Published on October 12th, 2015 | by Brad


Doctor Who – Before the Flood

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So how many of you googled the Bootstrap Paradox during or after Before the Flood? For those who didn’t but should have, The Doctor’s Beethoven example was a pretty good one, but let’s pull one out of the annals of the show itself – Sally Sparrow owns 17 DVDs. On each of these DVDs is a hidden Easter Egg featuring The Tenth Doctor having half of a conversation. In order to defeat the Weeping Angels, Sally completes the conversation with The Doctor, transcribed by Larry Nightingale. Sally later meets The Doctor, and gives him the transcript so that he can record his half of the conversation. It’s an old staple of time-travel science fiction, and one used extensively by current Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat. That being said, The Doctor’s Beethoven version does lead into this bitchin’ reworking of the opening theme;


So as we dive back into the action, we’re now running across two timelines – on the underwater base, Clara, Cass and Lunn (the deaf crew member and her sign language interpreter) have just seen the ghost of The Doctor from last week’s spectacular cliffhanger, whilst The Doctor, Bennett and O’Donnell (the uptight one and the badass fangirl) travel back to 1980 to see what happened Before the Flood. They encounter the mole-like man in the top hat who was the first ghost we encountered last time, who’s revealed to be a funeral director named Prentis. Prentis is transporting the body of a warlord named The Fisher King to be buried on Earth. His task hits a snag however when The Fisher King turns out to be alive. He kills Prentis, and sets events into motion. The design for The Fisher King is kind of cool, though it didn’t look like the most practical costume to wear. His voice was split over two actors, which was interesting – his speaking voice was provided by Peter Serafinowicz, who brings a refined charm to the ten-foot-tall grey monster, whilst his roars and screams were provided by Slipknot frontman and hitherto unknown Doctor Who geek Corey Taylor, which was just awesome to discover. All in, I think The Fisher King was a bit of a weak villain, but he was really secondary to the wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff and the continuing Clara-arc.

Again, the theme developing seems to be how travelling with The Doctor has changed Clara. It’s brought up pretty explicitly in this episode when she has to convince Lunn to risk his life to retrieve the time phone, despite furious protestations from Cass. The new series has always given the companions more of an inner life than the classic version, and exploring the way travelling with The Doctor changes you goes right back to some of Rose and Mickey’s scenes together back in the all-too-brief era of Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor, but the depth to which they’re going with Clara is something they’ve not really tried before. When all’s said and done, if they stick the landing of Series 9, I think Clara’s full story arc – going all the way back to Asylum of the Daleks – may turn out to be somewhat more impressive as a whole than we’ve necessarily given credit to the sum of its parts.

I mentioned Sophie Stone as Cass last week, but I’d like to give her a bit more attention. As someone who’s hearing-impaired (though not to the same extent by any stretch) it’s a delight to see a deaf character in a major production like this who not only isn’t a prisoner or victim, but is actually a total badass who drives the plot forward, and is even able to contribute things the other characters couldn’t. Sophie Stone is absolutely brilliant in the role, too. It’s not something you see very often in TV and film, so that was a positive.

Series 9 of Doctor Who has pretty much knocked everyone’s socks off so far, and for the most part, Before the Flood continues in that vein. I think The Fisher King could have stood to be a little more fleshed out, though, just to make a more credible threat out of him. I’ve not mentioned Peter Capaldi all that much this series, but then there are only so many ways that one can say “he’s bloody brilliant”. I particularly liked his fourth-wall bending opening monologue this week. And huge credit to whomever it was put the clockwork squirrel on top of his amp, that cracked me up. Next week I think we get our first single-episode story of the series. With Maisie Williams and Vikings. Can’t wait!

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