The conclusion to the Monk Trilogy is our first episode this week. Written by Toby Whithouse, the episode first aired on 3 June, 2017.
The Monks have changed history, having assumed control of Earth when power of consent was given by Bill (Pearl Mackie) at the conclusion of last week’s episode, when she had them restore the Doctor’s (Capaldi) sight and save him from dying.
Only the Doctor and Bill know the truth, the Monks have only been on the planet for a few months, not the entire length of human civilisation as they would have us believe through transmissions – literal fake news.
Can Bill make the rest of the world see the truth, and will the Doctor help or hinder her when she finds him again.
The Monks control every facet of human society, and the Doctor seems to be working with them, transmitting supportive broadcasts, even while Bill takes solace from conversations with the imagined version of her mother (Emma Handy) and the help of Nardole (Matt Lucas).
The pair hunt down the Doctor, and the truth begins to out, after a very tense confrontation that brings loyalties and trust into question, not to mention how far Bill is willing to go to save the world. But, for all of that, the Time Lord has a plan.
Things are so dire, that the Doctor has to open the Vault, and get help from the person, the Time Lady, contained with… Missy (Michelle Gomez). And that leads to some fantastic work between Capaldi and Gomez; the two of them are so great together.
Alongside Extremis, this episode is one of my faves, I love the climax, the way it plays out, and Bill’s saving the world.
Empress of Mars was written by Mark Gatiss and debuted on 10 June, 2017.
The Doctor, Bill and Nardole are off to Mars, when NASA discovers a message on the Red Planet’s surface – God Save The Queen. On arrival they find a group of Victorian era soldiers locked in mortal combat with the denizens of the planet, the Ice Warriors.
The episode portrays British colonialism, and their attempt to remake Mars in their own face, but trouble is roused when a Ice Queen, the Empress, Iraxxa (Adele Lynch). They are guided by an Ice Warrior who brought them to Mars, under the pretension of introducing them to the world, and helping get him home (he simply wants to resurrect his Queen). In typical fashion, they treat the Warrior poorly, referring to him as Friday (Richard Ashton), and refuse to believe their is anything that can threaten the British Empire.
Of course, they aren’t ready for the true might of the Ice Warriors, and only the Doctor and Bill will be able to mediate a peace between them.
The soldiers characters are nicely filled out, Gatiss has always been a solid writer for the series, and it becomes evident very quickly that the Doctor will have to save both sides from themselves before the episode comes to it’s conclusion.
Next week we come to the conclusion of the tenth series with a trio of episode. Consequently, my time with the Doctor, until Series Eleven gets underway this October… it’s been a helluva ride!
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I hope we see a return of the Monks. It was a thrilling enemy for the Doctor. I love seeing the implications of meddling with time.