Doctor Who - Series 9, Episode 4

Before the flood

Reece Morris-Jones stacks up the sandbags in preparation as he watches Before the Flood...

I want to like this episode so much. Oh I really do. But that smug opener wound me up so much that I found myself being harsher on the episode as a result. There is a lot to like about the episode, but it's overall flimsy conclusion and the desire to make events larger in scale than was needed made it not sit well with me.

But let's start with the positives. The name drops of the Doctor's past adventures and his upcoming ones (who hopes the Minister of War is Clara in some way?) were enjoyable and the villain of the show looked and sounded great. The show was smart enough not to show too much of the costume, which really added to how menacing a villain he was. Even if the resolution of the subplot was a bit disappointing I appreciated it being wrapped up in the past setting. Keep him as a one and done villain and he should go down as an imposing presence.

Another nice twist was turning the mortician, who in Clara's timeline was a terrifying ghost, into a nebbish and slightly annoying patsy. The casting of Paul Kaye (almost unrecognizable underneath the prosthetics) was great as well - who else do you get when you want an annoying but ultimately harmless and sad individual? By his standards this was a low key performance and over very quickly. Very much appreciated.

The use of timey wimey bollocks was fun as well, plus the establishing of that the Doctor only really cares about Clara. I hope this is building to some sort of betrayal later on in the series. What happens to a man who has lost the only person who has convinced him (this regeneration) to dig himself out of a fatalistic dive towards his own death?

I've done the good, so now here's the bad - what the hell was up with that resolution?! How would a reservoir's worth of water leave a small town and spaceship standing? It really infuriated me and undid a lot of the tension. Why did Clara basically do nothing but stupid things this episode? And why, oh why, did Moffat think it would be cool to introduce sonic specs?

I've heard one friend refer to the Doctor this season as the 'mid life crisis regeneration' and it's hard to disagree. The specs just make him seem like a desperate Dad trying to be 'down with the kids' but not having the money or actual charisma to be so. It's almost as if the specs were imagined by a chap who is uncool and middle-aged himself...  whatever next, a sonic Porsche?

As for the happy ending where the translator and captain make out and get all lovely dovey? Urgh, no thanks. At least set it up first so its a resolution.

As for if it works as the second half of the story started last week? Sort of, but there wasn't really enough escalation to make the events of this episode seem to match up with the first part.

So a good episode and an average overall story that will fall apart the more you watch it? Standard for the Steven Moffat era of Doctor Who. But the strong first half shores up an otherwise dodgy second half.

Bring on next week - techno Vikings!

Image - BBC