Doctor Who Review: “Extremis”


Remember in my review of “Smile”, where I said I hope the streak of good episodes continue?

Well, ladies and gents, I’m afraid that streak ended at five for me.

This post won’t be entirely negative, but if you’re not too keen on negativity, I’d look away now.

**Spoilers Ahead, Sweetie**

A Brief Overview of What Happened

The Doctor (who is still blind, by the way) is called upon by the pope to read a text so ancient that the language of the text is unknown to the Vatican; The Veritas. Anyone who had read/translated the text had since committed suicide. Given suicide is considered a sin by the Catholics, this was a big deal with them to choose to do so after reading some text.

The Veritas speaks of how the world is just a simulation. The world and its people in it aren’t real. The text also speaks of a Shadow Test, offering the readers to find out if they are real or not. They are invited to write down some random numbers, and then turn the page to see if whoever wrote the Veritas has written/guessed the same numbers. The logic behind this is that simulations are never random, therefore the numbers the reader would guess would never truly be random, and they’d be the numbers everyone in the simulation would guess as well. — This is what causes anyone who reads the Veritas to end their own life. Like the Doctor described it “It’s like Super Mario. Figuring out what’s going on, and deleting himself from the game because he’s sick of dying.”

The simulations are created by a currently unnamed alien species, who – like all the bad guys in Doctor Who – want to destroy the world. But to do that effectively, they have been practising. Creating simulations of the world and destroying them repeatedly, until they know how to do it effectively in the real world.

But the Doctor has a trick up his sleeve. Thanks to his sonic glasses, which annoyingly have made a reappearance, he has recorded their entire confession and emails it to himself in the real world. This way, he had a head start. Knowing who his enemy is and what they are going to try to do before they do it. But apparently, he needs help. Help from the person in the Vault… Missy.

Oh yes, it was Missy in The Vault. After being instructed to execute her, the Doctor then made a promise to guard her body for the next 1,000 years. Teeny tiny problem… Missy survived her execution. Obviously.

Disappointingly Obvious

I already had a rant about the ‘big’ reveal of Missy being in The Vault earlier this week on Twitter. But I’m going to do it again. Because I am so disappointed in it… because it was so obvious.

Yes, I know, I predicted it was going to be Simm!Master, and I was wrong, but that’s because I honestly thought that Moffat would be slightly obvious with his choice, but not so obvious as to choose Missy. As per usual, I may have overestimated him a little bit.

Not to mention he revealed to us it was her very early on at the beginning on the episode, along with a series of flashbacks cropping up throughout the episode of how it happened. I honestly feel like it would have been better to leave the reveal until the very end of the episode, and then include the flashback scenes in the next episode. But then, I don’t entirely know the content of the next episode. But hopefully it’s a lot better than this one.

When I first watched the episode it all seemed very complicated. We were in the past, then we were in the present, then we were in the present (in the simulated world, mind) again, then back to the past, then we found out what was happening wasn’t real all along. It was hard to keep up with what was the present, what was the past, and what was real and what was fake. But if you give it a re-watch or two, and then you get past that and realise it was just a decoy of sorts to try and keep you from the fact that this episode wasn’t really needed at all.

Everything that happened in the episode is pretty much magically reversed with a sci-fi version of the typical “it was a dream all along” cop out. Okay, yes, the aliens are still going to attack the world. We learnt that much. But don’t we usually learn that within the first five minutes of every other episode? Okay, sure, the Doctor has the upper hand and is one step ahead now. But other than that, this episode gave us nothing. It is, however, the first part of a three episode story (yes, you heard, three!), so hopefully the story picks up a lot more in the next episode. Missy may be joining us if the Doctor decides he’s really desperate enough to need her help. Could Simm!Master be joining us too?

But will Missy even be able to help? The Doctor’s on oath to guard her body for 1,000 years. Judging by the flashbacks, I’d say half of that time has got to have passed at the least. We see Eleven age a lot in 300 years in The Time of the Doctor, and even more so after that. If Moffat wants to stick to the canon she’s made, she can’t be stepping out of that Vault looking as young as she did when she was put in it (though looking at the trailers she does).

Also, because I’m all about the nit-picking today; why was the Pope’s words not being translated? It’s been established the TARDIS can translate every language in the universe, but it can’t translate Italian? Okay. Go to sleep Moffat, you’re drunk.

Johanna an avid writer and lifelong Doctor Who fan living in the UK. By day she is a student, studying Media and Film Production, and by night she fangirls about all things TV/Film related on Twitter and writes posts for a variety of blogs as well as her own lifestyle blog.