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The Pyramid at the End of the World was the seventh episode of series 10 of Doctor Who.

The episode is the second part of the Monks trilogy, which sees them arriving on Earth to take it over. It also saw Bill make a deal with the Monks to help the Doctor regain his eyesight, having been blind since TV: Oxygen, in which he was exposed to the vacuum of space.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

At a war zone in Turmezistan where American, Chinese, and Russian armies are about to meet, a 5,000-year-old pyramid stands. It's very strange, but one thing raises the suspicions of the United Nations: it just appeared overnight. The aliens inside claim that humans would cause the death of all life on Earth. Soon, the Twelfth Doctor, Bill and Nardole are facing an invasion the likes of which they have never seen before. Before they invade, the aliens need the permission of humanity.

Plot[edit | edit source]

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On the Doctor's recommendations, Bill brings Penny back to the flat and, in doing so, relays the events experienced in a simulation by replicas of themselves and of the Doctor (including a date between Bill and Penny interrupted by the Pope). It is at this point that soldiers flanking the United Nations Secretary General arrive in the flat, with the Secretary General explaining that they believe Bill can help them locate "the President". Bill denies she has any connection to the President of the United States (stating she would not have voted for him on account of him being "orange") but the Secretary General clarifies he is searching for the man who, in times of crisis, is officially recognised as President of Earth: the Doctor,

Penny leaves and Bill is driven with the Secretary General as he explains the source of the crisis: a pyramid in Turmezistan, a militarily disputed region which has American, Russian and Chinese troops surrounding it. Over the phone, they speak with U.S. Colonel Brabbit who clarifies that the pyramid is 5,000 years old, despite it appearing in Turmezistan less than 24 hours ago.

In the TARDIS, the Doctor monologues about how each person's death is predestined and how each action they take brings them closer to it. Elsewhere, a woman named Erica accidentally breaks her reading glasses as she leaves her home. Although a seemingly minor event on an ordinary day, no-one realises that the sequence of events that will lead to the end of the world has begun...

Bill knocks on the TARDIS door, saying she has been looking for him and that he has been in the TARDIS for hours (he claims he was meditating). She informs him that the UN wants him to go to Turmezistan, and in the process of refusing, the Doctor exits the TARDIS to find himself aboard Boat One, already in transit. Nardole remarks they "wouldn't take 'no' for an answer", and it is implied that the UN removed the wall in the Doctor's office in order to extract the TARDIS. The Secretary General arrives, and begins to explain the situation to the Doctor.

At Agrofuel Research Operations, Erica fetches coffee for herself and her lab partner Douglas, who is severely hung-over. Despite this, she asks him to mix stage two of their biochemical project himself, due to breaking her glasses earlier. As she works, a Monk watches her through a security camera.

As UN troops set up defences around the pyramid and keep back journalists and the local populace, Bill speculates that it is in fact an alien spaceship (and the Doctor agrees). He further posits to Colonel Babbit that its placement is a message to "bring it", which the Doctor proceeds to by approaching the pyramid alone. Due to the Doctor's blindness, Nardole guides him with a microphone in his coat, up to and including the point that a Monk exits the structure to meet him. It states its race's intentions to enslave Earth but also that, rather than being "fought", they will be "invited". The Monks then set all clocks on Earth to 23:57, reflecting the symbolic Doomsday Clock; a warning, the Doctor says, that the world will end soon.

Back in the lab, Douglas struggles to read the measurements for the mixing procedure. His hazy vision causes him to misplace a decimal point, and he accidentally uses 10 times the intended amount of a particular enzyme. The two lab technicians leave the process to complete automatically, as the Monks watch on through the security cameras.

In Turmezistan, the Doctor picks up Ilya Svyatoslavovich, leader of the Russian military, in the TARDIS, accompanied by the Secretary General and Xiaolian, leader of the Chinese military. The four, along with Babbit, Bill and Nardole, meet at the UN base and discuss the reasons for the particular time and place of the Monks' arrival. The Doctor believes it is because it is here that humanity is at its weakest, and so Xiaolian recommends attacking the pyramid as a show of strength. Nardole advises that "force is never the answer" and looks to the Doctor for confirmation, but to his and Bill's surprise, the Doctor agrees with the plan and tells the soldiers to launch a co-ordinated attack. This prompts the Doomsday clock to advance to 23:58.

Later, Bill inquires as to what the Doctor is not telling her, but he says that fear rules him to the extent that he cannot even reveal what scares him. They are interrupted when the pyramid begins to emit a large beam of orange light into the sky.

On a United States aircraft preparing to bomb the pyramid, the craft is consumed by a bright light, at which point all but one (and then all) of its crew are replaced by Monks. The members of the meeting arrive at the pyramid to see the plane entrapped by the orange beam, which gently sets it down on the ground, and to see the Monks disembark and return to the pyramid. The plane's crew then exit the pyramid, unharmed, as well as some Russian sailors, who were crewing a submarine targeting the pyramid with a missile. That submarine is also dropped next to the pyramid by the orange light. A voice invites the leaders into the pyramid to talk.

As the world leaders walk through the pyramid, Bill voices her worries it could be a trap although the Doctor states it's also a chance to learn about their enemies as many traps will expose some form of weakness. At the end of the corridor a monk states that the chain of events that will lead to the end of all life on Earth has begun and that humanity itself will be at fault. The Doctor and the others are lead into a room full of Monks working a bank of monitors. Using these, the monks are able to determine many futures and have detected a catastrophe about to occur. The Monks are willing to avert this and save everyone on Earth and protect the planet forever, and their only condition is that they have to be asked. The Doctor realises this is how the Monks will take control, once they've been asked to take over and save Earth they'll never leave.

The Monks show the Doctor and other leaders what Earth will look like in a year if events proceed on their current course; it is a vision of desolation and destruction, with not a single living thing left alive on the entire planet. The Monks remind the leaders that they only need to ask for help. As the clock advances to 23:59, the Doctor asks why they need permission when they could conquer the planet in a heartbeat. The Monks explain that they don't want to rule through fear as it is inefficient; they must be loved and wanted by the people, so their conquest will last forever.

The Secretary-General, horrified by what he had seen, consents immediately. The Monks scan the Secretary-General and find his consent is given through fear, and is therefore impure. The Monks refuse to accept this consent and reduce the Secretary-General to dust. The Doctor takes charge and tells the Monks that Earth does not accept their help, as he intends to find out what is going to destroy all life and stop it himself.

At Agrofuel, Erica and Douglas are checking the plants but Douglas is feeling so nauseous that he takes off his biohazard suit's helmet to stop himself throwing up. Just then they witness all the plants they're monitoring die and turn into slime and realise something has gone badly wrong. They leave with Douglas grabbing some slime, however in his hurry and panic he forgets to close the airlock door.

In Turmezistan the world leaders consider the idea that a war is what will destroy the planet since it seems the most obvious reason. Brabbit, IIya and Xiaolian agree that they will no long fight each other and shake hands, essentially declaring world peace. However the Doomsday Clock still reads 23:59. The Doctor has already worked out that war is not what will end the world. At Agrofuel, Erica and Douglas realise how deadly the new virus is and make efforts to seal off the lab.

The Doctor explains that Monks landed the pyramid in the middle of a war zone as an attempt at misdirection, and asks what else could end the world other than war. They consider the idea that bacteria will be responsible, while the Doctor notes that whatever is happening is an accident since most plagues discriminates between lifeforms whereas all life, even the animals, will be killed. Since the Monks are trying to distract humans with the pyramid, it stands to reason that whatever is going to end the world will be already on a watchlist. He uses the sonic sunglasses to call up all top-secret documents and sets everyone to work searching them.

At Agrofuel, Erica and Douglas are working on finding out what went wrong when Douglas, who had exposed himself to the virus, collapses and dies turning into slime himself just like the plants. Erica closes the airlock door. The world leaders start to consider doing a deal with the Monks, and the Doctor tries to talk them out of it saying the price is too high. He realises that a biochemical trial of GM bacteria that reached stage two is almost certainly responsible but there's over 400 trials of that kind happening in the world. The world leaders and Bill all decide that the Monks must be surrendered to since it's a choice of conquest or death. The world leaders prepare to negotiate with the Monks, and the Doctor decides to tell Bill he's still blind. However as he goes to do so, a plan enters into his mind that he can blind the Monks' surveillance on Earth. He sends Bill to keep an eye on the world leaders and takes Nardole with him into the TARDIS. Agrofuel is being evacuated while Erica finds the mistake Douglas made in regards to the mixture.

The Doctor and Nardole get the list of biochemical labs on UNIT's watchlist that could cause the end of the world if a mistake was made and hack into and turn off the CCTV. Since the Monks are also watching the lab, they'll be forced to restore the CCTV which will show the Doctor where he needs to be.

It isn't long before the TARDIS appears at Agrofuel. The Doctor and Nardole emerge but the Doctor sends Nardole back to the TARDIS, telling him that although he's only part human he will still be vulnerable to the virus ("I got your lungs cheap"), as well as having him land it close by and monitor his actions. He then starts to get the full story from Erica. Once inside Nardole tries moving the TARDIS but starts coughing having already been exposed to the virus. The TARDIS is also affected and shudders to a halt. The Doctor calls Bill to update her on the situation, and the world leaders agree to wait two minutes before they surrender to the Monks.

The Doctor learns that Agrofuel has a filtration system to take toxins out of the air which will release the virus into the atmosphere in only twenty minutes and can't be turned off. The clock advances to 23:59:40, which prompts the world leaders to go and surrender to the Monks now. The Doctor brainstorms for an idea and with Erica's help realises the easiest and quickest way to sterilise the lab is to blow it up, which should be easy as the virus has been releasing ethanol all around the area.

In the pyramid Brabbit, Ilya and Xioalian all surrender to the Monks. However when the Monks test their consent they find it to be impure as it is part of a strategy and kill them all. The Monks then ask Bill if she consents. Bill argues that she doesn't have the power to do that, but the Monks tell her she does as she represents the Doctor who is the most powerful man on the planet. The Doctor contacts Bill and tells her about his plan to blow up the lab assuring her he'll make it out too. She tells him that the Monks are willing to do the deal with her, but he orders her not to. Bill stalls for time by asking what 'consent' means, and the Monks explain that she must truly want their help despite knowing the consequences, which will allow them to form 'the link'. Bill asks what the link is, but the Monks simply ask for her consent again.

The Doctor has cobbled together a bomb with only a few minutes to go. He sends Erica out of the airlock door and goes into the greenhouse to leave the bomb where the virus was born. Setting the detonator for two minutes to give himself time to get out, the Doctor starts running back to the airlock. With this, the Doomsday Clock starts running backwards as the end of the world has been averted, and the Doctor tells Bill to get out of the pyramid.

Reaching the airlock door, the Doctor finds it locked. Erica can't open it from her side due to the lab's emergency protocols, but tells the Doctor that he can open it from his end by inputting the code into the combination lock. Erica tells the Doctor the four-digit code, but while the Doctor can see the lock the sonic sunglasses don't give him enough detail to allow him to see the numbers printed on the four separate dials. The sonic screwdriver has no effect on the lock, since it requires a manual input, and feeling for the numbers doesn't work either. The Doctor asks Nardole to access the CCTV camera and direct him on what to do, however Nardole is now unconscious inside the TARDIS.

Bill, who has been listening in, asks the Doctor why he can't simply input the numbers, and the Doctor finally tells her that he's blind and has been since Chasm Forge, which is why he can't escape the lab before it explodes. Bill is really upset that the Doctor lied to her for so long, and declares that she won't let the Doctor die but will ask the Monks for help. The Doctor assures her that what's happened is his fault and tells her not to go to the Monks for help since they don't know what she's actually consenting to, but Bill's mind is made up.

Bill runs back to the Monks and makes an offer; she will consent on the condition they use their powers to restore the Doctor's sight. The Monks scan her and declare that she is offering her consent out of love for the Doctor. This makes the consent pure, and the Monks accept it.

In the lab, the Doctor is telling Bill he forbids her to deal with the Monks, when suddenly his sight is fully restored. The Doctor barely has time to register this as he quickly inputs the code and escapes the lab with only a couple of seconds spare before the bomb goes off. As the lab is destroyed, Bill tells the Doctor it's now up to him to get Earth back, while the Monks state that the Doctor will use his sight to see their new world...

Cast[edit | edit source]

Uncredited[edit | edit source]

Crew[edit | edit source]

General production staff

Script department

Camera and lighting department

Art department

Costume department

Make-up and prosthetics

Movement

Casting

General post-production staff

Special and visual effects

Sound



Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.


References[edit | edit source]

Science[edit | edit source]

Locations[edit | edit source]

Technology[edit | edit source]

Organisations[edit | edit source]

Biology[edit | edit source]

Species[edit | edit source]

People[edit | edit source]

Biological data[edit | edit source]

Food and beverages[edit | edit source]

  • Bill and Penny are drinking wine; Bill drinks white wine, while Penny has rosé wine.
  • Erica and Douglas drink coffee.
  • Water is being drunk during the meetings in the base.
  • Nardole mentions air, water, food and beer, as basic necessities.

Events[edit | edit source]

Story notes[edit | edit source]

Rachel_Denning_and_Jamie_Hill_-_The_Aftershow_-_Doctor_Who_The_Fan_Show

Rachel Denning and Jamie Hill - The Aftershow - Doctor Who The Fan Show

This episode's Aftershow on Doctor Who: The Fan Show.

  • This title has the longest word count for a Doctor Who episode, with eight words. By character, however, it is not the longest. That title goes to The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe, with 32 characters over Pyramid's 28. The spin-off series Class trumps them both, with 42 characters in The Metaphysical Engine, or What Quill Did.
  • This episode featured a unique opening sequence in which it jumped back and forward between "Previously" and "Now".
  • A line of dialogue referring to terrorism was reportedly excised from the episode, out of respect for the victims of the Manchester Arena bombing, which occurred five days prior to broadcast.[1][2]
  • When the Secretary General asks about the President, Bill says she doesn't know him, and says he is "orange". While never stated in the narrative, this is a reference to Donald Trump.
  • The Doomsday Clock is maintained by The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Science and Security Board. As the writing of the episode took place in 2016, the time shown in the beginning of the episode is three minutes to midnight. At the time of the broadcast, however, the clock was set at two and a half minutes to midnight.
  • The United Nations is featured throughout in lieu of UNIT. This marks the first time the UN has played a major role in Doctor Who since the real-life organization requested UNIT's name be changed from United Nations Intelligence Taskforce in the mid-2000s to Unified Intelligence Taskforce.
  • When the Doctor regains his sight, "The Doctor's Theme" can be heard.
  • The title of this episode is an homage to Douglas Adams' book "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe", the sequel to the "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". Douglas Adams was a former script writer on Classic Who.
  • This is the last episode in which the Twelfth Doctor is seen playing an electric guitar.

Ratings[edit | edit source]

  • 4.12 million (UK overnight figures)
  • 5.79 million (UK final)[3]
Pearl_Takes_Us_To_Tenerife_-_Doctor_Who_Series_10

Pearl Takes Us To Tenerife - Doctor Who Series 10

Pearl Mackie introduces Tenerife, Spain.

Filming locations[edit | edit source]

Production errors[edit | edit source]

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
  • Although referred (and credited) to as a Colonel, Don Brabbit is seen wearing the insignia of a four star general.

Continuity[edit | edit source]

Home video releases[edit | edit source]

DVD releases[edit | edit source]

This episode was released as part of the Series 10 DVD box set on 13 November 2017.

Blu-ray releases[edit | edit source]

to be added

Digital releases[edit | edit source]

to be added

External links[edit | edit source]

Footnotes[edit | edit source]

  1. O'Connor, Roisin (26 May 2017). Manchester bombing: Doctor Who episode edited after terror attack at Ariana Grande concert. The Independent. Retrieved on 27 May 2017.
  2. Huw Fullerton and Paul Jones (27 May 2017). Doctor Who episode edited for Saturday airing following Manchester bombing. RadioTimes. Retrieved on 27 May 2017.
  3. Ratings DW
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