Doctor Who: The Moffat Scripts - THE PYRAMID AT THE END OF THE WORLD

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Dr. Moo has nothing but respect for his president.


After the wonder that was Steven Moffat’s Extremis, the unenviable task of following that up fell to Peter Harness. That makes sense to me, after he previously wrote The Zygon Inva/version, that a story dealing with geopolitics would fall to him. But during the writing process he was left unable to do the required rewrites so Moffat took it on to complete the final product.

While Harness & Moffat had a previous co-write with Inversion that one has a clear divide between which writer did which bits. Here the situation is different. It's hard to identify a clear split and neither writer lets their style shine through.

The result is a bit of a jumbled mess. Being the middle part of a trilogy only compounds the problem – despite being its own standalone narrative it also has to get the cast from Extremis to The Lie of the Land. The overall plot in The Pyramid at the End of the World (P.E.W.) can't be resolved in this episode, nor can it establish a new threat. That's not to say it doesn't try, though I admire the effort more than the execution.


P.E.W. begins with the Doctor once again being reinstated as President Of Earth as the Secretary General of the UN comes to collect him. It turns out that a 5000 year old pyramid stands between three armies in a disputed territory, and the twist is that the pyramid wasn’t there before.

Now that’s a great idea for a Doctor Who story.

The Doctor goes to investigate and finds the Monk invasion has begun. Apparently their spaceship looks like an ancient pyramid. Those wanting an explanation for why it looks like that will be out of luck. Just accept it and move on.

The Monks want to conquer the Earth, they have come at a time when humanity is about to be on the brink of extinction and are in need of their help. They don’t say what that is, they just leave it there and let the Doctor report back to the others. He concludes, because the plot demands it, that the military tension the Monks have landed in the midst of isn’t the issue and he gets everyone looking into what else could be happening. Turns out it’s an accident at a bio-research lab that threatens to release a contagion to wipe everyone out. Again, they only discover this because the plot demands that it happens.


Now there’s the germ of a good idea here. A Doctor Who story about bio-weapons could be really good (You want proof? Big Finish’s Viyran arc.) and I’d be interested to have seen what Harness & Moffat could do with that kind of concept. Unfortunately the Monk arc demands that this is forced to play second fiddle to that trilogy. This is the closest that P.E.W. gets to telling its own story, and it’s not even the storyline that makes the title.

I must praise the episode for trying to come up with something of its own though. P.E.W. needs to have at least one threat to be fixed within itself and this subplot is it. And the way that this plays into the overarching storyline is pretty clever.

That’s because the Doctor is still blind. He gets so close to fixing the issue but finds himself trapped in a room that has a combination lock with the contagion about to be released. But because he’s blind he can’t open the door.

Now there’s a genuinely good reason why the Monks might get consent to take over the world. Bill Potts, learning that the Doctor is still blind for the first time, goes to them and asks them to fix his blindness. They do so, and the Doctor fixes the problem, but the world is now under Monk control. That’s the cliffhanger for The Lie of the Land, and it’s a really good one. (Just don’t get too invested. That episode sucks.)


Honestly, there’s not a whole lot else I can find to say about this episode. It’s a means to an end, existing to move the characters from one point to the next but it never manages to find its own identity on the way there.

And that’s a shame. There’s so much potential here that just doesn’t get fulfilled. Which sums up the Monk trilogy really well, now I think of it.

At least Peter Capaldi gets a really good one-off costume variant in it?

When he's not obsessing about Doctor Who whilst having I Am The Doctor play in his head, Dr. Moo can usually be found reading up on the latest in Quantum Physics. As you do when you're a physicist.

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