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04 June 2017 @ 09:16 am
I really liked Extremis even though I think, as a story, it is a lot less well constructed than either Knock! Knock! or Oxygen.

Structurally I felt the two plots (the Veritas plot and the Missy plot) did not have a great deal to do with each other. There was some attempt to thematically link them but this felt like Moffat wanted the mid-season episode to be the reveal about what was in the vault but then somehow lacked the energy or interest to build an entire story around that and so came up with a half hour plot that could kick off what DWM seem to be referring to as "The Monk Trilogy". If I thought the Monk trilogy was more integral to the season conception as a whole, I would say the episode's problem was trying to fit two arcs into one episode but I get the impression the "Monk" trilogy was more accidental in the way it arose than that. Secondly the Veritas plot lurches from comedy Pope moments, to secret vaults under the Vatican, to Cern in a series of events that are tonally rather too diverse.

However, there was lots I really, really liked here. I liked the "it is all a simulation" idea even though The Matrix annoys me intensely, possibly because, at least to me, it didn't seem to think it was being as novel and clever as The Matrix did. Also The Matrix's humans as batteries idea is really stupid. I also like the fact that, unlike many it-was-all-a-dream/alternate-reality type plots in SF, this one was allowed to have meaning back in the "real world" of the show. I liked the pseudo-random numbers idea for all a sophisticated computer simulation probably wouldn't work like that, but it made a neat plot point out of something that is close enough to an actual-fact about computing to please me. I liked the fact that the person in the vault is the obvious person in the vault (I note this isn't the first time Moffat has done this, River Song turned out to be the Doctor's Wife which was the obvious inference from her behaviour in Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead). I, once again, liked the interactions of Bill and Nardole.

I had a number of nit-picks about the episode - why isn't the Doctor using OCR? would people really commit suicide? - but I've listened to a few podcasts since and have been interested to see several justifications for these. The Doctor doesn't use OCR on the Veritas until he is somewhere he can't be overheard (because he doesn't want to risk the life of anyone else - not that that explains what is going on in Pyramid a the End of the World) and although the Vatican has inferred that everyone who reads the Veritas commits suicide - the fact that Bill, on learning the secret, is deleted from the simulation by a monk means that all the people who read the Veritas and simply went missing may not have killed themselves. This may be an episode who's internal consistency actually holds up better on a re-watch.

After two episodes I felt were well-constructed but ultimately a little unambitious, I liked an episode which might have been rather messier but had a lot of interesting ideas baked into it and which executed what is, let's face it, a fairly standard SF trope without falling into some of the pitfalls of that trope.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/450795.html.
philmophlegm: dalekphilmophlegm on June 4th, 2017 06:45 pm (UTC)
I liked it as a three parter. Good suspense. I like the Monks as monsters, and I like that they were left somewhat mysterious. I hope we'll see them in the future. I'm liking Nardole a lot. And even Bill was ok, particularly in this last episode.

One thing that is bugging me about this series is incidental music. There's too much of it. It's a feature of New Who in general, but it seems to me to be getting worse.
louisedennislouisedennis on June 4th, 2017 11:12 pm (UTC)
I just watched the last of the three parter and I'm in two minds about the whole thing. I feel a lot of stupidity happened at various points to get the story from A to B (particularly in the middle). I also feel there was an odd fairytale logic to the whole thing and I haven't decided quite whether I think it worked or not.

Weirdly I hardly ever notice the incidental music. People have been complaining about Murray Gold since 2003 and he's barely ever impinged upon me - though I do recognise what I believe is supposed to be the eleventh doctor's theme (though it seems to get used for Capaldi quite a bit as well). I do think the show often has a problem with dialogue getting overwhelmed by background music and the like - it was particularly bad with Tennant and Smith both of whose Doctor's tended to speak very fast in a crisis but it still happens. However I suspect that is a technical problem with sound balance rather than something specifically to do with the music per se.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on June 4th, 2017 09:08 pm (UTC)
I liked this a lot, but you probably expected me to like something so solipsistic! (I don't like The Matrix either, though.) I also wondered why everyone who read the Veritas committed suicide; surely there are other ways to deal with such a revelation.

I was disappointed that Missy was in the Vault, though, as it seemed too obvious; having now seen The Lie of the Land, I fear Moffat is reprising the Master's thread from The Sea Devils very, very slowly. Why do you think doing the obvious is a good thing? Or is it just better than the kind of complicated story arcs that drove Moffat's first few years as showrunner?
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on June 4th, 2017 11:20 pm (UTC)
Hmm... complicated question about obvious answers. I think, I suppose, that a mystery story needs to be constructed backwards from the answer in order to be satisfying so that clues, omissions and red herrings make sense within the sequence of events. And sometimes that naturally means that the audience can put the clues together and reach the correct answer particularly in a show like Doctor Who which isn't really about a mystery that needs to be solved on a regular basis. Sometimes, I think also, in a show like Doctor Who, having the obvious answer be the correct answer helps to keep the Doctor guessing.

I don't particularly mind complex arcs, but I do object if I think events are being made up as they go along and while I'm ready to believe Moffat had the general framework of the 11th Doctor's arc in mind from the start, I doubt he had much of the details nailed down because too much of what we get told doesn't quite fit together - particularly where River was, when as a child.