Hurrah! Doctor Who brings us a bootstrap paradox treat in Before the Flood
Twisting time to flush out beasties
Perhaps, just perhaps, I was a little too harsh about Under the Lake. Or anyway, this two-parter finally sprouts alien legs in Before the Flood now that we have a giant upright-cockroach-style beastie named the Fisher King: a villain the Doctor needs to outsmart to save the day. World. Whatever.
But unlike the Fisher King of Arthurian legend, this one can stomp around the place making an almighty racket. Well, except that is, when it wants to surprise its human prey-cum-transmitter.
Am I the only one disappointed to see Doctor Who fangrrl O'Donnell (played by Morven Christie) exit so early on, though? I don't doubt that the show's producers are playing with us by hinting that maybe (just maybe) O'Donnell will be the next assistant once Clara pops her clogs.
Doctor Who, Season 9 – Before the Flood. Pic credit: BBC
O'Donnell – in her wispy, Scottish tones – even gets to utter the excitable line "It's bigger on the inside" over-and-over again, while jumping up and down.
But then, she fails the first test set by the Doctor with her refusal to "mind the shop" and stay in the TARDIS.
Are we now seeing the Doctor's recruitment process in play?
(If so, my money's on UNIT scientist Osgood (played by Ingrid Oliver) going all wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey with Peter Capaldi, especially since it's already been confirmed by show runner Steven Moffat that Osgood is returning to Doctor Who, despite the fact that we last saw her being vapourised by Missy in the previous series.)
Before the Lake opens with the Doctor looking down the lens of the camera before, once again, wielding a guitar as he prepares the audience for what's to come: "This is called the 'bootstrap paradox'. Google it."
Ahh yes, that old chestnut. We've seen this device used a few times in the rebooted version of Doctor Who; such as 2005's Father's Day and Blink, which was first broadcast in 2007. And, of course, loopy paradoxes paradoxically loop their way through the TV drama's 52-year-long history.
'How do you do it? Is it a special pen? The technology you use, give it to me now ... I'm going to take the batteries out.'
A weak point for me in this ep comes when the Ghost Doctor is revealed as a not-so-cunning hologram. Why isn't it obvious to the crew and Clara that this is a fake? Especially since a hologram of Clara is created in Under the Lake to help trap the ghosts in the Faraday cage.
The Doctor's explanation of the hologram "with a soupçon of artificial intelligence and a few pre-recorded phrases thrown in," doesn't really cut it for me and it doesn't help when he adds: "All beamed from the sonic glasses. As soon as you brought me and the chamber on board it connected with the base's Wi-Fi and Bob's your uncle for the Ghost Doctor."
It's only a minor niggle, though, for an otherwise terrific episode. Without the Ghost Doctor hologram, the Doctor wouldn't know when the chamber will open so as he can
deliver his "morning breath" gag save Clara and the remaining crew.
Top points for the Fisher King's kill, too: what better way to take out a giant, thudding cockroach beastie, then to flood it into oblivion.