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Early in the series in Victorian London there are robots who are trying to repair their ship to continue to search for "The Promised Land" and later in Robot of Sherwood The Doctor finds on the ship that the robots were heading to "The Promised Land".

We know that The Master refereed to The Nethersphere as "The Promised Land" however why were all those robots looking for "The Promised Land"?

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In the case of the Half-Face Man and the Clockwork Droids, the Doctor suggests that it is just something they learned about and came to believe in as a result of them replacing their mechanical parts with organics for so long and humanizing themselves in the process:

HALF-FACE MAN: I will not die. I will reach the Promised Land.

DOCTOR: There isn't any Promised Land. This is just, it's a superstition that you have picked up from all the humanity you've stuffed inside yourself.

However, I don't believe that the knight androids from "Robot of Sherwood" were ever elaborated upon. All we know is that their ship was programmed to reach the Promised Land. (Speculation here, but perhaps their creator, assuming that they had one, heard about it, potentially in a manner similar to the way that Dr. Skarosa "discovered" the voices of the dead in the white noise, and so sent the knights to investigate it? There's nothing in the narrative to really back that up though, as it's just my personal guess.)

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Not sure if its addressed in canon however the term "Promised Land" means basically a land that was promised to them.

Some messianic figure told the robots about The Promised Land so they are searching for it or someone has found it and told others and they are going there.

One person can refer to a promised land that is not The Promised Land of another so The Master may not have been referring to the same place as the robots were.

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I'd suggest that the common theme is the concept of using a "Promised Land" as a means of control. People/autonomous robots forgo something or make sacrifices (of their time, effort) now for the promise of something better later.

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I didn't notice anything to explain this, but we do know that the Nethersphere was a piece of Time Lord technology capable of storing the minds of the dying across time and space.

In order to do this, it would presumably need some mechanism to 'pull' those minds towards it for storage*, perhaps by hooking into a subconscious expectation of an afterlife.

It is not unreasonable to assume that other technological entities might feel that broadcast/pull and be drawn towards it, especially if their technology is partly biological.

Alternatively it could simply be a thread whose conclusion has yet to be revealed and a definitive answer will show up in the fullness of time.


*The more I think about this the more difficult it seems as a technological problem. I mean, sure, super-fancy time lord technology. But everyone from every time? That is complicated stuff!

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  • I'm not sure it was ever said that the Nethersphere grabs minds throughout time, simply that Missy had access to a TARDIS and so could have been grabbing human minds ever since humans had a concept of the afterlife (implying that the Nethersphere is the origin of afterlife myths). – Brian S Nov 10 '14 at 14:56
  • Indeed. So to slightly rephrase what I said, through time, the Nethersphere has been grabbing minds. It may not be reaching out through time, but it has existed at many ( all? ) points in time. – glenatron Nov 10 '14 at 14:59
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I've thought quite a bit about this myself and have come to the conclusion that Missy's goal was to broadcast to as many people throughout time as possible the idea of the promised land in a manner that would convince any race or species to want to arrive there ("it will end all suffering and sickness and so on",For example...) so that she could add that many more people to the Cyberman army. She also clearly enjoys taunting and befuddling the doctor as part of her psychotic nature as well and she was obviously able to monitor the doctor and Clara throughout their shared timeline so it was probably for her own amusement to convince people that she knew the doctor would come across to want to go to "the promised land" merely to watch his reaction or confusion. But ultimately I think the clockwork droids and the robots of Sherwood were just two arbitrary examples of different species influenced to arrive at the promised land by Missy for the mere purpose of additions to her army. Also note that each of these enemies of the doctor appeared to have an actual location or coordinates for where the "promised land" was actually located which I'm assuming was the mausoleum where the Cyberman army was stored.

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