Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Daniel Neittheim
Missy (to the Doctor): "I am your friend."
One of the things I was hoping for with the tenth series was that Missy would resurface in a mid series episode to bolster the series a bit and it seems Steven Moffat was thinking a similar way. This is why this episode is the first of a three part story as Moffat seems determined to beat the mid series lull that sometimes happens to the show. Remember RTD pulled a similar tactic in Series 4 with both The Doctor's Daughter and The Unicorn And The Wasp.
In this episode we quickly learn that Missy is the one in the Vault, which is great because we all deduced that about three or four weeks, so at least it's out of the way and the episode itself can actually concentrate on why she's in the Vault. That answer was to prevent her execution on Carnathon where a group of people seemed determined to kill her off with the Doctor's help, once and for all.
Of course, the Doctor decided to actually save Missy's life and something tells me he intended to do that before Missy herself played the friendship card and considered being good (please, Missy, don't) and with Nardole's help sentenced her to the Vault. However in the present day this episode made it painfully clear that Missy's imprisonment is about to come to an end as the Doctor needs her help with a much bigger problem.
With the Missy stuff being relegated to flashbacks and being clumsily tied into the present day problem, that problem itself arose with the arrival of the Monks. The love children of the Pyrovilles and the Silence by the look and sound of them, this lot seem determined to take over the world by running some simulations to understand it first and this was where things got a bit confusing to be honest.
It seems for most of the episode that wasn't flashbacks, it didn't really happen. I mean the Doctor is still currently blind but between trips to the Vatican and it's secret library, the Haereticum, the White House and CERN all the while a dangerous book named the Veritas forced people into mass suicide upon reading it's deadly content while Bill and Nardole themselves took part in a rather volatile countdown before dying.
Then it turned out that none of this happened and the Doctor was testing the Monks, who going by the next episode will absolutely mean business for the TARDIS. This episode just gave us a taster for them and it was a decent enough one with them proving to be a rather genuinely exciting enough menace.
I have to admit that while the simulation scenes had their moments and it was rather nice bouncing between different times and worlds for this one, I'm not sure if the flashbacks and the simulation tied as well as they could've done. I get that Missy will play a role in stopping the Monks and inevitably escape to set up the finale but it felt like it could've had a little more finesse. Other than that though, this was a great return episode for the current Master.
- Bill's 'date' with Penny was interrupted by the arrival of the Pope Benedict IX (played by the same actor who played Rocco in Turn Left) and Moira seems oblivious that Bill is gay.
- We got no continuity from Missy's last moment in The Witch's Familiar. Surely, her 'clever plan' is going to be seen later though.
- This episode might have killed the current US president but it didn't really though.
- Some nice references to Grand Theft Auto and Super Mario Bros in this one too. I also like that the Doctor's current predicament now means the show can actually justify those sonic sunglasses.
- River's diary showed up in this episode and she was the one who sent Nardole to look after the Doctor and to give him an ass kicking if needed.
- Chronology: 2017 Bristol for Bill's real scene at the end. Also the flashbacks with Missy were set in between The Husbands Of River Song and The Return Of Doctor Mysterio.
Extremis certainly seemed like a return to the Moffat we know and are sometimes divided upon/really love after the previous five episodes played it more straightforward like. The episode itself was purely set up and while both flashback and simulation scenes could've meshed a little better, this was still a great set up for the Monks, who really do have the potential to be a great bunch of monsters.
Rating: 8 out of 10