The Doctor and Bill found themselves in a very tight spot during this week’s episode of Doctor Who, The Pyramid at the End of the World.
Having once again encountered the mysterious alien Monks, the Time Lord and his companion were shown a vision of the imminent demise of all life on Earth thanks to a deadly man-made enzyme. The Monks offered to prevent the apocalypse but in return they wanted mankind to willingly embrace its own enslavement.
The Doctor had a solution: destroy the enzyme himself before it could escape, leaving the Monks with no bargaining chips. But his plan backfired when he failed to take something into account.
Now, I’m not saying I’m smarter than a 2,000-year-old Time Lord but I think I’ve come up with a solution that would have solved the problem and prevented the Monks from taking control of the human race.
Here’s the situation the Doctor is faced with, and what I think he should have done to get out of it…
A science laboratory: a makeshift bomb put together by the Doctor is counting down two minutes until it explodes. When it does, it will destroy the lab and everything inside it, including a deadly enzyme that would otherwise have wiped out all life on the planet – oh, and the Doctor himself.
The only means of escape is a door sealed with a large combination lock. The lock consists of four cylinders, with ten flat edges displaying the numbers 0 to 9 in order. The Doctor has the combination – 3-6-1-4 – but what he doesn’t have is a working pair of eyes. As he confesses to Bill, he’s still blind. The Sonic Sunglasses will show him the shape of the lock but not the numbers and the Sonic Screwdriver won’t open the door.
Time is ticking down and he’s preparing to die for a good cause – saving the Earth. Again.
But Bill won’t let that happen. On her phone, she’s in contact with the Doctor, she knows exactly what is happening. So what does she do?
In the episode, she heads back into the giant pyramid that has materialised in the desert to consent to the wishes of the Monks. If she asks for their help with love in her heart, they will use their power to restore the Doctor’s eyesight and he can escape (good). But that will also give them the go-ahead to enslave the world (less good).
As we see from the trailer for next week’s episode, the Earth under the Monks is a dystopian future where people appear to be brainwashed with no memories of their past (except for Bill, the one who made the deal).
But it could all have been avoided.
I’m pretty sure I’ve thought of a way that the Doctor could have blown up the lab, saved the world, got through that door and avoided surrendering Earth to the Monks. And it involves an everyday piece of technology that we know the Doctor carries with him – a smartphone (“don’t look at my browser history”). And what does a smartphone have on it? A camera.
My solution is simple: the Doctor points his phone at the combination lock and takes a photo. He sends the photo to Bill, who then tells him which numbers are currently showing on the lock and in which direction the cylinders move (it’s highest number at the top, lowest at the bottom). Each number has its own face on the cylinder so by touch the Doctor can then move each cylinder on the lock the correct number of places to line up the code.
It’s currently on 8-1-0-3, so he moves it up five places to 3, down five places to 6, down one place to 1 and down one place to 4. The door opens, he’s out of there, the lab explodes, the deadly enzyme is destroyed and the Monks can get back in their pyramid and go find some other planet to mess with.
Even if for some reason, the Doctor doesn’t happen to have his phone with him, I refuse to believe that with the tech inside his Sonic Screwdriver and Sunglasses he can’t take and transmit a basic picture of some numbers.
Is there a hole in my logic? If so, I’m sure you’ll let me know. Either way, perhaps it’s a good thing the Doctor didn’t come up with that solution – next week’s episode looks like it could be a lot fun…
Doctor Who continues next Saturday on BBC1