Monday, October 12, 2015

My Review of Doctor Who's 9x04: "Before The Flood"

Written by Toby Whithouse
Directed by Daniel O'Hara

The Doctor (to Fisher King): "Here, now. This is where your story ends."

Okay, this certainly took a different turn than expected. Maybe it's really just the power of Steven Moffat but for the second half of his story, Toby Whithouse decided to go completely down the timey wimey route of things as the Doctor, Bennett and O'Donnell all ended up in the 1980s prior to the village getting flooded and the main villain being such a problem.

During this time we briefly got to meet the Tivoli fella, Prentis but for those hoping for some decent scope with the character, you'll be disappointed. Prentis was by and large just there for comic effect and got a subsequent offscreen death when the Fisher King decided to make his presence known. As did O'Donnell.

I'm starting to wonder if a little pattern is emerging in this show. Be a fangirl of the Doctor and wind up dying horribly. We had it with Osgood courtesy of Missy and here, O'Donnell is barely given time to truly throw herself into the adventure with the Doctor and Bennett before she's bumped off a little too swiftly. It's a bloody shame because although I liked Bennett (especially for his moments of calling the Doctor out on things), I actually preferred O'Donnell so her death did sting a little.

However the Fisher King stuff itself turned out to be a disappointment. Playing with the bootstrap paradox (it's even mentioned directly in the episode to the audience), the Doctor already had him bested before he knew it and despite at least one really cool scene between the Fisher King and the Doctor, the character is sadly too underused that his eventual defeat lacks a sufficient punch to it.

As for Clara, Cass and Lunn - they were mainly just trying to stay alive and figure out what Ghosty Doctor was saying (it was their names/order they'll die). I did sort of like the moment where Clara blew up about the Doctor and the moments with Cass and Lunn being stalked by the dead crew and looking for Clara's phone outside the Faraday Cage had some great creepy intense moments.

The problem though is despite the fact that the dead remained dead, it felt a little too easy. The Doctor never felt in danger and I didn't believe for a second that Clara herself was going to be killed in this story at least. I do think though that the show has been hammering home the fact that she won't make it out of the series alive.

Also in "Before The Flood"

I love breaking the fourth wall much as the next person but it actually jarred in this one. I did like the rockier version of the theme tune though.

The Doctor: "Can't say I'm a fan."
Prentis: "We do have a tendency to antagonise."

O'Donnell managed to namecheck Rose, Martha and Amy but not Donna. She also mentioned something about a Minister of War - future plotline perhaps?

Clara (to the Doctor): "I don’t care about your rules or your survivor’s guilt. If you love me in any way, you’ll come back."

The Doctor: "What if Clara calls?"
O'Donnell: "The last bloke that said something like that to me got dangled out of a window."

The Fisher King was played by Neil Fingleton, voiced by Peter Serafinowicz and Corey Taylor (the roar bit) from Slipknot.

The Doctor (to Bennett): "This isn't about saving me. I'm a dead man walking. I'm changing history to save Clara."

Clara (re Cass): "Okay, didn't need anyone to translate that for me."

UNIT took care of the ghosts offscreen. While I didn't mind the love stories with O'Donnell/Bennett and Cass/Lunn, they did seem a little tacked on in this part. Oh and who did compose Beethoven's Fifth?

The Doctor: "This world is protected by me."
Fisher King: "Yes, one man lost in time."

Any chance BBC1 can a) start airing these episodes earlier than 8.25pm and b) go back to the same format for Doctor Who Extra as they did last year?

Clara (to Bennett): "Take it from me, there is a whole galaxy out there."

Chronology: 1980s and 2119 Scotland/the Drum again.

After a promising start with this two parter, I kind of felt that Before The Flood sort of let the side down a bit. The resolution felt a bit too easy for me and while the Fisher King was a fantastic design monster wise, the character itself had too little screen time to really cement itself as a credible threat.

Rating: 7 out of 10

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