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    Anonymous @


    I liked how you said that the simulation was carried on with no other rectification

    there eventually came a simulated being who worked out they were living in a fake-reality and could prove it by doing a random number test. The aliens couldn’t really do anything about this

    I saw it as the aliens repeating simulations with different algorithims which provided the most appropriate time when earth was ‘ripe’ for Final Invasion.

    Cheers, Puro and Thane15

    wolfweed @wolfweed

    I forgot to say that the episode neatly reflects the view held by many Christians (& I suppose others): That this world is not real – It is merely a test to decide where you will go next…

    benny 9



    Just to be clear I was using “sprite” in the computer animation sense. Anything that moves and does stuff is a sprite, be is Mario, Messi in FIFA17, Zombies in Half Life 2, spaceships in Elite or orcs, elves and wotnot in World of Warcraft. “Those things you shoot in video games”.

    @bendubz11 @steffstaff (welcome back and welcome respectively)

    And yes, the Veritas/ checksum is an integrity check – in this case to check that the AI hasn’t developed a mind of its own. Which is quite amusing really.

    @craig @blenkinsopthebrave and others already tagged

    I think one issue is that we are now very familiar with Moffat’s writing and we know the themes he likes to shape his stories – existential loneliness and the need to belong, loss and grief and the power of unconditional love, and that the right thing is done not for reward, but because it is right.

    All three of his female assistants have lost their mothers young (much like most of Whedon’s have lost their fathers young) and his monsters are often trying to control in secret rather than through invasion and shows of power. And it is invariably the women – from Linda Day to, I suspect in the end, Bill – that make the hard decisions and, in DW, provide the moral compass in those moments when The Doctor remembers just how powerful he is.

    Hmmm. I wonder if we will see Missy on the brink of reform only for you-know-who(1) to pop up from the time lock to cock things up.




    A simm-ulation. ahahaha hahahahaha ahahahaha. aha.

    Steffstaff @steffstaff

    Thanks for the nice welcomes!

    Yes, agreed that the purpose of the simulations is to find (and then test-run) the ideal time to invade.

    This is going to lead to a couple of very interesting episodes I think! The *real* Doctor now knows that at some point they are coming – and when they do, they’ll have already ‘test invaded’ hundreds of different simulated earths…

    Presumably they’ll have already been defeated multiple times too (Probably by various shadow-doctors) – though to no great consequence to themselves, they’ll have merely ended that simulation and tried again on another… and another… and another… like Groundhog Day! Until of course they’ll have eventually succeeded in one and will therefore use exactly the same tactics they employed on that one when they invade the real Earth!!

    That means during the real invasion, everything the Doctor attempts they’ll have already predicted and have an immediate counter for… Blimey! How do you write your way out of that?!

    I can only think of one possibility for Earth victory here… And that’s if one of the shadow-doctors during the multiple test-invasions works out he’s in a simulation and chooses to deliberately let the invasion succeed, rather than orchestrating some clever maguffin that would foil it… therefore convincing the aliens they’ve found the correct way to win, have them end all the simulations, have them invade the real earth and then allow the *real* doctor to employ the maguffin they knew nothing about!!

    Makes your head hurt doesn’t it?

    Good stuff though, even if the baddies do like they’re all off to a Thundercats themed party dressed as Mum-Ra.


    MissRori @missrori

    @pedant Good point about the influence of women on the Doctor.  I think Bill will be stepping up to the plate soon enough, going by the episode synopses.  😉

    Yes, having this mostly be a simulation is gimmicky — but kind of understandable if only because the “mass suicides” premise did seem way too much of a downer for a family show.  I’m among those interested in seeing what kind of complaints the Beeb will get over the episode as is!

    This was still a fascinating episode, and a good setup for the next two weeks.  While I was hoping for something more esoteric in the Vault, the gradual reveal of why it was Missy — and, as the AV Club’s review noted, what it says about the Doctor that he would spare her life no matter the cost to him — was deeply moving.

    But it does leave at least a few questions I hope get answered in coming weeks:


    While I understand why the Doctor has accepted the long task of guarding the Vault — he is, once again, accepting the consequences and responsibilities that come with his actions — why on Earth has he placed it on, well, Earth?  Isn’t there a safe, peaceful place for him to wait out 1,000 years, where Missy getting out won’t be dangerous to others?

    As many are now asking elsewhere, how does the main plot of “The Return of Doctor Mysterio” fit into this timeline?  If the execution is happening shortly after the Doctor bade goodbye to River, and this is the start of his and Nardole’s team effort, how do they fit in the undoing of Harmony Shoal with his vault duties, especially since his grief over River still seems fresh at this point?  I say main plot because the Doctor’s encounters with young Grant seem to take place between “Hell Bent” and THORS, given the Doctor’s wardrobe is his “scruffy” look in those scenes.  The expanded universe has set quite a few comics between those two stories, too.

    Why does the episode end with him mourning his blindness in the face of the Monks’ imminent invasion when he could just get it fixed?

    1. Why not consult the Time Lords if they’re they only ones who can fix his eyes?  On the one hand, the last time they saw him things didn’t work out too well, and they may not be too happy to hear he didn’t execute Missy and is now watching over her.  On the other, he can always bring up the insanity defense for himself…and for her, even.
    2. What is the deal with him being apparently afraid to try healing himself with his regeneration energy, if not going whole hog with a regeneration?  If he’s not a century into guarding the vault, he’s going to wear thin at some point anyway.  Why not get an intentional regeneration over with as soon as possible, for the good of the planet and the Vault?  Also, those locks on the Vault seem mighty strong if she hasn’t already escaped.  Come to think of it, how come she doesn’t try escaping when the Doctor goes in/out?
    3. Why not ask Missy for some regeneration energy?  After all, she kind of owes him one, and if the Monks conquer the planet, she can’t!  😉  But that would go against the “Without hope, without witness, without reward” thing — which is going to carry through to the season finale; that quote turned up in the Moff’s synopsis of “The Doctor Falls” — so I can see why he wouldn’t. <3
    Anonymous @


    Ah yes, “sprites” -not to be confused with actual fantastical sprites, which, in “the things you shoot” actually are. Fantasy, that is.  🙂

    I was thinking of a large institution hiding its books for centuries; of legends about towers built by people to reach heaven, and where, due to the former’s presumption, spirits were sent to punish and confuse. I realise you and others know this obvious legend/biblical reference but it made me think……a tad.

    Yes, one could see that The Silence cause you to forget your confession whilst these clay shaped terrors help you forget who you are (as @blenkinsopthebrave stated) -or that you exist at all; in any dimension. To me it’s a nice balance.

    I get the impression that this episode nails certain concepts of our time:

    are we being seen? Can people hear me? Do I really exist in this internet dimension? The people to whom I’m speaking….are they just 000 and 11111 on a page? Self doubt trickles down one’s back like nervous perspiration. And that’s without the actual monsters!

    Because what are the monsters <i>really </i>Doctor Who?


    Thane typing for Puro!

    Anonymous @


    I think you answered question 1 yourself 🙂

    2. This is related to ‘1’ -his eyes are ‘fine’ but his brain isn’t -quite. We saw him with ‘blind’ eyes in Oxygen but at the end, his eyes appear normalised (though they’re not) and so I think something else is wrong. If something’s wrong in a neurological sense regeneration could be tricky -and regeneration’s always a “lottery” and “dicey” (from previous seasons) and with Missy around to interfere who knows what’ll go wrong? After a regen, he bakes (sleeps) and then he’s not exactly  guarding the vault…..

    3. You could save Missy but does it mean he trusts her?  🙂

    Puro and Thane.

    Anonymous @


    And that’s if one of the shadow-doctors during the multiple test-invasions works out he’s in a simulation and chooses to deliberately let the invasion succeed

    Like the Doctor in a tessalecta? 🙂


    Steffstaff @steffstaff

    @thane15 Like the Doctor in a tessalecta?

    Aye! But on a much bigger, wheels-within-wheels level!!

    It won’t be that though, obviously. It’ll probably just be that our Doctor will simply have to do something he knows no Doctor would have done in any possible simulation, because its just too unthinkable…

    …like, I don’t know… break an oath and open a vault? 🙂

    Anonymous @


    it will alert the aliens that the sim h[as] found the upper decile of human intelligence

    I actually got that bit! 😉

    Jeepers it’s late. Bed time and chamomile


    wolfweed @wolfweed

    It’s a bit pessimistic of Nardole to presume the Dr won’t share the blindness secret with Bill for his own selfish reasons. Maybe the Doc doesn’t want her to feel guilty…?!

    Nardole seems to call the Dr an old dog (‘You old dog!’) when Benedict the 9th is described as an old friend (of the Doc’s)…  Presumably then she is another old girlfriend/ex wife/buddy with benefits of his?

    Steven Moffat on life running the BBC’s cult classic and what’s next

    Michelle on Missy

    Religious debates over the Harry Potter series

    bendubz11 @bendubz11

    Thanks for the kind rewelcomings all. A nice little easter egg I noticed just now:

    Year of Missy’s “execution” = 1048

    Founder of the library the Veritas is kept in = Pope Benedict IX

    Year that Benedict IX lost the papacy for the 3d and final time = 1048


    Whisht @whisht

    Hi @steffstaff – fantastic first post and your follow up is actually plausible!
    (You may have been going for ‘bonkers’ rather than plausible, but no fear, my judgement is hardly a useful barometer!) 🙂

    After giving the episode a bit of thought this morning I had an itch to scratch but I’ve now scratched it!
    Basically, the concept that we might be a hologram is something that’s out there in science theory. If it was ever proven then instead of killing themselves, scientists would whoop with amazement and start asking questions – they’re scientists!
    I scratched that itch by thinking “well, that simulation still needs to iron out how some humans think…”

    Was a bit puzzled by the portrait of Pope Benedict IX – its obviously of an actress (anyone recognise who?) but Pope Joan (if she existed) was a different pope altogether. But Benedict IX (if the non-contemporaneous writings are to be believed) was indeed a ‘bit naughty’.

    Nothing else to add to what everyone else has mentioned.
    Except is Bill’s girlfriend being called “Penny” interesting in any ‘capitalism’ sense (answer: no)
    and I haven’t thought of any Bowie references yet (though I haven’t tried to be honest!)

    Anyway, at least we now have a device for ‘killing’ Time Lords (oops!).

    Steffstaff @steffstaff

    Hi @whisht – thank you! Do you know who I thought the portrait looked like? Sophie Winkleman. Big Suze from Peep Show.

    MissRori @missrori

    @thane15  Your points are good, they always are, but if he doesn’t trust Missy enough to ask for a sparkly cup of sugar as it were, why does he appear to be willing to let her out to get the help he needs to fight the Monks?  She does seem to like the prospect of team-ups with other villains, going back to the Delgado days…  😉

    Also, yeah, he’d need to recover from a regeneration, but especially if it’s voluntary, getting over the sickness might need just a few hours or a day at most.  It’s rarely taken long for him to get back into the action.  Come to think of it, the first thing the Tenth Doctor did after getting out of beddy-bye was foil the Sycorax at the eleventh hour (not the Eleventh Hour), and he didn’t have advance word on that invasion like Twelve does with the Monks!

    But yes, if the problem is with his three-stemmed brain, he may be nervous about messing with it right now, and that would seem to be the situation, so point taken.

    Which makes me think — he said he does sleep at length after big meals.  If he can’t have those, all the better to guard the Vault, poor Twelve probably has had rotten Christmases for decades now!  No stuffing and turkey for him…  😉

    @wolfweed  I agree that the Doctor doesn’t want to make Bill feel guilty about something that was HIS fault.  Let’s face it though, Nardole isn’t exactly Mr. Sunshine.

    wolfweed @wolfweed


    (Grasping at straws) Penelope was the wife of Odysseus…

    There must be Bowie somewhere…..



    I wonder if the Papal role was before or after Brad Pitt in her timestream?



    I didn’t know Sophie Winkleman or what she looked like. Here’s a pic:

    s winkl

    We learnt that the Doctor’s killed shedloads of beings but he won’t kill his friend… (& still I wonder if he nearly did?)

    Mirime @mirime

    @wolfweed I think we knew he’d killed a lot both from his reaction to Bill questioning him and the comment made in ‘Hell Bent’ about the Doctor in the Time War:  “The first thing you will notice about the Doctor of War is he’s unarmed. For many, it’s also the last.”.

    MissRori @missrori

    I’m thinking of his lines in “Deep Breath” about all his bad years and the mistakes he’s made.  He wants to be better than that, and trying so hard…so hard.

    Mudlark @mudlark

    Having shown that he and his c0-writers can do old-style Doctor Who in fine style, and in the process provided ample scope for Bill to establish herself in relation to  Doctor, and for Capalidi’s Doctor to establish himself as more grounded than we have seen so far – in a literal as well as metaphorical sense, we are now presented with the opportunity to dive into something a bit more substantial, with layers complex and convoluted enough to match a reasonably challenging archaeological stratigraphic section.  Yum 🙂

    ‘Only in Darkness are we revealed’  as Nardole says to the Doctor, quoting River, and the Doctor is indeed in darkness now.  There were several more direct and indirect references to darkness throughout the episode, and I hardly think that was just coincidental.

    The idea that the universe and all in could be a computer simulation is a concept familiar to me, but what the words ‘Test of Shadows’ evoked instantly was Plato’s cave allegory.  The prisoners in the cave are so constrained that they can only see the shadows cast by a fire behind them onto the wall facing them. Knowing nothing else, they take this shadow play to be reality.  A prisoner who is freed from constraint may turn to look at the fire and will at first be blinded by the light, before his eyes adjust and he sees the fire for what it is, and in seeing it comes to understand that the shadows cast by it are illusions.  Going from the cave into the world outside he will again be blinded by the light (blindness, again), but when his eyes have again adjusted, will be able to see the sun and all it illuminates, and so realise the true Form of reality.

    So maybe the Doctor’s blindness is not just a challenge for him to overcome, but a means on the path to greater understanding and wisdom – though I can’t see him ever becoming the Philosopher King.

    @bendubz11  @thane15  (puro)

    Nardole having River’s diary in his possession to give to the Doctor bothered me, also.  Tennant Doctor left it in the Library because *spoilers* – I went back and watched the ending of Forest of the Dead to check that my memory was accurate.  The only explanation I can think of is that River had learned from the Doctor how and where she was going to die and be ‘saved’, so that when the time came she could give Nardole instructions to retrieve the diary, and at the same time give him her bracelet as a means of transport to the Library.


    Kharis @kharis

    @mudlark Your comparison to Plato’s cave allegory is brilliant.

    @steffstaff Wow, great first comment, welcome!

    This episode helps to clarify a lot of things I’ve been thinking since ‘Silence in the Library’ and several other episodes where Moffat keeps bringing us back to this theme.  It’s all very thrilling and tantalizing.   It’s tying in my head canon with ‘Silence in the Library’, ‘Listen’, ‘In the time of Angels’ and oddly enough, ‘The Lodger’ very nicely.

    The writing was excellent, so many good one liners, and concepts.  I thoroughly enjoyed this episode; it was thought provoking, exciting, fun, visually pleasing, and deepened my love of the main characters.  The pace was also good, I didn’t get bored once.

    This is turning out to be a great season.  ‘Extremis’ and the ‘Pilot’ are my personal favorite episodes of the season, but it’s been quality episodes throughout season 10 so far, which makes me very excited for next week.  (:

    MissRori @missrori

    I love 12 more and more too each week @kharis!

    Kharis @kharis

    @bendubz11 Might be more than just an Easter egg, might be a hint about the story arc.

    @whisht@thane15, @pedant, @wolfweed and everyone here, I’m really enjoying reading your posts.   I have so much to comment on and say, which oddly enough leaves me feeling like the Doctor’s comment to the Pope, plus there is so much I wouldn’t no where to start.  Thrilling having something to muse over again.

    Kharis @kharis

    @missrori “I’m thinking of his lines in “Deep Breath” about all his bad years and the mistakes he’s made.  He wants to be better than that, and trying so hard…so hard.”  So true, and so sad.  This Doctor really pulls at my heartstrings.

    Arbutus @arbutus

    I think I’ll need to watch this again before I can comment coherently. Mind-blowing. On first look, it seems to me to be a complete right-turn from the themes we’ve been seeing up to now. We’ve gone from home, family, care straight to the heart of things—veritas.

    Kharis @kharis

    @arbutus  That’s how I feel too.

    Hey, we were all right about the vault, it was the most OBVIOUS answer all along.  Was fun to bonkerize in the meantime.

    MissRori @missrori

    @kharis Or was it?  Seriously– Already I’m seeing comments elsewhere theorizing that even after this episode it is NOT Missy in the Vault after all.  Did we see her sealed up?  Did we go inside?  No and no, so the theory goes that she’s elsewhere, but the Doctor can communicate with her from afar.  And in the Vault?  Well, more bonkers theorizing ahoy!  😀

    Kharis @kharis

    @missrori  OH!  GOOD!  Back to bonkerizing then, wa, ha, ha!

    Wouldn’t put it past Moffat, one word: Pandorica.  (;

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    Another fine episode, although possibly my least favourite of the run so far — although that could well change after ‘parts 2 and 3’ of this three-parter. It’s basically The Android Invasion updated for the 21st century but the point of this episode is not so much about the getting there but the lovely little beats along the journey. As @craig said, it was just ever so slightly fillery but also setting up the beats for the second half of the series.

    Not sure I’m crazy about the monks. A bit static and ponderous for my liking and they felt a little like a Moffat villain greatest hits package — a bit of the Headless Monks, a bit of The Silence. And I’m sure their similarity interregnum Deadly Assassin/Traken Master is surely not coincidence. Maybe it’s just the Android Invasion similarity playing on mind but they do remind me of Kraals somewhat, another monster I’ve always found rather underwhelming over the years.

    But that’s all by the by because the really cool stuff in this episode are the big ideas that SM always brings to the table. Wrapped up in a teatime, Da Vinci Code-esque tale of lost texts, scary monsters and VR was an examination of death, suicide and despair. It’s not something that’s ever likely to happen but what with regeneration ever present in our minds this series what would it be like if the Doctor’s regeneration was actually triggered by something other than self-sacrifice this time (say, suicide)?

    But all in all, another strong episode in a remarkable run. If this continues straight through to the end then SM will be leaving Chris Chibnall with some rather big shoes to fill. And Capaldi, Mackie and Lucas were all excellent again in this. Especially Capaldi. After an unsettled start, he’s proving to be a first-class Doctor and I’m very much going to miss him. I really do wish he was staying for at least another year.

    Final thought: Having the dead president not look like Trump seems to be a missed trick but I guess it was felt that it would be unnecessarily provocative.

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @kharis and @missrori–

    Yes, I think there’s a bit of misdirection going on re. The Vault. I don’t think there’s any doubt that it was Missy that was put into the Vault but I’m not sure it’s Missy that’s going to come out. There always seems to have been this assumption the Doctor and Master’s confrontations happen in the linear order that we’ve seen them on screen but I think that’s going to be challenged now. (And this is the reason River’s diary has been so foregrounded in this story. It’s reminding us of the other big relationship in the Doctor’s life that happened out of synch.) Does that mean it’s going to be Simm who steps out of the Vault (although it should more properly be Jacobi, although I’m sure there would be plenty of ways around the complication). Maybe we’ll even see another Master by the end of the series and that we’re so focused on one regeneration, maybe we’re going to see two.

    lisa @lisa

    So the Monks are trying to conquer the Earth by spreading the simulation over the “real” world .

    The Doctor has to stop the program. He needs to create a patch program,  I’m going to make a wild guess

    and predict that the Doctor is a better programmer .  He’ll figure out a way to “hack” the simulation.

    Seems like this simulation is still in its ‘trial’ period?  This would be good news cause that means

    the Doctor can create a patched file. He can try to find when the original program was installed and

    uninstall it OR possibly a Doctor ‘stopper virus’?  A kind of “Claricles”  where shadow Doctors keep

    showing up to obstruct the Monks?

    Oh and  BTW    Missy – “I’ve just been executed ! Show  little respect!”   🙂   Love !

    Arbutus @arbutus

    Great comments! Some thoughts back:

    @miapatrick     Yes. No new stories. Only new, interesting versions of the old ones. And what is good to one person is boring to another, and so on. We’ve had this discussion around here many times. Science vs. fantasy, action vs. emotion, plot vs. character, and all the positions along the spectrum between those extremes.

    @craig   I didn’t mind “it was all a dream” in this case. Because it wasn’t clear (to me, at least) until just about the end. It was for me a slow reveal and very much fun to watch, with a lot of interesting ideas packed in.

    @ blenkinsopthebrave     I think Nardole has been getting stronger and stronger. “Are you secretly a badass?”   🙂

    @pedant   I loved the Doctor’s comment about “those things you shoot at” thinking they’re real. I took that as a brief commentary on first person shooter games.

    @mudlark   Love your post!

    @jimthefish   Perhaps the computer simulation couldn’t predict Trump. No one else did! 🙂

    Arbutus @arbutus

    @wolfweed @whisht

    I was terribly excited about the Doctor’s reference to the female pope, because of the mythology of Pope Joan in the 9th century, possibly intersecting with the Benedict of that time. Until I saw @wolfweed‘s post and realized that the Doctor’s pope was Pope Benedict the 9th, not Pope Benedict in the 9th century.  🙁   I said I needed a rewatch, serves me right. But, like Robin Hood, I think different versions of the legend move her around a bit. So maybe the Doctor knows that Pope Ben the 9th and Pope Joan were one and the same?   🙂

    AlexWho @alexwho

    Need to watch this one again to formulate a better theory about where this is going.

    When I read the episode synopsis, I was expecting a Name of the Rose type mystery. We got something that references The Matrix and from what people are saying, The Android Invasion (need to watch that one).

    I just hope the Doctor doesn’t bust out any Matrix ninja moves!

    The occupant of the Vault was confirmed to be Missy. I think the idea being its less about who was in the vault as much as the why. Specifically: why was she being executed, why did the Doctor send his confession dial to Missy last season, and what is their actual relationship. Missy told Clara it was more complex and I think intimate than she could ever understand. Hopefully we get some kind of answers.

    @steffstaff, Welcome!

    @mudlark, nice idea about Plato’s cave!

    dotkorVem @doktorvem

    Hello, fan of doctor who since 2008, new member on this site mainly to answer the following qustion I could not find an answer too.

    When it is a “long time ago” in the time line how can it still be the latest docotor? For example during the flashback of “killing” Missy.

    *Same with Missy who also have regenerated. *

    I assume there is an answer to this question, from earlier discussions. Thanks!

    Arbutus @arbutus

    @thane15     It’s true about Moffat’s book/story themes, even as far back as the Silence in the Library two-parter. And I love this: The book can be a TARDIS of its own, in my opinion, and can appear in several places at different times.

    Puro, I love your post 57766, about the expectation of genuineness and truth from others. This is a theme I’ve thought a lot about recently in the course of my writing. And this: CERN -a bastion of scientific hope with a panoply of energetic ideas.

    And one more: Because what are the monsters really in Doctor Who?  This has definitely been a theme this series, monsters that aren’t really monsters, so you might be on to something!  🙂

    wolfweed @wolfweed


    ‘Perhaps the computer simulation couldn’t predict Trump. No one else did!’


    Steffstaff @steffstaff

    @doktorvem When it is a “long time ago” in the time line how can it still be the latest docotor? For example during the flashback of “killing” Missy.

    It wasn’t a long time ago in the doctors time-line (it occured not long after River had died) – it just means it was a long time ago in history – for all we know it all took place billions of years before the earth was formed – its just that the doctor and indeed Missy were both summoned/kidnapped and taken there from their respective current time-lines. And indeed returned back again afterwards, albeit one of them now in a vault!

    dotkorVem @doktorvem

    @steffstaff thanks for the satisfying explanation

    Whisht @whisht

    @steffstaff and @wolfweed – thanks for the thought on the painting of the pope being Sophie Winkleman.Sophie WinklemanPope Benedict ??

    If it is her then the artist didn’t have long to knock up the artwork (but knowing Who production timescales that isn’t a surprise).

    Mind you, if they were aiming for Angelina Jolie @pedant then I’ll throw my CV to them
    (I kid, but not that much! 🙂 )

    Mudlark @mudlark


    philosophers or social morays

    Why do I get this mental picture of a tangle of eels gossiping over morning coffee and cake, while a group of bearded, himation-clad gents look on disapprovingly 🙂   Vanitas and Veritas: illusion and truth – or vice versa

    The mention of the confession dial by @alexwho reminded me of the reference to the Doctor’s rejection of Pope Benedict IX’s offer to confess him – his flippant response being that it would take too long, though presumably he had in mind also that he would eventually, at the end of his lives, undergo an equivalent period of self reflection in his own confession dial. This was presumably before his ordeal shown in Heaven Sent, so it is understandable that he was unimpressed by a renewal of the offer by the Cardinal.

    Anonymous @

    sophie whowhatsit?

    I would think it is Jolie -myself.

    Although I could possibly throw things too -at my own mirror. Jolie is one very beautiful woman.


    I flicked on the CERN idea as Brian Cox and a number of others have been involved in ABC programmes in Oz called Stargazing Live. I’m pretty sure Prof Cox is a Who fan! To me the episode opened up many a question about “Babble Tower” (Antonia Byatt); Melville and Truth.

    Indeed: what is sincere and genuine in this world? How are we driven, and by what (rather than who)?

    @mudlark yes, I was going to type (with Thane) ‘mores’ but do know some spell it as ‘morays’ these days (odd, isn’t it?). I don’t like to eat eels or swim near them 🙂

    Illusion and Truth. Indeed. As @arbutus said we’re moving from an almost sedate set of episodes straight to the truth of the matter; the heart of the argument.

    nerys @nerys

    @devilishrobby I don’t suppose anyone has dared to mention the similarities between the veritas aliens and the Silence.

    I did notice that. I wonder if there’s an actual link, or it was just Moffat playing off one of his own characters. I loved this episode, though I admit to being not completely drawn into the “game” element of the story. Still, it allowed things to play out which otherwise would have been not fun, had they been real. They were not fun, as it was. I’m looking forward to next week!

    tardigrade @tardigrade

    Overall I quite liked this episode, despite having some reservations about some elements.

    The sequences with Missy were the highlights of the episode. The initial setup that had it potentially the Doctor being terminated initially was nicely done and momentarily confusing. However, in the end it was so hard to see the Doctor actually going through killing Missy, that it wasn’t much of a surprise to set her getting up a little later. I wasn’t too sure why the Doctor felt the need to vow to guard Missy’s body for 1000 years, even if he would likely get off the hook rather sooner if Missy regenerated and changed bodies. Perhaps that will allow him to get away with not executing her though, if she’s instead incarcerated for a millennium instead.

    If the executioners were scattering at mention of the Doctor’s record, then I would have thought that Missy’s would have been rather concerning also, and presumably they did read that one in advance. I was a little surprised to see her rather meekly complying, although perhaps she really was relying on the Doctor as her best hope.

    It does seem that it should be Missy in the vault, though that hasn’t been 100% established, so there’s still significant room for a surprise. I’m aware that Missy and the Doctor were left together unarmed, and Missy’s (likely very short-lived) stated intent to do good probably wouldn’t have extended to voluntarily stepping into the vault.

    I’ll address the other component of the story (simulation/VR) in another post. That’s where most of my issues lie.

    tardigrade @tardigrade

    Firstly to clarify something- some commenters are describing the episode as playing out in a VR world- VR implies real people in a simulated world. From the point of view of the Doctor, Nardole and humans, it was purely a simulation, i.e. simulated people in a simulated world. For the aliens it would be VR, as they would be real-world entities entering a virtual world. Sorry if that’s splitting hairs, but this isn’t a Matrix-like simulation for the Doctor and co.

    Now to my issues:

    (1) It seems that the scope of the simulation was quite limited. Why include CERN in that simulation? Their relevance in an alien invasion is hard to imagine. Paired with the Vatican, it just came across to me as a rather distracting Dan Brown reference. As one justification, I guess those who are probing the fundamental nature of the universe might be rather peeved if they found they weren’t actually in the real universe – that’s bound to screw up your data 🙂

    For that matter, the Vatican’s relevance is doubtful. I would have thought that simulating the black archive would have been far more useful. Perhaps the aliens don’t know about that though. It’s hardly public knowledge (though nor is the Doctor).

    (2) If the aliens have sufficient knowledge to construct a useful simulation, they need to know how people will react, so building the simulation to determine that seems a rather circular exercise.

    (3) I don’t buy people (simulated or other) deciding that “suicide” is the answer when confronted by their status as simulations. I just don’t buy that people would be convinced of that in the first place. Particularly if they are quantum physicists, who daily deal with a world in which objectively reality is a rather fuzzy concept, or politicians, who by necessity have a innate ability to deny external facts and create their own preferred reality, or priests who doubtless would have a preferred supernatural cause for the “miracle of the numbers” that doesn’t rely on being a computer simulation. In the real world, people rarely change their views much on learning that they’ve been living under a delusion. The justification of suicide as an “escape” is no different to any suicide might be viewed as such- this isn’t escaping the Matrix, it is “escaping” into non-existence.

    (4) I thought the shadow test of reciting random numbers rather unconvincing in any case. If the simulation really is so weak that the agents all come up with the same sequence given radically different starting conditions (different life histories), then the simulation wouldn’t be of much value anyway.

    (5) Why does the Doctor choose to take the risk he does to read the Veritas? In the end he simply gets the laptop to read it to him, so even if he’d momentarily forgotten about that possibility, could he not have “emailed” the text to the Tardis and had it read aloud or psychically transferred it to him? You’d have thought he could have installed some OCR software on his glasses for that matter- it seems a smarter solution than this one by a long shot. Admittedly it is the sim-Doctor taking that risk, but presumably it is an accurate simulation of what the real Doctor would have done.

    Anonymous @

    @mudlark @arbutus @pedant @blenkinsopthebrave @whisht @miapatrick  @kharis @steffstaff and all!

    Lovely points from all of you! I liked Plato’s Forms and Reality Miss Lark.

    I particularly like how False has conquered Truth these days (‘in our time’/ ‘false news’  etc); that much of life is practise or simulation. Penny isn’t sure  what “this” is (the date or relationship) and Moira is glad that the two girls are “together” when what’s happening is what she fears (a relationship but not with a man). Moira’s own busy life, the fact she doesn’t really listen to Bill is foregrounded.

    What we may see with ‘true clarity’ isn’t what is happening around us proving that our eyes aren’t necessarily aiding us in debriefing  experience and patterns. The Doctor, sightless, can use a remote article (his sonic glasses -which have fully come into their own now from Series 9) to begin the project to de-simulate the world pyramid by pyramid: tower by tower (much like my Babel Tower illustration).

    So much of this episode resonated with the current political climate over False News, Trivia, believing we are fully in control of decisions without bias or force when tyranny  (whether in Macau over gambling licenses with a blow back to the Australian political scene or the Trump Administration) is inserting itself in all corners.

    Ongoing debates in this country about how decisions benefit the One (the ‘me’; the ‘my family’ but not ‘their family overseas because they matter less’) are constantly heard on panels where Australians blatantly wish the best for themselves -which is often cash reserves; possessions  and ‘owning’ rather than ‘living’. A conceptual harvest on cruelty, cowardice, action without reward or hope are hardly discussed outside of ethics classes in certain universities and when they are the response by many a young Liberal (right wing for any American readers) is to say “this does not affect us, I cannot and will not look. I must make my possessions count for in them am I made. In my job I am rich.”

    This aspect is discouraging and any episode in terrific telly like Extremis which helps discuss the Truth of what matters is a successful one. I don’t think @jimthefish that the monsters, their creation/look, or their reminiscence  of The Silence matters as much to me – at least. If it was a great walking pillow I’d still be scared -because of its intentions. Again in this episode the monsters are already here. And in Real Life we can be surrounded by that which is evil (or hungry) and never notice.

    That said, this show has succeeded as a programme for children too and the monsters should be convincing -but in this I thought they were. Certainly the imbalance one felt when seeing them, the onscreen nausea, reminded me of Amy witnessing The Silence but faced with any obviously alien creature our reaction could be similar.

    This was also an episode about technology. About not fully understanding its pervasiveness. As I mentioned upthread the 0000 and 11111 on which we rely are further away from us -if most of us don’t understand how a toilet works, think how poorly we understand various exotic technologies despite believing in their familiarity and closeness. In the future we’ll continue to feel a sense of understanding even though our actual understanding is getting weaker and weaker. Our illusion of understanding will get stronger and stronger. Sophisticated technologies cause us to be more ignorant about what’s exactly under ‘the hood of the car’. And that’s fine, until something happens (a war; Western political insurgency; a large protest with loss of life) causing technology to be hijacked and the complacency induced by our illusion of understanding comes back to bite us.

    Many people wander about embellishing their lives with the ornate and the refined, but simple decency, anonymous actions without reward or respect are sometimes labelled trite and passé. Some of us like to live in simulated environments and like Ned Ludd during the Industrial Revolution (who had no trouble destroying his knitting machine), it would be a deep strain in human thinking to smash those simulations (what I see in Extremis as technology over and ‘upon’ technology so real that it can’t be distinguished from what normality actually is). That which hides the sincere, the honest and the simple needs underscoring.

    I found this aspect of Extremis connected me to The Pilot, Smile and Thin Ice. It also resonated in this manner with Oxygen and I’m enjoying connecting those dots as the Doctor did last episode -leaving only the basics behind, a human skull, simple and direct -that which holds our singular and independent brain.


    (and thanks for your patience if you read this far. I’ve wittered on),


    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    I was trying to think of a way of expanding on my earlier luke-warm response to the episode; then I read your post above, which says everything I was thinking, although my thoughts were far more inchoate than what you successfully articulate.

    I realise I was asking those sort of questions you point out while I was watching it. Which is not what you are supposed to be doing.

    I also think, as I said upstream, that I really felt “I’ve been here before” with regards to Moffat’s tropes and puzzles. Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that per se. Ingmar Bergman probably made the same movie over and over and they were all brilliant. Agatha Christie used the same plot devices over and over, and they were always enjoyable. So why am I complaining? Perhaps my point is that there is an intensity to the TV viewing experience that is slightly different to watching Ingmar Bergman movies or reading Agatha Christie novels that throws the similarities of tropes and plot devices into sharp relief.

    But, hell, repetitious Moffat is still a million times better than original offerings of most other people. So bring on next week!

    Anonymous @

    Why include CERN in that simulation and the Vatican


    I really loved your discussion!

    I think CERN worked well because of its position as a bastion of scientific effect (perhaps see my earlier post up thread  57766). The significance of the work at CERN which Cox spoke about in Sydney and Brisbane in the last 18 months shows an enormous increase in our understanding of how the world functions at the atomic level: that in which we have faith. The Vatican or any large, equivalent institution, also in Europe, shows the construction of faith in that particular environment -and where CERN and the Vatican are connected: both frightened. Both tipped upside down.

    I’m reminded of Stephen Jay Gould: in a chaotic system tiny differences get amplified in the same way that your speed downhill will get amplified if you fall off a cliff.  Chaos introduced complexity into the study of history: “little quirks at the outset, occurring for no real reason unleash cascades of consequences that make a particular future seem inevitable in retrospect.”  An early little nudge contacts a different groove or space and then what we see veers into another almost plausible channel and it diverges from the original pathway and so the end result is really very different but the initial perturbation, trivial.

    What we sometimes fail to see is how hard it is to make things happen. CERN illustrates that difficulty every day and its easy to be overwhelmed by that complexity -which is why (and the other reasons upthread I mentioned) it seemed a good example in contrast with the Vatican where another large and conductive institution relies on History, hidden heretical works with little quirks at the outset (Veritas) causing disastrous changes but which are kept secret initially-unlike CERN which, under successive governments is publicly available but written about as, “perverse, unnecessary to science, overblown, undistinguished and farcical” (I’m quoting both the Trump administration and that which appeared in a recent article of The New Scientist).

    Anyway, that’s my take on it! As to the rest of what you wrote, very interesting indeed…..<mind blown>


    CountScarlioni @countscarlioni

    Bang goes the soft reboot. That was the full Moffat and nothing but the Moffat. I’m going to miss his audacity.

    But who or what what is directing the monks?? I didn’t see any clues to that.

    Arbutus @arbutus

    @tardigrade     The CERN scientist, when asked what they were doing, said, “Saving the world”. That suggests that it wasn’t escape, but foiling the plans of the simulators, that was the goal. Presumably also true for the clerics, as that goal might be viewed of being worth going to hell for, and a president who thought he was helping his people.

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