Doctor Who – Before The Flood

Ah! Doctor Who! Only the greatest telly series ever invented, *and* we’re in a season that is one of the very, very best, so far. It’s super scary; this sort of quality can’t be maintained indefinitely. When will the fall come? Will they warn us first? Am I no longer a real Doctor Who fan because this week’s episode will be the *second* one this season I haven’t watched on boradcast?

None of these crucial questions are answered below. But there is a lot of flail about Before the Flood:

  • THE PRE-CREDITS. Stab me sideways with a broadsword, that was awesome! JUST. WHAT. Capaldi, straight at camera, Doctor-ish and delicious as you like, talking about paradoxes (incidently, I *love* paradoxes), and then, because, I assume, telly loves me, he brings out an electric guitar and starts playing the Doctor Who theme. And then I woke up.
  • But no! It actually happened! ACTUALLY> HAPPENED> And I can watch again and again and again like the flailing fangirl I am.
  • You’d think I’d keep in mind it would be somewhat unlikely this dashingly gorgeous start wasn’t related to the story, BUT NO. You mistake me for someone ANY GOOD AT ALL at telly. Not until it actually happened on-screen did I make any “ah-ha!” noises in my head.
  • I am going to be so unhappy if I find out in an interview or such-like that it wasn’t Capaldi playing the theme. If he didn’t, LIE PRODUCTION PEOPLE. LIE LIKE THE WIND.
  • I really like O’Donnell. But I was V GOOD and didn’t get attached because people who look like they are auditioning for companion die.
  • Tiny flail at the “Rose, Martha, Amy” mention. I like to think she was being quite sensitive by not mentioning Donna cause he is probs still sad about that.
  • And I like that she keeps her flail to where the Doctor can’t see. BUT STILL. I CAN. GET A GRIP LASS.
  • “Pre Harold Saxon, pre the Minister of War, pre the moon exploding” Heh, she restrained herself and didn’t say “the moon isn’t a fucking egg and it never happened!!!” I’m beginning to doubt her Scottishness.
  • Also, war, again. A prophecy about Warrior People last story, now a Minister of War.
  • I really quite love how unimpressive the spaceship is. I mean, it looks like a spaceship, but it isn’t fancy.
  • The one flaw in this as far as I’m concerned is Prentis. Because I do not like this species. Have we not moved a little beyond Planet of the Hats? And if they have to have Hats, can they no be less annoying?
  • The Fisher King is a nifty name to nick, though the only similarity to the Arthurian legend I noticed is that they’re both meant to return to life.
  • Earth is a “barren savage outpost” = WIN. I do love it when aliens think we’re a bit crap.
  • Ahh! For some reason I thought they wouldn’t be able to communicate btwn time-zones, but they can, and it’s so neat!
  • One thing I bloody love about this story is the sort of nostalgia it evokes in me. One of the most lovely memories of watching Who growing up was the fear; even knowing how telly worked and that, yes, it would all be okay by the last episode somehow, there was often a feeling of profound fear: how could they possibly survive against such impossible odds? How would they be safe and find each other and get away? (Most strongly, I remember this with Pyramids and Morbius and Fenric.) And there’s a strong echo of that here. Clara is scared, despite being v seasoned in adventuring by now, and the Doctor is going to die. How can they possibly win? In New Who the danger often feels superficial, since it’s resolved so quickly, or the Doctor is so powerful and amazing, that nothing is ever a threat to him. But Twelve feels like a particularly vulnearable Doctor, and the two episodes gives time for the plot to unfold, to really let the tension crank up, to have the fear and uncertainty that’s impossible in 45 minutes. It also gives time for us to care about the guest characters, to really get to know them, and to be hurt by their loss. (Another feeling of nostalgia: really feeling it when guest characters started hitting the dust, and knowing that even though our heroes prevailed, people we liked died.)
  • Regarding time travel rules: are these the ones New Who uses? No idea don’t care.
  • I LOVE CLARA HERE. I love that she is angry and entitled and demanding and unreasonable and vulnerable. Jenna Coleman is stunning.
  • “I don’t care about your rules or your bloody suvivor’s guilt; if you love me, in any way, you’ll come back.” AARGH! LOVE IT. Love everything about it, and everything it says about Clara and the relationship between her and the Doctor. And then that little moment of uncertainty, of fear that she’s gone too far. THIS SCENE. SO GOOD.
  • Incidentally, I bloody love the bootstrap paradox, or causal loop, or whatever you want to call it. This is the fault of, um, Star Trek : Voyager. SHUSHT NOT A WORD.
  • “I’ll come back for you; I swear.” That is basically him saying I LOVE YOU. And just to make it perfect, the look Capaldi gives just after he hangs up. THAT LOOK. BEAUTIFUL. These last few eps have done quite a lot to emphasise the Doctor’s vulnerableness.
  • Should the Doctor have explained to O’Donnell why he wanted her to stay? Should he have tried harder to get her to stay? Bennett seems to have guessed too (he says later he only just figured it out, but then why say anything to her in the TARDIS about staying behind? She’s military, he’s the civilian, even if he does fancy her), but when they leave the TARDIS they both think Prentis is still alive. The first thing the Doctor does once they discover that Prentis is dead, admittedly probs spurred on by the roar of the Fisher King, but bf they had taken two steps away from where they found the body – is try to get them all back to the TARDIS. So…I think he should have told her what he’d figured out, and let her make the decision (she’d have gone anyway), but what he did wasn’t as cruel or calculated as Bennett suggests. I mean, would he have been able to convince Clara to stay in the TARDIS in that situation? (I’d like to think O’Donnell guessed but thought it worth the risk.)
  • I did get chills at “we’ve got to get back to the TARDIS”. I’m not sure why…something about that being what the Doctor thinks they should do signalling a particular level of threat.
  • “It’s cut us off.” Lols! We didn’t see it, we have no idea *how* it’s managed this amazing cutting them off via roaring a bit, but ah! Corridors! Running! Like they thought “well, we’re not on the base for most of this episode…can we get some corridors in an abandoned villlage? They’ll fit in just fine if they’re made of brick, right??”
  • I felt a little bit sad about O’Donnell and a little more smug because I WAS RIGHT NOT TO GET ATTACHED.
  • So we hear the Fisher King walk away, but it’s actually….sneaked right back round the corner? I HOPE SO. I hope it was all sneaky and stealth like we would never expect from a clompy monster.
  • “I thought perhaps because her ghost wasn’t there, like Prentis’s was…” And *why* wasn’t it? It’s a very minor point…but in my head the reason is that effect can precede cause (I’m not even making this up, I *think*, as I vaguely remember something to do with particles appearing before they’d left, maybe in the Hadron Collider). So when the Doctor and Clara arrived at the base, the Doctor hadn’t gone to 1980, even though that was in the past. And the Doctor ghost appeared spontaneously, saying those words, and that happened *before* the Doctor went back to create the hologram. Causal loops are perfectly sensible, so long as you’re okay that the effect can happen before the cause.)
  • “What if I refuse? I’m going to go back to the base and save Clara, because that’s what I do and I don’t see anywhere here who’s going to stop me!” OH. I had a moment of wincing at the TEDIOUS HUBRIS. But then the TARDIS smacked it down so neatly and concisely that wince magicked into a cheer.
  • Little flurry of delicious tasty fear at the cloister bell, and the unable to escape from that moment in time, and going back to when they first arrived.
  • The Doctor telling Bennett why they can’t interfere, so good and so chilling; Capaldi’s delivery does wonderful things in evoking the horror of what happens when you start to cheat time, without making it about laws, physical or otherwise.
  • And Clara, last story so quick to fall into the role of Missy’s companion, here falls easily into the role of the Doctor. And it’s done in such a smashing way: Clara doesn’t pretend, or make apologies or excuses. There’s such practicality to her, such sensibleness. Babs would be proud.
  • There’re echoes of Ten’s conversation with Anthony Stewart-Head’s villain, in the Doctor’s confrontation with the Fisher King. With the whole, nice polite chat btwn enemies, and the describing Time Lords as “cowardly, vain curators” isn’t so far from “ancient, dusty senators.”
  • Marvellous silhouettes too. The Fisher King looks v good in silhouette. Superb voice and all.
  • And again with the War thing.”Became the most war-like race in the galaxy.” I imagine my feelings about this are a lot like many fans felt after The Deadly Assassin was first broadcast. I’m sure, in the future, someone will decide to make the Time Lords amoral scientists or something, and then I can complain about the good old days when all they did was fight wars.
  • Yes, yes, I know this info isn’t *new*, and that it would be pretty silly to think a Time War was being fought be people who weren’t, well, warrioring. But it’s much easier to pretend when telly isn’t contradicting you by spelling out things with words.
  • The horror stuff is, well, it’s really bloody good. The ghosts all leaning around Lunn like vampires about to bite and then, omg, that bit with Cass! How was that allowed? That exact same thing (almost) happened in the episode of Walking Dead I watched the next day! With the metal weapon dragging along the ground, killer hunting for a victim. And there was a swing! Really quite brutal stuff.
  • Ahh! I LOVE how unimpressed the Fisher King is with “this world is protected”. MORE PLS.
  • “Time Lord!” There is always something a tiny bit magic about the villain addressing the Doctor as Time Lord. For this I blame The Curse of Fenric.
  • “I know that look. I *do* that look.” OH CLARA ILU.
  • “But you…you are still locked in your history, still slavishly protecting time.” Okay, this I sort of like; the idea that the Doctor is the old-fashioned one, that he’s part of Gallifrey’s dusty old legacy that they’ve moved on from…which obv fits in super well with my pref to have the Doctor characterised as a rebel on the run from his own people.
  • The most impressive thing about the Fisher King is how well he works with such limited screentime. Sometimes – say, The Power of Three – the villain feels a bit meh, tacked on, unimpressive, esp when they’re part of a reveal and haven’t had a visible involvement in most of the story. But here, it feels like a *real* villain, undiminished by the fact that all he does is wake up, kill a couple of people, and stare down the Doctor, before popping outside to die.
  • And when the Murray Gold’s turned up and we start to get Triumphant Reversal! (The Doctor Was Winning All Along) it’s much less confident than on other occasions. And so much better for it. And all the Doctor’s doing is bluffing and goading the villain into making a mistake, which is lolarious.
  • CAPALDI IS MAJESTIC HERE BTW. When he’s talking to the Fisher King there at the end, he is such The Doctor.
  • Fisher King gets points for Awesome Death; you embrace that oncoming flood, dude!
  • “The Time Lord….*lied*.” Oh noes, that’s like cheating, that is! The fiend.
  • The plot resolution is pretty wonderful, everything coming together beautifully, and all the elements nicely foreshadowed. IT’S SO ELEGANT I COULD KISS IT.
  • I still don’t like sonic sunglasses though.
  • “Don’t kiss me, morning breath.” I choose to interpret this as meaning Clara does kiss the Doctor when we’re not looking.
  • But all is not lols, the people are dead, their ghosts remain for a little while, and from the horror, Clara offers hope to Bennett, who convinces Lunn and Cass to seize the moment, and it’s really very lovely, and I didn’t cry the first time, but I might now, SHUSHT.
  • PARADOXES ARE WIN. (Were the names random? Maaybe time had another run through where everyone died. Like that Atlantis episode.)
  • So good. So, so good. I can’t really not give this a nine out of ten wounded kings, but omg this means I give this story more points than the last story. AND I LOVE THE LAST STORY. I feel guilt. The guilt of giving one lovely story a meaningless Internet point more than another lovely story.

Onwards! Except I don’t get to see tonight’s story till the morn. ALAS. Obv I am NO LONGER a true Doctor Who fan.

Farewell, delicious listeners!

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6 thoughts on “Doctor Who – Before The Flood

    • Jonathan Young, Smithfield, RI, USA says:

      James, I completely agree, she’d love Verity! 😉

      Fans saying fannish things to fans can never be an error…it’s just love.

  1. James says:

    I’m so sorry, I got completely confused and thought I was reading another blog I follow! Now I feel like a bit of an idiot. 🙂

    • Jonathan Young, Smithfield, RI, USA says:

      …and now that i stop and actually THINK about it…

      Troughton played recorder ( and at one point played ‘Over the Sea to Skye’, which would become the theme song to Outlander, for which Jamie McCrimmon was partly an inspiration),
      Pertwee sang (wonderfully) and chanted, Tom faked playing Bach on a reed flute, Colin played the (TARDIS) organ at least a phrase, and I haven’t watched all of McCoy but i would be surprised if McCoy didn’t at least sing, he was a song and dance man IRL.

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