In Review: Doctor Who – Extremis

The Vatican appeals to the Doctor for help. Can he survive the ultimate truth?

Synopsis: Hidden within the library of blasphemy deep in the heart of the Vatican, there lies a book. Known only as the Veritas, anyone who reads the contents faces repurcussions. As the viral tome spreads across the web the Vatican appeals to the Doctor for help. Can he survive the ultimate truth?

Review: In this episode the Doctor is summoned to the Vatican by the Pope, played by Joseph Long. He, Bill and Nardole journey inside the Vatican’s library of blasphemy where the Doctor finds the Veritas, a text that causes anyone who reads it to kill themselves. While the Doctor attempts to regain his sight Bill and Nardole are sent to look for a mysterious man who sent an electronic copy of the Veritas across the world. The two companions discover that they are simulations in a giant computer as does the Doctor who e-mails the genuine Doctor for help. The episode ends with the Doctor asking Missy how he can save the world when he is still blind.

This was a phenomenal episode. The shots of the Doctor in the darkened lecture theatre were very atmospheric and served as a nice metaphor for his condition. The music in this scene was great and very similar to the Da Vinci Code. There were some nice callbacks to past Doctors, with the “execution” of Missy reminiscent of the TV Movie and 12’s summons to the Vatican not unlike 11’s call to the National Gallery in London, only darker. Bill provides a very human counterbalance to the intrigue and otherworldliness around her. Special mention must go to Bill’s line “You’re all going to hell.” when the Pope and several cardinals ruin her date with Penny, played by Ronke Adekoluejo.

There is an excellent and very human exchange between the Doctor and Nardole when Nardole says that the reason the Doctor doesn’t want to tell Bill about his blindness is that it becomes real if he does so. I felt this was great handling of how someone would respond to a real life issue that was very welcome in this episode. Another good moment was when Nardole took off his glasses and became very intense to get Bill to listen to him. It’s good to see Matt Lucas be able to do other things than comedy in this series. It is interesting that Nardole is the only person licensed to “kick the Doctor’s arse” presumably by River Song. I look forward to seeing how this plays out.

This episode contains some great sequences when a partially sighted Doctor is fleeing from the aliens and when the CERN scientist makes Bill and Nardole call out random numbers. I thought that scene in particular was very unsettling, with the scientists seemingly celebrating but actually about to kill themselves. Michelle Gomez shows real vulnerability and desperation when Missy is about to be executed and we find out that she is the person inside the vault. Peter Capaldi shows his incredible acting ability when the blinded Doctor faces down the aliens at the episode’s climax and delivers the great line “Right now belief is all I am”. Also amazing is the exchange between the Doctor and Bill when the Doctor explains that the world is not real. Both Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackie deserve huge credit for their performances here.

Overall this was a stupendous episode. I want to find out more about the aliens that were introduced in this episode and I want to see how the Doctor copes with his blindness.

9.5
Doctor Who - Extremis
  • Story
    9.5
  • Acting
    9.5
  • CGI
    9.5
  • Incidental Music
    9.5
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