Home Forums Episodes The Twelfth Doctor Extremis

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    MissRori @missrori

    Well, maybe it’s one person literally split in two?  😉

    Meanwhile at io9’s review, the critic noted that the Doctor’s shabby coat in the Missy scenes is the same one he wears in the regeneration tease clips in the trailer for Series 10…

    Kharis @kharis

    I don’t think Moffat is just reusing themes, NOT AT ALL, I think he’s purposefully tying them all in for the final.  At same point I think this all goes back to ‘Silence in the Library’ and some of my old posts there predicted something of this nature coming years ago from this episode, like I said years ago “everything goes back to and circles around this episode”I don’t think this is Moffat running out of ideas or themes, I think he’s reinforcing them and reminding us of the lessons the Doctor learned to become the Doctor he is now.  Moffat is reminding us that the lessons he learned have prepared him to be the Doctor that has the wisdom, tools and experience to overcome this complex threat. The proceeding Doctor’s would not have been ready.  Each experience from the Library, the Shard, Santacrab, the Zygon invasion, the losses, basically everything he has gone through, was the perfect prep school.

    I still find it interesting that Clara could always eventually figure out how to control her simulated world, that was her theme, several times, with the Zygons, the mind crabs, (assuming Clara is Charlotte) the Library, the Dalek, etc. Much like Amy’s ability to remember what no other living creature could about the void the crack left. It’s really Clara’s super power.  Aside from that rant, I don’t think any of it has been random or lack of creativity on Moffat’s part, I think he’s just sticking to a very large theme and story arc that centers on his ability to control the simulation, to decide what makes a “being” sentient, and when does one become a “a real boy” much like plastic Rory. The Doctor was warned, taking Clara out of the isolation room would cause cracks in time, so 12 caused the cracks 11 deals with, but that is how 11 learns so many needed lessons to conquer this great and complicated foe. What is River at this point? Just uploaded consiousness, a string of numbers. How does he reconcile this? The themes are the same for reason, because the biggest themes are still unresolved and it will take experience, not bravado, to solve them. The very thing that has always set the Doctor apart from other heroes; he wins through his experience and his mind not violence.

    I think everything is getting tied in, and it’s brilliant.


    Kharis @kharis

    @tardigrade comment “This is exactly what my mind has the hardest time answering “In fact, if the aliens were looking for a way to take over, what they have learnt is that if you can convince the population that they are living in a simulation that they will kill themselves out of spite. So doing just that might be very counterproductive.” I have a perfectly reasonable answer for any question about this episode…but this one.

    wolfweed @wolfweed

    @phaseshift Bowie found! Plus 5.15 (pm) is the transmission time of the 1st ever episode of Who in 1963…

    I can’t work out if what’s in the vault is Eric Roberts or a GooSnake…


    Extremis transcript


    lisa @lisa



    How many trial programs do you think the Monks are running?  Could be quite a lot.  This could

    be only  1 simulation among many.  So killing yourself in 1 simulation what does that mean

    in others?  Is it  the same scenario in every trial program.   Are there shadow Doctors in each

    of them ?

    Also. the regeneration we see is only the beginning of it so I’ve been thinking maybe

    its one of the  shadow Doctor’s in which case the next Doctor he regenerates into might

    be different in various versions of the Monk’s simulation.  In any case I’m sure that

    the reason we already got to see that is because there is going to be a major twist to it.


    Actually  this IS  another version on a theme from Moffat for me.

    Sorry but it really is. Although its still really great stuff !

    That’s why (this will probably be sacrilege to admit on this site but then I’ve committed sacrilege here before)

    I’m ready for a new show runner that will bring a fresh approach to the series!!!

    As much as I have truly loved what Moffat has done and this final season looks  like a bang up and

    awesome exit season its feeling like a repetitive theme to me.   I’m very much looking forward to

    seeing him doing new stuff elsewhere. Its good to go while its still exiting.





    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @wolfweed — I like the idea but I wonder if a suicide-regeneration might be too dark even for Moffat.

    @thane15 — yes, I think your idea that this story is going to be about fake news and the rise of the alt-right is spot on. Note how many times the word ‘real’ was used in Extremis and it’s no coincidence that the confrontation with the monks took place in the Oval Office. Plus the USP of Monks’ invasion seems to me to have the potential to be pointedly political.

    And then, of course, there’s the fact that the next episode is written by Peter ‘controversial’ Harness…

    Anonymous @

    Pope-bashing in the matrix! Moffat’s fear of the clergy is starting to become uncomfortable.




    When was the Pope bashed? Church was simply placed at the opposite end if a spectrum to CERN, and both were presented as knowing something bad was happening.

    tardigrade @tardigrade


    I like the idea but I wonder if a suicide-regeneration might be too dark even for Moffat.

    I don’t think the BBC would allow a “suicide” in a program with a younger audience base in any case (nor do I think that would be an appropriate way to handle it). The Doctor could voluntarily regenerate without self-harm though.

    MissRori @missrori

    @tardigrade I was going to say the same thing — regeneration by suicide would be too dark and family-unfriendly for this show.

    The next two episodes could both turn out to be multiple simulations or just one — I like the idea that another Sim-Doctor, or even the real Doctor, lets them conquer and then surprises them — but pulling the rug out from under us again at least once could really upset a lot of fans who are tired of those kinds of plot twists.  There seem to be a lot of fans of Series 10 who felt let down by this episode for being another “puzzle” story, and a grim one at that, when things had been so easy to follow and relatively light up to this point; feeling it was completely pointless aside from the Missy scenes since the sim plot only sets up the real storyline of the next two episodes and nothing more. (Though they seem to miss the parallels between real Doctor saving Missy and Sim-Doctor “dying” in hopes of saving the real world.)

    On the other hand, the situation of “The Lie of the Land” — humanity and the Doctor, all (save for Bill — and why?) deluded by the Monks, let them put up their new world order in unknowing preparation for the slaughter, uniforms and all — sounds like something that needs to be “reset” at the end ala The Year that Never Was so the rest of the season doesn’t deal with its fallout…

    geoffers @geoffers


    An alien race running a ‘matrix’  like simulation to figure out the best way to invade the Earth. Just interested in only the Earth?

    it took a while to catch up on all the posts, this was from page 1, and i don’t think anyone else has responded to it…

    but, i think this has to do with two things. the first is the obvious one, and ties in with how many times the doctor has saved the earth from alien threat (“you have ONE job, doctor… and you do it fairly well, actually.”), from a viewer’s perspective. it’s a trope, i guess, of the series, that won’t ever go away (if only for budgetary reasons)…

    the second, from an in-story perspective, could also have to do with how often the doctor visits earth. of all the known places of the universe, gallifrey and the earth are the two most frequented places of the doctor (in all his various incarnations). so, if your ultimate goal is to defeat the doctor (which is what i suspect is behind the monks’ invasion plans, perhaps at the instigation of the master,* or the daleks**), the easiest*** place to lay a trap would be either of these two places… and gallifrey isn’t exactly easily accessible, anymore.

    *the simm master used the toclafane as an invasion force, similarly, in ‘the sound of drums.’ and, of course, missy used the cybermen in series 8…

    **missy’s casual reference to the “word among the daleks” about the doctor’s domestic bliss on darillium is what brought up this possibility, in my mind, though i’ve seen less spoilery evidence/conjecture for them appearing later on…

    ***and, consequently, the hardest place to lay a trap. maybe this is another reason for running so many simulations, to try to eliminate as many of the doctors’ incarnations showing up and foiling their plans as is possible… not just capdoc?


    i also haven’t seen anyone reference this aspect of the episode, but i loved the misdirection in the beginning, where we are led to believe that the doctor is the one who has been sentenced to death (and missy the executioner). the whole time, i was wondering if capdoc was blind, and just doing a tremendous job of pretending to be able to see!

    tricksy moff…

    geoffers @geoffers

    also, hasn’t someone else had the thought that perhaps missy is parading around as the doctor, so far this series? could the doctor have made a deal, and an audacious “switcheroo,” before sealing up the vault, and it’s he who is actually in there?

    it’s a half-baked idea in my mind, at the moment, but the 1,000 year promise to not leave the vault unguarded could simply be a test for missy, to see if she could really keep her promise to be good (and thus be rehabilitated, or somewhat redeemed). and, as with the pandorica, the most fearsome/dangerous thing that could possibly be inside… is the doctor, himself. especially if you break such a promise to him…


    Missy @missy

    Puro: Keep from me the blame for lying, for wronging my friend…the future has arrived and I am ashamed of the depth of my debt (Pindar: paraphrased).

    Beautifully said, thank you. I know that that following hasn’t the same sentiments, but it’s stuck, in mind as summing up the Doctor.

    ” He’s like fire, and ice and rage….he’s like night and the storm in the heart of the sun…he’s ancient and forever…he burns at the centre of time and sees the turn of the Universe………and he’s wonderful.” Family of Blood.


    Missy @missy

    @morpho: He wasn’t doing any such thing, at least, not to me he wasn’t.

    @geoffers: i also haven’t seen anyone reference this aspect of the episode, but i loved the misdirection in the beginning, where we are led to believe that the doctor is the one who has been sentenced to death (and missy the executioner). the whole time, i was wondering if capdoc was blind, and just doing a tremendous job of pretending to be able to see!
    tricksy moff…

    I knew he wasn’t blind, because it stated on the screen A long time ago. However, just for a second I did wonder who was the executioner.


    MissRori @missrori

    @geoffers That’s a neat idea.  Michelle Gomez’s latest io9 interview today noted that she’s the kind of craven person who’d do anything to escape the Vault and save her own skin.  But this supposedly false Doctor is doing too good a job at being the real one then.  And it would severely diminish the Doctor and Bill’s relationship if most of the season she didn’t actually know him, and take away from developments like his blindness.  It would be audacious but make most of the season feel like a cheat.  And how would they swap bodies anyway?

    Missy @missy

    @morpho: He wasn’t doing any such thing, at least, not to me he wasn’t.
    @geoffers: i also haven’t seen anyone reference this aspect of the episode, but i loved the misdirection in the beginning, where we are led to believe that the doctor is the one who has been sentenced to death (and missy the executioner). the whole time, i was wondering if capdoc was blind, and just doing a tremendous job of pretending to be able to see!
    tricksy moff…

    I knew he wasn’t blind, because it stated on the screen A long time ago. However, just for a second I did wonder who was the executioner.

    @kharis: Murray Gold knocked it out the park again. He will go down as a great composer of our time someday. Much Like John Williams because his focus is soundtracks instead of something​ more posh he often isn’t given the credit and fame he deserves.

    I’ve said this before, the man should get an award. His musical score is superb. Did you know he also wrote the music for Hawking??


    tardigrade @tardigrade

    I realise now that I said “I don’t think the BBC would allow a suicide in a program with a younger audience base in any case” in comment on an episode where there were multiple suicides (and a feigned execution). So I’d better try to justify that a little better.

    Those suicides were of course off-screen and justified somewhat as not being real people- an on-screen suicide of a main (role model) character even if he (or she) then gets back up again would be much higher impact, and if the reason were an inability to cope with a physical disability, then that’s not a story that would be at all family-friendly, and would rightly earn criticism for the BBC. I suspect that even what was shown in this episode would have required additional signoff at the BBC.

    MissRori @missrori

    @tardigrade I agree, especially regarding the blindness issue — he can’t voluntarily regenerate just to solve that.  And if it’s cured before he regenerates, it will probably be a happy side effect of something else.  He lost his sight because he acted too rashly, yet nobly and heroically.  What would be the counterpart to regain it?…

    geoffers @geoffers


    oh, i agree, it would be a cheat, and would cause more problems than it could solve. i’m merely throwing out some mad thoughts about how two mad characters might work together…

    as to the how, look no further than the chameleon arch, which disguised the master at the end of time, and the doctor when he was hiding out from the family of blood. perhaps they could be set* to mimic specific people?

    it’s also not difficult for me to envision a piece of technology that simply copies and transmits the physical look and sound of someone onto someone else. imagine a leader (such as a gallifreyan president), under threat of assassination. wouldn’t it be convenient to be able to disguise this leader as someone entirely different, so that they could move about unconcerned… so long as the donor image person was safely locked away, somewhere (if they take on the image of the threatened person)? it doesn’t even have to be a two-way thing, though, it could simply be the doctor in the vault transmitting his image to missy…

    */modified by clever time lords!

    MissRori @missrori

    Also, regarding the Monks’ simulations and abilities…if the prospect of a world war is central to the pyramid episode next week, why didn’t anybody bring this up earlier in the season?  You’d think the President of Earth would read the papers…  😉

    MissRori @missrori

    And another thing!  😉

    Let’s face it…the Doctor can’t trust Missy as far as he can throw her.  Letting her live could be seen as at least as big a threat to the space-time continuum as saving Clara from her death in “Hell Bent” was, thinking about it.

    I understand the idea that the Doctor’s decision to spare her stems from his most virtuous, courageous, Doctor-y self recognizing that (bar wholly-evil, irredeemable creatures like Daleks) every individual life is precious and that true virtue is selfless. After all, it’s a major theme of the season.

    But doesn’t sparing Missy, who will inevitably be free to slaughter again and can never be good no matter what she says, make him no better than say, the Landlord?  Isn’t it just as flawed as saving Ashildr/Me from death’s door in a risky way?  Isn’t it just as selfish an act as rescuing Clara from her unjust death was presented as being?  Wouldn’t River Song have understood him letting Missy fry?  Clara certainly would have.

    At heart, I know he’s doing what’s right; I couldn’t bring myself to let another person fry either.  But “Without hope, without virtue, without reward”…if that is to be the Doctor’s fate in “The Doctor Falls” for doing what’s right, well, no wonder there are so few heroes in this world!

    MissRori @missrori

    Oops — I meant “without witness” in that last quote.  Virtue looks to be the only thing the Doctor has left in the end!  😀

    Steffstaff @steffstaff

    @morpho Pope-bashing in the matrix!

    …ah, so that’s what you kids are calling it these days! You’ll go as blind as the Doctor you know?

    Question: In real life Pope Benedict IX was a man, right? An actual historical figure. Doctor Who doesn’t usually ret-con real history to such an extent does it? Soooooo…. Was the female Pope only something that had occured in that simulation, due to some minor butterfly-effect type thing somewhere in the simulated history?

    Whisht @whisht

    @phaseshift – wow you have eagle eyes!

    But that’s a great spot – and will make me go back to Heathen as its not an album I’ve listened to much (maybe only once).

    @pedant – nice; between them I’ll go with Johanna Wokalek then (for the nose…)

    @geoffersfantastic idea (Missy pretending to be the Doctor to ‘prove’ goodness)! “Walk a mile in my shoes” and all that!
    Agreed it would be a ‘cheat’ if revealed to be for all episodes so far – but not if done for a single episode to come!
    Brilliant!! 🙂

    MissRori @missrori

    @whisht  I agree that an episode that turns out to involve a Freaky Friday-style swap for the Doctor and Missy would be fun, but from the synopses of the remaining episodes this season I doubt that’s going to happen — first the Monks storyline has to be wrapped up with the next two episodes, then there’s the Ice Warriors episode, then an episode with a threat TBD, then the 2-part finale.

    Isn’t having Saxon turn up at some point enough?  😀

    Whisht @whisht

    ha ha Hi @missrori – ah, but as I don’t watch the Next Time trailers and try to avoid spoilers as much as possible (I don’t even know the episode names) I can keep my bonkerising ‘reality free’!


    ichabod @ichabod

    @missrori    . . . “Without hope, without virtue, without reward”…if that is to be the Doctor’s fate in “The Doctor Falls” for doing what’s right, well, no wonder there are so few heroes in this world!

    I think there are many, many heroes in this world — and a lot of them go unrecognized til after they’re gone, if then.  The nature of our lives, so far as I can see, is that our idealistic, spiritual selves are often outflanked and undermined by our survival-at-all-costs motivated animal selves.  The world is more geared to animals than it is to “souls”, because the world is about survival and propagation, not the immortality of spirits and spirit stuff.  More and more I feel that the job is not to “fix” or “perfect” the world because the world already works perfectly on its own terms: survival of the fittest, and nobody wins in the end.

    Looks like the Existentialists were right: the test is, can we learn to live here as spirits anchored in animal bodies without giving in to despair once we realize that Nature cannot be “fixed” (made to be kind, forgiving, fair, and reasonable)?  Nature is like Missy: immune at the core to ethics, empathy, reason, or kindness.  Remember this story?  The frog has agreed to swim the scorpion across the river on its back, since the scorpion says, reasonably, “Of course I won’t sting you — if I did you’d sink, and we’d both drown.”  But halfway across, the scorpion stings the frog, who cries, “You said you wouldn’t!  Why would you do that?’  And the scorpion says, “What did you expect?  I’m a *scorpion*.”

    Are we here to learn to be heroes — ethical, empathic, reasonable, and kind — by simply refusing to be scorpions?  Without hope, without recognition or reward and often without even success, to reach always toward the good because we choose to?

    That is one hell of a tall order.  No wonder we need the Doctor and other heroes, fictional or not, to look to: they make mistakes and stumble, but they try, and maybe that’s maybe the best that we can hope for, for ourselves.  It has to be good enough, because that’s what we’ve got, even at our best (Madame Curie was indifferent to the dangers of her work to her assistants; Mother Theresa believed that suffering was good for the sick, and acted on this belief; Gandhi was, I’ve read, unkind to women; Edison was a thief and an exploiter of the genius of others; Lincoln was, at least early on, a racist; etc.).

    Damn.  I must be drunk (well, the wine bottle is empty, so there’s a clue . . . ).  Weird mood; off to bed.  Sorry if I’ve been lecturing.  From the inside, it feels like groping around in a fog, feeling for something solid and good to grab onto, but not to worry.  I’m used to it.  “Scottish philosophy: life is shit,” quoth the Doctor.  My dad was Scots-English, and I heard plenty of that from him, the old crab).  Zzzzzz . . . .


    Anonymous @


    Could I point out what a mate of mum’s on the site was saying? Sometimes people don’t read people’s posts -they scan them or skip them? In your post you’re mentioning ‘the next time’ trailer? I think it was @craig who has hardly any rules but has said “please keep next time trailer info on the spoiler’s thread”

    I think that’s  a good idea. One of mum’s mates doesn’t listen to the ‘next time’ which is also shown waaay after the credits so people who want to be surprised can be? 🙂

    This isn’t me having a go at anyone! Just a reminder! Mum has been on the Spoiler section but I haven’t. I’ll probably have to do some posting now -mum has been called into work today -which is really good in some ways, but she’ll miss all the bonkers ideas which are amazing!!

    @ichabod in philosophy we’re doing that very ‘lesson’ or parable  -about the scorpion? It’s really good and interesting.

    From Thane

    <waving to @whisht! >

    Love your post from 57905! Good ideas there and @geoffers -even if it’s throwing an idea out into chaos that would still be superbly BONKERS!

    @missy no, I really LOVE that quote from the Family Of Blood -one of my favourite quotes and also two-part episodes.

    Anonymous @

    Sorry @missrori I meant your post in 57905. I signed off before realising there was hidden text there!

    Thank you and cheers, Thane

    MissRori @missrori

    @thane15  Sorry about that Thane.  I’ll try to be better in the future.  🙂

    @ichabod  Glad to hear from you!  Yes, I was actually thinking about “The Scorpion and the Frog” earlier tonight/today (this is a day off from work, and I work odd hours).  Between this gloomy unfolding storyline — so much to anticipate and dread in the coming weeks!  — and the horrible news coming out of Manchester, my mood is very low right now.  Your sensitive “lecture” actually does make sense, and it’s probably the best answer to the questions I have than anything.  “Good enough”…


    Anonymous @


    It’s Thane here not Mum but with respect to the Doctor’s forgiveness of Missy I take this from Buffy that forgiveness and understanding is given by the person who is doing the forgiving -whether the injured party needs forgiveness or even deserves it?

    The Doctor isn’t human but he is the BEST of us -he represents all that is the best we have . He teaches us to be tolerant and to reach out to our communities . He did that on Gallifrey and he’s always going to try to forgive and look after Missy because he was Missy’s friend: there was that brooch we haven’t heard more about. Also when Tennant held the Master in his arms and he died saying “I win” the doctor was brooding and really upset.

    The loss of others upsets the doctor. Yes he can be furious with her and yes he can be angry and not trust her but he promised to look after her body and is fulfilling his promise which is something else that he teaches us -and teaches kids watching this how to do the right thing and make the right choice because it’s the right thing to do.

    That takes practise . Also the  Doctor has got a lot of time. he doesn’t want to spend it being furious. Neither do I -and I’m 15!

    Anyway hope that explains my thinking and mum’s too!

    Thank you for your patience (don’t worry about the other thing -I break rules all the time!!).

    idiotsavon @idiotsavon

    Cor, this is a really great thread!

    Just caught up yesterday with Oxygen and Extremis back to back. Still feeling befuddled – in a very good way.

    @steffstaff Welcome. Great posts. “…during the real invasion, everything the Doctor attempts they’ll have already predicted and have an immediate counter for”

    I suppose we’ve seen with the shadow test that the one thing they can’t account for is the randomness that is possible on the real earth. If hundreds of strategic decisions around the world were made on the throw of a die or by picking a number, there’s no way the Monks could predict the outcome. Then again, strategic decisions made at random will likely be bad ones, and I do like your idea of fooling the Monks by letting them win.

    I don’t think anyone has mentioned the Veritas story from Aesop’s Fables. Forgive me if I’ve missed it. The story goes (roughly) that Prometheus was fashioning Truth (Veritas) in clay, and was suddenly called away. The Trickster, in Prometheus’ absence, began to sculpt a copy. Prometheus returned before the Trickster could finish the feet, and so the second sculpture was left incomplete. Prometheus, finding two sculptures on his return, decided to put them both into his kiln. Thus life was given to both truth and falsehood – alike in every way, except that Truth was able to venture out into the world, while falsehood was static (no feet, see?)

    The Monks, like the Trickster, have created a copy of the truth that is perfect except for one thing: nothing on their simulated Earth can be truly random. I do hope this flaw will help the Doctor defeat them.

    I really like that the only thing that apparently distinguishes true, living breathing us from simulated us is our capacity for randomness. Our simulated selves pass all the tests: they are self-aware; they feel; they think; they hurt. So what is so special about us? I like the idea that it’s haphazardness and disorder that make us “real.”

    I wonder whether there will be a callback to the rigged coin from Thin Ice. It could be a thematic link. (The Doctor knew the man was a cheat because this is the real world, where coins, dice and people are unpredictable.) Or a more bonkers possibility is that Thin Ice was a simulation. Remember how incensed the guy was about being called a cheat? Maybe he wasn’t cheating. And the Doctor did seem very keen to examine his coin – did he smell a rat, I wonder?

    It would be interesting to re-watch previous episodes and look for things that happen at random. In Oxygen, the Doctor invites Bill to pick a destination, which she does – apparently at random. He then overrides her decision and answers the distress call instead. Could this be significant?

    I’ve been trying to think of how the white room with all the doors fits into the simulation. My theory is this: Mostly, the simulation can be left to play out without interference. However, there are some things on the real earth that are a bit more tricky, and their simulations need to be closely supervised. The doors open onto these tricky bits. We’ve got the behaviour of subatomic particles in CERN. We’ve got the Pentagon – which presumably has secret dealings with, and files on, extra-terrestrial beings and “supernatural” events. Then we’ve got the Vatican – the spiritual realm. Where might the other doors lead, I wonder? NASA? UNIT?

    Another sticking point, if you wanted to create a simulated Earth, would be a Timelord who is forever jumping into his/her Tardis and travelling outside the parameters of the simulation. Perhaps a good way around this problem would be to lock one Timelord up in a vault and make the other one guard it? *Strokes chin*

    Reading the episode summary prior to broadcast, and noting that it was set in the Vatican, I was reminded of “The Vatican Cellars” by Andre Gide. The story hinges around a scam whereby the Pope is said to have been kidnapped, and a fake pope put in his place. Among other things, the story invites us to consider what distinguishes a fake Pope from the real Pope, and by extension, what distinguishes illusion from reality, truth from fiction. It was pleasing to see similar themes emerge in this episode. There’s more to say, but I realise I have rambled.

    One last thing though: Given the ecclesiatical bent of this episode, is it worth mentioning 1 John 1:8? The Latin quotation I’m thinking of ends: “et nulla est in nobis veritas.” In English: “If we say we are without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” Then 1:9 says that if we confess our sins we will be forgiven. It seems pertinent given the Doctor’s invitation to confess in this episode. Interestingly, one of the arguments against confession is, in a nutshell, pretty much what the Doctor said: There wouldn’t be enough time.


    MissRori @missrori

    @thane15 Ah, that does clear things up on my forgiveness question.  Thank you Thane!  🙂

    Yes, the Doctor has much to teach us.  How well has Bill learned, I wonder?  😉

    Anonymous @


    yes a lovely spot regarding Aesop’s fables. Mum was saying that some of the writing about these legends and myths is really backdropped here. Often the Prometheus tale and Pindar’s writing go together: Mum mentioned some of that in the first page of the thread but  yes, you’re so right “falsehood is that which has no feet and is static.”

    Thank you,


    Whisht @whisht

    Hi @thane15

    {waves back} – cheers!


    Great thread this one and Oxygen and very interesting about Prometheus etc.

    I’m glad we haven’t yet seen inside the vault, as it gives us just a tiny bit more time for bonkerising.

    Its like Schroedinger’s Vault – Alan Moore may yet be in there!!



    Anonymous @


    The resolution of Waters of Mars was the first star’s suicide, something I was always uncomfortable with. It was offscreen, of course, but most certainly a real human being.

    Anonymous @


    He used the Pope as a comedy device and the monsters, called The Monks, wore garments that were an amalgam of Catholic thredz.

    I’m an atheist, I’m fine with it, but Moffat’s continual baiting of Christians (headless monks, the clerics from the angels two-parter, the silence turning out to be priests to name but a few) does make it hard for my Catholic Whovian friends to enjoy the show. Which is a shame.

    idiotsavon @idiotsavon

    @thane15 Ah, that’s what I get for reading four pages of brilliant stuff in a rush I suppose. I should have known your mum would have seen the Prometheus parallel right away. Right now, Mr Savon has taken the tiny Emperor out so I can shampoo our carpets, so I suppose I ought to get on with the task in hand, but very much looking forward to having a proper read.

    Anonymous @

    I don’t want to be purely negative about this episode. Obviously the idea of someone finding out they’re in a sophisticated computer simulation isn’t highly original, but it hasn’t been done in DW, so it’s fair game imo.

    The monks, while unnecessarily Catholic-baiting imo, we’re extremely effective and chilling. And of course to outsiders, mysterious happenings in the mysterious Vatican are always thrilling!

    But, as iirc @craig said, this is quite an insubstantial piece. We now know who is in the vault and that there’s another Earth invasion plan in progress.

    So, like the rightly-maligned Let’s Kill Hitler, this is an episode dedicated to getting through some important but relatively meagre exposition.

    Unlike Let’s Kill Hitler, though, it has some neat thrills.



    You may find it instructive to Google the (probably apocryphal) Pope Joan…

    Mirime @mirime

    Meanwhile at io9’s review, the critic noted that the Doctor’s shabby coat in the Missy scenes is the same one he wears in the regeneration tease clips in the trailer for Series 10…

    @missrori that is probably why I was wondering about how disheveled he looked. There was something nagging at me about that and there’s the explanation.

    Which now makes me wonder what happened when and in what order?

    MissRori @missrori

    @mirime, I’ve read a good theory on this, but I’m afraid that’s under the Spoiler thread.  🙂

    @morpho, There is something substantial to this story — it’s confirming and expanding upon the most important element of the Twelfth Doctor’s character in this season, perhaps his whole run.

    At heart, this is about his determination and willingness to do the right thing no matter what.  The two story threads aren’t much on their own, granted, but together they support and enrich each other.  Both the Doctor in the past and the Sim-Doctor are faced with darkness itself, hopeless situations.

    The Doctor of the past is faced with executing a terrible person, a person who has caused grief for so many but most of all him.  And he’s killed enemies so many times before that he’s listed as a cause of death!  But she was his friend, and she is a life.  She has feelings.  She was not born/built to be a monster, like the Daleks or Cybermen who cannot be reasoned with or redeemed.  Has he the right to snuff out her life?  He won’t benefit from her living.  But that’s not the point of doing good, is it?

    The Sim-Doctor is faced with, as the AVClub.com review puts it, “a world without hope”.  He and his fellows are all ones and zeroes, the unwitting slaves of the Monks, created for a terrible purpose — the invasion of the real Earth.  To try and save that world, those who realize the truth willingly die — if they aren’t killed first.  But Sim-Doctor realizes there’s something more he can do before the end: Send his real world counterpart a message, tell him to save the flesh-and-blood…especially his friends.  Either way, he will cease to exist; he has no promised land waiting him for his sacrifice, just The End.  He has no idea if the real Doctor will be able to stop the threat.  But with nothing left to gain or lose, why not do what is right instead of just giving in to The End?

    Both men do the right thing.  The Doctor spares Missy and begins his guardianship of the Vault.  The Sim-Doctor dies…but he is the first hero of this unfolding story.

    This is the mid-point of the season; from here on out the challenges for the Doctor and his friends will grow, of course.  But sad as this tale is, as scared as he is at the end, there is a kernel of hope in it.  That no matter how dark things become, he will still do what is right, no matter what.

    And if he expects nothing for his goodness…then that only makes whatever happiness comes in his wake sweeter.

    bendubz11 @bendubz11

    Question: In real life Pope Benedict IX was a man, right? An actual historical figure. Doctor Who doesn’t usually ret-con real history to such an extent does it? Soooooo…. Was the female Pope only something that had occured in that simulation, due to some minor butterfly-effect type thing somewhere in the simulated history?

    @steffstaff this is my thinking as well. Moffat just doesn’t retcon things without reason. If Pope Benedict IX is never believed to be Pope Joan, why would Moffat have changed it to be so, unless there’s a reason for it. My thinking is that although the portrait did not look much like her, we already have a female character who the Doctor knows, is friends with, and is prone to being heretical. Could it be that Pope Benedict IX is in fact Missy, and if so what on earth is she doing in 11th Century Rome?

    MissRori @missrori

    @ichabod and the story of the frog and scorpion:

    Are we here to learn to be heroes — ethical, empathic, reasonable, and kind — by simply refusing to be scorpions?  Without hope, without recognition or reward and often without even success, to reach always toward the good because we choose to?

    Well, the moral of the story I and others have commonly taken from it is “Don’t trust and help anybody you know is dangerous when they’re in need; it’s all your fault if they hurt you.”  I first read a version of it on an anti-drug bookmark back in high school.  So if the Doctor were following the Aesop, he’d have let Missy fry and happily guarded her corpse for 1,000 years!

    But again, you may be right @ichabod.  Maybe that’s our purpose on this little blue-and-green ball.

    lisa @lisa


    So something you said in your post about “if your ultimate goal is to defeat the Doctor”!

    I’ve been thinking that the Monks are really like an Army. So who is the General?

    Could that be the banished Rassilon?   He has the ability to establish this army AND

    the computer simulations.  He’s done that before with his matrix and confession dial.

    He would like to destroy the Doctor and oh btw !  The Master/Missy would be happy

    to collaborate with the Doctor to defeat Rassilon if the Doctor needs the help.

    I hope I haven’t missed reading a previous post where some one has already thought of this.

    Also it could be as @MissRoni  suggested about the brain washing that only effects

    the Doctor.   Still  thinking about it,   brainwashed and imprisoned into a Matrix sort

    of situation?   Who would do such a thing?  The enemy that did it before of course.   Rassilon?


    Anonymous @


    Yes I watched it 😛 The net result of *all* of that is that the (real) Doctor is alerted to an imminent alien invasion, i.e. pure exposition.

    Steffstaff @steffstaff

    @pedant you think they were referencing her? I know she’s a fabled female pope, but they seemed pretty clear on reffering to this one as Benedict IX, who as I say is a non-fabled real pope from history… So outside of sharing a gender with Pope Joan, there doesn’t seem to be a connection.



    I think you have to allow for the Moffat Gleeful Imprecision Factor (and the dates are right….-ish).

    I recall a scene from a Tom Baker(?) episode where he airily decreed that King John could have crushed  the barons at any time had he wanted. Almost certainly not the case, but a fun historical leg pull.

    Steffstaff @steffstaff

    @pedant Okay, I shall allow for that! He’s a cheeky wee scamp is our Moffat! …I might even miss him…

    Mudlark @mudlark

    @steffstaff @pedant @bendubz11

    What I found anomalous about the Pope Benedict IX as female diversion was the portrait.  The style of the painting bore no resemblance to any depiction which might have dated from the 11th century, but that is not in itself a problem, since there are plenty of representations of historical persons painted long after their lifetime, even if this particular example looked like a photograph manipulated not very expertly to look like a painting. What struck me was the fact that the portrait was not only clearly of a woman, but that she was not dressed in Papal robes.  There are a number of real-life accounts of women living successfully as men without detection, and in the story of Pope Joan, if my memory serves me, she was only discovered to be female after she became pregnant and produced a child.

    In the real world – or at least the one we consider ‘real’ – it is very hard to imagine that the Vatican would preserve such an image of so scandalous a person, even at the entrance to a library of dangerous and heretical texts; but this wasn’t the real world, it was a simulation.  So consider this: if you were an alien bent on conquering the earth and running a series of simulations to discover how best to do it, it wouldn’t be particularly useful to run the same scenario  hundreds or thousands, let alone millions of times, because the result would always tend to be the same; you would want to tweak things a bit in the various iterations, whether in minute or major details, likely or unlikely, in order to see which scenario produced the optimal conditions for your purpose.  Such tweaking could well utilise apocryphal stories, urban myths and common misperceptions in order to try to produce the desired frame of mind in the population. Once the optimal conditions were discovered in this process of experimentation, you could then do a bit of tweaking in real time, via the press, social media or a little pressure on some of the movers and shakers, to produce that frame of mind.

    Or the whole thing could, indeed, just be Moffat being a tease.



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