So I spoke about the first minute or so of the episode this morning, so here are my thoughts and possible nitpicks on the rest:
The pope says “Extremis”, why? That’s the Doctor’s internal struggle. “Veritas” would make sense.
“It’s completely deadly, but you know…” Did he say, “swings and roundabouts?”
I totally knew that priest was Nardole as soon as I saw him. But didn’t ken on to him reading from River’s diary until the very end.
“Good point. Well made. Definitely not telling her now.” lol
“May God light your path.”
“Well he can certainly give it a go.”
I like the religious trappings of this episode as a signpost for the exploration of the Doctor’s own faith. He doesn’t believe in much, maybe nothing, according to himself, but River sees more than that. River gets to the kernel of of his beliefs and holds him to them. Even from beyond the grave.
The fades in this episode linger on the blackness. Purposefully I think.
I don’t understand why the portals appear. Ah, maybe they are opening the portals on all the spots where the translator sent the Veritas. They said the White House in the ticker was 12 hours without communication. So he had to have sent the Vertias there first. Or early (Which brings the question for later, how did the Doctor find and instantiate the screen reader on the Laptop? He was already too blind to read the screen. Nobody was there to help him with it.)
“I won’t read this without you.”
“Really, he won’t.” lol
Ah, plot devices. The Doctor doesn’t want anyone to know he’s blind, but he’ll happily blurt all to (who he assumes is) Cardinal Angelo, for the sole purpose of telling us the audience what is going on.
“I am your friend.” — That whole scene is just so sad. Maybe it’s just the music. (aside: I really like the music for this episode, especially the subtle Doctor Who theme riff on the electric guitar, very Twelve).
I absolutely love the scientist guy at CERN. I was talking with astrogirl2 and I will say again. Maybe it’s the fact that he’s a drunk scientist, and so the actor doesn’t have to be so ‘stuffy’ as they tend to be with scientists.
More exposition from the Doctor for the benefit of us. He just assumes now that the Cardinal knows he’s blind. “Oh it’s the old ???? story. Never look so good in the morning.” What does he say there?
Also how the hell is someone supposed to turn the page if they’re strapped in to the chair?
Also also, it may be deliberate, but I hate the fact that the Monks aren't lip-synched. I guess we are supposed to think it's some kind of telepathic communication or something... it just looks bad.
Why do I like CERN Guy (Who, apparently if the reviews are to be believed, is named Nicolas)? Because for one, he actually sounds like a scientist giving a lecture and demonstration when he gets Nardole and Bill to repeat the numbers. He seems at once amazed and delighted to have found such a certain fact as proof that everyone is in a simulation, and sure in his conviction as any scientist is when confronted by abject facts. But also sad and resigned and just a bit manic. Anyhow, I was very struck by him.
The one problem is, of course, that there is a disconnect between the abject fact of being in a simulation, and the story woven around it of a demon who created the simulation in order to take over the world. Any scientist would concede the first point when subject to the shadow test, but there is no evidence beyond the text itself that says the the latter argument is true.
The Veritas as a virus in the system — injected by someone else; why else would the monks be chasing people? But then at the end the Doctor says that they are quite interested in the reactions of the people who are smart enough to figure out that they are simulations. So…
“Those pretend people that you shoot at in video games… now you know.” Oh Moffat, you have to have the normal-world gotcha, even shoehorned into this episode. Watch out for cracks, don’t blink at angel statues, watch out under the bed, don’t get cremated after you die, and now this. Honestly I could have done without it. Because … well because it’s ridiculous and untrue. Seriously, I’ve been reading on about consciousness in a different book about octopi (really, it is not a non-sequitur) and it’s actually made me feel less bad about e.g., killing ants in my kitchen because I anthropomorphize them less and don’t assume that I’m ending anything’s self-understood existence. I’m not about to anthropomorphize a few lines of code into sentience.
That said, I’ve been having an interesting discussion over on astrogirl2’s turf about the Veritas and the design of the RNG for the simulations. The short of it is that I doubt it will be revisited, but I’m thinking that the Veritas is somehow a backdoor virus that got programmed in, either Matrix-like from the simulants who had transcended their virtual world and wormed their way out, or by outside beings working against the truth monks. Why else would the monks be stepping in to try and take it away? Perhaps when an uppity sub-routine discovers it's in a simulation, it's a bit like malware breaking out of a virtual machine and influencing the "real" machine behind it. Maybe when the simulants realize they are part of a simulation, their code gets through a firewall of some kind, and their self-realized actions are now able to affect the larger world. That would explain how the Doctor is able to email his Real world self at the end. If they don't understand themselves as code, then their new abilities are just a new thing they can do.
But there was also something in the episode 8 blurb
“You suffer. Pain is information.” Did this concept show up in Doctor who earlier or is it just me who wrote it into my WIP like four years ago?
Umm… how the heck did little subroutine Doctor access outside of the simulation to send an email to the real Doctor? That’s a bit reverse Never-Ending Story there. (ETA: see above, though it's probably a stretch)
But oh well, I hand wave it because it was a great scene anyhow. Capaldi knocks it out of the park there at the end, his despair and fear and hopelessness all there, but still choosing to do the good thing, without hope, without witness, without reward. And then jumping up and calling Bill and caring about her love life. “It means I’m a scary handsome genius from space and I’m telling you no, she is not out of your league.”
And then the little coda. “Look up ‘The Doctor’. Under ‘cause of death’”
I am increasingly realizing that I am going to miss him terribly when he goes.