Before the Flood

In 1941, esteemed science fiction author Robert Heinlein published a short story titled “By His Bootstraps”. In it, a scholar Mr. Wilson writing a thesis on metaphysics and time travel, is met by individuals claiming to be from the future. After a series of argumentative and even physical confrontations, Wilson is brought to the future and becomes a man of great power, and realizes after some period that he must inherently become one of those individuals venturing back to meet his former self, and ensure the process occurs as it had. The story concludes, however, with his reflection on who (if anyone) first set him on the path to future greatness, if he himself was the one who continually circles back to assist his ‘predecessor’.

Toby Whithouse has taken this inspiration and forged a conclusion to the previous “Under the Lake” ghost tale that is not only unexpected, but when viewed as a two-episode set, makes for a most glorious return to the timey-wimey story manipulation that so many Whovians revel in. What we thought we understood of a deep-sea siege with spectral overtones suddenly becomes a paradoxical challenge to the Laws of Time, and our good Doctor once again has to stare hard at the immutability of the “known future”, the morality of “risking one to save all”, and other elements of Doctor Who that make for most enjoyable episodes…and series.

This week, we stare into the dead eyes of our own electromagnetic residual images in “Before the Flood”, and wonder if the Bootstrap Paradox and its seemingly inescapable causal loops are the greater villain than the underutilized Fisher King.

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4 Thoughts on “Before the Flood”

  • Did anyone else notice that each of the first two stories (four episodes) included characters that shared names from the King Arthur/Holy Grail legend?

    Bors, the assistant to The Doctor (he called him “Magician”) shares his name with Bors the Younger (Sir Bors de Ganis), the only knight to survive the Quest for the Grail (

    The Fisher King was the last of the kings who were keeps of the Grail (

    I wonder if this will continue in future episodes.

    • I had recognized the Fisher King, and also noted the return of the chalice (grail?) in the Meditation prologue, but didn’t make the Bors connection — nice catch! With upcoming viking warmaidens and other returns to ‘period’ episodes, odds are good we may see another piece of this strange little puzzle.

  • So… what was that last 6 minutes?

    Oh… also?

    So am I the only one who really really hated O’Donnell’s death? Not in-story, like “oh I didn’t want her to die! Boo!”, but I actually thought it was done very poorly and was actually sort of useless. I kinda felt like she was fridged, to be honest… it’s maybe not a dead-on example, but I think it fits enough of the qualifications. I don’t know… it left a bad taste in my mouth…

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