Doctor Who Season 10, Episode 6 – Extremis

Doctor Who Season 10 Episode 6 - Extremis. The Doctor (PETER CAPALDI) - (C) BBC - Photographer: screen grabs
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THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

We’re at the half way point now through Peter Capaldi’s final season in the TARDIS and so far the show has had a promising start. Bill (Pearl Mackie) has proven to be a more than worthy companion for the Doctor and even Nardole (Matt Lucas) has started to redeem himself as a character as he’s moved away from the role of comic relief for the show. This episode is probably one of the most significant at this stage of the series though with a major series reveal, along with it being the first multi-part story of the season…

The story kicks off with the Doctor talking with his unknown captive once more in the University’s basement, still blinded by his rescue of Bill while on the mining station. Midway through the conversation he receives an urgent message through his glasses (which he has adapted to act as a visual aid)…

It appears that the Doctor has been urgently summoned by the Pope. An ancient book has been uncovered, the Veritas, but it is written in a long-forgotten language. Anyone who has tried to translate and read it is found dead -by their own hand – and the Doctor is asked to help. The Doctor and Nardole head to the Vatican immediately (with a TARDIS containing the Pope and his entourage), picking Bill up along the way, interrupting a date.

Doctor Who Season 10 Episode 6 – Extremis. Bill (PEARL MACKIE), The Doctor (PETER CAPALDI) – (C) BBC/BBC Worldwide – Photographer: Simon Ridgway

Arriving at the Vatican the Doctor finds the book in the bowels of the Vatican’s vast underground library but there are also hidden secrets lurking underneath… another victim of the book’s mysterious abilities, strange portals amongst the corridors and creatures that approach and try to attack the Doctor while he attempts to translate the Veritas himself.

Bill and Nardole are split from the Doctor and when exploring the corridors they encounter one of the portals and enter it, discovering a strange brightly lit room, the walls surrounded with identical portals. Each portal transported the duo to a different location from the Pentagon, the Vatican, to a scientific research facility where the duo made an unnerving discovery. Everyone there seemed to be aware that they weren’t what they seemed to be and upon returning to the hub, Nardole explored that theory further, believing that each portal was a projection and that they were inside a simulation. His theory was correct but with dire consequences as he too proved to be a simulation…

Doctor Who Season 10 Episode 6 – Extremis. The Doctor (PETER CAPALDI) – (C) BBC/BBC Worldwide – Photographer: Simon Ridgway

Bill discovered the Doctor in another simulation, this time the Oval Office where the Doctor confirmed Nardole’s suspicions. He explained to Bill that the Veritas talked of simulations being created that were run to test how populations would react as an advanced preparation for an invasion and that they were infact inside an alien-created simulation of Earth. One of the creatures appeared and approached Bill, who too was simply an illusion as was indeed the Doctor himself. However, the Doctor, as many of the simulations before him, had developed self-awareness and managed to use the recreation of his glasses to send a message to himself in the real world providing an advance warning of the upcoming invasion…

Doctor Who Season 10 Episode 6 – Extremis. The Doctor (PETER CAPALDI) – (C) BBC/BBC Worldwide – Photographer: Simon Ridgway

The big reveal I mentioned at the start was covered throughout the episode through flashbacks when we final discover the identity of the occupant of the vault the Doctor has been protecting. Sentenced to death on an alien planet, the Doctor was tasked with carrying out an execution order on Missy and then guarding her body for 1,000 years. Unable to carry it out, he altered the equipment and saved his former friend only to imprison him instead, much to the chagrin of her former captors. And you can be sure that these flashbacks won’t be the last we see of her either if the closing remarks from the Doctor to her through the vault are anything to go by…

So what did I actually think of the episode itself? This is probably the first one of the season that left me feeling somewhat underwhelmed. While I didn’t particularly hate the episode, I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about it either. The “reveal” that the Doctor was looking after Missy wasn’t too great a revelation, especially as Michelle Gomez had been confirmed as being a part of the series from the beginning. In fact, most suspected that it was either Missy or the Master trapped inside (following the confirmation of John Simm’s return to the show as well) so it was no real shock.

The story itself seemed to be quite disjointed from the mystery surrounding the Doctor and the frustration he was battling with to uncover the hidden secrets within the Veritas, in contrast with the exploratory role given to Bill and Nardole who seemed to play a bigger part in revealing the true nature of what was going on. However, it did feel to me as if it were simply an opportunity to throw in a few pop culture references (during Nardole’s revelation to their circumstances) and a rehash of the clichéd dream plot device (remember Dallas anyone?).

Doctor Who Season 10 Episode 6 – Extremis. Monks – (C) BBC/BBC Worldwide – Photographer: Simon Ridgway

Finally the aliens themselves. They didn’t feel particularly menacing in any way and while obviously the entire episode really was designed to set up the second Earth-bound episode which sees the return of UNIT I do wonder whether this episode was needed at all and whether we could have had the Missy flashbacks included in a completely different story altogether as they not only seemed wasted here but overshadowed the rest of the episode. Weakest point of the season so far.

All photos are © BBC and used with permission.

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About Simon Plumbe 142 Articles
Husband, father and lifelong geek. Originally from the West Midlands, now spending my days in South Wales with my family and a house full of animals. Passionate about video games, especially retro gaming, the Commodore 64 and PlayStation Vita. Love pro wrestling, sci-fi and I'm an animal lover and vegetarian.Enjoyed this and my other articles? Why not buy me a coffee: http://ko-fi.com/simonplumbe