Extremis by Steven Moffat
Warning: Major Spoilers!
This episode has a different feel to the 5 that preceded it. They were all very straightforward and simplistic, and while that felt refreshing, I hadn’t released until this episode how much I missed Moffat’s usual style. Extremis has two separate stories at play, a flashback focusing on Missy and the Vault, and the main thrust of the episode in present day, which while still taking its time skipped all over the place while also dealing with the effects of the Doctor’s new state of blindness. And by god it was good!
The comedy was excellent, with Nardole getting his best material since The Pilot and the whole idea of the Pope accidently walking in on Bill’s date was hilarious (as was her oblivious mother who still can’t figure out Bill’s a lesbian). Nardole having to describe obvious events to the blind Doctor without alerting Bill was pretty funny too. Moffat’s always been good at this side of things (unsurprisingly given that he started out writing comedy series) but he really was on top form here. Also, this episode finally proved why Nardole is worth having in the series – Matt Lucas was excellent here and got several great lines (I am slightly worried that only Moffat can really write Nardole, but hopefully some of the remaining writers can prove me wrong!).
Also improving this week was the direction (this is the first time since Smile I was impressed by it) and Murray Gold’s score, which added to the tension in a way it had completely failed to do in Oxygen. The scene where the partially-sighted Doctor was fleeing from the monks in the Vatican library was visually one of the best we’ve got all series, and was a great example of what good direction can do for chase sequences. The Monks’ themselves certainly look (and sound) disturbing, but given how limited their screentime was we’ll have to wait till next time to see what they can really do.
Now looking at the Missy flashbacks: Michelle Gomez was as good as ever. She’s clearly going to have a major part to play later in the season. But the flashbacks were more of an amusing diversion that anything else – a tease for later on. I can’t wait. The revelation that Missy is in the Vault makes sense with everything we’ve seen so far, but there has to be an extra twist about the Vault. Missy being in their isn’t worth all the emphasis that’s being put on it. Knowing Moffat, we definitely don’t have all the answers yet!
The only problem I had with this episode was the whole matrix style resolution to everything – it wasn’t really foreshadowed and felt a bit too out of nowhere for my liking. The main plot was so interesting it felt a bit like cheating to explain it all as a practice simulation for the invasion we’ll see next episode. I can understand why it happened like that but it left me a bit deflated after how good the first 40 minutes had been.
Overall a very good episode with a slightly deflating final 10 minutes of set-up for the second part. Hopefully the next two stories will be worth it!
Rating: 4 out of 5. This series is consistent but it still hasn’t caught fire yet.
Next Time: The Monk’s invasion plans are imminent and the Doctor investigates a mysterious Pyramid that appeared out of nowhere…