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Recap / Doctor Who S36 E7 "The Pyramid at the End of the World"

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"We must be wanted. We must be loved. To rule through fear is inefficient."
Click here to see the Radio Times magazine poster for this episode: 
The Doctor: Listen to me. Those creatures in that pyramid, they have studied your species, your civilisation, your entire history. They've run a computer simulation of this world since you lot first slopped out of the ocean looking for a fight, and they have chosen this exact moment and this exact place to arrive. Why?
Bill: Because a war's about to break out?
The Doctor: Possibly. But whatever it is, they're right here, right now because they believe humanity will be at its weakest.
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The one where Doctor Who, the fourth Indiana Jones film, and 12 Monkeys have a hot nasty threeway.

Written by Peter Harness & Steven Moffat and directed by Daniel Nettheim, this is the second part of the "Monks Trilogy" that began in "Extremis".

The Doctor knew that the Monks were coming. He didn't know when or where, but it would be at the most perfect time for them to conquer the Earth, for they saw all, knew all about the planet and its people... and him. Today is the day. In a war zone in Turmezistan, a pyramid appeared overnight, between the forces of the United States, Russia, and China. The U.N. calls upon him to once again take up his duties as President of Earth and investigate, and (against his will) he, Bill, and Nardole are soon there. The Monks are in the pyramid, and reveal their intentions: They are going to claim Earth and its people for themselves when they are asked to. Because they will be asked to. Because unless they are asked to save and enslave them, today is the day humanity is destroyed by its own hand.

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Soon the Doctor, his friends and the U.N. and military leaders are shown a vision of a ravaged, lifeless world. All this can be stopped if the Monks are given pure consent, not out of fear or strategy, but out of love. The humans are anxious, but the Doctor will not let this stand. He is going to stop whatever this catastrophe is. As every clock in the area ticks towards doomsday, he realizes that the cause of it is not among the armies. It is somewhere else, a place where many ordinary choices, accidents, and mistakes are converging to create the end of life on Earth.

Even as he is still hindered by the blindness he is keeping a secret from everyone save Nardole, the Doctor pinpoints the location — a lab in the U.K. where a strain of bacteria has accidentally been created that ravages all forms of life. He is Earth's last, only hope to stop it from being released to the atmosphere. But in his determination, his hubris, he makes mistakes too, as do those left behind in Turmezistan, leaving the fate of humanity in a most unexpected pair of hands...

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Tropes:

  • Absentee Actor: Kate Stewart and UNIT don't appear in this episode, even though theoretically they would be better equipped to handle the threat of the Monks than Earth's conventional military forces. They had to be written out because Jemma Redgrave was unable to take part due to a scheduling conflict with her role in Holby City.
  • Action Insurance Gag: The Doctor quips that the lab's insurance premiums are about to go sky high, along with everything else.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: The Monks. They stated that they took that form so they would be more understandable to humans. When Bill points out they look like corpses, they reply "you are corpses". What their true form looks like is unknown, but it is known they are Reality Warpers.
  • Alien Invasion: The pyramid's sudden appearance is the work of the Monks. They're ready to convince humanity to let them Take Over the World, and the Doctor already knows they are extremely intelligent and powerful, having been planning this for a looooong time.
  • Always Save the Girl: It's not like the Doctor hasn't given up a chance to stop an Evil Plan to save a companion, even in the Classic series. Here it's a Gender-Inverted Trope with Bill choosing to save the Doctor, though she has a further justification in that the Doctor may still be able to save them as long as he's alive.
  • Answers to the Name of God: When the TARDIS appears in the laboratory.
    Erica: Oh my god!
    The Doctor: No, I'm the Doctor, but it's an easy mistake to make.
  • Artistic License – Military: The American colonel is wearing the four stars of a general, sometimes upside down. It's a bit odd to have a colonel in charge in such a high-stakes situation in any case, a general would be more appropriate.
  • As Long as There is One Man: Bill decides to ask the Monks to save the Doctor out of her love for him, but also with this trope in mind, telling him to save her and humanity from the Monks as she makes the deal.
  • Badass Boast:
    Monk: Without our help, planet Earth is doomed.
    The Doctor: Yeah? Well, it's been doomed before. Guess what happened? Me.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Bill is so desperate to save the Doctor — both because he's her friend and because he can keep fighting the Monks and liberate her world — that she, against his wishes, gives her pure love consent to the Monks to allow them to conquer humanity in exchange for his eyesight to be restored so he can escape the lab. The Monks get what they want, and the Cliffhanger — "Enjoy your sight, Doctor. Now see our world." — suggests that their takeover will be immediate and unstoppable.
  • Blind Without 'Em: A significantly downplayed example, but Erica, the female scientist, uses reading glasses, and the fact that she can't do close-up work without them is a major factor in the plot. Also, the Doctor is quite literally totally blind without his sonic sunglasses.
  • Call-Back:
    • Bill tells Penny about the Doctor being an alien, and the events of the simulation from the previous episode. Their date is crashed while they were laughing about their simulated counterparts' date being gatecrashed by the Pope.
    • Once again, as in "Death in Heaven" and "The Zygon Invasion", the Doctor must assume his duties as the President of Earth to stop an alien threat.
    • In addition, the war zone and pyramid are in Turmezistan, the fictitious Central Asian country the Doctor previously visited with UNIT in "The Zygon Invasion". (Oddly, UNIT does not appear in this episode, though the Doctor mentions them.)
  • Character Development: Bill Potts makes what appears to be a horribly selfish decision in the Cliffhanger: Give up control of Earth and humanity to the Monks just to save her friend the Doctor's life, even though he tells her not to because it's his fault he's in peril. But in truth, she is just applying what she learned from him over the course of previous episodes — if it's possible for her to save someone's life, no matter how risky it may be to her and others, she must. She also realizes that if she can save him, he might be able to save the world anyway.
  • Cliffhanger: Bill accepts the Monks' offer to save the Doctor's life, believing he can still save Earth from them and telling him to do so. Nardole is lying unconscious inside the TARDIS, which has the killer bacteria on board. As the Doctor watches the lab blow up and realizes what has happened — that humanity is now enslaved to the Monks — he hears them say "Enjoy your sight, Doctor. Now see our world."
  • Continuity Nod:
    • This isn't the first time a pyramid has been central to a Doctor Who adventure; the classic series had "The Daleks' Master Plan" — which happened to involve The Monk, a time-travelling villain — and "Pyramids of Mars" while the contemporary series had a Giza pyramid serving as the home of Area 52 in "The Wedding of River Song". For bonus points, "Pyramids of Mars" was from the same season (Season 13) as "The Android Invasion", a serial that received a nod (the premise of an alien race creating an Earth simulation to figure out how best to invade the planet) in the episode prior to this one, "Extremis".
    • One to a Who Spinoff: The Sadistic Choice humanity is faced with — total enslavement to Humanoid Abominations or complete annihilation — is a variation on the ultimate crisis in Torchwood: Children of Earth, in which humanity was faced with annihilation or just giving up 10% of its children to aliens who would subject them to a living death. In that story, the powers that were chose the latter... but with the Doctor around this time, could it be possible to choose slavery but still escape a tragic fate? (Interestingly, Peter Capaldi played the ill-fated John Frobisher in that story.)
    • And there is another, to The Sarah Jane Adventures. The Monks' Reality Warper powers, and that they need to have consent to use them, sounds a lot like the Trickster.
    • Bill has no luck on dates with Penny in any reality. Their sim-selves were interrupted by the Pope in the previous episode, and this time their real counterparts have to deal with the arrival of the Secretary-General of the UN.
    • While playing his guitar onboard the TARDIS, the Doctor talks about life and death, á la "Heaven Sent".
    • When Bill first saw the TARDIS in the Doctor's office, she asked how he got the box in as the windows aren't big enough. When the Doctor emerges from the TARDIS to find he's on a plane, he asks how they got the TARDIS out of his office, turning towards Bill as he comments that the windows aren't big enough. The American colonel then says apologetically that they are now.
    • Lead characters taking insane risks to save someone they love from the grave are nothing new to Who. River Song's refusal to kill the Eleventh Doctor caused all of history to happen at once in "The Wedding of River Song". Clara Oswald tried to betray the Doctor to convince him to undo the death of Danny Pink in "Dark Water", the Doctor stopping her but also learning via hypnosis that she would have stranded them in a volcano after locking both of them out of the TARDIS and destroying all of its keys if he'd refused to do so. The Twelfth Doctor chose to violate a fixed point in time to try and save Clara Oswald from her death in "Hell Bent".
    • Nardole used one of his coat buttons to communicate with the Doctor when the former was infilatrating Harmony Shoal. Now, he's using the same method to be the Doctor's eyes and ears, as the Doctor himself is blind.
  • Deal with the Devil: The Monks will save Earth if its residents will let them conquer Earth. Bill ends up taking the deal to save the Doctor.
  • Do Not Adjust Your Set: All clocks and watches, whether analog or digital, are set to the Doomsday Clock.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: The watching humans (those that don't already know the Doctor) are incredulous when he decides to just walk up to the pyramid and threaten the aliens inside.
  • Driving Question: Who are the Monks exactly, where do they come from, what are they capable of doing, and why do they want to Take Over the World so badly that they've been researching and planning how to do so for a long, long time?
  • Drone of Dread: The episode's score incorporates sustained low horns in scenes involving the super bacteria.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: The title doesn't refer to a place but a time for the end of the world: When the Doomsday Clock strikes midnight.
  • Eureka Moment: The Doctor, about to 'fess up to Bill about his blindness, suddenly realizes how to find out which lab has the threat that will end the world — by blinding the Monks (turning off the security cameras to all the possible labs and seeing which one the Monks care enough about to turn back on).
  • Eye Motifs: The Doctor's blindness and his not telling Bill about it sooner than he does is pivotal to the Cliffhanger, and beyond that Erica and Douglas both have their vision impaired (her reading glasses are broken, he's hungover), which leads to the accidental creation of a plague bacterium. The Monks can see every point in Earth's history and allow the visitors to the pyramid to see their dreadful potential fate, but they have no visible eyes. Finally, the Doctor is told that with his sight restored by the Monks, he will now see their world.
  • Failsafe Failure / No OSHA Compliance: The safety procedures at the lab are a joke. Their airlock system allows both doors to be open at once, even though at least one should remained sealed to prevent exactly the situation which allows this contamination to take place. Two technicians are allowed to run dangerous experiments without any other supervision and while both are suffering from a problem (one is missing her reading glasses, the other is extremely hungover). There's no sterilization procedure between the dangerous bacteria lab and the monitoring area, so the dangerous bacteria could have been carried out on the Doctor's clothing or Erica's biohazard suit. Finally, when the scientists in the lab realise they have a lethal biohazard on their hands, they order a lockdown to prevent the bacteria escaping — but there's no way to turn off the system which automatically vents the air to the atmosphere every 30 minutes.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: The Monks claim that they chose their form specifically for humans. When Colonel Brabbit in response says they look like corpses, the Monks state that to them, humans are corpses.
  • For Want of a Nail:
    • The deadly bacteria are created because Erica, one of the scientists at the biofuel lab, had her reading glasses accidentally broken on her way to work, and the other scientist, Douglas, was hungover, causing him to misplace a decimal sign. The hangover also leads to Douglas' death, leaving Erica alone until the Doctor shows up — because he feels sick and doesn't want to throw up inside his protective helmet, he takes it off.
    • If the Doctor had told others the truth about his blindness, he wouldn't have ended up trapped in the lab and doomed to die, leading Bill to give up humanity to the Monks to save him. (And he wouldn't have been blind if he hadn't decided to go to Chasm Forge over Bill and Nardole's protests, which led to his Heroic Sacrifice to save Bill...)
  • Funny Background Event: Look closely at colonel Brabbit's name tag. Whenever he's talking about surrender, it's folded over to read "rabbit"!
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: The threat that will cause the end of the world is an accidental release of accidentally created deadly bacteria.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: When Penny suggests that the Doctor is trying to keep Bill "on the straight and narrow", Bill asks Penny how she feels on that subject.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: The Monks insist they need to be loved in order to help humanity, in order to forge an unspecified link. This is why they don't just take over Earth with their advanced technology. Fear, strategy, pragmatism: these decisions aren't made out of love, and thus the Monks can't accept them.
  • Godzilla Threshold: The Monks choose their time and place of invasion specifically because the impending release of the super-bacteria will force humankind to invoke this trope and ask for their help to stop it. The Doctor finds a way to destroy the bacteria, but he is doomed to be destroyed with it, so Bill invokes this trope and lets the Monks take Earth so that his eyesight is restored and he can flee the lab before the bomb goes off.
  • Gunboat Diplomacy:
    • The Doctor initially assumes this is why the pyramid was placed in a conflict zone surrounded by three armies.
      The Doctor: It could have chosen anywhere on this planet. It chose to sit on the strategic intersection of the three most powerful armies on Earth. So what it's doing, Colonel, is sending us a message.
      Col. Brabbit: What message?
      The Doctor: Bring it.
    • The Doctor shocks his companions when he agrees that all the military forces should launch a combined attack on the pyramid. However the Doctor then explains that he doesn't expect the attack to succeed, but it might deter the Monks by presenting a united front (as the Doctor assumes their goal is to get humanity to fight each other).
    • The aliens in turn not only No-Sell the attack, they harmlessly plonk the respective bomber and submarine in front of their pyramid in a show of their technological power.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The Doctor is ready to make one in the Cliffhanger, telling him he's accepted his death as the consequence of his mistakes and for the greater good, but Bill asks the Monks to restore his sight so he can live... meaning the world, humanity, and him are now in their hands.
  • Hiding the Handicap: The Doctor is still trying to hide his blindness from others aside from Nardole. When he first tries to admit the truth to Bill he has a Eureka Moment that is the first step in stopping the plague outbreak and has to focus on that instead. At last, he tells Bill the truth to explain why he can't escape the sealed lab and will have to die — and her response plays into the Monks' hands.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The Doctor uses the Monks' obsessive monitoring against them by deducing that they are likely monitoring the catastrophe soon to take place. In order to find the right lab out of hundreds of potential targets, he has Nardole crash the CCTV feeds of all of them, and the Monks only restore the one they were monitoring.
  • Hope Spot: Two.
    • First, the three countries' military leaders agree not to fight each other, but when the Doomsday Clock continues to tick, the Doctor realizes that this wasn't to be the cause of the end of the world.
    • Second, the Doctor manages to set a bomb to destroy the bacteria before they can be vented, thus saving the world without needing to give in to the Monks, but when he can't escape the lab due to his blindness and tells Bill that he must make a Heroic Sacrifice, she asks the Monks to save him even though it means Earth will be theirs. However, she specifically takes the risk because she believes that the Doctor will liberate her planet from them, so she hasn't entirely given up hope.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Erica's hungover coworker Douglas removes his biohazard helmet in an area which requires the suits to prevent contamination, just because he doesn't want to throw up in it. Then, when the bacteria liquefies the plants, he just jams his hands into the slop for a sample and runs through both airlocks, pushing the buttons with his contaminated gloves, to get it to a microscope, not only contaminating himself but risking the entire planet.
    • The Doctor grabs this when he and Nardole enter the lab without any kind of protection despite knowing that deadly bacteria may already be on the loose. The Doctor can resist this sort of thing due to his different biology, but Nardole has human lungs — cheap ones too, according to the Doctor. The result is that Nardole takes ill as he returns to the TARDIS and can't help him escape the lab when he's about to destroy it, and the TARDIS is also contaminated.
  • I Lied: The Doctor says this by way of revealing he's blind to Bill.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Nardole gets back in the TARDIS to move it out of the contaminated area — and then he coughs, shortly after the Doctor told him he was human enough to be affected because the Doctor had "got [his] lungs cheap". The next time we see him, he's lying unresponsive on the floor of the TARDIS and can't help the Doctor escape the about-to-be-destroyed lab. (The next episode, however, reveals he does not actually die; in fact he completely recovers over the next few weeks. Being in the TARDIS probably helped.)
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Averted with Erica. She has dwarfism, but in her line of work her brains matter more than any physical disadvantage, and nobody even mentions it.
  • Internal Reveal: The Doctor is forced to tell Bill about his blindness when it prevents him from inputting a combination lock and getting to safety.
  • In Your Nature to Destroy Yourselves: The Monks have simulated all of human history to arrive at the conclusion that humanity will be the instrument of its own destruction. They will prevent it if humanity consents to their rule.
  • Is That a Threat?: Colonel Brabbit asks the Doctor if the watches becoming the Doomsday Clock is meant to be a threat.
    The Doctor: I wish it was. Threats are easy. I think this is a warning. Somewhere, somehow, the end has begun.
  • It's All My Fault: The Doctor explains that he is willing to die to save the world because it was his mistakes (in particular, not informing others he was blind) that led to his potential firey fate and he must face that consequence.
  • Just Following Orders: Averted; when it looks like the Monks are trying to start WWIII, the Chinese commander says they should agree not to fight, but Ilyn points out that they're just soldiers who are supposed to obey. She asks if they're too afraid to disobey, and so all three shake hands and agree not to fight each other.
  • Kill It with Fire: Fire in the cleansing sense. The solution to the problem with the bacteria is to blow up the lab where it was created, using the bacteria's own ethanol byproduct as fuel.
  • The Last of These Is Not Like the Others:
    The Doctor: What do you depend on?
    Nardole: Air, food, water, beer.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: This episode begins, like several earlier Twelfth Doctor episodes, with the Doctor apparently addressing the audience about the episode's big question. This time, Bill then enters the scene and asks the Doctor why he's talking to himself, and he says it's his way of meditating on the problem.
  • Long Title: Eight words, making it the longest Doctor Who title, beating the previous record of seven words.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: In a non-romantic take on this trope, Bill loves the Doctor so much that she consents to humanity being enslaved by the Monks just so his sight will be restored and he can escape the lab explosion — and does this despite his objections. Granted, she has faith that he can save her and humanity from their conquest, but the episode ends on a Cliffhanger...
  • Magic Countdown: The Doctor sets a two-minute timer on his bomb, but it takes four-and-a-half minutes to reach zero.
  • Moment Killer: In the previous episode poor Sim-Bill had a date interrupted by a surprise arrival — the Pope. This time real Bill, having been encouraged to pursue Penny by the Doctor given the threat looming, has her date interrupted by the Secretary-General of the United Nations!
  • Moral Dilemma:
    • So, President of Earth: Is it better for humanity — all of it — to die free, or to ask for rescue and live as slaves of Humanoid Abominations? As you once asked, "Do babies die with honor?"
    • In the end, Bill is faced with either letting the Doctor die or giving up humanity to the Monks. She chooses the latter even though the Doctor wants her to choose the former. She believes he can still find a way to stop the Monks and, having learned from her experiences with him, she knows can't let him die if there's still a chance he can be saved no matter how risky it is.
  • Motifs: Series 10-specific:
    • Promises: The Doctor tells the Monks that he has vowed to protect the Earth.
    • Truth: The Doctor finally reveals the truth of his blindness to Bill as he's about to die.
    • Exploitation: Humanity's only hope would seem to be becoming the slaves of the Monks. In the end, the Doctor saves them from that choice, but Bill cedes control anyway to save his life.
    • Imprisonment/Release: The Doctor ends up trapped in a lab about to explode, and Bill asks the Monks to restore his sight so he can escape. They do and he is freed, but now he and humanity are prisoners of the Monks in a metaphorical sense.
    • "Villains" who aren't actually evil: The deadly bacterial plague that could destroy all life on Earth. Played with in regards to the Monks, who wish for consent coming from a place of love to invade the Earth. Ultimately it's not the case.
    • The value of each individual life: Bill consents to the Monks enslaving humanity that the Doctor might not die.
    • Hidden threats: The End of the World as We Know It will come from a lab in Yorkshire where a bacterial plague has accidentally been created, not from World War III breaking out in Turmezistan.
  • Must Be Invited: Bill wonders if the Monks are like vampires, given their obsession with having humanity willingly accept them as their rulers. However the Monks put this down to pragmatism, preferring a Vichy Earth rather than a sullen conquered one.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The Doctor, realizing that Bill gave humanity up to the Monks to save his sight and from there his life, has this look in his newly-sighted eyes as the Monks tell him he will now see their world.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailers all made it seem as if the threat of World War III was what the Monks were going to use to conquer the Earth. It's actually misdirection on their part — the actual threat is the accidental release of deadly bacteria. While there is tension between the three armies, they don't seem on the verge of lobbing missiles at each other, it's not even revealed what they were disputing, and it's never brought up again in the remainder of the season.
  • No Biochemical Barriers: Averted — the Doctor is immune to the killer bacteria because he's not from Earth. Nardole is affected, but only because, since the Doctor rebuilt him, he now counts as "human enough". (The next episode reveals he fully recovers, but it takes a few weeks and his access to the TARDIS probably helps.)
  • Oh, Crap!: The Doctor's face, as he watches the laboratory explode to kill the bacteria with his regained eyesight. He's realized that the only reason he can see again is because Bill essentially handed over Earth to the Monks.
    The Doctor:' Bill, what have you done?
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: The usually Technical Pacifist Doctor advocates a coordinated strike to show Earth's military force in response to the threat presented by the Monks, shocking both Bill and Nardole. He does note it probably won't do anything to them, but it's surprising nonetheless.
  • Outside-Context Villain: World War III appears imminent — then a pyramid containing aliens plotting to conquer the Earth appears. In addition, they're counting on the Doctor and humanity not realizing until it's too late that a super-bacteria that will destroy all living life on the planet is about to be released, whereupon they will have to give up their freedom to the Monks to stop/undo it.
  • Pet the Dog: The Monks release the crews of the bomber and submarine who tried to destroy them unharmed. Likely Pragmatic Villainy is involved — it shows their strength without aggravating the humans into rash action, and they want to win the humans over with love anyway.
  • Phlebotinum Breakdown: The Doctor tries to use his sonic screwdriver on the combination lock that will open the airlock door in the climax, but it fails.
  • The Power of Love: The Monks will only receive consent to take over the Earth and enslave humanity if it is given out of love, because it is far more powerful than fear or other emotions. It winds up being given by Bill out of her love for the Doctor, so The Bad Guy Wins.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: The Monks could simply conquer planet Earth and rule it through fear, as noted by the Doctor, but fear is inefficient. Instead, they present humanity with an inescapable doomsday scenario and offer their assistance in the form of a Deal with the Devil, so that they can rule with humanity's consent.
  • Previously On: A different take in which the montage of last episode's clips are intercut with Bill explaining the situation to Penny. This is because Bill did not experience the events of "Extremis" (rather, a simulation of her did), so the Doctor had to explain the Monks' plot to her so she could keep up with him.
  • Pride Before a Fall: The Doctor Hiding the Handicap as he manages to save the Earth from the plague means that he cannot escape the sealed chamber before the bomb goes off. He is ready to accept the consequences, but Bill saves him... meaning that the Monks win after all.
  • Pure Is Not Good: The Monks will only Take Over the World when someone asks them to do so out of pure love, and anyone who claims to have this but doesn't is turned to dust. The UN Secretary-General fails because he does it out of fear. The military leaders who "surrender" fail because they are doing it out of pragmatism, not because they want to. Bill succeeds because she asks them to save the Doctor out of love for and faith in him, and willingly accepts the consequences.
  • Pyramid Power: The Monks arrive on Earth in an "ancient pyramid" — actually their spacecraft — that appears out of nowhere.
  • Qurac: The impending war — and the pyramid — are in Turmezistan, the fictitious Central Asian country that previously appeared in "The Zygon Invasion".
  • Race Against the Clock: Every clock in the world is counting down (or rather up) to The End of the World as We Know It ala the Doomsday Clock, and the Doctor and his friends have to find a way to stop it.
  • Reality Warper: The Monks have this power — they can save the world from a plague or just restore the Doctor's eyesight immediately and remotely. The catch is that those who ask their help must be willing to make a Deal with the Devil, giving the Monks consent to conquer them out of pure love.
    • Their Reality Warper powers function in an unusual way and are limited. It uses The Power of Love to form a link with one individual, which is then amplified by the individual's entire race via a psychic link. They seem to be able to then do anything that is wished for by that person. If the person has not offered consent out of love, the attempt will disintegrate them. After the link is established, their powers seem to be limited to Brainwashing and creating illusions.
  • Red Herring: The Monks are trying to give the impression that World War III is imminent. The real cause of the world's end will be a mistaken release of deadly bacteria. In the end, what actually gives them their leverage isn't either — it's the Doctor's blindness at a crucial moment, and this may have been their plan all along.
  • Rescue Romance: Lampshaded by the Doctor.
    Erica: Is this going to work?
    The Doctor: Trust me. I pop it in there. Machine goes ping. Lab goes boom. World is saved. You develop a pretty intense crush on me.
  • Sadistic Choice:
    • The Doctor and humanity face one: Either accept their final destruction, or ask the Monks to save them. The former choice isn't a Doctor-y one, as he would thus facilitate the deaths of billions of children alone (and he does NOT want to go through THAT again), but how can he accept their being enslaved?
    • Bill is forced to choose between letting the Monks invade and the Doctor living, or letting the Doctor die to stop the Monks and the bacteria. She chooses the former, believing that the Doctor will still be able to stop the Monks.
  • Saharan Shipwreck: When the armies attempt to attack the pyramid, the USAF bomber gets all its crew teleported off by the Monks and is set gently down on the ground next to it. After the crew walks confusedly out of the pyramid, they are joined by some equally confused Russian sailors — and a submarine appears, planted nose-first in the dirt, next to the bomber.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: Penny's reaction to having armed soldiers and the Secretary of the United Nations interrupt her date to ask Bill to help them contact the President of Earth. This might apply to her relationship with Bill on the whole, since she's never mentioned or seen again after this episode.
    Penny: Is it okay if I get an Uber?
  • Shadow Archetype: The Doctor is an alien that humanity willingly asks to rule the world in a moment of crisis in order to save it. Also like the Monks, he desires love (rather than fear) from those he saves.
  • Shout-Out: The episode title is reminiscent of The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, one of Douglas Adams' works. The episode aired a day after his birthday, and one of the characters is even named Douglas!
  • Stock Footage Failure: When the Monks show everyone a vision of the Earth completely devoid of life, there is a very prominent shot of a tropical storm, including palm trees in the foreground. Whoops.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute:
    • The Monks have a lot of similarities to the Trickster of The Sarah Jane Adventures. Both are Reality Warpers, but need consent in order to use those powers thus requiring them to trick others.
    • The UN Secretary-General and the trio of colonels fill roles usually filled by Kate Stewart and UNIT; originally this was a UNIT story, but Kate's actress wasn't available.
  • Take a Third Option: The Doctor decides to figure out what the real threat to humanity is and stop it, rather than give them up to the Monks or let them die. He succeeds, but his blindness throws a spanner in the works when he himself must die to stop the threat — and Bill begs the Monks to save him when he explains this to her.
  • Take Over the World: The Monks intend to rule humanity, but they first have to get permission to do so.
  • Tempting Fate
    • Penny is entertained by Bill's story of what happened in the previous episode, but says she doesn't believe a word of it. She's just had a good laugh about the scene where the Pope interrupts their date, when the UN Secretary General interrupts this one.
    • The Doctor puts on his sonic glasses and says, "Who needs eyesight?" But the glasses can't read the combination lock on the door.
    • The Doctor refuses to go to Turmezistan. He exits the TARDIS to find it's already loaded on an airplane flying there.
    • The Doctor boasts that he's going to save the world (as usual) with a big explosion (as usual) to the adoration of the woman he's just encountered (as usual), only for the whole thing to come awry thanks to a locked door that wouldn't slow him down if only he had his eyesight.
  • Temporary Blindness: Coming on the heels of the previous episode means that the Doctor is still blind. It gets cured by the Monks when Bill takes them up on their offer... at the expense of Earth's freedom.
  • There Was a Door: Or in this case, a window.
    The Doctor: How did they get [the TARDIS] out of my office? The windows aren't big enough.
    Soldier: Oh, they are now.
  • To Make a Long Story Short: The Doctor materializes the TARDIS around the Russian commander, who finds himself inside with his American and Chinese counterparts.
    Doctor: Hello. Privyet. Sorry about that. Needed the call to zero in on your co-ordinates. Now, this is the Secretary-General of the UN. I am the President of the world. And this is Xiaolian, she's in charge of the Chinese army. Say hi to each other. Now, we've been having a bit of chat. The thing is, World War Three. What do you think? Basically, we're against it.
  • Trap Is the Only Option: When the Monks invite them inside their pyramid for a chat. The Doctor of course decides they should go anyway. The Monks as it turns out are upfront about their intentions, so have no need for a trap.
    The Doctor: Well, every trap you walk into is a chance to learn about your enemies. Impossible to set a trap without making a self-portrait of your own weaknesses.
    Bill: Great. Unless it kills us.
    The Doctor: Well, you could say that about anything.
  • Trapped in Containment: Happens to the Doctor when it's discovered the door to the lab's second airlock has locked itself due to the contamination protocols. The only way to open the door now is a combination lock — which the Doctor's blindness prevents him from using.
  • Vichy Earth: The military commanders decide to surrender and negotiate terms with the Monks, so humanity can live (to fight again, if necessary).
  • Virtual Reality Interrogation: The simulation machine is shown in this episode. The Monks seem to have fixed the "glitch" of the Veritas and continued doing even more simulations, the latest of which end with the destruction of all life on Earth.
  • Waxing Lyrical: When the American, Russian and Chinese militaries agree to stand down, Colonel Brabbitt asks the Doctor: "Did we just give peace a chance?"
  • We Are as Mayflies: The Monks claim that their corpselike form is because to them, humans are corpses.
  • We Need a Distraction: A Discussed Trope as the Doctor tries to work out what the aliens are distracting them from.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The Cliffhanger of "Extremis" had the despairing Doctor apparently considering letting Missy out of the Vault to help him. Missy does not appear in this episode; instead, it's just him, Bill, and Nardole setting off to face the Monks even though he's disabled and they won't be nearly as useful as Missy would be. (Given, however, that it seems at least a week has passed since he received the recording of the events of "Extremis", it's possible his despair has significantly lessened, as he doesn't know when the Monks will be appearing to make their move.)
  • Who Are You?: Or "Who the hell are you?" as Erica puts it when the Doctor and Nardole dematerialise in the middle of a laboratory on Lockdown.
    The Doctor: Don't be alarmed, we don't have time. Just jump straight to all the explaining.
  • World War III: The Monks want to make the American, Chinese, and Russian armies and the United Nations believe this is the threat that will end the world as misdirection. The actual danger is an accidental release of bacteria.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: This being Part Two of a three-episode story, the Doctor and his friends can't stop this invasion. In the end, Bill allows Earth to be given to the Monks to save the Doctor's life, hoping he can stop them.

"Enjoy your sight, Doctor. Now, see our world."

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