doing the job that the other two episodes failed to do by comparison, tying this trilogy up in a nice solid bow.

The Lie of the Land follows Bill, separated from Nardole and the Doctor, six months after giving her consent to letting the Monks rule the planet in order to get the Doctor’s sight back. Bill knows there is something different about the Monks being there, she can tell that the timeline doesn’t quite match up to what she believes to be true. But, if she talks, she’ll be hauled off as Memory Criminal, a person who dares to speak out with the truth about the Monks. The Doctor has only been seen during the strange broadcasts that circulate throughout and Nardole is nowhere to be seen. However, when the team is back together, after some serious moments that will knock your socks off (that I promise I won’t spoil for you) they have to figure out how to stop the Monks before they rewrite history for good.

The Lie of the Land carries some important themes that are significant to all of Doctor Who, but wonderfully written here for this trilogy to wrap itself up. The use of free will stays heavily important, going back to the previous episode where Bill used her free will to save the Doctor while he forbids it. He brings this back up to her in their explosive argument when it seems he has turned against history and have sided with the Monks. The Doctor’s whole thing is allowing free will to run wild even though it may bring on some consequences, good or bad. Bill knows this, saying, “You believe in free will. Your whole thing is… You made me write a 3,000 word essay on free will.” Bill witnessing him become the centerpiece of the propaganda fake news for the Monks isn’t what she signed up for as a companion and she won’t allow it to happen. That scene, not only brilliant in it’s acting by Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackie, is a brilliant piece of writing for a companion and Doctor. We’re looking through Bill’s eyes in this episode, but you can place any companion in that room with him and it shares the same message. The Doctor, ever the teacher, teaches her that she shouldn’t be using her free will so loosely, that there are consequences to her actions, but Bill doesn’t care. She used her free will to save someone that’s important to her. This ties into something much more beautiful about the episode and that is Bill Potts herself.

Bill Potts as the center of this story is one of the best choices to make. Since she kicked off the chain of events in The Pyramid at the End of the World after giving her consent to the Monks, it’s right to follow her journey in getting things back in order. Bill’s narration throughout the episode, allows you to remain hopeful for the Tardis Team. It allows you to hear her thoughts and feelings to the one person that she loves more than anything, her mum. Bill contains so much inside of her. The ability to understand and share what others are feeling is a heavy burden, but Bill wears it well, taking the full responsibility and weight of the world, much like the Doctor does, but carries it in her own way. At the end of the episode, Bill prepares to let the Monks take over what’s left of her mind in order to save the world. While we think it isn’t working, an image starts to invade and that image for Bill is her mum. The memory that Bill creates of her voice, smile and presence is what helps Bill control what the Monks can’t do. They can’t touch that memory of love and empathy.

Her empathy is the best part of her character and I hope they build upon it in future episodes. She’s shaping into one of the most relatable companions on Doctor Who because of her complete and unselfish heart. Her empathy allows her to place herself before all else and disobey the Doctor, for his good and for the good of the world. Which a lot of people would see as a bad thing, I’d say it’s rather good, the best even. I’ve never seen a companion with so much weight of understanding and feeling towards anyone and everything. A companion that’s so willing to take the final step when they’re crossed with danger, no matter how scared they are, but has nothing left to lose. It’s such a refreshing pace in Doctor Who with Bill on board. She goes into every episode and dominates it.  

Watch It!
I know I’ve gushed about Bill Potts throughout most of this review, but it’s for a great reason. Toby Whithouse really does a great job writing the depths of her empathy, while giving us an episode of the trilogy we truly deserved. Pearl and Peter’s chemistry as the Doctor and Companion is always worth the watch. They know each other so well by now and know how to play off each other that every scene together is just something remarkable. Wayne Yip’s direction for this episode compliments the power of Whithouse’s script, leaving you wanting more of the beauty of the slow motion shots and Fake News Headquarters. The Lie of the Land brings you fake news, free will, abuse of power, but it gives you empathy and love to counterbalance. It’s just an overall excellent episode to end a lackluster three parter.

Insha Fitzpatrick
co-editor in chief of dis/member & rogues portal. hufflepuff. frmly of talks on film runners. craves horror films. loves true crime. tries her best.

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