By Lee Travis
*Talking about this week's episode "Extremis" without spoilers would be very difficult, so spoiler warning*
Are you reading this? I know you think you are reading this recap, review, reaction of Doctor Who, but are you real or a simulation? In my first real "whoa" episode of Doctor Who, "Extremis" left my mind blown and slightly fried in the process.
Up until this point, I have been enjoying the fun yet predictable Doctor Who adventures. Now, there's nothing wrong with predictable. On the contrary, but I've been waiting for that episode of Doctor Who that would leave me thinking about the consequences for days. "Extremis" did just that.
In what is a mashup of The Matrix and Inception, the concept of reality is pushed to the limits. Am I a shadow construct? How would I even know what questions to ask to find out if I'm real or not? I've always found these types of stories to be some of the most terrifying out there. Questioning one's own reality is like a terrible nightmare.
"Extremis" worked on both the lead-up and the shocking reveal at the end. The plot twist didn't feel cheap, though it still leaves your brain hurting. Only in the best way. For example, The Doctor faces the Monks, who created this shadow world program to learn the best ways to conquer earth. But actually, neither The Doctor, Bill, nor Nardole actually interact with the Monks. Only their programmed versions of themselves do. In what could have been an 'it's only a dream' episode, the programmed version of The Doctor is just as cunning as the real version and can warn himself of the impending danger. With our heroes knowing there is a lurking evil coming for them, "Extremis" twist ending provides more opportunities without wasting an episode on an 'what if' story.
Also, we learn who's in the vault. Which, even for a Doctor Who freshman, seemed obvious. Though, the backstory was exhilarating to watch. It's nice to finally know who's behind that mysterious door. Though the backstory was exciting to watch, the reveal felt disjointed from the rest of the narrative.
What are your thoughts about "Extremis"? Is this reality or a well-crafted virtual world we're all living in? Let us know in the comments below and on Twitter @lostthenumbers.
You can watch Doctor Who on BBC America Saturday night at 9/8c.