Peter Harness co-wrote this middle part of the current Doctor Who three-parter. His previous Doctor Who credits includes the divisive Kill the Moon and the more liked but unconventional Zygon Invasion/Zygon Inversion two-parter. There is a tiny but odd reference to Kill the Moon when the Doctor describes the Earth of the near future as “as dead as the moon” but UN/geopolitics set-up is more firmly like the Zygon Invasion.
The corpse-like monks are back but this time they’ve brought a pyramid an ancient pyramid and landed in central Asia in disputed territory near Chinese, US and Russian forces. The crisis sends the UN to look for the Doctor, which in turn leads the UN Secretary General to interrupt Bill’s date with Penny.
Meanwhile…in bio-research lab two scientists are conducting tests on plants. Given the flights of fancy of last week’s episode, the scenes in the lab are very grounded and nicely done. Erica (Rachel Denning) and Douglas (Tony Gardner) are presented as just ordinary people doing their job – although their very unconnectedness to the rest of the story creates a sense of lingering doom. Douglas has a hangover, Erica’s glasses were broken on her way to work: minor humdrum events that are setting ominous events in motion.
Good not great but also something of a classic. The story sits, rather like the freaky pyramid, at the borders of multiple Doctor Who elements: an overtly SF story about a bio-engineering threat to life on Earth, a more fantastical story about corpse-like monks in an alien pyramid, and the classic theme of the Doctor stopping multiple armies from shooting each other.