This review contains spoilers for Doctor Who.
The Lie of the Land is the conclusion to the three-part story being dubbed The Monk Trilogy. It picks up 6 months after The Pyramid at the End of the World where the Monks have taken control of Earth, and have rewritten it history to include them.
Much like Oxygen earlier in the season this was another highly politicised episode of the show tackling a big social issue, in this case the issue of Fake News. Even the title is directly referencing this, talking about The Lie of the Land, in this case the fake history that the Monks are broadcasting to everyone. It is fairly interesting to note that the fake news was actually coming from those in power, and that they were forcing The Doctor to broadcast pro-Monk messages. It is clearly a direct message about the media in this country. But actually beyond the overall idea, this is something that is never really followed through on.
One of the true stand out moments from the episode was Michelle Gomez’s appearance as Missy. The Doctor and Bill’s visit to her for assistance is the moment in the episode that really that really crackles with energy. Capaldi and Gomez play off one another so brilliantly, and their discussion of morality is fantastic. The problem is that it doesn’t actually feel necessary in this episode at all. Their discussion does nothing in really pushing The Doctor towards knowing that he has to block the signal from the source in the pyramid. Instead it feels more like setup for a future episode where she gets out of the vault, probably the season finale.
I think the overall problem with The Lie of the Land is that it just feels far too similar to the Season 3 finale, The Last of the Time Lords, which is one of the absolute worst finales from Doctor Who to date, but with a less charismatic villain. The conclusion of Bill’s love for her Mother being able to override the Monk’s control and block the signal of the false memories is one of those that just feels unbelievable and frankly disappointing. After the brilliantly original and different previous two episodes this was just a little bit underwhelming and disappointing.
The Lie of the Land isn’t a bad episode; it’s fairly standard fare, and solidly middling in quality. But on the back of what has been such a brilliant season it stands out as much lesser than what has come before. It’s a real shame that the Monks Trilogy couldn’t get a truly satisfying ending.