Doctor Who: Before The Flood. “First proper alien, and he’s an idiot.”

Last week was ghosts who could carry weapons, a spaceship with writing on the inside and we saw that The Doctor was going to die…again! Or is he? We now have an episode which gives a split between the underwater base in 2119 and the same area before the…well you get the idea! With The Doctor, O’Donnell and Bennett landing in 1980 to where they find the same ship and see that it holds a body. The tivolian Prentis is alive and escorting the body of The Fisher King, a conqueror with a plan to take over the world. The story still was asking how does The Doctor meet his death? But, we do get a hint during the opening scene where The Doctor goes on about meeting Beethoven and discussing the bootstrap paradox (The Bootstrap Paradox or Casual Loop is a paradox of time travel that occurs when a later/future event is the cause of an earlier/past event, through some sort of time travel. The past event is then partly or entirely the cause of the future event, which is the past event’s cause.) this definitely makes more sense when the episode reaches its conclusion. Also, we do wonder why The Doctor’s ghost is acting differently to the others. The truth, well look back at that first scene of this episode.

The living characters mostly do get to shine in this episode, and some just suffer by comparison. O’Donnell, I really liked her. Why did she have to die so quickly in part two? Bennett gets a great deal more to do in this part. He really steps up to The Doctor and is willing to challenge his ways. You see a real look of agony and loss when he finds O’Donnell and she dies in front of him. Cass and Lunn really have a great dynamic; their communications with Clara are humorous and natural. Some comments I saw online saying how much they liked Cass and enjoying her communications, and the praise for actress Sophie Stone was very well earned. A deaf actress being front and centre in this show was a delight. The Fisher King is terrifying and not given a huge presence (though he towers over all the characters), we see plenty of him but not lots of him. It’s good to see the whole idea of time is fixed still having an effect on The Doctor and his actions.

To have three people play one character sounds strange, but it works rather well for The Fisher King. Peter Serafinowicz and Corey Taylor of Slipknot fame respectively voice and provide the roars for the alien while Neil Fingleton takes his title of Britain’s tallest man to good use to physically portray the creature. Paul Kaye, we wish we had more of you than just a quick introduction as a submissive moleman (who is called an idiot by Bennett) and shows the man behind the creepy looking ghost. It is a shame that Morven Christie is ghostified quite early in the episode, but Arsher Ali really gets to shine after her demise. Sophie Stone and Zaqi Ismali make great use of their time with Clara as Cass and Lunn, and you really feel happy with the screen time they get. Also, that scene when Cass is being followed by the ghost of Moran is a greatly filmed and very tense scene. Kudos to both Daniel O’Hara’s directing and the superbly polished script by Toby Whithouse for that scene and also for creating a visually stunning episode which topples its opening part and makes your jaw drop at some of the twists and turns. A few of the twists are not a surprise, but well executed. Also, the breaking of the fourth wall by Peter Capaldi at the opening of the episode was so much fun and who didn’t love that version of the theme being played on the guitar? Jenna Coleman, we have such little time and am sure that you will do some big things for us leading up to your departure. Let’s see how Clara and The Doctor do next week when it comes to Vikings! For now, a great episode and brings the series back to near perfection yet again with top acting, stunning scenes and the best storytelling 2015 has to offer!

Final Rating: 9.5/10

Written by Jonjo Cosgrove

before the flood pic

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