Tag Archives: Nardole

The 12th Doctor – Series 10, Episode 6 – “Extremis” – Hope in the World of Illusion

   “Extremis” is a great episode. It is easily up there with “Listen” and “Heaven Sent” for meditative explorations of who the Doctor is and what it means to be him, and it manages to pose bigger questions in regards to sentience too, which strengthens it further. Before I get into spoilers, this is a favorite that is well worth your time.

    The episode was directed by Daniel Nettheim and written by Steven Moffat, showing that when it comes to episodes that really should be individual bottle episodes, he can still do great.

   The story involves the Doctor (blind after last episode) is sent an email through his sonic glasses about the Vatican text “Veritas” a text that leads it’s readers to commit suicide. From here the Doctor works with Bill and Nardole to find out the mystery surrounding the text.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The Premise – The premise is very horror movie esque with the text that kills anyone who reads it and it quickly takes the richer turn where it questions reality. The episode begins with a jump down the rabbit hole and doesn’t stop until it is explored.

The Monks – The Monks are the main threat as they are the ones running the simulation that our characters (who are programs) exist in. They look like giant bats and seem to speak through their minds which is a great aesthetic. My only worry is that they’ll end up being as underwhelming as the Angels and Silents as both of them had really strong introductions but progressively had worse payoff down the line.

Whatever Happened to Missy – The episode begins with a flashback where we see Missy (the Master) being executed for her crimes. In the end she is saved by the Doctor who keeps her trapped for her time for her crimes as he knows she is still a threat. The scenes before he saves her are powerful as River sends Nardole to remind him of his goodness and Missy reminds him of their friendship as we learn that Missy is the one being held in the Vault.

The Nature of Reality and Sentience – Our characters exist in a simulation run by the Monks so that they can best learn how to conquer Earth. The programs are exist recreations of those on Earth and so are real and do exist, even though they are only programs. This is the core point of the Episode and exploring the horror of that knowledge.

What it Means to be the Doctor – The final reveal is the Doctor sending an email to himself through the psychic link in the glasses. This is great as it captures that the Doctor is the fighter and his point is resistance and defense of others and with that hope, even in death. This Program Doctor was amazing as in the end he became the Doctor. The Doctor is hope and in his last act of existence the program gave the Doctor and hope a chance.

Okay: The Vatican – The Vatican is okay, they are played for jokes a bit at the beginning but feel like another player in the threat of the unknown after we arrive at their Archive. I still think they could have been handled better though.

   This is an episode well worth your time that humanizes Nardole and Bill a lot (showing their flaws, courage) even though they and the Doctor are programs…at this point the programs are people showing just how powerful the threat of the Monks is as they have been killing sentient beings over and over again so that they can figure out how to best conquer Earth. I’m intrigued at where the story goes and if we will ever see the simulation our world in this episode exists in, come up again.

Final Score: 9.6 / 10. The Vatican bits can be hit or miss but the overall story is great.

The 12th Doctor – Series 10, Episode 5 – “Oxygen” – A Heavy Handed Enjoyable Space Thriller

   “Oxygen” is a flawed and amazing episode that is heavy handed with it’s message but is powerful in how it tells it’s story. This is one of my favorite episodes of the new series, even with all of the flaws. It changes things in a way that looks like it may last and we get to see more of the negative in humanity which we largely only got with the 9th and 10th Doctor. Suffice to say, before I get into spoilers…I recommend this episode.

  The episode was directed by Charles Palmer and directed by Jamie Mathieson.

   The story involves the Doctor, Bill and Nardole becoming trapped on a mining space station where they have limited oxygen and are being hunted by A.I. suits as they rush to save the survivors and themselves.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The Premise -The idea of a space station run off oxygen workers by is so wonderfully dsytopian I can’t help but appreciate it. It also gives tension and consequence immediately as the limited oxygen creates a ticking clock.

The Tension – The station expels all excess oxygen added to the station, which forces our heroes to get the suits where they only have a certain amount of breaths, on top of this the suits are controlling the dead who died from lack of oxygen and the survivors are fearful and angry. If any one of these goes over the edge, everything is over for our heroes.

The Miners – The miners are great, we get to see the politics and relationships between them and how they are survivors. They are the characters ready to do anything to get off the station which adds another level of tension to our main characters predicament.

The Doctor, Nardole and Bill – The dynamic between these 3 is wonderful. Nardole is the responsible worry wort holding the Doctor to his promise that he made Nardole make of keeping an eye of the Vault, Bill is the new adventurer who doesn’t have the Doctor’s recklessness the Doctor is the wizard, manipulating and planning his way through every situation even when it looks like he’s lost his mind and lost everything.

Consequences – The Doctor saves Bill but goes blind in the process from the vacuum of space. This is still true at the end of the episode and we see how powerless he feels as so much of what he does it tied to his ability to read what something by seeing it. I hope we have him this way for a while as even TARDIS tech could not heal his eyes.

Okay/Con – Execution of the Message – The message of the episode is that capitalism is bad and eventually people will be exploited for the very oxygen they breathe. I put this as okay because “Doctor Who” has always been a message show, the problem was this wasn’t done with enough “show” there was a good amount of “tell” even though we were witnessing the very premise and didn’t need to be told it. I won’t put it as a complete con but it was the weakest part of the episode.

  This is a flawed and amazing episode that is worth checking out. The tension is strong throughout the entire episode, Nardole and Bill clash with the Doctor while the Doctor has moments where even he loses hope. We also have minor characters we care about and perfect tension through the entire episode. This is an episode that I highly recommend. Can’t wait to see how the consequences of the Doctor’s blindness unfold.

Final Score: 9.4 / 10

The 12th Doctor – Series 10, Episode 3 – “Thin Ice” – Bland Villain and Monster Bring Down Good Character Moments

   “Thin Ice” is the first mediocre episode this series. This is an episode that has great character moments with Bill and the Doctor but the support characters, villain and the creature are so boring and unfleshed out that it brings down the entire peace. It isn’t a bad episode, as the characters stuff was strong enough to keep me engaged, but it isn’t good by any stretch of the imagination.

    The episode was directed by Bill Anderson and written by Sarah Dollard.

   The story involves the TARDIS transporting the Doctor and Bill to the Thames Frost Fair of 1814. It is here they must unravel the mystery of the creature underneath the Thames as Bill is confronted with a choice that will define her and humanity.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros; The Doctor and Bill’s Relationship – This is an episode where Bill debates with the Doctor his role. She asks if he’s killed and it takes him a long time to say that only when it is one of the last options available…and in it we see the Doctor as a soldier and veteran, while for Bill this is all so new to her as she is faced with these choices for the first time and better understands the danger in the adventure.

The Doctor – The Doctor is great in this in how he expresses that he does what he does to help and safeguard life because he is called to it…by his companion, the TARDIS, or the people they are helping. I saw it as partially him pushing responsibility off himself, but it also helped illustrate how he’s been learning. So much of 10’s trauma was because he got involved and didn’t listen. I think 12 has learned from the past in that way…now lets just see if the writers will keep it consistent.

Bill – Bill is faced with the darkness in humanity in this one…from there hanging out with pickpocketing children, to a racist landowner who is controlling the monster for money. In the end she does what she can to save as many people as possible and trick the villain…and from here we see how the Doctor and the TARDIS make the companions more like them.

Humanity’s Choice – Save the creature and risk human lives…or keep things the way they are and live the guilt of enslaving another being. This was the core dilemma at the end of the episode that turns Bill more into the Doctor as she chooses the second choice and larger moral implications that come with it. All life matters…be it alien or human.

The Cons: The Villain – The villain is a racist landowner exploiting the creature for resources as it has been in his family for generations. He is so bland and uninteresting and easily one of the worst villains to come out of Doctor Who. There was no motivation beyond greed.

The Supporting Cast – There are a bunch of child actors and none of them can act. This usually isn’t smart to do in any film medium and Doctor Who isn’t known for it’s great writing…and young actors usually don’t have the charisma to carry a scene the way an older more experienced actor could have…to make up for the pitfalls in the writing and dialogue.

The Monster – The monster is a giant fish that sounds like a a whale that we never get to fully see. It eats people, so we know it is dangerous…and apparently it’s a native to Earth, but that is all we know. It is there to be rescued and that is it.

   This is a film that is only worth your time if you are a major fan of the show and a completionist. There are way too many 2 Dimensional characters in this episode and even the core concept of the companion being the stand in for humanity could have been explored a lot better. There are some great dialogue and character moments between Bill and the Doctor, but this is a time where that wasn’t enough to bring the episode to good or great.

Final Score: 7 / 10

The 12th Doctor – Series 10, Episode 1 – “The Pilot” – Horror Meets Wonder With a Great New Companion

   I’m worried about how the rest of the Series 10 and Capaldi’s run as 12 will go. Moffat and Gatiss ran “Sherlock” into the ground and there is enough time for him to do the same for “Doctor Who,” as for “Sherlock” it only took about 1 1/2 Seasons to do so. Right now he’s starting out strong though! I really enjoyed “The Pilot,” it captures all the beautiful adventure, horror and wonder that comes with the best of “Doctor Who” and sci. fi. time travel exploration. So, before I get into further depth, this one is worth checking out.

   The episode was directed by Lawrence Gough and written by Steven Moffat.

    The episode involves the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) lecturing at a college as a Professor until Bill (Pearl Mackie) a fish and chips cook is pulled into his life when he notices her at all of his lectures listening. She is soon thrown into the unknown though when her crush is taken over by a mysterious puddle, pulling her and the Doctor together as they try and stop the alien from taking away Bill.

The Pros: The World – The world is fantastic as we get to see the Doctor take up the role of professor, a role he clearly enjoys as both 1 and 10 have both done it at different times in the human world as have other incarnations in the extended universe of the Doctor. This love of knowledge and sharing it is part of what makes the series so inspiring and great and it is on display by having it all take place a college with a woman (Bill) who is not even a student sitting on lectures because of her desire to learn.

Nardole – Nardole is still with us after we picked him up at “The Husbands of River Song,” and through the last special too. Matt Lucas is great at being the awkward loaf who is fearful but can find courage (helps the Doctor trap some Daleks in the episode) and calls out the Doctor on his blind spots. He’s very much the Doctor’s assistant in this so I’m curious to see if his role will be explored further, I’m not quite sure why he’s sticking around.

Bill – Bill is an amazing companion (don’t mess this up Moffat!). She is down to Earth, has a desire to learn and doesn’t let lack of money stop her, she is alone in many ways and that loneliness ties to the Doctor in how they connect as their desire to learn and for connection is key. It is her reaching out to her crush that leads to the alien targeting her. She is strong and stands her ground too when the Doctor attempts to wipe her mind as she helps realize how messed up that is and that the adventure was her first happy memory in a long time.

The Doctor – The Doctor has gone from not just the protector of humanity but also helping them learn about time travel as the lecture we see him doing at the beginning is him teaching about the meaning of TARDIS. In this way he is helping humanity thrive and become the force they are in the future. His arc is realizing that his past mind wipes were him being selfish, leading to him not wiping Bill’s mind and choosing her to be his companion as she helps him see things differently and realize and correct his older bad habits.

Okay: The Antagonist – The antagonist is the weakest part. It is sentient oil puddle that is also a space ship as it takes Bill’s crush as the Pilot and tries to take Bill as the passenger. It can some how warp through time and track the TARDIS and what it actually is is never fully explained. I liked the play on Ring type horror it did with anything it mimicked being wet and dripping water but felt it needed to be explored more. It could have easily been tied to the Waters of Mars, which would have really made it a horror story.

  This is a strong start to Series 10 and I’m really hoping it stays that way as Gallifrey and Clara being ruined last season almost made me stop watching the show. Gallifrey needed a good story tied to it and Clara’s choice to die should have been respected. She had so many great good-byes that got canceled out. I don’t want Bill or the 12th Doctor to suffer the same fate. They deserve better and hopefully Moffat can end as strong as he started.

Final Score: 9.4 / 10 Antagonist is the weakest part.

The 12th Doctor – Doctor Who Specials – “The Return of Doctor Mysterio” – The Doctor’s Story is Good but the Romance is Terrible

return-of-doctor-mysterio

     I got to say, I’m looking forward to someone taking over Moffat’s reigns for “Doctor Who.” Moffat at the end of the day is a safe and average showrunner but great at individual episodes when someone else is running the show. The best episodes in the reboot were Moffat episodes but some of the worst episodes happened after he took over and proceed to ruin the 11th Doctor in many ways, as well as Clara. I could write a whole blog post on the matter but will wait and do a Moffat retrospect after he finishes up this Season, which will be his last season with “Doctor Who.”

       Steven Moffat was the writer of “The Return of Doctor Mysterio” with the director being Ed Bazalgette.

    The story involves the Doctor working on a device when he runs into young Grant, a child waiting for Santa who ends up eating a rare item that turns him into a Super Hero. Years later the Doctor returns and helps Grant deal with his double life and the threat of Shoal of the Winter Harmony.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The Cinematography – The cinematography is beautiful, “Doctor Who” continues to look the best it ever has ever looked.

The Action – The action, when it is there is rather clever and I liked the threat of the Shoal of Winter Harmony and how they were camp but still managed to hold threat.

Shoal of the Winter Harmony – These are an alien species of living brains that body snatch. These guys were fun and a nice addition to the Whoniverse. They even manage to infiltrate UNIT at the end, which could work but given how horribly The Great Intelligence was handled, I’m hoping they aren’t the big bad for this season.

Nardole – Nardole is great and awkward and Matt Lucas plays him beautifully. He calls the Doctor out but that is mostly because he gets social cues worse than the Doctor. He is also the connection to River, which is why the Doctor keeps him around, even though it helps as last episode was saying good-bye. Again, everything with the Doctor is the strongest part of this episode.

The Doctor – The Doctor is the best part of this story. He’s taken to bringing snacks on outings and is doing his best to stop the Shoal while dealing with the loss of River Song. His arc is making peace with the loss and accepting new beginnings. It is really well done as he is not nearly as mopy as 11 was after Amy and Rory died. Capaldi truly owns this role.

Remembering River – The core of the episode is the Doctor missing River after “The Husbands of River Song,” as it is after that episode she dies at the Library. This was the core of the plot that made it good and I wish this had actually been explored more, not through the weak Grant and Lucy romance.

Okay: Lucy – Lucy is the reporter who figures out what is going on with Shoal of the Harmony Winter and also the Doctor. She isn’t bad but she feels phoned in. She empathizes with the Doctor losing River but Nordale does it so much better. She or Grant should have been the only character, them both being around weakened both their plots.

The Ghost/Grant – This character is meant to be Superman (the flying, super strong, etc.) and Spider-Man (the awkward nerd) and he does that well, he also isn’t super memorable either and his core desire being romance just wasn’t strong enough to get me invested in the character. His double life plot just feel tacky and the backstory with Lucy just felt contrived.

The Cons: The Romance – The romance is just awful, it is awkward, feels tacked on and doesn’t feel real at all. All the best bits this episode are with the Doctor and the rest is forgettable or okay (the two main characters).

  This was an okay episode. I enjoyed it for the story where the Doctor drove the narrative but the hackneyed romance really brought this down. This is an episode that I’d recommend if you are a fan of Capaldi as he does have some great moments…but he is literally the only reason to watch this episode. The Super Hero stuff feels out of place mostly due to the romance and even though I liked the villains the romance took away from their threat. Again, see this if you are fan of the show but outside that, this is just an okay episode.

Final Score: 7 / 10

The 12th Doctor – Doctor Who Specials – “The Husbands of River Song” – The Pain in Endings

The Husbands of River Song

     “The Husbands of River Song” is a fun episode….and Kingston and Capaldi have great chemistry with one another, I really hope we get to see them in action together again after this. The episode isn’t great, but it was good and the ending definitely pulled at the heart strings.

     Douglas Mackinnon directed while Steven Moffat wrote the episode.

     The story involves the Doctor being pulled into saving River Song’s husband King Hydroflax. He soon learns it is all a setup to get the diamond out of the King’s head but things get more complicated as the King’s robotic body has a mind and agenda of it’s own and River doesn’t recognize the Doctor.

The Pros: The Premise – The premise is cool. I like that River doesn’t recognize the Doctor since she only knows past incarnations as far as we know and we know both her and the Doctor have had many spouses, so it is great seeing that explored. They are each forces of nature in their own right.

River Song’s Husbands – All of her husbands, like the Doctor’s wives are tools for bigger agendas and adventures. My favorite was Ramone and the King was alright. I wish we could have met Damsel.

River Song – River is in her element here and it is wonderful seeing her as the star of the show. We haven’t got this for a long time since so much of her prior arc with Smith’s Doctor was her being rescued. Here she doesn’t need that persay, it’s about the exploration of her relationship with the Doctor more than anything else and how she’s aware of how distant and alien he is as a Time Lord and has taken on his attributes in the relationships she forms.

The Doctor – The Doctor is called out in the end as we see just how similar he is to River. He has tons of wives across the Universe which River calls him out on. In the end we see what his philosophy is on love as his final words express how as someone who is Timeless he sees endings all around him, and knows that his and River’s relationship will end, he lived it in his 10th incarnation. He still gives hope though and gives her a fantastic date that he sets up over a long period of time when they go to eat at the Singing Towers and lets her know that they still have time left before the end.

Relationships and Endings – Relationships and endings are a major theme in this as we see River’s husbands meet their end via the Hydroflax robot and her manipulations and we are in the time period where all the Doctor’s earth marriages that we know about (Marilyn Monroe, the Queen, etc.) have all died as well. It’s fitting in a way capturing both of their Time Lord nature, but how even in that, Time Lords can’t escape time and the Doctor has become even more aware of that creating one of the best endings of an episode where River says all “Happily ever after” is is a little more time. I really hope that we see her again, and I’m glad Moffat is showing that this relationship has and will end as Time continues moving on.

Okay: King Hydroflax – He was a bit over the top and never felt like a threat, his robot suit did but the fact that he didn’t kill the people whose head’s he took made him feel like a little less of a threat, which I guess was the tone of the episode…still makes it so the villain isn’t a pro.

   I would recommend this episode. It isn’t the best of the Christmas Specials…that still goes to “A Christmas Carol” and “Last Christmas” but it is a good special and with it, I hope we see more of River in action again. She really is an awesome character and one of my favorite in the Whoniverse. This episode shows why. She is a force of nature like the Doctor who shapes the Universe to her agenda in degrees, even though both characters are still beholden to Time in the end, and with it the eventual ending of the relationship. For all things end and that doesn’t have to be bad. Mortality makes things sweet and gives strength to the time we have.

Final Score: 8.5 / 10