Review: Doctor Who ‘Before the Flood’ Is Yet Another New Who Classic

Sunday, 11 October 2015 - 5:11PM
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Doctor Who
Sunday, 11 October 2015 - 5:11PM
Review: Doctor Who ‘Before the Flood’ Is Yet Another New Who Classic
The first two part story of series 9, which included the episodes 'The Magician's Apprentice' and 'The Witch's Familiar,' was definitely enjoyable. However, it relied a bit too much on overused plot devices and a fan favorite enemy (using Davros in a DW episode is sort of like a Batman movie using the Joker as the enemy - even if the story's not perfect, everyone's still going to eat it up). That's why it was super exciting to see last week's episode, 'Under the Lake,' bring back the classic episodic setup of the show and bring into play every aspect of DW that Whovians love to see. Thankfully, the conclusion to the two part story presented in 'Before the Flood' was every bit as good.

The episode opened with the Doctor breaking the fourth wall and explaining the bootstrap paradox. For those who haven't heard of it, the bootstrap paradox has been a staple of most sci-fi shows that focus on time travel for a long time. The idea behind it was explained by the Doctor as something along these lines: a man loves Beethoven's Fifth, and so he goes back in time to meet Beethoven. He then finds out Beethoven has no intentions to write his Fifth Symphony, and so the time traveler teaches the music to him. But if Beethoven would have never written the Fifth (which he wouldn't if the time traveler hadn't intervened), then the time traveler never would have had a reason to go back in time, and so you have an obvious paradox. Who actually wrote the Fifth first?

The story continued with the Doctor going back to before the flood. The Doctor soon found out that his ghost from the future was repeating a different message from all the other ghosts, with his message being a list of all their names in the order they were supposedly going to die. Believing that his death is inevitable and that he must accelerate his plans to change the future for Clara, he confronts the Fisher King who evidently is from an alien race bent on enslaving other planets. Ultimately, the Doctor is able to trick the malevolent alien, flood the town using one of the power cells from the spaceship as an explosive, and jump into the cryo-chamber belonging to the Fisher King.

Of course, he wakes up back in the future with Clara and the rest of the team around him, having then saved the day. The Doctor then explains that his ghost was really just a hologram set up by himself, but that he set up the hologram simply because Clara mentioned his ghost was with her in the future - resulting in a bootstrap paradox not unlike the example he gave at the beginning of the episode.

This episode of Doctor Who was definitely an entertaining watch for many reasons. First, it's becoming evident that the sonic sunglasses and the electric guitar have become the 12th Doctor's "thing" (the electric guitar that was heard playing over the theme this week was actually Peter Capaldi!). Likewise, though the Fisher King wasn't necessarily the most compelling villain in the series, he was definitely pretty intimidating. Hearing his deduction that 'The Time Lord lied' right before his imminent demise was quite a fun way to send the baddie out and also to remind fans of the Doctor's number one rule. Of course, the bootstrap paradox is really what made the episode, however, and gave it that timey-wimey feeling that all Whovians crave.

Certainly, different aspects of 'Before the Flood' could have been better, but its definitely one of the best episodes of the season so far. Series 9 has transitioned the show into one more focused on adventure than personal relationships. It has been dark, creative, and innovative. If the rest of the stories turn out to be as good as 'Under the Lake' and 'Before the Flood' have been, then series 9 could be well on it's way to establishing fan favorite status. This episode get's a clear 8.5 out of 10 at the least.

Catch Doctor Who again next week at 9 p.m. ET on BBC America, when 'The Girl Who Died' comes on air.
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Review: Doctor Who 'Before the Flood' Is Yet Another New Who Classic