The Doctor Who Regeneration Review is a weekly column cataloging all the times Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor nearly regenerates, or dies, in the latest episode of BBC America’s popular science fiction show. Since this is the
Scottish “cross” character’s final season — a fact the showrunners have enjoyed teasing in the promos — we decided to tease back. Most items are serious, some silly, and all measured with the Doctor’s 💕.
Aside from star turns in “The Pilot” and “Oxygen,” Doctor Who has given new companion Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie) little to do this season. Thankfully “The Lie of the Land” writer Toby Whithouse, whose past writing credits include “School Reunion” and “The Vampires of Venice,” channeled Rose Tyler’s (Billie Piper) literal swing into action from the first season’s premiere episode — metaphorically, of course. After all, Bill’s mission to find and rescue the Doctor from the alien Monks’ control in the first 20 minutes bears all the hallmarks of a fully-formed, ready-for-action companion.
And her moment doesn’t end there, for Bill and the powerful memories of her mother first previewed in “The Pilot” take center stage throughout the episode. This connection informs her as she fights for, briefly against and alongside the Doctor in their quest to defeat the Monks, which first turned up in “Extremis” and invaded in “The Pyramid at the End of the World.” It also helps her to turn the invaders’ plan on its head when the Doctor’s characteristically boastful attempt to do so fails. All of which is great for Bill, though it all may inspire a little bit of déjà vu for devoted Doctor Who viewers.
As Mackie noted in a promotional video, “Lie of the Land” marks the third and final chapter of a trilogy — a serial device often employed by showrunner Steven Moffat, his predecessor Russell T Davies, and others in the show’s 50+ years of existence. Which isn’t a bad thing, per se, though the particulars of this story bear a striking thematic resemblance to those displayed by Davies three-part conclusion to the third season. “Utopia,” “The Sound of Drums” and “Last of the Time Lords” pitted David Tennant’s 10th Doctor and Freema Agyeman’s Martha Jones against John Simm’s Master. Coincidentally, “Lie” features the Doctor, his current companion, and Missy (Michelle Gomez) — a new iteration of the longtime villain.