I'm joined by Jack Graham to talk Extremis. It doesn't so much go off the rails quickly as never actually manage to find the rails in the first place. You can download that here if you're so inclined.
The impression I kinda got from the Doctor's explanation of what was going on is that the aliens are simulating all of human history to find the ideal time to invade, as well as the ideal way to invade. So it's possible they were monitoring the Vatican because 500 years ago it was a significant cultural and military force?... but if they're possible enough to have a Matrix, why would they be worried about the spears and cannons of the papal states? Or the ICMBs and assault rifles of the superpowers? God it's too much.Also, the Doctor is remarkably unfazed by the fact that these aliens are able to accurately simulate the interior and operation of the TARDIS.
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Listening to the podcast, I realised series 10 makes the best case for Moffat Who to end. If it ended after series 9, we would have wanted more. Watching now, I'm thinking "this is good, but it's also enough".
One thing I love about the episode, and have seen relatively little comment on, is the direct shoutout to Hitchcock in the bomb scene at CERN. It's blatantly taking Hitchcock's advice at face value (there's even a five-minute timer) but by having Bill and Nardole immediately look under the table it gives you a clue that the characters are staring to realise they're fictional. It's simultaneously a fucking brazenly obvious gag and a really clever and deft bit of screenwriting. Classic Moff.
My take was that the post Extremis number test suicides were a selfless act of self sacrifice to deny the aliens any more data. Not a morbid reaction to the existentialist horror.Still, I tend to agree with Jack on this one. If one bothers to analyse this episode on any deeper level than that of a Dan Brown/sit-com mash-up (AKA Moffat's Sherlock default mode) nothing makes a damn bit of sense.Which shouldn't matter. After all this is the Doctor Who era of 'The moon's an egg' and 'trees have taken over the world. Overnight. For some reason' but somehow it does. Also the larky 'Doctor is blind but no-one notices' gag has rapidly worn thin. Managing to make Daredevil's treatment of visual impairment sensitive in comparison.
Yeah, I certainly saw it as defiance rather than horror or despair. And even if the latter does come into play, it's rooted in the malevolent nature of the simulation rather than just the fact of it being one. This scenario equates not to the sort of proposition that is often sold as "philosophical pessimism" but is really just philosphical neutrality (that your existence is meaningless and purposeless and nothing out there cares about you), but rather to actual philosophical pessimism (that your existence is meaningful, purposeful and intended, in a seriously malign way). Mike Leigh's Naked rather than Lovecraft.Though that does lead into a different not-making-sense problem: if they're trying to sabotage the simulation, why not tell the world?
I mean, there is a certain logic of not wanting to inflict this terrible knowledge and its logical consequences on other people, despite the putative greater-good benefits of doing so, but while some people might take that point of view, it would surely not convince everyone (and the CERN chap certainly isn't shy about letting Bill and Nardole in on the secret before blowing everyone away).
Laughed several times in this episode, particularly when you figured that the aliens created this giant simulation to study Earth to figure out that the best targets to select as the most dangerous to their invasion are... the White House, Pentagon, Parliament, etc. - no shit, glad we ran this giant simulation, we'd never think of that! Also Jack's general indifference to the whole thing was pretty amusing.
In fairness to both Steven Moffat and Phil, my general indifference was at least as much due to the fact that I was sleep deprived when I recorded this. I should've (and could've) rescheduled, but said to myself "oh It'll be all right!". My bad.
That was not a complaint, I thought it was funny. It was a good episode, Jack!
Jack's failure to come up with a Doctor-rating seems like a tragically missed opportunity for a "Just pick a random number!" gag.
11 months, 1 week ago