Before The Flood

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    Craig @craig


    Part two. Perhaps not quite as good as last week, this is still a strong entry by Toby Whithouse and director Daniel O’Hara and should leave room for lots of bonkers theorizing.

    The first few minutes are incredibly inventive and there are some brilliant moments throughout. You’ll probably have to watch it a few times to get it all, which I’m sure will be no hardship.

    It’s a change from last week’s style of “classic Doctor Who” and “base under seige”. Clara is left in the underwater base while the Doctor, a “dead man walking” goes back to, well, before the flood, as the detective story continues.

    He finds a fearsome alien warlord who has set in motion a twisted plan to ensure his own survival. The effects of which will be felt around the universe. Is this chain of events inevitable? And can the Doctor do the unthinkable?

    lisa @lisa

    @craig Love having your previews! Thank!


    Would it be boastful to mention who noted the loops have no origin?

    Spelt out in text – if that doesn’t have some pertinence to Clara’s eventual fate I’ll eat my Haagan Daz ice cream

    Pachyrhinosaurus @pachyrhinosaurus

    Has anyone else heard the new theme for this episode? It suits Capaldi in this season but I can’t say I’d approve of it being used for the long term.

    Craig @craig

    @pachyrhinosaurus I wasn’t sure if that was a new theme or just a little riff for this episode. Will be interested to see if they use it next week. Still, I like a bit of electric guitar.

    Also, the Doctor spent roughly 140 years in a box!? Maybe that’s just a short nap for him.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    Yes, I thought of Clara as soon as he said that. Where did Clara come from? She is a bootstrap paradox.

    @pachyrhinosaurus – I’m hoping they keep the heavy electric guitar theme for the rest of Capaldi’s run. It would be funny if, at one point, we discover that the ‘Doctor Who Theme’ was, all along, some Gallifreyan punk rock riff that a very young Doctor used to play in his band. ūüôā

    DoctorDoctorWho @doctordoctorwho

    Correct me if I’m wrong but last week The Doctor said the ghosts can only hold metal…. yet one of the ghosts managed to hold Clara’s phone this week.

    Craig @craig

    Our friend @danmartinuk has posted another great review on The Guardian, and as has been noted here, he notes that the comments below the line have improved for this season. I hope it continues. Perhaps those who always threatened to never watch again have actually decided to never watch again.

    Thanks for the shout out too Dan.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    I thought that was damn good, and with The Witch’s Familiar a second part of a two partner that did things its own way rather than what you might conventionally expect. The precredits and outro were brilliantly fourth wall breaking.

    I genuinely didn’t recognize Paul Kaye as Prentis last week, and really enjoyed his performance. The line inviting the Doctor to oppress him with a variety of handy implements in the ship? Brilliant. The name was obviously a deliberate call out to Magician’s Apprentice (A. Prentis) which seems to be a thing in this series. Lots of blurring of the lines. Whitehouse returning could have been the purpose of having one of the aliens from his A Town Called Mercy in the Cantina scene in Apprentice.

    So I’m guessing that O’Donnell being a bit like Osgood (and meeting a similar fate) is there to remind us of her. Dwelling on the ‘Minister of War’ seemed to be a thing as well.

    Another fine vocal performance for Peter Serafinowicz (the voice of Darth Maul). Leaves the way open for an appearance later. My only quibble with the episode was I would have liked a bit more with both Prentis and The Fisher King. If only because Whitehouse writes Good confrontation scenes. The Fisher Kings opinion of the Time Lords as warriors is worth dwelling on.

    Really entertaining. Loving the hybrid two parter format

    DoctorDoctorWho @doctordoctorwho

    @phaseshift What’s a hybrid two parter format?


    (Sorry, probably a stupid question.)

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    Oh yes – that scene with Cass being pursued by the ghost, and the vibrations alerting her was brilliantly creepy. Nice use of O’Donnell’s fate being used to give one couple a happy ending while emphasising that Clara is not in a happy place.

    Juniperfish @juniperfish

    Well done to all who spotted the Tivoli last week and to all who concluded the Doc himself would be in the tomb.

    The Fisher King itself was quite a nice concoction of bone and hoof. It knew the Doctor was a Time Lord and more specifically, who the Doctor was himself, apparently. Presumably because that alien race have a psychic ability? It looked as if it was skull sniffing him.

    I am not sure what happened to Smith Doctor’s plan to erase himself from history. It seems to have hit the skids back when Mr. Clever the cyber-controller pointed out that you would still be able to figure him out from the hole he’d left. Ah well…

    The title, “Before the Flood” places the Doctor in the role of God (again) as he was indeed the one who’d caused the flood, by exploding the dam. That fits quite nicely with the sea-monster painting interpreted as Leviathan, as it was God who would eventually slay that monster (with a sword). The Doctor was playing God in his Beethoven paradox too, apparently creating the symphonies of the great man himself (perhaps!).

    The TARDIS was very unhappy all episode, clanging her cloister bell over the time paradox.

    Yes @pedant and @bluesqueakpip Clara does seem to be a similar sort of paradox herself. “I was born to save the Doctor” has always struck me not simply as an after-rationalization of her decision to jump into his time-stream to thwart (somehow) the Great Intelligence, but likely to be literally true. Somehow, by someone, her birth was engineered to save the Doctor. My money is on River, especially because of that damn leaf connection, keeping her sweetie safe from beyond the grave of the Library. She pretty much persuaded Clara to jump into the Doctor’s tomb-stream at Trenzalore.

    Love the electric guitar myself, not so keen on the sonic glasses.


    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord


    Don’t worry, I made it up! I guess the mention of hybrids in the first two parter made me think of it because the Producers said before the series that they wanted to play with the two parter format a little. I think it’s an extension of what Moffat did with Pandorica Opens\Big Bang and Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon, which were quite odd in the way they dealt with cliffhangers and threw you a curve ball.

    By the way, I’ve done a few studies on mobile phones for recycling initiatives for the WEEE regulations. By weight there is a high proportion of ferrous and non ferrous metals. Upto 60% by weight in some models, because of the battery.

    DoctorDoctorWho @doctordoctorwho



    Ah ok, thanks for clearing it up! ūüôā


    Overall I really enjoyed this episode, just not sure about the fourth wall breaking, I generally don’t like that in any media.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    I’ve decided that I’m just going to imagine that the Doctor’s 1000 year diary reached the end of its pages (it was only supposed to last 12 regenerations) – and he’s moved on to a video diary format. ūüėÄ

    Juniperfish @juniperfish

    Thinking about it – the Doctor and the Fisher King are very much paralleled in the episode – explicitly so because they both occupy the tomb.

    The Fisher King is lost and trying to send a signal to its people, so they can come (back) into this part of the universe and enslave things.

    This is the Doctor’s dilemma, and the reason he’s taking the (really) long way round. He’s happy that “Gallifrey Falls – No More” BUT given his people’s history during the Time War (which the Fisher King pointedly points out) the Doc’s on the horns of a helluva moral quandry about whether it’s right for the state of things, to try and fetch them back from that bubble universe.

    DoctorDoctorWho @doctordoctorwho


    Haha that’s a good theory! ūüėõ

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord


    Yes, the dialogue about the Time Lords was intruiging, especially as the last time Whithouse wrote an exchange like this in School Reunion it went:

    Finch: And what of the Time Lords? I always thought of you as such a pompous race. Ancient, dusty senators so frightened of change and… chaos. And of course, they’re all but extinct. Only you, the last.
    The Doctor: This plan of yours, what is it?
    Finch: You don’t know?
    The Doctor: That’s why I’m asking.
    Finch: Well show me how clever you are. Work it out.
    The Doctor: If I don’t like it, then it will stop.
    Finch: Fascinating. Your people were peaceful to the point of indolence. You seem to be something new. would you declare war on us, Doctor?

    I’d agree that something about their return is being set up here.

    BTW – I didn’t spot anything immediately Tarot related on first watch. Anyone else?

    Craig @craig

    If you fancy more electric guitar, the BBC have posted tonight’s theme to YouTube.

    Juniperfish @juniperfish

    @phaseshift <waves>

    Ah well, I’m sure @kharis can say more, but Jesse Weston in her book From Ritual to Romance apparently made a link between the myth of the Fisher King and the Tarot.

    This book influenced T.S. Eliot, who used the Fisher King theme and Tarot images in The Wasteland (his own notes to the poem explicated somewhat) in the passage where “Madame Sosotris” does a card reading for the protagonist.

    The Hanged Man is one of the cards which appears in the reading!

    Here’s a link to someone who has pulled out the cards they think the poem alludes to in entirety –

    The Hanged Man points to rebirth and regeneration, so I wonder if we are heading for the theme that the Doctor was the “killer of his own kind” once, but now he is the one tasked to bring renewal to Gallifrey. His new burden is to be the King Arthur who will revive Albion (as it were) BUT, as above, he’s bound to be tortured with a bit of a crushing moral dilemma over that task.

    Is it better for the universe, he’ll be wondering, if Gallifrey stays lost…

    Oh, and as Clara appeared in the explicit pose of The Hanged Man, I think that could point to her Time Lord bloodline (and possibly her direct familial connection with the Doc).

    Craig @craig

    Am not out tonight so thought I’d do a few of my usual posts then off to bed. One thing that seems to be recurring, so far at least, is that the Doctor and Clara are almost like estranged companions. This may have been mentioned before and it’s only just seeped into my skull now after my Saturday night beers… well, actually most of Saturday beers, I started with the Scotland rugby match this afternoon.

    In episode 1 she doesn’t know where he is and needs Missy’s help to find him. In episode 2 she may be dead so he’s hanging out with new ‘bezzie mate’ Davros instead. In 3 they’re hanging out but then get separated and he’s all like “Don’t worry, it’ll all be fine, I’ll be back”. Then in 4 he’s telling her to “keep the phone nearby cos I may just call you sometime”.

    I’m making light of it, but there does seem to be a distance despite the affection, and possibly even more of a distance than last series when they didn’t even know each other. Or perhaps the fact they know each other means they can now accept that they both need that distance. Or maybe I need to go to bed. ūüėÄ



    I am not sure what happened to Smith Doctor’s

    I suspect its net effect was to make the Doctor neither the cosmic hobo nor the mighty warrior, but noted by those in-the-know and maybe with a popular following (a la Unit fangirl). Think Che Guevara c/w Chairman Mao.

    ichabod @ichabod

    @bluesqueakpip ¬†be funny if, at one point, we discover that the ‚ÄėDoctor Who Theme‚Äô was, all along, some Gallifreyan punk rock riff that a very young Doctor used to play in his band.

    Oh, yes, PLEASE!!!

    Waiting for a couple of hours to read more here, as we get first look at 7 pm local time and it’s 6 now.


    winston @winston

    I just watched and it blew my tiny mind! I obviously need a few more viewings so I can wrap my head around all the timey-wimey stuff. The monster was behind the couch scary as were all the dark tunnel scenes. I loved when the Doctor talked to me, challenging me to open up my pudding brain and understand the mystery of time travel. Unfortunately I failed him. I am hopeless with the whole time loop, paradox thingy.

    The¬†¬†Doctor playing the 5th on his guitar and the funky theme well can I just ask “permission to squeeee!!!” As you can see I really enjoyed this 2 parter.

    lisa @lisa

    Found the first 2 parter more satisfying. My feeling is that we are getting set up
    towards a very big paradox to come later. It could be about Clara and
    how they might end her story? They brought up ‘love’ is this episode. @juniperfish
    River is going to be involved. The leaf the raven and rebirth.

    CountScarlioni @countscarlioni

    Amazing, mind boggling stuff again….What I took from Before the Flood is the lengths to which the Doctor will go to prevent harm coming to Clara. The rules of time go out the window if Clara is under threat and so he creates the bootstrap paradox before he, as he believes he is shortly to do, dies.    

    But that‚Äôs based just on one viewing so maybe I‚Äôve completely missed key things. The complexities in this series really demand multiple viewings. A minor example: On the third watch of Under the Lake I finally noticed that one of the Doctor‚Äôs cards read ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs My Fault, I should have known you didn‚Äôt live in Aberdeen,‚ÄĚ ¬†a reference to School Reunion and Sarah Jane being dropped by the Fourth Doctor in Aberdeen and not Croydon.

    The two-parters are great, especially as we get cliffhangers!

    lisa @lisa

    The phone conversation between Clara and the Doctor sounded like River
    and reminiscent of the scene when River was about to die and made the speech
    to the TenDoc about her future having already happened. Later Clara also told
    the scientist that he has to keep going which were also words River used.

    The Doctor seemed like he was curiously frantic to save Clara and yet I have
    to think what he was saying to her about reverse engineering is significant in
    some way to why he may have had those feelings.

    winston @winston

    @countscarlioni Great spot on the cards,I will look for it on next viewing. Stuff like that makes me pretty happy for some reason. I guess it helps remind us the he is every Doctor with all the same memories and experiences of his past incarnations.I like those connectios it keeps the past 11 doctors alive and in him. I too love a good cliffhanger,it keeps me guessing and bonkers theorising for a whole week. Such fun.

    The Doctor definately wants Clara alive but why and for how long. Who nose?

    jphamlore @jphamlore

    In Under the Lake I remember seeing O’Donnell hitting Bennett playfully after he survived the first trapping with a ghost; therefore I considered there might be more between them. In retrospect, there should have been.

    O’Donnell sadly was doomed before the episode ever began as I noted because as a lance corporal the Doctor would never invite her to be a companion, the one thing she would have most wanted. In some sense she lived the peak she could ever live as far as adventuring in time in space with the Doctor. Neither apparently did the Doctor invite Cass although Cass was as he noted the smartest in the room to him, because she is forever tainted in the Doctor’s eyes. That is an interesting thought of the Doctor having an unforgivable sin.

    The Fisher King was actually the anti-thesis of the ancient astronaut theories. It is clear the Orion aliens have never visited Earth before or they would have enslaved the planet in unbreakable chains millennia ago. And these aliens seem to have an allergy to large amounts of water instead of being from the water, as the Fisher King I believe promised to drain the planet.

    I’m glad the sparse whiteness of the craft’s interior, a sparseness as I noted was worthy of Johnny Ive of Apple, was a plot point. But now I am wondering if only the lack of one of the craft’s power cells prevented the Doctor from accessing all of the other stuff that the Tivolan said was workable in the craft.

    ichabod @ichabod

    @craig  Perhaps those who always threatened to never watch again have actually decided to never watch again.

    Nope. ¬†Positives led, but by page 4 it declines back into interminable “look how clever I am!” whining. ¬†Yuck.

    @bluesqueskpip  Where did Clara come from? She is a bootstrap paradox. 

    Exactly. ¬†And given that she’s a bootstrap paradox, where the heck can she be going? ¬†Because she’s going somewhere; it is written (and in the can).

    @phaseshift  I would have liked a bit more with both Prentis and The Fisher King.

    Me too; Prentis was fun and could have used more squirmily S&M stuff; as for the Fisher King, I am completely baffled. ¬†This is an alien warrior, big and ugly, and — WHY is he called “The Fisher King”? ¬†He’s not fishing; he’s not, so far as we know, guarding any kind of grail; he’s not, so far as we can see, wounded in the leg, though he is slow moving; and he makes no reference to any other element of the Fisher King legends and stories that I caught. ¬†So — Huh? ¬†“Hi, I’m Prentis. ¬†This is the Fisher King. ¬†He’s here to be buried.” ¬†What?

    And this: Nice use of O’Donnell’s fate being used to give one couple a happy ending while emphasising that Clara is not in a happy place.

    Yes, definitely! ¬†Some viewers really do need help getting past Clara’s ultra-competent, bold, and oh so cheerful act and seeing what a desperate mess she is (well, I think she is, enough so that even the Doctor, not the universe’s most sensitive guy, is troubled by it). Oh, and thanks for the info on the metal content of the phone — that was my first thought about how the “ghost” was able to pick it up. ¬†The axe, now, being dragged by Moran as he pursued Cass, I’m not so sure — is he enabled to hold the wooden handle because the metal head is so dense or something?

    @juniperfish  given his people’s history during the Time War (which the Fisher King pointedly points out) the Doc’s on the horns of a helluva moral quandry about whether it’s right for the state of things, to try and fetch them back from that bubble universe.

    Yes — I have trouble with this whole “going home” thing, because — why? ¬†He didn’t like Gallifrey, was not well treated when he did go there, and has had no indication that they’ve learned some kind of lesson about not being idiots. ¬†I mean, here’s Missy, if he needs a reminder of nutty, narcissistic arrogance TL style.

    @craig  re Clara/CapDoc: . . . there does seem to be a distance despite the affection, and possibly even more of a distance than last series when they didn’t even know each other. Or perhaps the fact they know each other means they can now accept that they both need that distance.

    They’ve resolved the more intimate drama of who each one is and how to keep balanced with each other, per S8. ¬†Now the stage has expanded, so there *is* more distance between her and the Doctor, and it’s full of other people from his past that she doesn’t even know (as she is now), like Ohila, Davros, even Prentis. ¬†She’s feeling lost in the vastness and in the shuffle — he’s worried about her, but she’s not central now the way she was in much of S8. ¬†At the end of Last Xmas, they zoomed off in the Tardis together, but at the beginning of TMA, he’s been traveling alone so much that she doesn’t have any idea where he might be. ¬†Diagnosis: he still has deep affection and a “duty of care” for her now, but he doesn’t need her the way he did in S8. ¬†She seems to have devolved from Very Difficult but absolutely-crucia-every-second Soulmate to — beloved puppy that has to be kept from dashing out into traffic. ¬†Not what she expected when she took CapDoc up on his invitation, having lost Danny, her chosen (but dead) one.

    @winston  The Doctor definately wants Clara alive but why and for how long. Who nose?

    For how long can he *keep* her alive is perhaps the question, what with wild happenings distracting him.  Do we  catch the scent of a heavy, doom-laden storm a-coming?

    jphamlore @jphamlore

    @ichabod: In my opinion, considering everything that has been shown in the series since the return to TV, having the Time Lords ever return to the normal Dr Who universe would be a complete betrayal of everything that has been asserted.

    The Time Lords can’t return because it has been shown clearly if they ever return it would start another Time War across the universe. We have been shown planets that have been destroyed as a result of this war. Wasn’t this what caused the Zygons to have to seek a new world in the first place? And nothing has changed with the Daleks as far as the Daleks being irredeemable. It might actually be contractually impossible according to the estate of Terry Nation for the Daleks to ever be greatly changed from what they are now.

    The Time Lords can’t return because time and time again we have been shown that many things do change, beings die, and people have to go on as best they can. That happened in this episode where Bennett has to go on as best as he can without O’Donnell, a forever unrequited love. The Time Lords live a long time but they are not immortal. Plenty of super-powerful species have been shown throughout the years but the one connection is that these species eventually came to an end, just like the Osirans including Sutekh the Destroyer came to an end, even though Sutekh on his own at full power is said to have been able to defeat the Time Lords combined.

    As stated even in this episode, the Time Lords are actually just living off their inheritance. They did nothing to actually earn it, and they have done nothing with it. A Time Lord return would destroy any moral message of the returned series and any claim to morality of the Doctor. It would I believe eventually destroy the returned series itself.

    Missy @missy

    Oh good grief! Just finished watching! All you lovely Whovians who haven’t seen this yet, are in for a real treat! Better than last weeks.

    Enjoy – I know that you will.



    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    @Craig- re guardian comments- I had noticed they were a bit better (and, sadly this seems to be connected, fewer) but that could partly be because some of the constant complains have been addressed- we now have lots of two partners, actual aliens, people running down corridors- its all quite old who. So most of the moaners who have ay streak of logic and consistency have shut up. That will always leave some, though… I had thought there would be more protest over the cup of tea comment at the start of the season- that was brilliant trollbate.

    @PhaseShift- what was that ‘minister of war’ thing? Is that a change that’s been made? It reminded me briefly of the whole ‘oh yes, the new Prime Minister of England’ bit back under RTD.

    @everyone about Clara- the one thing that bugged me in this episode is the fact she didn’t mention to the Doctor, when she told him about ghost him, that he was saying different words until he bought it up. The situation is that the thing that happened to all these others has happened to him, but this is a significant difference. They could have realised that while the Doctor was on the phone. I loved her unhinged moment- you don’t do that to me- she came over a little River for a moment there. I think there was also a little healing in this episode. Part of her anger at the idea of his death was because she needs the doctor because she lost Danny. Later she was talking to someone who had lost someone. People have suggested- in the other place- that she seems completely over his death. I think Danny’s death is written all over her.

    bendubz11 @bendubz11

    I’m going to be honest, this wasn’t my favourite episode, I much preferred the first part. There was far too much breaking the fourth wall and far too little Fisher King action for my liking.
    There were some great touches though, I loved the bit with Cass and Moran, I guarantee that it will have had many children hiding, and at the same time it will have inspired some deaf people, reminding them that they aren’t “Lame ducks”. A truly inspired scene.
    The use of Bennett to show Clara’s insecurities and to bring hope into the darkness in the shape of Cass and Lunn was perfect also. It is clear that Clara is still learning to cope without Danny but now she’s able to capture that pain and use it to help others.

    @phaseshift @miapatrick @everyone else intrigued, I feel like the “Minister for War” mention is definitely not a throwaway, and like you said Mia, it very much reminds me of the “new prime minister of England”. Maybe a nod to somebody’s plans come the end of the series?

    All in all an okay episode, but not one I’m going to be raving about.

    Anonymous @

    @craig and @ichabod

    I read the Dan Martin Blog which was great. In that, he had a link to Bootstrap -a 13 mins short film but it wasn’t in English, so ahem, having no attention span, I stopped it.

    Did anyone persist? Is it helpful to Clara and her continuing story?

    Craig @craig

    @winston @countscarlioni The good people at Blogtor Who took screenshots of the cards from last week. You can see them all here:


    Arch @arch

    I thoroughly enjoyed this, wasnt the episode I was expecting after last weeks but it got the job done. I found it interesting that prentice ended up in the 1980s in a cold war training facility, I had pictured something much different after watching the first part. Still another commanding performance from capaldi and i absoloutley adored the intro, huge fan of tearing down that fourth wall.

    Charlie Cook @charlie-cook

    Apologies if I missed someone else saying this, but did you read the inscription on Prentice’s card: May the remorse be with you

    Mudlark @mudlark

    Yet another excellent episode and a beautifully intricate¬†bootstrap loop.¬† My immediate feeling after the first viewing was that the ending seemed a bit rushed,¬†with¬†too much left to the Doctor’s explanation¬†in the final minutes, but I realise after a second¬†watch this morning¬†that this was because I¬†hadn’t been¬†concentrating sufficiently to spot the¬†clues.*

    The break between the Doctor saying that he must face the¬†Fisher King and his announcing ‘Now I’m ready’, of course denotes¬†the unspecified lapse of time in which he was able to work out what the Fisher King was probably planning, and¬†to¬†devise a way of thwarting that plan which¬†was consistent with the appearance of the things he has already seen in the future¬†using the information supplied by his own future ‘ghost’.¬† When he finally confronts¬†the Fisher King he is standing in front of the suspension casket which is now in¬†active mode (the lights on the panel in front),¬†though it isn’t entirely clear whether¬†it is the Doctor or the Fisher King who has switched it on, and¬†after the Fisher King has stomped off we get a brief glimpse of it¬†behind him¬†and can see that it is now open.


    the Doctor and the Fisher King are very much paralleled in the episode ‚Äď explicitly so because they both occupy the tomb.

    As I read the sequence of events, I don’t think that the Fisher King did get to occupy the suspension chamber at any point.¬† He is first seen shrouded and lying on a bier above the suspension chamber, not in it. ¬†He revives and immediately starts¬†the process of¬†summoning his own people by creating the first ghosts¬† In his exchange with the Doctor he confirms that when the ghosts have¬†proliferated and become sufficiently numerous, they will summon an ‘armada’¬†enough to ‘wake him¬†from his sleep’, with the implicit understanding that the ‘sleep’ will be in the casket.¬† But he never gets to enter the casket, because the dam bursts and he is swept away in the flood; so from that point on it always contained the the Doctor, and only the Doctor – though prior to that Prentis¬†may have spent all or part of the journey to earth in stasis within it.

    As regards the changed relationship between Clara and¬†the Doctor as¬†noted by @craig, I am with @ichabod in seeing it more as a shift in the balance rather than an estrangement.¬† Her desperate pleading with the Doctor to change events in the past so as to avoid his own death echoes her¬†attempts in Dark Water to persuade him to undo Danny’s death, and she ends by saying outright that he is essential to her because he has given her something – and she hesitates over the implied ‘to live for’ before concluding ‘to be’.¬† She is indeed struggling with the after effects of bereavement, as several here have noted already.¬† The choice is between collapsing into a soggy heap or carrying on, so she adopts a cheerful fa√ßade and carries on ; but the Doctor is her principal life line and the enabler of adventures which serve as a distraction from her underlying emotional state.


    * Maybe because I was cross-eyed from a day spent trying to adjust and remake a complicated garment which someone else had botched, but no doubt the two large glasses of wine with my evening meal didn’t help

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    By the way, did anyone notice the nice little joke that Clara is now so like the Doctor that she gets her very own companion-who-wanders-off?


    TheBrainOfMoffat @thebrainofmoffat

    Under the Lake was great, and the suspense ramped up enough at the end to make me really anticipate the conclusion. It’s exactly for that reason — the suspense — that I enjoyed it more than Before the Flood, however. That said, this episode wasn’t bad at all, and its positives were different from its predecessor’s. Moffat-era Who just wouldn’t be as entertaining as it is without some paradoxes thrown in from time to time, after all. Heck, Matt Smith’s entire run, as well as Clara’s existence, are giant paradoxes. Thanks for some nice brain fodder, Whithouse! Are we seeing showrunner material here? (Though, as Who paradoxes go, it was quite tame and logical — easy to follow.)

    In both parts of this story, I caught on to Clara’s attempt to distract herself from her grief. At the end of Last Christmas, she didn’t seem to be grieving anymore, but rather genuinely interested in traveling with the Doctor for the sake of adventure. I also don’t remember noticing any signs of grief in the first two episodes this season. But here… man, just look at her at the beginning of Under the Lake when she begs the Doctor for more adventures, he pulls her into the TARDIS, and the camera lingers on her huge smile. To me, that screams “reckless abandon as distraction from pain”. Yes, I think she’s running. Especially when we’re given so many references/allusions to her loss, such as the whole Cass-Lunn-Bennett-O’Donnell love thing at the end of this episode.

    The main part of the episode that I thought was lacking was the Doctor’s encounter with the Fisher King and the latter’s subsequent death. I kind of expected and wanted for there to be more to it all, almost as if the immediate threat of the Fisher King was too quickly dealt with (the story may have been a good candidate for a three-parter). In retrospect, if he hadn’t killed O’Donnell, he would have appeared much less dangerous. And I have to say that as soon as she split up from Bennett and the Doctor, I was certain that she would die. A little too telegraphed, Whithouse. A small blemish on an otherwise above-average episode.

    So this running theme of tarot and arthurian legend… where do you all think it’s going to lead?

    Juniperfish @juniperfish


    Yes, you’re right¬† (re “on” rather than “in”) the tomb.

    That doesn’t disrupt the narrative parallel though – the Doctor is positioned in the place of the Fisher King.

    There is no reason for calling the warrior-beastie “The Fisher King” other than the (Arthurian) resonances it has a mirror/ parallel for the Doctor.

    @thebrainofmoffat In terms of where I think the tarot/ Arthurian legend stuff is going – I’d say – Gallifrey!


    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    Well, Mrs Blenkinsop and I just finished watching, both turned to each other and tried really hard to say something spontaneously positive…and couldn’t.

    Yes, it was clever, in a way that a rubrik’s cube is clever. But it was, well, too obviously clever. Moffat has a real lightness of touch as a storyteller, but with Moffat the character-driven story is always upper-most. He can do amazingly clever things with paradoxes and loops, but what is most important with Moffat at his best is that he sweeps you along with the adventure, and he is not afraid to simply leave unanswered the details of “how did that work?” on occasion.

    But this story seemed to me to be drawing attention to its own cleverness too much. I have longed for a really interesting breaking the 4th wall moment during the Moffat years, but with this one it was so clearly Toby Whithouse addressing us at the beginning, not the character of the Doctor. It was almost as if we were being told to focus on this clever puzzle, rather than on the characters in the story. Then we get to the end, and we have a long verbal explanation by the Doctor/Whithouse on how the clever puzzle actually worked. Here, it was perilously close to being lectured at the beginning and end.

    All the actors playing the crew were brilliant, and captured the sense of love and loss really well. But, there is one alien species that Toby Whithouse has created–the cowardly race from the planet Tivoli–who I confess to finding incredibly annoying, because they are simply ciphers rather than actual characters you can believe in.

    I hope this doesn’t come across as ARSE, but I did find this story sort of disappointing.

    But, who knows, perhaps I will get more out of it on subsequent viewings.

    ichabod @ichabod

    @charlie-cook  did you read the inscription on Prentice’s card: May the remorse be with you

    Thank you! ¬†That went by to fast for me. ¬†I liked the base crew very much — beautiful detail in the relationships there, looking forward to re-watches. ¬†Loved the fourth wall business — what could be nicer than having the Doctor talk to us watchers directly from time to time? ¬†A refreshing splash of water, made me sit up straight and listen once I’d realized that there wasn’t someone else in the control room, in the camera’s position, for him to be addressing.

    @jphamlore beings die, and people have to go on as best they can. That happened in this episode where Bennett has to go on as best as he can without O’Donnell, a forever unrequited love. The Time Lords live a long time but they are not immortal. Plenty of super-powerful species have been shown throughout the years but the one connection is that these species eventually came to an end,

    I agree; and if not for Clara, I’d think that the arc of this series could be the Doctor having to learn and accept that yes, Gallifrey is gone forever, done and dusted, TLs gone for good (until a future show runner feels like bringing them back). ¬†Since he must lose Clara — to fail to rescue her from the deep grief (which I also see) of having had her big life choice snatched away from her through Danny’s death, to lose her¬†as his companion on any terms at all — I think that’s pretty much all the loss that can be inflicted on him at this point without mashing him flat for a very long time (which brings us back around to 11 before Clara, and we’ve been there with Matt Smith so recently).

    I’m also not invested in the TLs in general, as I’m not given to re-watching BG. ¬†To me, the Doctor was more interesting when he was away than when he was on Gallifrey, probably because Gallifrey wasn’t developed as anything more than this bunch of quarrelsome aristocrats in absurd Flash Gordon outfits (hmm — related, a bit, to why I avoided opera until “Eugene Onegon” and “Boheme” brought me some characters I could give a damn about). ¬†I think I’d better go over to spoilers, got some bonkerizing to do re S9 over all.

    @mudlark ¬†The break between the Doctor saying that he must face the Fisher King and his announcing ‚ÄėNow I‚Äôm ready‚Äô, of course denotes the unspecified lapse of time in which he was able to work out what the Fisher King was probably planning, and to devise a way of thwarting that plan

    That was exactly the point at which I needed a visual cue to *how* he was getting “ready” — the dam, the cell. ¬†I’ll watch again and look for some hint that he’s fully occupied deducing from what he knows about the future exactly what he must do “now” in the past to bring that future about. ¬†It was too big a jump for me, but now that you connect the dots — it’s *brilliant*, of course!

    @bluesqueakpip  did anyone notice the nice little joke that Clara is now so like the Doctor that she gets her very own companion-who-wanders-off?

    I didn’t, but now I do, and I like it! ¬†Again, pushing the boundaries of just how much *like* the Doctor she can act without running disastrously up against her own much narrower human limitations and dying of them, in some way. ¬†Unless they take a very different direction — I should move to spoilers for exploring that, though, right? ¬†Or — Sofa? ¬†Not quite sure.

    lisa @lisa

    The Doctor said his regeneration was a bit of a clerical error. Then he also said he was
    changing history to save Clara. So again in those instances I thought of what that implies.
    It’s foreshadowing something and there’s definitely a point there.

    Then that conversation that they had where Clara says ‘you do not leave me’ felt like she
    was channeling River to me. I think Clara is going to sacrifice herself for the Doctor just
    like River did. But would it possible that River can save Clara the way the Doctor saved her?

    Arbutus @arbutus

    Immediate thoughts: I didn’t find this quite as engrossing as the first part, I think because this felt cerebral rather than emotive. But I did enjoy it nonetheless. I suspect that there will be some dislike of this episode out in the fandom.¬† ūüôā But I have lots of room in my heart for clever, and I thought on first watch that this was clever. It will need rewatching, however.

    Bits I enjoyed:

    The opening scene with the Doctor in the TARDIS. I thought that was quirky and well done, a little tete-a-tete with the Doctor! I was grinning in anticipation of the Beethoven Fifth chords from the guitar. ūüôā

    I also liked the ending, with Clara reminding Bennett that there is still life to be lived. It was nice to be reminded that her grief is by no means behind her. And the little bit of romance was sweetly done.

    It’s bigger on the inside, it’s bigger on the inside!!!!!¬†¬†¬† ūüôā

    Question:  What is this with setting up interesting potential future companions just to watch them die? I liked this character and was sad that she became the sacrifice of the week. I will be watching to see if this trend continues.

    It also occurred to me that we are still waiting to see the series arc reveal itself, other than Clara, obviously, but if Clara’s story is the only arc of the series, then I think fans will have a reason to be annoyed! But I don’t think that will happen.

    Mudlark @mudlark

    @juniperfish   Yes, sorry! I was nit-picking and should have made it clear that, apart from that quibble, I agreed with your point.  I am still puzzled by the decision to call the alien the Fisher King though, given that the name has such resonance.  I kept looking for something definite that might tie it in to the grail legend, but failed.  If you are right, that it was simply to call attention to the parallels with the Doctor, it seems a rather clumsy way of going about it.

    @blenkinsopthebrave   I can see your point, and I too was a bit irritated by the preamble via the fourth wall Рas if, after all the looping timey=wimeyness of the last few seasons, we would be incapable of following the moebius logic of a bootstrap paradox without a big signpost to direct us.  It would also have been better if, when it came to the resolution of the story, we had been shown more of what the Doctor was doing instead of being given just one or two hints and then a comparatively lengthy exposition at the end.  I can understand how Whitehouse might have wanted to keep the viewers in suspense as long as possible before revealing the twist, but I would still have preferred more showing and less telling.

    That said, the puzzle was nicely intricate and, insofar as the cleverness of the mechanics was too much in the foreground, the fault was offset by the interplay of characters and the emotional undercurrents which were revealed in the process.  The acting, as you said, was outstanding.

    On a more general level, I am left with a fair few questions.  There was no indication that Drum base was in existence in 1980, but if not, it must have been designed and built from the beginning as an underwater installation, so for what purpose?  I think it was @jphamlore who pointed out that it was far bigger, more elaborate and more expensive than would have been needed just to extract oil.  I will have to watch Under the Lake again to check that I am right in thinking that it had only fairly recently been handed over to Vector.

    I note that the¬†Doctor did, in¬†fact, refer to the¬†derelict¬†military site as a town, although¬†when we saw more of it, even the parts that had been done up to resemble streets of shops etc. were in fact basic military blocks¬†behind the facades. So not a genuine town or village which had been evacuated and adapted for the purpose.¬† Most of the buildings we saw were not even disguised.¬† The one into which they dived to avoid the Fisher King even had a blast wall¬† in front of the entrance, and the ‘church’ appeared to be largely an elaborate¬†mock-up.¬† But this is again nit-picking and I am seeing it with my archaeologists hat on. Clearly it was filmed in a real abandoned military installation, with some basic dressing for the purpose.

    Another point which occurred to me was; why was Prentis dressed as a 19th century or Edwardian undertaker?  Unless he felt that if he was coming to Earth he had to adopt the local dress appropriate to his profession and got it wrong by a few decades.

    And finally.  How come the site remained flooded for more than a century after the dam burst?  As I mentioned in one of my musings on Under the Lake, Dams are normally constructed across river valleys, and if the dam breaks the water, after the initial surge and flood, resumes its flow in the river channel.  Of course it is remotely possible that the dam held back water from a river which had been diverted from another course, and there was no outlet from the site.

    On reflection, perhaps it is best if I do not look to have all my Ts crossed and my Is dotted.¬† That way madness lies in the Whoniverse¬† ūüėČ

    DenValdron @denvaldron


    Okay, Doctor threatened by Angry Muppet? Okay, just what is the Fisher King.

    1) He appears to be a member of a species with a homeworld, a power locus, and some form of technology.

    2) He’s also an outlier/renegade. He conquers Livonia, the most invaded world in the universe (I thought that was earth?). I assume that’s where he takes the title/name ‘Fisher King’ from – he’s the King, or made himself the King of that world. There’s no indication that he came with an army of his species, so this looks like a form of personal dominance.

    3) He’s very knowledgable about Time Lords. He’s well aware of their history pre-time war, and even of the Time War itself. I’m assuming that this isn’t necessarily public knowledge in the universe. So it’s either personal knowledge, or known to his species.

    4) He doesn’t seem to be discomfited by death, or apparent death.

    5) His technology is peculiar. There seems to be a cryogenic pod, but that appears to be consistent with the Livonian technology. On the other hand, that whole shtick of killing people and using their souls (life force) (death energy) to power a broadcast beacon to summon his species to rescue his ass is interesting. This is fairly primordial technology, we’re talking manipulating pure life/soul energy to achieve effects.

    5(a) – This technology is typical to its species, its their preferred way of doing things. We know this because the beacon has a receiver. The receiver must be complementary technology. ie the same sort of crap as the beacon. Think about that. Ol’ Fisher King is killing people to create a beacon to send a message to his people, he’s using a technology based on harvested souls. The receiver for the beacon is using technology based on harvested souls. Ergo, the civilization is one which operates on the harvested souls of living beings. Think about that.

    5(b) – The technology is cognitive/symbolic. The Fisher King writes a set of symbols on a wall. These symbols, despite the fact that they are in an unknown language and largely gibberish or random markings, act like a virus, inserting themselves into the cognitive structures of the humans (an unknown species to the Fisher King, he hadn’t met them before – he’d come straight from Livonia). Once that’s done – all he needs is a trigger, and the virus works out the rest of its programming – it burns the soul energy, creates a ‘ghost’ starts broadcasting and starts to murder to create more ghosts. I’m impressed by the fact that it’s ‘program’ is written in a language unknown to humans, but still programs or reprograms their souls/soul energy anyway, and does it to an unknown alien species. That takes some primordial workings.

    Okay, so what does this tell us about the Fisher King and his civilization.

    First, that they’re nasty, nasty customers. We’re talking an entire civilization that thrives on a technology based on primordial symbolic programming/manipulation, powered by intense soul harvesting and burning. That’s bad news. The people that civilization would produce… seriously short on empathy, big on horror. More than that, there’s an economics at work. Every civilization needs to eat. We have an agricultural civilization which means we eat pretty cheap, we have an industrial civilization that eats power – atomic, petroleum, etc. This civilization eats the souls of ‘lesser’ but still sentient, beings. It’s like if humans could only eat cattle brains – how many cattle would we have to maintain to keep us going. So my guess is that we’re looking at something like a ‘slaver empire’ – the Fisher Kings probably represent a small ruling population, dominating a vast population of underlings who do the grunt work and whose souls are harvested. Life probably sucks for the underlings, dominated body and soul by symbolic programming, having their life forces sucked out. Slaves might be too nice a word. Think those chicken farms where the animals are literally force fed, but don’t even have room to stand up or turn around, living in their own feces, overrun by parasites, birth to death in cages… except with Auschwitz style hard labour.

    Of course, even for a civilization like that, the ruling class would find itself impoverished. It needs to be as large and powerful as possible to keep all the slaves/cattle under control. Natural expansion, Malthusian forces, ambition means that the Fisher King civilization would always be on the edge of starving or depletion. Life at home, even for a Fisher King, is probably pretty stringent, everyone’s a little hungry, there’s never quite enough, everyone wants more.

    Which may explain what the Fisher King is doing on Livonia. Not enough at home. Finding a new world to conquer and rule all by yourself? That must be heaven.

    This might explain the first part of the name ‘Fisher’ as in leaving his civilization to go fishing or hunting for new worlds to eat.

    On Livonia, the Fisher King chose to rule as a single deity/absolute monarch. He wasn’t calling his civilization in. They weren’t harvesting the whole planet. It was just him, playing little tin god.

    ie – Fisher… King…

    Maybe he would have called the rest of them in eventually, but he was enjoying having the place to himself. That sort of fits with the psychology that such a civilization would produce – no empathy, lots of self gratification, sociopathy, manipulitiveness, a criminal mindset with limited loyalty. He wouldn’t call in his buds, unless he didn’t have a choice. He would only share if circumstances compelled.

    Which puts a disturbing spin on that beacon. It wasn’t just a rescue beacon. For the Fisher King, that’s the part that would be important to him… getting rescued. But for the rest of his civilization, and for earth… it would really be a dinner bell. Earth on the Menu.

    DenValdron @denvaldron

    Okay, who have we seen in Doctor Who – old and new, that is reminiscent of the Fisher King and what we can work out about his civilization. There are actually a few candidates.

    Vampires – State of Decay Tom Baker’s Doctor finds a relic trio of Space Vampires while lost in E-Space. These Space Vampires drink blood and are human seeming, but they were originally powerful monsters and a threat to the Time Lords. The Time Lords had actually wiped them out.

    Fendahl – Image of the Fendahl Another Tom Baker special. The Fendahl were also obliterated by the Time Lords, who not only crushed their planet but struggled to erase all knowledge of them. The Fendahl feed on life energy.

    Carrionites – The Shakespeare Code David Tennant hangs out with the Bill. Encounters Carrionites, who seem to be primordial witches who use symbolic code as technology. According to the Tennant Doctor, they’re primordial.

    All of these creatures overlap enough that in some fashion, they may actually be the same thing.

    The Fisher King’s remark about the Time Lords being indolent and apathetic, until they turn into terrifying warriors may not be entirely a reference to the Time War, but rather, to the earlier war of the Time Lords against them.

    If so, the Fisher King seems pretty healthy for a species that the Time Lords worked very hard to exterminate. Did the disruptions of the Time War give them a new lease on life? Or were they just really really good at hiding out? The Demise of the Time Lords may mean that they’ve started to creep out.

    lisa @lisa

    @mudlark Why was the Tivoli dressed as a Victorian undertaker? I thought in Deep
    Breath the half-faced man was dressed in a similar fashion. Your right it seemed a
    peculiar choice on the Tivoli. I guessed they were trying to paint a point about
    death in both cases.

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