“Doctor, here’s a tip: When I’m on a date, when that rare and special thing happens in my real life, do not, do not under any circumstances put the pope in my bedroom!”
The episode begins as Doctor Who meets Umberto Eco/Dan Brown and H.P. Lovecraft/Robert W. Chambers, and for all the talk of mass suicides and death, it’s surprisingly hilarious.
The second half takes a dark turn based on some familiar SF tropes.
We also learn who is in the vault and why the Doctor took his vow.
Cast and Crew
Director: Daniel Nettheim
Writer: Steven Moffat
Peter Capaldi as The Doctor
Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts
Matt Lucas as Nardole
Michelle Gomez as Missy
Corrado Invernizzi as Cardinal Angelo
Joseph Long as The Pope
Ronke Adekoluejo as Penny
Jennifer Hennessy as Moira
Ivanno Jeremiah as Rafando
Francesco Martino as Piero
Jamie Hill as the Monk
Tim Bentinck as Voice of the Monks
Alana Maria as Pentagon Official
Laurent Maurel as Nicolas
The Vatican hires the Doctor to solve the mystery of a forbidden book that drives people mad. Behind the plot lurks something darker, which the Doctor will be continuing to face in future episodes.
The performances by the central cast work very well in this script, both in the moments of surreal SF humor and in the Doctor’s reveal of the secret to Bill.
It seems odd the Doctor, with all of his technology (including a Tardis that translates everything) couldn’t do better than a cut-rate LaForge visor to compensate for his blindness. Of course, those glasses play a key role in the plot.
Originality: 2/6 We have a highly entertaining episode that runs with several familiar thriller and SF premises.
Story: 6/6 The episode gets bonus points for working as a stand-alone story, an answer to a lingering question, and the start of a major arc.
Acting: 5/6 The chemistry between the Doctor and his companions has rarely been better.
Emotional Response: 5/6
Production: 6/6 The show has a strong budget– though I cannot help think that the robes worn by the alien executioners came from a back closet of the BBC wardrobe department.
In total, “Extremis” receives 34/42