In case people were not aware of this, Extremis is the first of a 3 part story. With The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) being left blind at the end of the last exciting episode. It was hard to see how this would play out over the next couple of episodes (No pun intended) and if The Doctor will get his sight back. The trailer for Extremis gave very little away in terms of story. Just made sure you knew the Doctor was still blind and for some reason didn’t want to tell Bill (Pearl Mackie). The most important part of the trailer hinted at Missy's return.
So, armed with a mug of tea and some sweets, (Slimming World and I will meet soon). I sat down to watch Extremis. This episode was already being build as the episode that would eventually tell us what or who was in the vault. More on that in a moment. The Doctor is alone in the lecture room of the university when a cardinal comes swooshing in rather silently. I almost thought, ah monster of the week is in disguise. Alas, I didn’t as I was caught off guard by The Doctors shades doing its best impression of Robocop's visor or The Terminators tracking vision. It would be some time in the episode before the mechanics of that would be explained to us. But the Cardinals later followed by the Pope summoned The Doctor, Nardole (Matt Lucus) and very unamused Bill to Vatican to solve the mystery of several dead priest and to read the Veritas from the forbidden library beneath the Vatican.
But while the plot could have easily gone down a Dan Brown's Da Vinci code route. It went down a road I didn’t see coming till much later on. And to add to the plot this week, we are treated to some fill in the blank moments in the shape of a huge series of flashbacks which would answer a few big questions. We found out Nardole's reason for being with The Doctor as he was sent by River Song following her death to keep The Doctor in check and kick his arse if need be. The big take away from the flashbacks was finding out who was in the vault and why The Doctor made a promise to guard the vault.
I have to say I didn’t like the payoff at all. Why? Because it was seen coming a mile away and I wanted to be surprised. More than that, I kinda needed it after the teases and build up. I don’t dislike Missy played by the wonderfully talented Michelle Gomez. But you have throw in some good curve balls to keep the audience coming back. Especially if the rest of the episode can be confusing for some or can just simply not do it for others. Maybe loads of people loved it, but again the pay off brings me round to my low points off the week.
"I am sorry. So sorry" as The Doctor once said. This episode had a lot of low points for me. Lets start with Bill and the fact her character was basically given a lobotomy. For a character who was funny and smart a few episodes ago, how did she not notice The Doctor was blind? Nardole was narrating it all for the Doctor and it wasn’t subtle. Pearl did get the rough end of the script so I can't fault the actress and her one redeeming moment was The Pope in the bedroom and the way she helps Penny on her date. As I said before there were lots of weak points here. The device that temporarily give The Doctor his sight. Nearly gave us a good sub plot for the future. If the Doctor uses it. There would be a payoff down the line for him, I wanted to see that. Maybe not his early regeneration, but the start of his fall. Death isn't always so sudden. I am aware that when the ending is revealed that’s why the device part was null and void. That’s my next point. The ending robbed us of that and to do the whole. It was a VR simulation moment and not explain how it started was annoying and seemingly lifted from something like the Matrix. Also I have to mention the CERN thing. Brilliant minds work there. So why did they make bombs that look like they have been lifted straight from a Road Runner cartoon, Weird style call there. So with the flashbacks not giving me much of a surprise that didn’t help to my feelings on this episode. So was there anything I liked?
Peter playing The Doctor blind was good for a few things. One, we got to some comedic stuff between himself and Matt Lucus. The thing I liked the most about him being blind was this was a great way to show a naked and vulnerable Doctor. One who relied on his companions. I also liked he didn’t get his sight back within 5 mins or within the episode as so many other shows would be tempted to do. While I didn’t like the weird VR plot twist I kinda liked it leading into the next episode and the explanation is that the weird monks wanted to see how the world would react. The scene at the start with Bill on her date with Penny was excellent and very sweet and a good insight into a same sex relationship. But it had something inside that scene, a Social commentary. Something Doctor Who has been doing a lot of this season and as far back as the classic show. In the classic show. Miners strikes in 70s and factories closing was a big social call out by the show amiss it's Sci-Fi glory. This season we have had greed and capitalism in last week's episode and in this week's episode as well the episode called Pilot. We had a social point on a same sex relationship. I applaud the show for this indeed.
So with the episode wrapping up and the trailer rolls and interestingly enough there seems to be no Missy in sight. The Doctor still seems blind which I like. Does that make me weird for liking it? The monks are back and it looks like there is something going on with a pyramid. I highly doubt it will be a call back to a classic episode called The Pyramid Of Mars starring Tom Baker. Well, I will be back with a fresh cuppa. Like my cuppa, I need the show to be a little sweeter next time.
By Graham Leslie