Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * * *
Cast: Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, Matt Lucas, Michelle Gomez, Corrado Invernizzi, Francesco Martino, Ronke Adekoluejo, Jennifer Hennessy, Ivanno Jeremiah, Joseph Long, Alana Maria, Laurent Maurel.
The truth we seek, for the vast majority of times we find we cannot handle the revelation, that for all our sophistication and 21st Century thinking, we are still creatures often afraid of the dark and superstitious of what the light might bring; that we huddle together to plot the downfall of one because they bring knowledge that might disturb our tranquillity and comfort. In the veritas we seek but in the extreme and revolutionary we become as blind as those who refuse to bear witness.
If in the truth we seek then at times it is hidden from us for our own protection, and the extremes of our knowledge are tested beyond our possible dreams and nightmares; for in The Doctor we trust and in the Extremis we open our eyes to the possibility that all we hold dear is nothing but an illusion.
The trouble with humanity can be boiled down to the one beautiful thing that separates us from the rest of the creatures we share the planet with, the seemingly unlimited power of our imagination, it can be used for such great things but it also brings with it the responsibility of destruction and in the belief that our lives may be only the construct of a being playing a simulation, in that our imaginations go into overdrive.
The simulation hypothesis is not a new one, however, in the hands of Doctor Who it can be made to feel as modern and contemporary as the latest gadget or the long awaited reveal. The story, arguably one of the strongest pieces of writing across the entire series, also bring Matt Lucas’s Nardole completely into the realms of accountability and absolute favour; he has grown into the part with speed and whereas in the two Christmas outings the character had, he now has matched any of the great male companions for his loyalty to the role and to the Doctor.
Extremis asks us to see beyond what we might consider to be real, what we might see as our own drifting mortality, that we might be the construct of someone else’s imagination and the simulation that is in play; it asks us to be careful with our time for who knows when someone might pull the plug.
Not just a great episode but one of the finest pieces of writing to be brought out into the open by television, a true and faithful episode in the traditions of Doctor Who.
Ian D. Hall