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Doctor Who Recap Season 10, Episode 6, "Extremis"

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Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 6, “Extremis”

BBC America

Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 6, “Extremis”

Tonight’s Doctor Who is a turning point for the season. After a run of standalone adventures for the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Bill (Pearl Mackie), by the end of “Extremis” we’re suddenly in the middle of a big multi-part tale. It feels quite similar to the way 2011’s mid-season finale, “A Good Man Goes to War,” finally resolved the long-running mystery of River Song’s identity, only for that resolution to send the season’s plot arc off in a whole new direction. Ever since “The Pilot,” we’ve been teased with the riddle of who or what is in the secret vault that the Doctor and Nardole (Matt Lucas) have been guarding, and why the Doctor took up this duty. “Extremis” fills in the answers to those questions, but it’s clearly only the prologue to a much larger story.

Doctor Who Recap Season 10, Episode 5, "Oxygen"

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Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 5, “Oxygen”

BBC America

Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 5, “Oxygen”

Writer Jamie Mathieson’s “Oxygen” is a taut, gripping thrill ride. As in his previous three Doctor Who episodes, he shows a particular flair for coming up with both snappy dialogue and creepy monsters. This time he has the Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Bill (Pearl Mackie), and Nardole (Matt Lucas) facing what amounts to a zombie plague when the Doctor, once again chafing at his ongoing task of guarding the vault on Earth, receives a distress call in the TARDIS and promptly takes all three of them to a deep-space asteroid mining station whose crew of 40 has been reduced to four. As the episode’s bleak opening teaser makes clear, the dead are still walking or floating around the station, intent on killing the remaining personnel.

Doctor Who Recap Season 10, Episode 4, "Knock Knock"

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Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 4, “Knock Knock”

Simon Ridgway

Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 4, “Knock Knock”

“Knock Knock” is the only episode from this season of Doctor Who to be written by someone new to the show’s universe. Playwright Mike Bartlett, creator of the acclaimed 2015 drama series Doctor Foster, contributes an atmospheric haunted-house story which builds up the tension nicely before, unfortunately, dissipating it a little too easily at the climax. Along the way, Bartlett provides further development of the relationship between the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Bill (Pearl Mackie): This time, it’s as if the Doctor finds himself getting drawn into Bill’s life rather than the other way around.

Doctor Who Recap Season 10, Episode 3, "Thin Ice"

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Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 3, “Thin Ice”

BBC America

Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 3, “Thin Ice”

With “Thin Ice,” writer Sarah Dollard follows up last season’s “Face the Raven” with another successful episode whose central focus is the relationship between the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and his companion—in this case, Bill (Pearl Mackie). As we saw at the end of last week’s episode, they’ve arrived at the end of the last London frost fair in 1814. This event had been mentioned in passing in 2011’s “A Good Man Goes to War,” where River Song said the Doctor had taken her there as a birthday present. There’s no hint of any timestream-crossing plotting here though: This episode sticks to the more straightforward storytelling style that’s characterized this season so far.

Doctor Who Recap Season 10, Episode 2, "Smile"

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Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 2, “Smile”

BBC America

Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 2, “Smile”

“Smile” is the second Doctor Who episode from screenwriter and novelist Frank Cottrell-Boyce. It’s a distinct improvement over the misfire of 2014’s “In the Forest of the Night,” which made the mistake of reducing the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) to a passive bystander, with no role to play in the resolution of that episode’s crisis. Here, the Doctor and Bill (Pearl Mackie) are at the center of the action throughout, and there’s a feeling of accomplishment for them at the end that was missing from “In the Forest of the Night.” Even so, there are points where the logic of the plot is rather strained, with a final ethical quandary that comes out of nowhere.