Doctor Who: The Pyramid at the End of the World review

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Simon Ridgway/Des Willie/Ray Burmiston/BBC

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This is a post-UK broadcast review of Doctor Who: The Pyramid at the End of the World. River Song always warned the Doctor against spoilers, so be sure to watch the episode first. Doctor Who, season 10, airs on Saturdays at 7:45pm UK time on BBC One, and 9pm EDT on BBC America.

A hungover and reckless scientist, the Monks demanding consent to take over Earth, bio-hazard alerts, a Doomsday countdown, and the world’s army leaders agreeing to give peace a chance—surely the Doctor, Bill, and Nardole are still trapped in a computer simulation, right?

trilogy of episodes that explore the idea that we might just be living in a simulated universe.

I say this as the wail of a fire engine goes by outside and noisy drilling machines hammer their way through concrete in preparation for London’s Crossrail. If we really are all trapped inside some kind of computer game controlled by an alien life-form, then our pretend senses really are incredibly advanced.

Throughout this season of Doctor Who, one sense in particular has been heavily explored: sight. The Doctor’s been blind since Oxygen, Bill’s eyes were opened to time travel, and Missy has seemingly been blocked from seeing anything beyond the quantum fold chamber for at least 1,000 years.

In this episode, blurred vision—courtesy of one scientist’s late night on the booze, and the other’s broken reading glasses—leads to catastrophe on an epic scale. But, boy, do I have questions.

warning that apocalypse was now 30 seconds closer. This is cleverly referenced in The Pyramid at the End of the World, and it initially points to the idea that World War III could be imminent, and that’s why the Monks have chosen this moment to attack. But as atomic scientists explained earlier this year, nuclear power is no longer the only tech with the potential to destroy the planet. They believe that artificial intelligence, climate change, and the “cyber realm” could also pose a serious threat to Earth.

It’s the Monks who feed on the—albeit scholarly and sobering—scaremongering nature of the Doomsday Clock. But they aren’t power-hungry for fear because it’s inefficient. The Doctor says: “Fear is temporary. Love is slavery.” The Monks, who operate the simulation machine to model the future (and also the present?), are quick to turn the various plotting army chiefs to dust. It’s Bill—like so many of the Doctor’s companions—who represents the best of humanity.

Monk fish for clues

Moffat co-wrote The Pyramid at the End of the World with Peter Harness, the scribe behind Doctor Who‘s Kill the Moon, The Zygon Invasion, and The Zygon Inversion (it’s notable, too, that the latter two episodes were shot by this trilogy’s director, Daniel Nettheim). Is this latest alien invasion collaboration deliberate?

Ars Technica UK

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