‘Doctor Who’: Easy with those assumptions, Cardinal
Series Ten, Episode Six — “Extremis”
By Brandy Dykhuizen. With “Extremis”, we find ourselves halfway through Series Ten, and that means we’re halfway through Peter Capaldi’s home stretch.
It’s really starting to look like Steven Moffat used that time off last year to pen a truly thoughtful send-off. In a show that regularly tries to out-clever itself, a slow build can only mean there’s something worth lingering over around the corner. In that regard, “Extremis” did well to set the stage for a mid-season trilogy.
“Extremis” was a little Matrix-y (but not in an annoying way), asking us to imagine a world in which we are mere simulacra in a malevolent force’s test run on how to destroy our planet. Nardole took the lead (with Bill’s help) in piecing together the function of the projectors within the portals. With holograms of CERN, The Vatican, The Pentagon and The White House, the yet-unnamed monsters played around with various scenarios of how the world’s greatest minds would react to an invasion.
Whoever those baddies were, they clearly designed their virtual reality model pre-November 2016.
Missy (Michelle Gomez) finally returned to us! After a little bait-and-switch preceding an execution, it seemed that she and The Doctor would inevitably find themselves working side-by-side against their shared calamitous foe. (At least momentarily.) Alas and alack, you heard what The Doctor said about assumption…
Sentimentality is something that The Doctor generally shies away from (you’d have to, at that age). So when he faced off with this week’s cardinal-clad foe, he unsurprisingly mused, “I have nothing, not even hope.” He’s not a man of faith or belief, so it was a gut punch when he clutched River’s diary and did a one-eighty regarding what the future held in store. Ah, the power of love.
The Doctor’s blindness remained unknown to Bill by the end of the hour, but she was gung-ho as ever to help (and explore) alongside The Doctor, despite his damaging effects on her dating life. The Doctor, Bill, Nardole and The Master — Moffat has amassed quite the powerful ensemble for this Series. If this crew of players stick together for a bit longer, we could be in store for some of the best dialogue the series has had to offer. (An insanely high bar, I know.)
On that note, the impending Bill/Missy interaction may not go so well for Bill, but we should all be looking forward to the approaching Nardole/Missy snarkfest. No holds barred with those two. Will they be able to work together to save the world?
“Assumption makes an ass out of you.” – The Doctor, to Cardinal Angelo, conveniently ignoring the second part of that phrase to play on a Catholic dogma.
“Your missus wouldn’t approve… Warning! I have full permission to kick your ass.” – Nardole, to The Doctor.
Cardinal Angelo: “The layout is designed to confuse the uninitiated.” The Doctor: “Sort of like religion, right?”
BEST MOMENT: It was inevitable that The Doctor would pitch into one of those intimidating “I AM THE DOCTOR; I AM WHAT STANDS BETWEEN YOU AND THEM” speeches this week, which Peter Capaldi has made so much more believable than Matt Smith ever could. He may be a part of a simulation, but he doesn’t need to be real as long as he can trick the bad guys into their own traps.
EPISODE’S MVP: Nardole! The commentary erupting from that thousand-watt head just gets darker and darker. Plus, now we know he’s the only person licensed to kick The Doctor’s ass, a courtesy he’s more than happy to extend to Bill if she attempts to overstep her bounds. It’s like we’re watching him burst forth from his larval stage into a fully formed, irascible little weevil.
– 3 brain stems, huh?
– It seems the CGI department had Jorah and Tyrion’s boat ride in mind when they concocted the scene heading into the executioner’s planet. The comparison was unavoidable.
– This week, Nardole compared the projections to the Holodeck, and The Doctor referred to space as “the final frontier” last week. They’re really dropping the Star Trek references this season.
– I wasn’t in love the Google Glass imagery of the Sonic Shades this week. No one needs those in their lives.
– The image of Mario committing suicide within Super Mario Brothers has been with me all weekend, to no happy end.
– Thanks for explaining what “Veritas” means, guys.
7.5 out of 10
Next: “The Pyramid at the End of the World”, in one week.
Before: “Oxygen”, here.