Doctor Who Recap Series 9, Episode 4 – “Before The Flood”
In “Before The Flood”, the Doctor has taken O’Donnell and Bennett to before the flood that created the lake they had been in back in 2119 in “Under The Lake”. Clara is still stuck in the underwater base with Cass and Lunn, trying to figure out what is different about the Doctor-ghost that has just arrived. Back in the past (the 1980s), the Doctor and his new companions explore the town, where they find the spaceship that was also underwater in the future along with the (missing in the future) dead body still inside. They meet one of the original future-ghosts, now alive, a Tivolian who had been tasked with burying the alien known as the Fisher King. Soon, the Fisher King is awake and kills the Tivolian before chasing the Doctor, O’Donnell, and Bennett. O’Donnell is killed by the Fisher King and the Doctor and Bennett attempt to go back in time to change everything. However, the TARDIS only takes them 30 minutes back in time, trapping them in their own timeline. Back in the future, the ghost-Doctor lets the other ghosts out, forcing Clara, Cass, and Lunn to run back to the Faraday cage. They learn that the ghosts won’t bother Lunn because he hadn’t seen the letters in the spaceship that were engraved in everyone else’s mind. They send Lunn after Clara’s phone, which O’Donnell’s ghost had taken. Clara and Cass go after him once he is trapped and the three of them run from the ghosts into the room where the casket is. Back in the past, the Doctor confronts the Fisher King and falls into the casket. The Fisher King goes outside to finish his plan, but ends up being drowned by the flood that comes and buries the town. Back in the future, the Doctor pops out of the casket and send the ghosts all back into the Farraday cage with the call of the Fisher King coming from the hologram “ghost” of the Doctor and saving the day.
This episode was a bit disappointing to me. I really liked “Under the Lake,” as it felt really familiar and seemed to have solid writing. Obviously it had some plot holes and ended with a cliffhanger, so I was excited for this episode to explain those things, but I was left with more confusion by the end. There were some interesting things that happened though. I really liked O’Donnell as what I thought of as a stand-in for the fans. She is similar to Osgood in that she knows a lot about the Doctor and is a fangirl (though she doesn’t do cosplay like Osgood). I love how she just randomly name-drops Rose and Martha in conversation with the Doctor and then squeals with Bennett about the TARDIS really being bigger on the inside. I also think that Clara’s characterization after Danny is really interesting; she is much more reliant on the Doctor and even drops the “if you love me” line in there. It is clear that she and the Doctor are extremely close in part because of Danny’s death and the fact that she can’t take another person close to her dying. She even goes so far as to letting the Doctor know that he can’t regenerate on her again either; she doesn’t want to have to go through relearning him again and the way she words it seems like she would blame him if he really did die and regenerate into another body. My favorite part of the story was when the Doctor and Bennett when back half an hour in time, because it brought back a trope most excitingly in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, where they can’t be seen because it would mess up the time streams. However, I don’t think it was executed in the best way and felt wasted. The whole tension of them not being seen disappeared so quickly and was forgotten by the time the Doctor went to confront the Fisher King. The motive of the Fisher King was confusing as well. I got that if he wasn’t stopped he would kill everyone (on Earth) and turn them into ghosts, but for what exactly? Maybe it was to bring the rest of his race to Earth as well (as the ghosts were transmitters) but even still I felt like I missed the point of this episode. I think the Doctor even going back in time was what made the storyline a mess as there were too many things going on at once and felt hard to keep track of. This is the first episode that I haven’t been all that excited about, but I’m okay with that mostly because next week’s episode will finally have Maisie Williams (aka Arya Stark)!