Doctor Who: “Extremis”

“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.

Title: “Extremis”

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

Premise

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.

High Point

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.

Low Point

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.

The Scores:

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.

Effects: 5/6

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.

Overall: 5/6

In total, “Extremis” receives 34/42

8 replies on “Doctor Who: “Extremis””

  1. Don says:

    My thought on the technology was that with the plot, it was testing to make sure I got this right before I put what I want

    • Don says:

      ok, guess I got the syntax right…

      So anyway, my thought on the technology that the it really wasn’t the doctor, but a simulacrum.
      The aliens, if they could only replicate things they know about. They didn’t know about anything that could replace his sight, thus the simulacrum didn’t know either.

      • zocalo says:

        The non-simulated version of The Doctor was still using the sonic sunglasses in the final scene by the vault though, was he not? Besides, other than the sunglasses, they also managed to simulate a TARDIS, which seems to imply that they either understand a great deal of Timelord tech, or the simulation is somehow being generated from its subject’s own knowledge.

        One thing that did seem strange to me was that people’s response to reading The Veritas would be to commit suicide in every single case. I can see why that would be an option some would take, but depending on the precise wording, you’d kind of think at least some people would be a little more creative; deliberately trying to generate bad simulation data through irrational behaviour, for instance.

        • I kept expecting someone to integrate battle armor technology into their biology and become a superhero when faced with Extremis, but no…

          • zocalo says:

            So many fun options… Sadly, I fear the vagueness about the precise wording of The Veritas, not to mention how it all worked and what limits it may have had, are all going to be mostly – if not entirely – swept under the rug this weekend.

            Still, the basic premise of the tech is kind of neat, and even though we’ve seen something conceptually similar in “The Matrix”, it’s something that seems like it could be used as the setup for some really interesting novels or TV series that take it in entirely different directions.

          • I am glad I am not the only one who thought of that!

  2. So, the opening of this, did it remind anyone of the opening to the Eighth Doctor’s telemovie? Obviously we saw what they were describing, but before the Vault rose out of the sea*, I was expecting that to be the box the Seventh Doctor was transporting.

    *I’ve been playing a lot of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and the Vault’s rise from the water looked like the Cryonis rune’s effect.

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