Saturday, October 17, 2015

Words and Guitar: An Overanalysis of "Before the Flood"

"I drink your milkshake!"
I've taken a lot of time to explain bootstrap paradoxes on this blog.  Mostly it's because I love the phrase bootstrap paradox.  It's my username on a couple websites, most notably, one of the larger Doctor Who message boards on the Internet, Gallifrey Base: 

I hope a lot of people tried to register with this name on Saturday!

So I was very happy to see the phrase show up in the beginning of "Before the Flood."  It's hardly the first bootstrap paradox we've seen in the show.  The Moffat era is riddled with them.  The Doctor getting himself out of the Pandorica is a bootstrap paradox.  The Doctor finding Craig's apartment in "The Lodger" was entirely thanks to a bootstrap paradox.  "Blink" is literally a bootstrap paradox from beginning to end.  So I'm glad someone finally gave an explanation of what it is so I don't have to explain it over again to every person I try to talk to about Doctor Who.

Part one of this story was a lot more exciting than part two, because part one was about building a very intricate mystery, and part two was about bringing that all back down to Earth and explaining everything.  But "Before the Flood," much like "Under the Lake," benefited from some really great work from multiple different departments.  Doctor Who doesn't particularly scare me much (with the delightful exception of The Silence) and almost nothing scares me in broad daylight, but this particular shot takes the cake for the only thing I've ever seen in any media that was still fucking terrifying despite being shot in broad daylight (or, well, cloudlight as the case may be):

Wow, the Fisher King was one of the most terrifying Doctor Who creatures I've ever seen.  This is not cheap prosthetics, this is a very well thought out and detailed construction of someone's worst fucking nightmare.

The Doctor's electric guitar is, thankfully, becoming a recurring part of the 12th Doctor's persona, with clips from next week's episode, "The Girl Who Died," showing brief flashes of it as well.  The 2nd Doctor was known for playing a recorder sometimes when he was trying to think, while the 12th seems to absently strum at an electric guitar with his special sonic sunglasses for much the same reason.  Regardless of how much cooler the guitar and sunglasses may seem to us than the recorder, its all ancient artifacts to the Doctor.  Yet, somehow it seems so appropriate that the man who is tied for the oldest actor to ever play the role would adopt such a "cool" look to him.  And why not, if it's Peter Capaldi.  He's a total punk rocker.  He was in that band in a punk band when he was younger with Craig Ferguson.

What's even more freaky is that the guy on the right is Geoff Peterson.
Peter Capaldi can pull it off because we know that that's who he is.  Have you ever known someone who had been a big punk rocker in their teens once they got older?  Because I know quite a few of them, and they all remind me of Peter Capaldi.  I'm glad he's building a persona for this particular Doctor, and I'm glad that it seems to reflect quite a bit of Capaldi's real personality.

Last week I was left confused as to why the ghosts had no interest whatsoever in Lunn.  This week, when Clara figured out it was because he was the only one who hadn't seen the writing yet, I literally had to smack myself in the head for never having figured that out.  I guess you are a smart one, Clara.  I felt an equal smack to my head at the reveal that the Doctor's ghost was a hologram, after we had already established that the Drum can create holograms.  Wow, I feel like a doofus now.  I had already figured out that the Doctor was in the stasis chamber, but admittedly only because I had seen someone else guess it on Facebook and said "Oh, yeah, of course, that's who's in there."  It was an interesting take on the concept of fixed points in time.  It's not the first time that the Doctor has found a way to change the future by simply tweaking and modifying events he knows are going to happen but creating a scenario in which he doesn't have to die.  He essentially found the same loophole out of his death at Lake Silencio.  History said that the Doctor had to be there on that beach, and that someone looking like the Doctor had been killed, but that was it.  As long as he found a way to keep all of that true, nothing negative happens if he still walks away from it.  I liked that trick in "The Wedding of River Song" (regardless of what anybody else thought about it), so I liked it again now.

I keep trying to figure out if there's any larger plotline that this episode is setting up for farther down the road.  Frankly, there isn't a very clear indication that there is an overarching plot.  I'm presuming that Missy staying behind on Skaro in "The Witch's Familiar" was probably part of a set-up for the season finale.  I'm also guessing that the prophesy of the hybrid from that same episode is part of a set-up as well.  But other than that, I've seen nothing else in this season that is very clearly constructing a mystery or a plot arc that is leading us towards something specific.  I haven't seen this from Moffat since his largely disappointing series 7, which I found to be his weakest season-long plot arc if for no other reason than very little was done to advance the larger plot arc as the season moved along.  Yet, this series, so far, has me mesmerized.  So I'm hoping that we're moving towards something a little larger, a little arc-ier.  Is that a thing?  No, it's probably not.

And the next episode will likely grant my wish.  As I write this, it has technically already finished airing in the UK (sorry, I'm late again), but I'd heard reports before that "The Girl Who Died" would finally explain to us the big mystery of why Peter Capaldi's face appears three different times in the Doctor Who universe.  I've just rewatched "The Fires of Pompeii" because I understand that "The Girl Who Died" is going to call back to it somehow.  How, I do not yet know, but I'm thrilled to see what it is!  An idea thought up by Russell T. Davies, executed by Moffat, with the assistance of my first choice to follow Moffat when he finally does leave, Jamie Mathieson.  All with Maisie Williams as a guest star.  I can't wait to see where we're going with this.

No comments:

Post a Comment