11th Oct2015

‘Doctor Who: 9×04 – Before the Flood’ Review

by Paul Metcalf


When I watch Doctor Who and start to question why he has turned into such a selfish character, something isn’t right. With Before the Flood I found myself asking that very question, as well as at times feeling very confused… Even if I knew by the end of the episode I’d understand what was going on, this episode felt lost within itself.

Continuing on from Under the Lake, Clara (Jenna Coleman) and The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) are separated by time in order to solve the mystery of the ghosts. With the Doctor seemingly set to become one of the strange beings, can he fix the past to stop his fate?

I couldn’t help but feel with Before the Flood that there was a good story just dying to get out, and I wanted to see it. If anything it had too much to do and not enough time to do it. With the coming of The Fisher King we had an interesting monster of the week who was slowly teased in the darkness before finally being revealed. This was a reveal that I did like, though the creature did feel horribly underused. It was pretty much there to say that it would do something bad, and The Doctor had to stop it so he could save Clara.

The problem for me lies in the fact that the only human The Doctor now seems to care about is Clara. One of the most endearing things about the character is his love of humans and the way this kept him coming to Earth. This has now changed to The Doctor willing to break time just to save Clara, who will also put people’s lives at risk…just because it needs to work that way. As charming as that is, Doctor Who fans know that there are safeguards against breaking time…so why has he forgotten? It may make for a nice tool to keep the narrative flowing for the episode, but it appears that The Doctor needs his brain cells checking to see where some of intelligence has gone.

Getting past the new selfishness of The Doctor and Clara, the idea behind this episode is well thought out and once everything starts to fit together then the familiar rush to the conclusion is in place. The problem with Before the Flood is has so much to do that it forgets to concentrate on a few important things, one of them keeping the audience clued in as to what is going on. I did enjoy some of the tension that the Fisher King built up when we only caught glimpses of him, and also when the story actually managed to escape its shackles, this was when the true potential of the episode was almost revealed and the fact that this was held back is a shame.

As the credits rolled my feeling for Before the Flood was to be conflicted. I felt satisfied to a point that this was an enjoyable Doctor Who episode, but I also couldn’t shake the annoyance I felt through certain parts of it. There seems to be a loss of focus on exactly who The Doctor is at the moment, and that needs to be brought back, though maybe that won’t be the plan. Maybe this is just the “new” Doctor that the audience has to accept?

I am a Doctor Who fan, and I’m not going to be one of those people who bitches and complains just for the sake of it, but I also won’t praise something that doesn’t feel right. The fact is though as an audience we are presented with the current vision of what Doctor Who is, and even if it doesn’t feel right, we have a choice whether to watch it or leave it behind. I’m sticking with it, because even if I get annoyed at times, it is still Doctor Who. Oh and those Sunglasses? …ugh.

**** 4/5

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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