“The Lie of the Land” Review

Though, being late, I watched this after the election, I can’t help but be delighted once again that Doctor Who delved into current political hot-button topics just days before we went to the polls. This one takes a crack at attempts to control history; despite hearing (I think) a mention of #fakenews I’m pretty sure this was aimed squarely at the Murdoch/Dacre manufactured narratives.

There’s perhaps an irony in the fakery of the Doctor’s betrayal early in the episode, a weak point, since it’s clear that most of this is only necessary to fool us rather than to test Bill. Still, it produces an absolutely scorching performance from Pearl Mackie, so it’s worth it for that (Capaldi is rather splendid too). By the way, how did the Doctor do the fake regeneration bit…?

I was delighted, after Missy being missing last week, that she turned up in this. It’s just the one scene (plus that epilogue) but Gomez gives her best performance yet. I had expected the Doctor to let her out and her to run riot round the planet; but in fact in the confines of the vault she was even more powerful and terrifying. I was reminded of the rather weak Sherlock episode The Final Problem, but Missy in her confinement exudes so much more power than Eurus. Gomez manages a genuine rehabilitation vibe that we know to be suspicious of; yet her information is crucial and genuinely valuable. The Doctor’s not hopelessly deluded in thinking she can help; and Bill does exactly what you hope she might do: tells Missy the truth.

It’s by far the strongest episode in the less-than-cohesive Monk Trilogy; nice to end on a high.

About Simon Wood

Lecturer in medical education, lapsed mathematician, Doctor Who fan and garden railway builder. See simonwood.info for more...

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