First of all, I apologize for the lateness of this review. I usually watch Doctor Who on a site that streams TV shows from all over the world, but today the BBC feed decided to die smack in the middle of the episode, so I had to rewatch it on BBC America. Never come between me and my Doctor Who. Never. Grr…
As shown in the last week’s trailer, the Pope seeks the Doctor’s aid with the Veritas, a short document that drives everyone who reads it to kill themselves. The Vatican officials hope that the Doctor will be immune from this effect and be able to tell them exactly what it contains–it’s a document that’s older than the Church itself, and it clearly contains something important, but it’s hard to know what exactly that something is because everyone keeps dying! Needless to say, it’s not a truth that anyone is expecting.
We also get a subplot this week to showcase who is in the vault and why the Doctor is guarding it. Surprise, surprise–it’s Missy! Her criminal past has finally caught up with her, and she is held prisoner on Carnathon waiting for execution. According to the customs of that planet, she must die at the hands of another member of her species, and, of course, the only other Time Lord they can locate is the Doctor. Missy pleads for her life, begging the Doctor to teach her how to be good…and always willing to believe that his oldest friend can be redeemed, the Doctor chooses not to kill her, but he does vow to guard her in a quantum fold chamber for a thousand years. So there you have it, folks, the story of who is in the vault and why the Doctor is guarding it.
I have to admit, Moffat knows how to write a good twist when he sets his mind to it, and the Matrix vibes we got in this episode were pretty awesome. It truly was mind-bending, and you couldn’t help but feel sorry for the characters as they realized they weren’t real. Bill’s reaction was especially memorable, insisting to the last that she was real.
Nardole proved that he has really grown as a character, and we learned in part that it’s because River told him to keep the Doctor on the straight and narrow. Honestly, I think he’s had some of the best character development we’ve seen in nuWho (along with Mickey and Rory). It’s a shame that so many people seem to hate him; I rather like having him along, and it’s nice to see the Doctor have another male companion again. It changes the dynamic, yes, but sometimes it’s a welcome change.
As a Catholic, I feel it is my duty to point out the following two items:
- There was no secret female pope.
- There is no such thing as the Haereticum. We also don’t have the secret monster fighting laboratory that’s shown in Van Helsing, either, which does make me a little sad because I think that would be awesome. But, again, no Haereticum. Also, Van Helsing was a strange movie (but when you’ve got Wolverine and Faramir hunting vampires, can you really be surprised?).
This has been your Catholic Public Service Announcement.
The Doctor did make an interesting statement when he temporarily restored his vision, saying he was borrowing from the future and stating one of his future regenerations might be blind as a result. It will be interesting to see if they follow up with this in a future episode, but I imagine it will be several years before they do–if they even remember, that is.
Next week, the aliens running the simulations in “Extremis” move their plans into the real world in “The Pyramid at the End of the World”. The Doctor asks Missy for help! It looks as if UNIT is returning! The Doctor finally tells Bill he is blind! Lots of stuff is gearing up to happen!