Doctor Who Recap: The Lie Of The Land Is Doctor Who’s Take On 1984

It’s Oceania all over again in this week’s episode of Doctor Who. Swap thought crimes for memory criminals and Big Brother for alien Monks and you’ve basically summed up this Whovian take on the Orwellian classic—only this one’s got a happy ending. (For now.)

It’s only been six months since the Monks took over the world and already everyone on Earth is dressed like they work in a boiler room. Every day Bill gets up, puts on her drab coveralls, and repeats the story of what actually happened when the Monks took over to her imaginary mother. Most everyone else has bought into the alien propaganda that they’ve always been there. The few that don’t are dealt with.

Through a kind of planet-wide brainwash, the Monks have inserted themselves into every important milestone in human history: the crusades, the moon landing, the defeat of the Daleks, the invention of the fidget spinner. All of it is thanks to our benevolent alien overlords—and all of it is an elaborate mindgame to make us submit to their will instead of kicking up a fuss over the loss of our own.

And while we’re on the subject of mind games, how about the one this episode played on us: that elaborate regeneration ruse the Doctor pulled off in his 2001: A Space Odyssey-esque prison/office was a bit heartless, no?

Consider it a trial run for the real thing. It’s (too) close.

After passing the cruelest test the Doctor has ever subjected a companion to, he takes Bill to meet his BFFLE (that’s Best Frenemy For Literally Ever), who he currently has locked up in a vault. It’s Missy, of course, spending her forced thousand-year sabbatical meditating on the nature of goodness. She hasn’t quite nailed it. She does have a simple solution for besting the Monks though: kill Bill. As the person who handed the Earth over to them, she’s also the lynchpin of their propaganda machine.

The Doctor doesn’t go for it. Instead, he storms fake news central and tries to hotwire his own brain to the powerful transmitter. It’s too strong—even for the Doctor. When Bill steps up to try, it looks like certain death. Instead, she floods the airwaves with memories of her mother, who exists outside the Monks’ grasp of human history. When that one, pure vision of freedom goes viral, the spell is broken and humanity rises up to drive the Monks off our planet. The downside? No one remembers doing it.

Back at the vault, the Doctor hangs out with Missy for a post-apocalypse-averted chat. She seems to have got something in her eye, poor thing.

5 Questions About This Week’s Episode

1. That scene where Bill grabs a gun and shoots the Doctor, the man she sacrificed the entire world for, right in the hearts a bunch of times—who saw that coming? Anyone? Yeah. Us neither.

2. Has Nardole always been super competent and just hiding it this entire time? That nerve pinch move was bad ass.

3. Missy says that the Doctor’s version of good is “vain, arrogant, and sentimental.” Is she right?

4. What are the odds than Missy is faking her guilt over all the people she’s killed? Pretty good, yeah?

5. Did you call your mum after watching this?