In the middle of a standoff between American, Russian, and Chinese forces in disputed Turmezistan, a 5000-year-old pyramid suddenly appears. The Secretary-General of the United Nations (Togo Igawa) asks the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) to help, since he is, after all, President of the Earth. No-one knows he is blind.
The invading species called the Monks cause every clock in the world to count down to zero, which seems kind of like a bad omen. The Doctor has the military leaders launch co-ordinated attacks on the pyramid, but the Monks easily defeat them. The Doctor, Bill (Pearl Mackie), and Nardole (Matt Lucas) join the leaders in negotiations, using the computer that ran the Monks’ simulations in the previous episode (Extremis). The Monks reveal that the Human Race will destroy itself in a year. The Monks will help prevent this if Earth gives “consent.” Despite the Doctor’s warning that they do not know what consent means, the Secretary-General offers it, but he is disintegrated because he gave consent out of fear and not love.
The Doctor suspects the imminent disaster is not military, but biological. He and Nardole study laboratories that are doing biological work and, through the internal camera systems, find out which one the Monks are watching. They take the TARDIS to that lab, leaving Bill behind. It seems two scientists happen to have created a super-bacterium capable of breaking down all living organisms, which is about to be vented into the atmosphere. The TARDIS arrives and the Doctor sends Nardole back in it, unaware that the android is contaminated. Nardole collapses in the TARDIS. Bill joins the military leaders in an offer of surrender, but the Monks disintegrate the leaders because they consent out of strategy and not love.
The Doctor, with the help of a scientist named Erica (Rachel Denning), makes a bomb to sterilise the bacteria by destroying the lab. But he is trapped inside the lab because he is unable to read the combination lock numbers and is forced to admit to Bill that he is blind. To save him, Bill offers her consent to the Monks on the Doctor’s authority, and the Monks agree because she is doing it out of love. He recovers his vision and escapes, and the Monks take possession of the Earth.
In the original script, the human delegation was to be thinly veiled versions of Kim Jong-Un, Donald Trump, and Jeremy Corbyn, but the BBC balked at this. Critics were generally positive because of the script by Peter Harkness, one critic calling it a peculiar blend of the deadly serious and hilarious hokum. The Doctor insists that Bill take Penny (Ronke Adekoluejo) on a date. Last time, the date was interrupted by the Pope, this time it’s a troop of soldiers. The actual setting of the Doomsday Clock at the time of filming was 2.5 minutes to midnight. No, sorry, now it’s one minute, 40 seconds. This is the second part of the Monks Trilogy.