Doctor Who: Before the Flood Review

Deadpool would be embarrassed to be seen with Doctor Who right now. That’s how bad it was.

While we’re waiting for the police to move on, Doctor Who pulls out a guitar and plays a tune.

“What are you doing?

“I’m playing a song.”

“I can see that. Stop it.”


“It’s annoying and I’m trying to concentrate on what’s happening.”

“But I thought it made me look really alternative and punk. You know, down with the kids.”

I give Doctor Who a long, hard look.

“Right, sorry.”


A metaphorical presentation of myself and a metaphorical Doctor Who sitting at the bottom of the Thames arguing makes far more sense than Before the Flood did. You know why? Because I set up the premise of Doctor Who and I going on whacky adventures for three reviews. I gave you consistency, conflict, motives. This episode played a guitar really loudly in some sort of bizarre attempt at a Douglas Adams spin on plot developments that it had barely set up to begin with. I mean, what? What? Granted, some of these points were resolved later on in some attempt to fill in a narrative framework, but for the rest of the time I was just left bewildered. And not the good “I couldn’t even tell you what’s coming next!” bewildered, but the “Oh god, there are loud noises everywhere and I want to go home.” bewildered.

This episode only really began to redeem itself in its second half. And when I say redeem, I mean it kind of cleaned up after itself, shamefacedly, after having loads of people round the night before and keeping you up all night when it knew you had a paper due in the next day. Some things came around and were tied up naturally, others were shoehorned in for the sake of killing a few minutes.

The premise of this episode, see, was the Bootstrap Paradox (or the Casual Loop), which is when a past event is a result of a future one. Example, the Doctor going back in time to before the flood (Ha. Get it?) and causing the flood itself. Do you know why I know that about this theory? Because the Doctor told me to Google it. And by me, I don’t mean just alluded to a theory while explaining events to the scientists, and therefore to the audience, in the way that its usually done because that’s quite reasonable. No no no. It was in an opening scene before the credits via the most obnoxious fourth wall break I have ever seen. And I read a lot of Deadpool. In fact, Deadpool would be embarrassed to be seen with Doctor Who right now. That’s how bad it was.

And that was before the Doctor looked directly into the camera at the end of the episode and winked at me. Winked at me. Why is the Doctor WINKING AT ME? What kind of self-congratulatory, ego-stroking nonsense is this?! That one wink into the camera perfectly encapsulates why I stopped watching this show. The only way it could have been worse was if the Doctor had been wearing those terrible sonic sunglasses. Because that’s an actual thing now, did you know? I didn’t realize that the screwdriver had been outright replaced. Because that would be bloody absurd, wouldn’t it?! That would be cutting and snipping away at a beloved character who has been at the core of fifty years of historic television until he fits right into the sweaty palms of ego-driven writers who just love that they can bend canon to their every whim and do whatever they like with it. And surely that isn’t what’s happening here, right? The writers on this show wouldn’t completely disrespect fifty years of canon that have come before it, while also looking it dead in the eye as they throw it into the mix at every opportunity, to show off just how clever they are in the most hypocritical display of smugness that I have ever seen, right?! RIGHT?!

This episode was a mess. A deeply unsatisfying end to what was already a deeply unsatisfying first episode. To go with another two-parter was a poor enough idea already, but this. THIS. A Bootstrap Paradox would have been great to explore, and maybe I could have forgiven this episode on that alone if it hadn’t been so smug about having thought it up. But after that wink, and how this whole episode was so pleased with itself that it even changed the theme to roll along with the “Oooh who is Beethoven REALLY, KIDS” aesthetic, I’ve had enough. And even then I could have forgiven that if it had been at the front of the first episode! All the other nonsense aside, the plot points to these last two episodes made no sense chronologically. It felt as if they’d been scooped up into a bag, shaken up a bit and then, when thrown out on the table, the writers decided to just go with that.

You want me to tell you something good about this episode?! When Cass was being stalked by the ghost and when the Doctor and Clara got a bit selfish. That is it. And don’t get me started on the half-baked romance arcs thrown in at the end, because I am done. Done.


“Where are you going?” Asks Doctor Who.

“This was all a mistake!” I yell through the bubbles. “We should never have started speaking again! You and me, we can never work out!”

“I’ve got Maisie Williams next week,” says Doctor Who pleasantly. “And space Vikings.”

I pause.

“Do they have laser eyes?”

“Oh yeah.”

“And is Maisie going to be the spunky assistant they pick up from the village?”

“You watched the after credits scene.”

I sit back down in the mud. We are silent for maybe five minutes.

“I’m not speaking to you, by the way.”

“I guessed as much.”

Image courtesy of the BBC
Nicola Peard

Nicola is a creative writing student based in London. When she’s not very hard at work on all the writing business, she’s playing video games, reading about video games, writing about video games and making videos about video games with her pals at Clever Girl Gaming. She also procrastinates on an Olympic level, and is sure you’ve got something you should be doing too.