Pyramids are amazing structures. Near perfect geometry. Fascinating mythology. Thousands of years old… until one just shows up one day! The pyramid at the end of the world shouldn’t be there.
Paging The President Of Earth, There’s A Pyramid That Shouldn’t be There
The Pyramid At The End Of The World picks up, for the most part, where Extremis left off. The Earth is still in peril from an alien menace the likes of which The Doctor has never seen. When a pyramid just pops up into being at the center of a strategic military point between the world’s three superpowers, the UN asks The President of Earth to step in.
Pyramid maintains a very dark tone throughout. There’s an unyielding sense of doom that clouds everything that happens. The episode’s main theme is “consent”, which in of itself is a rather uncomfortable concept. What is consent, and why does it matter? The alien invaders require humanity’s consent in order to take over the planet so as to ensure complete domination, and obedience. But as we learn throughout the episode, consent is not fear, nor is it a strategy. Consent is love, and as it is so chillingly stated, love is slavery.
The Pyramid At The End Of The World Is Bill’s Most Powerful Showing Yet
Bill takes center stage in The Pyramid At The End Of The World. When all the designated leaders of humanity fail to understand the true power of consent it is Bill who makes a leap of faith. She goes against everything the Doctor stands for, just in attempt to save his life. When the Doctor’s life is in peril because of his blindness, Bill makes a deal with the aliens to restore the Doctor’s sight so he can live. In doing so she damns the Earth to subjugation.
Another amazing part of The Pyramid At The End Of The World is a purely Whovian affair. Bill truly learns the first rule of traveling on the TARDIS: The Doctor lies. She is properly upset with him when she finds out that he’s still blind, but she also comes to terms with how she feels for him at the same time. Every companion eventually “loves” the Doctor. This love isn’t usually romantic, but more respect-based, and a fatherly, brotherly, best friend kind of relationship. But invariably everyone has to come to terms with their love for the Doctor, and what they’re willing to do to protect him. In this case Bill concedes to the conquering aliens just to save her friend. It’s a powerful moment, one that isn’t altogether new, but nonetheless shocking.
So The Aliens Won. Earth Belongs To Them. Now What?
Now that the aliens have won, what will the Doctor do to save Earth? With Nardole apparently out of commission, and Bill fully committed to letting the aliens win, who does the Doctor have left? With the confirmation that Missy is alive, and in the vault, will the Doctor trust his oldest friend, and adversary? What damage will Bill’s actions have on her relationship with the Doctor? Is Nardole down for good?
This season has taken on a completely different tone since Extremis. The Pyramid At The End Of The World has made Season 10 feel like a Classic Who adventure. The pacing of the episodes, and how the Doctor’s chances worsen as the story progresses, make these two episodes must watch Who. Doctor Who has such potential to tell rich, impactful stories, but it’s hard to do that with one-episode plots. The return of the two-parters was a great choice, and I think Season 10 is making the case for longer story arcs within a season.
I still think this story will somehow contribute to the Doctor’s inevitable regeneration at the end of the season. I also believe we will see two Masters come out of this story. Perhaps not in order to save Earth, but as a result of the Doctor enlisting Missy. As usual the Doctor’s actions always come back to haunt him. But for now it’s truly great to watch.