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I'm a little behind, since my reaction to being spoiled on Tumblr is to put off watching an ep (irrational backwards 'R' us). However, I just watched Lie of the Land.

Having watched the whole Monk trilogy now, here's my stream of consciousness thoughts/reactions, unedited unfiltered because this is Dreamwidth, and I'm writing in my own space (Don't like, don't read).

Extremis - (6/10)


Okay, that was interesting. Enjoyable, although it didn't entire grab me.

The "you're not real, you're a simulation" plot has now been done to death, but I still didn't see it coming, primarily because of the fact that their "clue" threw me: even the random number generator on my Apple ][+, which was NOT entirely random, was still able t o give different moving sprites in a simple video game different actions at the same time-- they didn't all move the same number of pixels at any given second. So when everyone started reciting the same numbers I thought it must NOT be a simulation because that didn't make sense? Oh well. Nonetheless, it was a very gripping, scary, and interesting example of the trope. Loved it when they popped into the Pentagon. Loved the emotional and painful scene with Bill coming to grips with the whole not-real thing. (Although I think there should've been some not-real people going "I think, therefore I am; I'm Experiencing Stuff so that is a form of life and I'm going to live it.")

Loved, loved, loved the twist of sim!Doctor leaking the whole simulation to the real Doctor. It's almost a reversal of what the aliens were doing: they were learning everything there was to know about humanity (with a rather HUGE plot device to let them magically simulate everything -- how could they simulate human thoughts and emotions and tiny trivial details if they didn't already know those things? It's a bit of a paradox. But. Plot device for story, okay). But anyway, they were going to win by knowing Everything There Was to Know, and the real Doctor was now armed with the knowledge of the same simulation.

A bit bummed at this season's kinder, gentler version of queerbaiting: they don't Bury Your Gays (except The Pilot kinda did), they just ensure that every last one of Bill's attempts to have a girlfriend is disrupted so she never gets to have a relationship (guess it beats being run over while crossing the street?)

Not 100% sure the shock value of "let's have it be the Pope; it's a simulation so we can get away with anything" was worth it, but this is New Who; gimmicks and self-upstaging are almost mandatory.

Was this the episode that kept showing flashbacks to Why Missy's In the Vault? I'm starting to lose track. Good drama, although I'm sorry Michelle's talent is being somewhat wasted this season. If this is the last we'll see of her as Missy, I want her to be active, not passive.

Pyramid at the End of the World - (4/10)

Warning: LOTS OF NITPICKING ON THIS ONE.

A lot of this was amazeballs, but I just can't. Get away from. SERIOUS SERIOUS ISSUES that this story completely failed to address. Loved the pyramid. The contrivance that three senior military leaders were right there on hand, feeling legally empowered to represent the major powers of the planet with no superiors was a bit gimmicky, but okay, new Who standard stuff. (See also: The Doctor as President of the World; still so implausible that the top levels of world governments -- people like Putin and Trump -- would agree to it that I have trouble with the concept. Also, of course, he was already always running away from being President of Gallifrey).

Whoops, sidetrack. The random Egyptian pyramid looked great. Monks were properly creepyass. The bacteria was a terrifying concept, poorly executed --  bad science as I mentioned in my earlier comments on the ep.

But those are all minor nitpicks. It's the consent thing I can't get past.  I know I've already explained briefly what irked me, but I just have to lay it out more fully in my discussion of this trilogy.

BILL: What does consent mean?
MONK: You must ask for our help, and want it, and know you will then be ours.

No one ever really challenges the Monks on their definition of consent. And it's awful. Abusers and sexual assaulters and gaslighters call that consent. Rapists call that consent. We don't really need a TV show aimed at the teen to twentysomething range saying that consent = "love me, obey me, and let me torture and OWN YOU unconditionally; otherwise you or people/things you love will get hurt."

The Doctor ORDERS Bill not to consent, but the only objection he can give her is that he doesn't know what Bill's consenting to. That's still not giving her any autonomy. The Doctor never points out that what they're demanding is the absolute opposite of "pure consent."

In fact, earlier in the story, we get this:

DOCTOR: You could take this planet in a, in a heartbeat. Why do you need consent?
MONK: We must be wanted. We must be loved. To rule through fear is inefficient.
DOCTOR: Of course. Fear is temporary. Love is slavery.

Are you getting this? Letting a bully own you, control you, and demand total obedience and love now and forever is "pure consent." Whereas love means slavery.

Bill, almost certainly descendant of slaves, a queer black woman whose choices and love are often denied in the real world by people in power, has to surrender autonomy and enslave her entire race. She didn't choose this. The scriptwriter (can't remember who) decided to put a black lesbian in this situation. One I found deeply unsettling, and hoped the following episode would address. 

The Lie of the Land 7/10

It didn't. Although I think this episode was easily the best of the three (not least because of how it addresses Fake News and the rapid normalization of THINGS THAT WERE NOT NORMAL until very recently, aided by propaganda and brainwashing and everyone saying "it's always been like that".)

This was a gripping, strong story. I could nitpick it like the last, but I'm gonna try to restrain myself. I love Bill's convos with Mum, and I like the idea of love for her Mum saving the day. (Which incidentally puts paid to what the Doctor said love was, not that anyone notices). Bill and Nardole's rescue mission was great, and the Doctor's little posse of helpers that he'd de-brainwashed was great.

[Bill shooting the Doctor, not so great, as it involved miraculously surviving what killed the Seventh Doctor (stop it, classic Who fan, stop expecting canon to be consistent, it's not and never has been! :P ) -- and I'm not thrilled with any scene where the companion or Doctor earnestly tries to kill the other, unless it's represented as Bad (Turlough) or possession/coercion (and then they should feel bad when they recover). Also I don't quite see how that fooled the Monks' thought police since presumably they had a camera and were watching, or at least might've noticed when the prison ship started sailing up the Thames. ]

Ugh. Sometimes I wish I wasn't a writer; I notice all the plot holes so much more than when I was a child! But despite that, there was a lot I loved in this one. Moments of Doctor brilliance and saving the day, with Capaldi's manic smile. Moments of Bill being heroic or emotional or vulnerable or relatable. Good Doctor-companion moments (and one controversial one). Missy being her evil self. Not entirely convinced about her convo at the end, but at least it was either heartfelt interesting character development or Missy being sneaky again, either of which is fine. (Still wish Michelle got to be batty and snarky; that's her forte.) 

...and after all this, much as I love Capaldi, I still love my classic Who flavors of storytelling more. Ah well. I wish wish wish we'd get some Capadli with Chris Chibnall at the helm, but we're not gonna. 

Thank goodness for Big Finish. And the Meddling Monk.

Now, much as I kinda want to see the next spoiler, er, episode, I also want to finish off a classic Who fanfic. It's all written now, but I feel the last few scenes could be even better, stronger, and give readers more of an emotional payoff. Even if I never get as many readers as I would like, because I keep writing sequels to obscure Big Finish episodes, thereby scaring off most potential readers with spoiler warnings. Ah, irony. :D

July 2017

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