TV OK, let's get the important business out of the way first. The Pope's emergence during Bill's date is one of the funniest tv moments I've seen in quite some time. I laughed loud, I laughed hard, again in a way which I haven't for a while either, and was just the thing after what has, for various reasons been a really stressful day.  If Steven Moffat's good at anything it's writing broad comedy especially when it's based on socio-political themes requiring the viewer to appreciate a certain level of intertextuality.  It's the kind of unexpected juxtaposition which is Stephen Poliakoff's stock in trade but done for laughs and if Pearl has a better bit of reaction business this year, it'll be quite the year.

Except, it didn't happen.  The real Bill wasn't on that date.  It wasn't the real Pope.  Her date hasn't really met her yet and so the whole underlying premise of the scene has rather had its fronds knocked  out from under it.  It's a simulation and however much the conclusion, in copying the Doctor into the experience, attempts to give that half of the episode some relevance, unless there's some updated coding in a future episode can't stop me from being really rather disappointed.  Dreams and alternate realities are Moffat's b-plot when he can't work in a paradox and here's another version and by the end of the episode it left me deflated, immediately DMing a friend with "God, that was boring."

Now clearly, that's a slightly unfair assessment.  The execution of Missy scenes are very well executed and it's refreshing to have an episode structured in a similar way to Lost with a flashback sequence threaded through underpinning the action on the island.  Knowing that even the least knowledgeable of viewers would assume that Missy was in the vault, Moffat successfully provides a few twists even if the Doctor is ultimately trapped in just the same position as Rory and the Pandorica, albeit for different reasons.  Some might criticise the Doctor for using his CV as a deterrent again but as I've said previously, there's nothing especially wrong with the Doctor redeploying old tactics if they work, especially a weapon this powerful.

Hopefully this won't be Missy's denouement and we'll have the "surprise" that when the Doctor opens the vault, John Simm'll be in there, the Master revisiting one of his old faces.  It makes sense that she's leaving though; the Master has to be reconfigured to reflect the Doctor and one of the reasons the Ainley model never did quite jibe with either Six or Seven was because he was too much the opposite of the Sixth, right down to the clothes and outlandish personality.  When Romola Garai does take over from Capaldi, she needs someone who'll play against her strengths which will depend on how they pitch her character, if they go period or contemporary.

Plus the metatextual reference to The Da Vinci Code in the Veritas, a book so awful you want to kill yourself.  Or give it to Oxfam.  A lot.   Part of  Dan Brown's modus operandi is to have his readers question the nature of reality and how everything is connected, an experience these whispers and shadows go through when they realise that there's no such thing as a random sequence of numbers (see also Lost again).  But a version of the episode which isn't set in some other reality and have the Missy b-story could have delved deeper into spoofery with a more intricate mcguffin to investigate, which would have felt a bit more "Doctor Who" to be honest (for whatever that's worth).

But none of this can overcome of the shadow of this being an example of just the sort of episode which writer's bibles and creative writing tutors warn us against.  It's is a relatively novel twist to have a character realise they're not real within the dream rather than the character realising the dream isn't real but on rewatching we'll be seeing scenes between characters that aren't actually happening (within fiction framework of the show) and essentially exist to provide the Doctor with an inciting incident for the next episode which previously has just as easily been explained to a companion by the Time Lord in a console scene during the teaser.

That said, there's something about the lavishness of the production design which suggests this won't be the last we'll see of these locales however important it is have them be convincing enough to fool these also not real Bill and Nardole.  Hum.  In the next episode but one, will we see the invasion itself being played out in just these places, these same characters re-appearing on the "real" Earth?  I wish that the show was simply doing stories set in these places; a stand alone episode featuring the Pentagon would be great fun as would a piece at CERN revisiting one of Torchwood's old locales.  Politics and physics have been potent themes in the past.

In this post-broadcast interview for the Radio Times, Moffat says that if you didn't enjoy Extremis, "there’s a space pyramid on the way. And Ice Warriors. And Mondasian Cybermen, and more Missy, and John Simm’s Master. Damn it, we’ve even got Aberdeen."  I don't think he's saying that because he thinks that some viewers won't be sophisticated enough to enjoy this so here's some of the more simpler hokum.  He could be saying that if this is a creative failure, there's another episode along next week.  If I was Patrick Mulkern the interviewer I would have asked for a clarification but he's quickly on to a question about Missy and the vault.

On the upside we do get to see Nardole, a figure who to me is ranking alongside Jar Jar Binks amongst the very worst genre characters, disappear into a puff of logic.  I realised the other day what my uneasiness with him is.  I just simply don't like Matt Lucas.  Little Britain was infused with some horrendous class tourism and Come Fly With Me with its racist black, brown and yellow face and stereotyping does no one involved any favours especially him and Williams.  We look back at the Minstrel shows with embarrassment and yet here's the modern equivalent and I simply can't abide anyone who thinks this is ok.

So yes, Nardole can sod off now as can the other strand in which the Doctor's become a time travelling Mr Magoo.  Because these scenes occurred in a reality conceived by the antagonists there's a deniability available as to the character's reactions, but that can't draw away from the fact that they're effectively playing a person's inability to see, however temporary, however much its because they're foolishly trying to hide their blindness, for laughs.  I wonder how this is going to go down with those who rely on the episode's audio description to enjoy Doctor Who.  Last week, I was applauding the show for making their hero someone they can identify with.  This now?

Best stop then.  Perhaps with just a couple of episodes of the latest season of Sense8 to watch, much of which has been extraordinary, my expectations for something which is truly "out there" have been raised.  But scratch the surface of Extremis and this wasn't anything Moffat hasn't attempted before and produced better and unlike previous instalments, I can't imagine these niggles will go away on rewatching.  Some people seem to be enjoying this series more than me and good for them, but I can't shake the feeling that for the most part, despite a few high points, the Twelfth Doctor's tenure has been a mismanaged, wasted opportunity.  And now this:

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