‘Doctor Who’ season 9, episode 4 review: The Doctor battles time itself in ‘Before the Flood’

Under the Lake -

What makes a Time Lord? We feel like there were many questions that Saturday’s “Doctor Who” asked, but this was one of the primary ones as The Doctor was forced to confront some of his most fundamental rules in a battle with a particularly feared opponent: The Fisher King. This was a creature that may have been the older brother of Garrus from “Mass Effect,” and he was certainly out to create what was his own unique brand of chaos.

The Doctor had a chance to alter history slightly to ensure Clara’s safety, and there were some sweet selfless moments in here where he made it clear that he cared more about her own long-term safety than his own. If he left the future the same, then he would become a ghost and eventually infect his friends, as well. He managed to trick the Fisher King into believing that he had already changed things during their confrontation, and used some of the creature’s own guile to his advantage.

Could you say that there was a slight loss of conflict in the present with The Doctor and Clara? Maybe, since they would be seemingly safe regardless if he could alter things. Yet, they did still have to fight not knowing if he would be successful. Eventually, he returned to the base, and as it turns out, the “ghost” of the Doctor was never that much of a ghost at all. This was another trick! In a sense, what The Doctor did that was brilliant was create a preconceived notion of a future that could not be changed, only for him to “change” it without really altering history too much at all since he was never much of a ghost to begin with … or was he? We almost feel like we’re not meant to truly understand it all.

Sometimes, “Doctor Who” goes a little too hard when it comes to its attempts to melt your mind, and maybe “Before the Flood” had that. However, we still enjoyed this episode for the most part thanks to its humor (“don’t kiss me! Morning breath”), imagination, and a great cast of supporting characters. We’d be more than happy to see some of these folks back on the show again. Grade: B.

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