Doctor Who Discussion: Like the Da Vinci Code Meets *SPOILERS* But Good

Posted: May 21, 2017 by J.A. Prentice in Doctor Who Discussions, television
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Welcome to yet another Living Authors’ Society Doctor Who Discussion! Join Jaden C. Kilmer and J.A. Prentice as we examine the latest Doctor Who episode, Extremis. 

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Warning. There are Spoilers ahead. Everyone who has read the Spoilers has chosen Hell. Proceed with caution.

JA: Pick a number.

Jaden: 36

JA: It’s OK, we’re not in a simulation.
Although it would explain our frequently similar episode grades.
Jaden: im gonna take a wild guess and say that trend will continue?
JA: Unless you had an irrational dislike for this episode, I’d say so.
Jaden: oh. I thought it was awful.
JA: I’m sitting here not sure if you’re serious.
Jaden: I’m not.
Just wanted you to remember what disagreement felt like before we both gush for twenty minutes
JA: I have vague memories of such a thing.
Jaden: A long time ago…
JA: Two episodes ago, to be exact.
Jaden: But not this one.
This was great.
JA: I went in expecting greatness and it surpassed my expectations.
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Jaden: I guess that’s really the only question is how great was it?
JA: Not quite Heaven Sent great but definitely top tier great.
Jaden: i have about one complaint. So yeah, not quite heaven sent
JA: Does the complaint involve the terribly shocking reveal of who was in the Vault?
Jaden: Ah. I have TWO whole complaints.
JA: I actually didn’t mind the Vault thing in this episode, because it wasn’t treated as a shock reveal. My issue is more with how the previous episodes built it up like it was supposed to be when it was really obvious.
Jaden: Agreed. Might even be a case of Moffat not being clear about his plan to the other writers
JA: Possibly.
I feel that’s definitely happened in the past.
See Series 6 and Amy and Rory’s complete lack of reaction to the River/Melody stuff in the latter part of the series.
Jaden: yeah so it wont be anything new.
My other complaint is that strange fade cut half way through the episode
JA: What fade cut was that?
Jaden: I’m honestly wondering if something went funky on my DVR. It was shortly after they got to the library. They’re walking around and talking and there’s this slow fade and a cut to him and Missy.
JA: I can remember a lot of fading to black and cut to Missy, so that doesn’t sound like your DVR.
None of them really jarred me, though.
I’ll have to watch it again to see.
Jaden: There was this one in particular that got an audible “um what?” from me and my brother. Who was oddly glued to the screen despite protesting me putting the episode on to start
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JA: I feel like anybody would be glued to the screen on this episode.
Jaden: There was honestly something captivating about it. It wasn’t trying to do too much at once, but the story it was telling was gripping
JA: It was a sort of existential horror, which is surprisingly not something Doctor Who does that often.
Jaden: Yeah it was a different sort of horror. “Dread” more than spookiness
JA: Dread is an apt description.
My worry while watching was that no truth in the Veritas could be enough to justify the whole mass suicide thing, but that actually felt sufficient.
Jaden: Agree, though I understood what was happening before it was explained. Not sure if that’s a sign I read/watch too much sci fi or if Moffat wanted us to know
JA: I worked it out a bit before, but I felt it wasn’t obvious from the start.
I think Moffat wanted us to work it out.
Jaden: Which is refreshing given his achilles heel of not telling us anything then trying to wrap it all up in ten seconds
JA: This episode definitely didn’t suffer from that.
Although it was only (sort-of) part one.
Jaden: Which kinda leads me into what I was gonna say next. Part ones in Doctor Who are usually so well paced.
JA: Yeah, there’s a definite tendency for part ones to be better.
Jaden: But next week is titled Pyramid at the End of the World so it will be 10/10 based on title alone
JA: True.
That is one of the best Doctor Who titles ever. And I can’t even really explain why.
Jaden: It’s just so… grand?
JA: Precisely.
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Jaden: Soooo how’d you think the blindness aspect worked?
JA: I thought it worked well enough.
Jaden: I think it was a little noticable that Moffat didnt plan the episode around him being blind.
JA: I sort of felt that, but I think he rewrote it effectively to deal with the blindness.
I’m a little more concerned about how the rest of the episodes will handle it.
Jaden: Also, has anyone ever written Missy other than Moff?
JA: Not unless he didn’t write all the end scenes for Series 8. And I’m pretty sure he did.
Jaden: Uh the double negative is confusing me
JA: Sorry. I meant that I think he’s the only one who’s written her because I assume he wrote the end scenes/cameos at the end of the Series 8 episodes. She’s only really been in two stories, though it feels like more.
Well, three now.
Jaden: Hmm, thats true. So thats gonna be a tough task for the next writer.
JA: Is she going to be in the next episode?
I wasn’t sure.
Jaden: I assume. Or else the whole set up with her in the execution quadrangle was kinda pointless
JA: I wasn’t sure if it was set up for the next episode or just to let us know who was in the Vault so they could use it to build up to the finale.
I don’t remember her being in the Next Time trailer.
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Jaden: I’d be a bit dissapointed if she doesn’t show up for this storyline.
Missy being in a two part finale about cybermen seems kinda… familiar. for some reason
It does feel oddly reminiscent of something…
JA: I definitely want her to show up.
Especially because I’d be interested to see someone other than Moffat write for her before we have to rely on Big Finish for that.
Not that Moffat isn’t great at writing her. I just like variety.
Jaden: Well looking ahead apparently Moffat has a co writing credit
Calling it now that he writes isolated scenes between her and the doctor
JA: That would make sense.
Or he’s just decided Harness needs someone to hold his hand after Kill the Moon.
He co-wrote the second part of the Zygon story as well, didn’t he?
Jaden: yep. im sure he wrote that epic speech
JA: I think he outright said he did, but I don’t have a quote for that.
BTW, Moffat just confirmed in an interview that I was exactly right about this series deliberately starting slow and safe to introduce Bill.
Jaden: Hm. Well I guess it makes sense but at the same time its kind of sad seeing how good this show is when its trying hard
JA: Agreed. Moffat listed the experimental episodes he liked in the same interview and I realized most of my favorite Doctor Who stories are the crazy experimental ones.
Jaden: well its because Doctor Who can do things no other show can logistically even try.
Which is why episodes like knock knock bug me
JA: I can definitely see where you’re coming from. I think Doctor Who is definitely at its best when it embraces that whole “this show can do anything” thing.
Jaden: Which it did today.
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JA: I’ve said in the past that the “ideal” Doctor Who story needs to have three things:
1. It needs to have a great and creative science fiction/fantasy/etc concept.
2. It needs to have horror.
3. It needs to have humour.
This story hits all three points.
Jaden: Veering off topic, it’s interesting how Vincent and the Doctor only checks one of those boxes for me, yet it’s often held up as an all time great
JA: My checklist falls apart every time I actually think about it because I remember all the great stories that don’t check all the boxes.
But I’d say Vincent and the Doctor is more “really, really good” than all time great.
Jaden: Ugh, we’re agreeing again.
I even liked Nardole this time
JA: I always like Nardole. I just think sometimes he isn’t used enough.
But here he has a clear role and great lines.
I love when he goes from badass to making squealing sounds in a few seconds.
Jaden: I like when he does things other than snark on the outside of things
JA: Him being the Doctor’s conscience at the Master’s execution was great.
Jaden: I was actually referring to the simulation center scenes
JA: That too.
So much stuff was great.
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Jaden: Was there anything not great other than one weird cut and the vault “mystery?”
JA: Not really.
Jaden: Even the Pope/Vatican thing that I was 100% sure was going to be a mess ended up well done.
I actually really liked that stuff.
JA: I was so sure it would be lots of poking fun at religion, but it actually worked well.
Plus the guy playing the Pope looks exactly like the Pope.
Jaden: Oh. the female pope benedict joke didnt land for me. So there’s three things
this episode was really awful on second thought
JA: Three minor nitpicks.
Clearly on par with In The Forest of the Night.
Jaden: Or Stardust.
JA: There was a while when I thought the episode was going to be more nihilistic than it was and have the “real” Doctor Who universe be just a simulation.
But I liked how it ended up.
Even a projection of the Doctor is still the Doctor.
Jaden: that which holds the image of an angel…
JA: Is something that won’t come up again in any of the other angel stories.
Jaden: truer words never spoken
JA: Going back to the episode at hand, I thought the bit with Bill’s date being interrupted by the Pope was really funny.
Jaden: I loved it. Just the sheer absurdity that somehow was also totally explained
JA: That sounds like a good summary of Doctor Who.
Jaden: “Totally explained?”
JA: Point taken.
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Jaden: Wrap up time? Or gush more time?
JA: I think we’ve already gushed quite a bit. So I’d be fine with doing the wrap up.
Jaden: Sure. Brits first.
JA: This is the sort of Doctor Who episode that shows that it still has plenty of life and fresh ideas in it, the sort of episode people will remember years later. It’s Moffat at his insane best. It’s funny, it’s scary, it’s clever, and it’s perfect Doctor Who. It’s like mashing up the Da Vinci Code and The Matrix, if either of those was any good. It’s insane in the best Doctor Who sort of way. It deals with real horror, not just scary monsters in the night but a genuine, existential dread. The Vault reveal was obvious, but the story surrounding it was so well told that I’m still invested. The only question now is if the amazingly titled follow up can possibly live up to this episode. 10/10.
Jaden: Aw damn, looks like we will disagree on the rating.
JA: Still, at least it proves we’re not in a simulation.
Jaden: Moffat shows up the previous writers for the series with an episode that feels almost effortless. A gripping central story that avoids his pitfalls of trying to do too much at once and some great performances and production. The episode was fantastic but, and I admit this is less the episode’s fault than the series as a whole, the Missy/vault story was so underwhelming and easy to see it does damper it a tiny bit. 9.5/10
Join us next week as we examine the greatest title of all time, Pyramid at the End of the World!
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Comments
  1. Still have to skip these.. ugh. So behind since my daughter started her job. She tells me to go ahead, but it is the only common interest we share at the moment so I cannot bring myself to move on without her. Dying to catch up!

    Liked by 1 person

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