DOCTOR WHO Review: “Extremis”

In which DOCTOR WHO makes us feel bad for characters in video games.

Well, Brad Pitt’s Detective Mills character from Seven would be really happy with the latest episode of Doctor Who. That’s right you guys we finally find out what’s in the box. The latest episode cold-opens with a title card displaying “A long time ago,” and goes on to show the Doctor acting as a would-be executioner for Missy. In addition to the execution, the Doctor also agrees to the duty of watching over the vault for the next one-thousand years. Boom! Finally, the mystery of who is inside is revealed.

There had been quite few clues leading up to the reveal but it feels great to know with certainty that we are dealing with Missy. Michelle Gomez again brings her unique twist on the Time Lord baddie. When we first see her, she is scheduled for a brutal and true Time Lord execution. One that stops both hearts at the same time, prevents regeneration and is followed by long imprisonment. For the first time ever we see a desperate and not in control version of Missy.

In “Extremis,” the Doctor is approached by the Vatican, Pope and all, to investigate an ancient document called the “Veritas.” The Doc, Bill and Nardole head out to a secret library containing heretical texts in order to find out why everyone who reads the text commits suicide shortly after. When they arrive, they find a rouge priest who emailed the Veritas text out to a large audience leading to some big problems and some pretty cool twists.

Since the Doctor is still blind from last week’s episode he is using his trusty sonic sunglasses in order to get a rough look at his surroundings. Nardole finally brings out the funny in a true Matt Lucas voice. He acts as the Doctor’s eyes and is revealed to be an apparent badass who is capable of “kicking the Doctor’s ass.” We don’t get much of their interaction but I appreciated what we did receive this time around. Speaking of the Doctor’s blindness, he has to use a device that borrows from his own future in order to briefly regain eyesight in order to read the Veritas. This is one of those things that you can tell is going to have a big impact on something significant later in the series. It may even lead to something surprisingly different with his next regeneration. Could this be the reason he finally comes out as a ginger? Or will a future regen be blind? We will have to wait but I dug the heck out of that plot device.

In the episode’s big twist, we find a very Elon Musk turn. The Doctor reveals that the entire thing was a shadow simulation created by an alien race who intends to invade earth. These evil dudes have been running multiple simulations over the years in order to see every possible scenario ahead of time, including a scenario where the Doctor saves everyone. Being the smarty-pants that the simulation Doctor is, he manages to send an email out to the real Doctor in order to warn him about the bad dudes that are on the horizon and about the simulations they have been running.

I absolutely loved the Doc’s explanation of why people killed themselves to end the simulation. Such a heavy Moffat thing to say. Because of it I’ll never play Super Mario Bros. or shoot people in Grand Theft Auto in quite the same way.

I always find religious based episodes of Doctor Who really fascinating. This isn’t the first time the show has taken its science roots and crossed them over into the lines of faith. The Doctor has always taken the church seriously as he does science. In classic Who episodes the Doctor has admitted to believing in both. When faced with the Veritas and the new impending threat the doctor ponders what could possibly scare both particle physicists and priests alike. I like that such a science heavy series remains open-minded in both areas, sure it’s conflicting but I like the complexity of that. I like my sci-fi heroes snooty free.

Things look pretty bleak. So bleak, the Doctor is turning to his nemesis in the vault for help. I’m starting to foresee a Doctor and Missy team up. I gotta say, that would be a hell of a way to end Capldi’s run too. Gomez and Capaldi have been amazing in previous episodes on separate polar ends of the good guy bad guy dynamic. The idea of having the two Time Lord personalities join forces is exciting as all heck.