Sunday, 21 May 2017

Dr Who — Series 10: Episode 6 — Extremis

Can I ask you a question?

I may as well: I’ve been doing that for quite some time.

It’s this.

Do you watch Dr Who, at all?

I have: for much of my life.

Ever since I was a child, remembering the vague nightmares the Jon Pertwee Inferno gave me.

Which possibly explains a lot … !

At ANY rate?

“Do you watch Dr Who?” is rather rhetorical.

If you do … ?   You’ve possibly seen this weeks episode, Extremis.   Or, at least, have it lined up on iPlayer.

If you haven’t?

You’ve missed possibly the weakest episode of the series thus far.

But in saying that?   It’s possibly a lot stronger than quite a lot of what’s gone before it … 


Episode 6 — Extremis — opens by showing us the 12th Doctor on an unnamed planet: where he’s summoned to perform the execution of Missy: and hold her body for at least a millenium.   The container for Missy’s corpse?   Is the by now familiar Vault: one the Doctor has told the Index he will be guarding for a millenium … 

Flashing forward … ?

Flashing forward, We find the Doctor has modified his sonic sunglasses … to give himself a limited amount of sight in an increasingly dark world.

Only to see find that he’d need more than just eyes to deal with his visitors: The Pope, himself, accompanied by several senior cardinals.

Hidden in the darkest part of the Vatican’s library is the Haereticum: the library containing the stuff the Vatican wants kept out of the way.

They’ve recently started working on translating an ancient text called Veritas: truth, if you don’t speak Latin.

It’s giving the Vatican, its academics, AND the Pope, problems.

Everyone that reads it … commits suicide … 

They need someone who can’t see, to read the thing for them … 


Now … 

Possibly weakest … ?

Yes, I do mean possibly.

Although, thinking about it?   I should scrub the word weakest, and insert the phrase least action-packed.

The Pilot, Smile and Thin Ice have all been pacey, action pieces: although season ten is darker and scarier than the preceding nine, those first three episodes have bumped along at a nice trot.

Extremis, on the other hand?

Extremis, on the other hand, and in common with Oxygen has a slower pace to it: and is going for scares.

Scares … and a certain amount of thought, as well: in referencing the Catholic Church, for example — something I think Moffat is fond of doing — he gives us an organisation that’s almost the human equivalent of the Timelords, themselves: murky politics, arcane organisation … and a tendency to stick around for centuries.

Packed into the episode?   Is the idea that some groups on Earth know the Doctor and his fellow Timelords are out there: and, unlike upstarts like UNIT or Torchwood, have been around for centuries.   They*† know he’s out there, and, in referencing an earlier pope who’d met the Doctor, know he’s got his uses.

There’s possibly more.   In telling us exactly who is in the Vault, Extremis is contributing more to the series ten arc … 

And does so in a way that will grab the attention of computer game fans, and any one that appreciated the ideas in The Matrix, or Mr Robot: that, sometimes, reality is not what it seems, that what we see isn’t what is.

I know this.

I want to see next week’s episode: I want to follow the Monks back to their lair …

To see the Doctor cured of his blindness … 

To see Bill go on a date …

And to ask you a question.

We’ve seen an episode, tonight, that sees a bunch of powerful, and monastic, aliens using a powerful computer simulation to map what they want to do, and predict the outcome of something.

I think that’s a big clue: although I could be wrong.

I realised, as soon as I mentioned The Matrix, there’s only one other species in the Dr Who universe with computers that powerful.

If you’re reading this, Mr Moffat?

Are the Timelords due back … ?


I know I’d be interested to find out … 

*        One could argue differently, of course: as the Vatican we see is a computer generated, artificial, copy of the real thing.   Which is why I think the TARDIS translation system doest translate the pope when he’s speaking Italian: the Monks haven’t quite got the simulation right.   But, implicit in A Good Man Goes to War and The Time of the Doctor?   Is the idea the Catholic Church will stick around — in one form or another — for quite some time.   The Papal Mainframe, remember … ?

†        The other group?   Is the British Monarchy.   Liz Ten, Queen Regnant of the UK of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, had grown up on stories of the Doctor: dating back to Elizabeth 1st.

No comments: