“In extremis”   4 comments

def: in an extremely difficult situation, at the point of death

River makes a point: Virtue is only virtue in extremis. A good man is only as good as the choices he makes under the worst possible circumstances. The Doctor, she declares, is such a man: give him the worst, and invariably he delivers his best.

The episode is on the surface a silly one, full of Grand Moff gestures and contrived crises. In spite of this it manages to be genuinely captivating, with surprising hidden layers. What would any of us do with our backs against a wall? Would our best selves shine? Or would our base humanity, our natural drive to survive at all costs, overwhelm our intentions?

I’m not entirely sure how the episode showcases this. I suppose the threat of Missy’s execution might be considered extremis, though Michelle Gomez pleading and promising is some of the least believable dialogue I have ever encountered. The Doctor being faced with a deadly document – one he dare not ask anyone else to read to him – while blind might also be considered an extreme situation. Still I feel like the Doctor has been in graver circumstances. Davros in control of a reality bomb? Clara’s life in Missy’s hands? The choice to end humanity or let the Daleks enslave them? Somehow these cases feel more extreme – or more believably extreme – than the Master’s impending death (been there) or some strange video-game version of reality.

However, the story isn’t finished yet. We shall see what next week has to offer.

Posted May 24, 2017 by Elisabeth in Season 10, Themes and Ideas

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4 responses to ““In extremis”

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  1. I can see your point, and I had trouble with this episode too. But then I realized that Missy was extreme. Yes, bad dialogue, but it was The Doctor being faced with killing the only remaining Time L-rd after killing the other ones. Yes, they’re probably not dead because Gallifrey will fall no more, but he can’t find them so they currently really don’t exist. Missy is his long-time friend and frenemy, a decision that would torment him if he went through. Probably a Time L-rd Victorious moment. The blindness is the first time the Doctor didn’t have all of his faculties which made him less confident and less like The Doctor. Finally, if it was all a simulation, but they all felt that they were real, how do we know that the Doctor he sent it to is real? Or that Missy’s really in a cage, or that Bill is real? Or that there’s even a Doctor? Or that anything we take for granted is real? What if we’re all just projections of something that hasn’t existed or doesn’t exist yet, at least in all of the other versions of the projections? Who’s to say I’m really even on WordPress writing to you?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think the reason I didn’t find Missy’s pending execution extreme is that the Master has died SO MANY TIMES that even when they say “no this time it’s real” I don’t buy it. Kind of like when they killed Osgood: even though Moffat said repeatedly that she was really dead, I didn’t believe it, and it turned out I was right.
      My husband made a point this week about the Doctor’s blindness: if he can cure Davros after how many centuries, how can he not cure himself? It’s a decent gimmick for creating new problem-solving situations but not really believable enough for “extremis.”

      As far as Plato’s Videogame is concerned – you’re totally right. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Granted, he could probably solve the blindness, but this is the first time the Doctor has had a disability (to my knowledge anyway). He’s not going to be thinking as clearly as he usually does, which means more of it will probably rest in Bill.

        I just wish they gave us more of this Doctor. I really like him, but we were treated to IMHO a wasted season with Clara and Danny. That season felt too much like the Doctor was her companion and not the other way around. I think it wastes PC’s chances at really being a fan fav. Know what I mean?


      • Also, the Doctor may not be able to cure himself because he’s not the real Doctor. He’s the created Doctor that the monks think they can beat based on the results of their simulations.

        Liked by 1 person

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