‘Before The Flood’
In my review of last week’s episode I lamented the lack of story present in the first half of this two-part story, hoping that events would pick up in this week’s second part. Unfortunately ‘Before the Flood’ proves that there wasn’t enough storyline to fill one episode let alone two. Furthermore the episode’s resolution does an effective job of making the entire endeavour feel pointless.
‘Before the Flood’ opens on a narration from The Doctor questioning how the classic time travel concept of predestination paradoxes, where the events of the present can only exist by someone time travelling to the past. The Doctor uses the example that he time travelled back in time to meet Beethoven but inadvertently made him famous by presenting him with his first sonnet. This got me slightly excited for the idea of an episode that explored this concept, however it is simply introducing the idea that will be brought up again in the episode’s climax.
Much of the episode is spent with The Doctor and temporary companions O’Donnell and Bennett trying to figure out what happened in the past to set up the present. Meanwhile Clara spends much of the episode waiting around for The Doctor to call to save her from the ghosts which want to kill her companions to turn them into transceivers for an alien message. The Doctor encounters the creature which is supposed to be in a stasis pod in the present and is using the alien message to send his people to Earth to pick him up. However, as soon as you realise the simple fact that The Doctor isn’t really going to die, the twist ending is far too obvious to even be considered a twist.There are a few moments of promise in this episode, particularly the genuinely chilling sequence of the deaf commander being slowed by a ghost dragging an axe. The resolution of the sequence as she checks the vibrations of the floor is a bit overdone, particularly due to the visualisation that resembles something from Daredevil, but it is still a well done moment in a humdrum episode. The alien creature is also quite a terrifying creation, though the resemblance to the Grim Reaper is a bit too on the nose.
Unfortunately the alien creature’s plot, if you can even call it that, amounts to nothing and The Doctor saves the day with a ridiculous solution involving the sonic glasses (which are sadly still a thing). The Doctor reiterates his message about predestination paradoxes but little is done to solve the mystery presented. Perhaps this will be a plot point in future episodes but it seems more likely that it will amount to nothing, making this storyline a complete waste of time.