We’re on to the conclusion of Toby Whithouse’s 2 part episode of Doctor Who. Being hailed as one of the scariest episodes of Doctor Who ever, this episode had rather large shoes to fill. We had ghosts that scared even the Tardis, she wouldn’t go anywhere near them. This Whovian was left not at all scared and wondering if maybe I’ve become desensitized to homicidal ghosts. I still had hopes that the second half, Before the Flood, would bring this story on par with the rest of the series so far.
The last episode ended with a shocked Clara seeing the Doctor’s Ghost. This episode did something that Doctor Who doesn’t do on a regular basis. We had the distinct pleasure of the Doctor addressing us, the audience at home. He discusses the “Bootstrap Paradox”. For example, a time traveller who loves Beethoven he decides to travel back to meet his hero only to find Beethoven doesn’t exist. He has all the sheet music with him and decides to copy them all out and get them published because he cannot imagine a world without Beethoven. Essentially, he becomes Beethoven and everything continues the way we know it. The question would be, who really composed the music? I’m inclined to answer “wibbly, wobbly, time wimey”. Then we get more of the Doctor rocking out on the guitar, first to Beethoven’s 5th and then the theme is laced with his guitar. I must say, I love that this Doctor is a rocker. I’d love to have every opening this series with his guitar.
The Doctor and two of the mining crew members have travelled back to 1980, before the valley was flooded. One of the crew mentions this would be pre-Harold Saxon, pre-the Minister of War, pre-the moon exploding. Since two of those things mentioned were previously part of episodes I was very intrigued by the mention of the “Minister of War.” I instantly thought, what does Moffat have up his sleeve. The Doctor starts to question and then tells the crew member not to answer because he’s sure he’ll find out soon enough. We know this will be coming back eventually so put a pin in that one.
The craft is discovered without the writing inside, and with the suspended animation chamber and power cell still in tact. Inside is the body of the Fisher King, he had invaded the Tivolians and ruled there for ten years. While the Doctor is trying to figure out how the writing gets on the wall, Clara’s with two other crew members in the mining base dining hall in the future. Clearly a little worried but still quite confident the Doctor will save them. They realize the ghost Doctor is repeating a list of names which is different than all the other ghosts. The other ghosts are beaming coordinates to space. Clara talks to the Doctor and tells him about his ghost and what it’s saying.
Meanwhile, the Fisher King is no longer wrapped up and now the writing is on the wall and begins killing in 1980. Ghost Doctor released the other ghosts from the faraday cage and then changes the message “the chamber will open tonight.” You can tell the Doctor is starting to come up with a plan. They head to the Tardis but on the way lose a crew member. Faced with the thought of losing Clara the Doctor decides he will change history to save her. The Tardis will only go back by 30 minutes. He’s locked in his own time stream so he cannot use time travel to break the rules and save her.
This episode did improve my opinion of Under the Lake. You get so see the clever Doctor in action against the Fisher King. He’s in a situation again where no one thinks he has a plan or knows what he’s doing and he fools everyone. There was one scene I really liked with the deaf crew member. A ghost is following her dragging an axe. I was actually wondering why she couldn’t feel the vibrations. She kneels and touches the floor and it looked like sonar. The sound waves bouncing off things gave her a view of what was happening around her and she escaped because of it. The Fisher King is hideous, as a child this would have been the creature from my nightmares. He’s huge and looks like a cross between a beetle and a skeleton. I would not want to be face to face with that creature.
One common thread so far with the series is that the Doctor is very worried about Clara. From not believing the Daleks killed her to his willingness to break the rules to save her. I can’t help but wonder what he knows that we don’t. He’s had very touching moments with her where he shows how much he cares. It’s like he knows her end is coming. Is this version of 12 older than we realize? Has he already seen Clara’s demise?
In the end the Doctor reveals the message his ghost was giving was for him. It let him know exactly what to do and when. This brings us back to the “Bootstrap Paradox”. The Doctor admits he programmed his ghost to say what it did because that’s what his ghost had said. The reason he created a ghost hologram because he saw it in the future. He was “reverse engineering the narrative”. He asks Clara, when did he first have those ideas? This question almost renders Clara speechless. With a coy smirk, he places a couple bars from Beethoven’s 5th.
Capaldi is absolutely blowing me away as the 12th Doctor. His portrayal of the Doctor gives me everything I want, snark, brilliance, humor, wit, it would be amazing to explore all of space and time with him. If this two part series is the worst of the season then I can’t wait to see more. The highly anticipated episodes featuring Maisie Williams will be next starting with The Girl Who Died.