Doctor Who – Series 9, Episode 4: “Before The Flood”

  • As in Listen, the Twelfth Doctor kicks off by giving exposition to nobody in particular, though it’s still a great scene. And you start thinking how his talk of the bootstrap paradox will pay off later – and then you forget about it until the very end.
  • I actually like this electric guitar riff of the theme better than the usual music for this series.
  • O’Donnell pretends she has a stone in her boot because a) she absolutely must squee right now and b) she doesn’t want the indignity of the Doctor seeing it.
  • In another TV series (or perhaps another companion in this one), Clara wouldn’t tell the Doctor about the presence of his ghost, for no particular reason other than to increase the tension. But thank God, she does tell him – and rather than playing with secrets for as long as possible, which we’ve already seen too many times, we get to see that there can be detrimental consequences to giving out information as well. Or at least, consequences that seem detrimental at the time.
  • I’m definitely understanding now what Missy meant about Clara being a control freak, as she tries to seize control of this particular situation to keep the Doctor from dying. And the fact that she says, “Die with whoever comes after me” – she’s so in tune with the Doctor, and so engaged with his world, that she is aware they’ll eventually be separated and he’ll travel with someone else, something Rose couldn’t accept and other companions just didn’t think about.
  • The Doctor now swears to Clara that he’ll come back, seeming more forceful about it than he was at the end of last episode – things must be serious.
  • The Fisher King stalking through the building is a basic but still scary scene, and I like how O’Donnell’s death scene doesn’t involve any screaming like you might expect.
  • The TARDIS returning to the same spot slightly earlier has definite Father’s Day vibes, which is quite possibly what makes the Doctor so serious about not changing anything.
  • Obviously the Doctor has talked plenty of times before about how he becomes ‘part of events’ when he lands somewhere, which is what prevents him from going back in the TARDIS and preventing whatever trouble occurs – it’s good to see it actually demonstrated here.
  • After all the lying of last series, Clara is resolutely continuing her path to becoming an extremely questionable person. She’s willing to put Bennett at risk; she originally says ‘I need’ before correcting herself to ‘We need’; and she promises that everything will be OK when she must know she might not be able to keep it, just as the Doctor does. One wonders if Clara would be this way if the Doctor hadn’t regenerated.
  • Going into Cass’s head, and becoming unable to hear the sound of the scraping axe, gives the scene extra intensity – and the way she pulls off a slightly Daredevil move and feels the vibrations in the floor is pretty cool.
  • How do the holograms of the Doctor linked to the TARDIS’s automated programs work? There’s one in the form of the Ninth Doctor in The Parting of the Ways, and the Tenth Doctor in Blink, and now there’s one of Twelve. Either the Doctor has to record new automated messages every time he regenerates, or the TARDIS changes them automatically. The fact that the Ninth Doctor’s message is specifically addressed to Rose suggests the former – unless the current companion’s name just gets inserted in like a mail merge, which would rather reduce the emotional impact of that scene.
  • At first, I thought the explanation for the Doctor’s ghost was a bit too easy – but then I thought, any explanation would probably feel that way since the Doctor couldn’t actually die. And the one we’re given, with the Doctor planning something almost from the start, is pretty clever.
  • Did we really need two separate people here who were secretly in love with their female crewmates?
  • And with the end, we finally come back to the bootstrap paradox. And presumably following the MST3K Mantra, the Doctor literally shrugs it off. The bootstrap paradox has actually appeared before in the Comic Relief shorts Space and Time, where the Doctor tells his past self to pull  the wibbly lever without any explanation of where the idea actually comes from – that time, we didn’t even get a shrug.

As with the last two parter, the second part is much stronger than the first, with clever writing, tension, and ever more interesting insights into the minds of the Doctor and Clara. Rating: 4.5/5.

About R.J. Southworth

Hi there. I've been blogging since January 2014, and I like to talk about all sorts of things: book reviews, film reviews, writing, science, history, or sometimes just sharing miscellaneous thoughts. Thanks for visiting my blog, and I hope you find something that interests you!
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