|Before the Flood|
|Featuring:||Cass, Lunn, O'Donnell, Bennett|
|Main enemy:||Fisher King, Ghosts|
|Main setting:||Краснодар, Caithness, Scotland, 1980; The Drum, Caithness, Scotland, 2119|
|Premiere broadcast:||10 October 2015|
|Premiere network:||BBC One|
|Format:||1x45 minute episode|
|Doctor Who television stories|
|Under the Lake||The Girl Who Died|
|Another memorable moment|
Before the Flood was the fourth episode of the ninth series of Doctor Who produced by BBC Wales. The episode saw the Doctor become part of a paradox in order to defeat the Fisher King, after the TARDIS refuses to return to the Drum back in the future.
Unique to this episode, as well as the BBC Wales Doctor Who series since it first aired in 2005, the entire first scene of Before the Flood extensively broke the fourth wall by cutting over to the the Doctor on board the TARDIS explaining the mechanics of a bootstrap paradox, a point integral to the story.
It also featured the Doctor personally play the theme for Doctor Who for the first time on-screen, using an electric guitar (which actor Peter Capaldi himself knew how to play and had personally selected from a guitar shop previously for a scene in The Magician's Apprentice). His musical pitches blended with that of the normal theme tune arrangement used in the title sequence.
While later events in the episode showed otherwise, this was also the first time that a main incarnation of the Doctor was shown to seemingly take on an antagonistic role, in the form of his Transmitter Ghost, though this isn't the first time a version of the Doctor was shown as an antagonist in an episode.
A notable aspect of the production was that part of the audio used to create the Fisher King's guttural roar and the voice of the Twelfth Doctor's hologram ghost were supplied by Corey Taylor, the lead singer of heavy metal band Slipknot.
A twisted survival plan is pieced together by an alien warlord called the Fisher King. The universe will feel the consequence. Can these events be stopped? Can the Doctor ensure the future's coming and do the impossible?
The Doctor is explaining the bootstrap paradox: a hypothetical time traveler decides to go back in time to meet Beethoven, whose music he admires. However, he discovers that Beethoven never actually existed. The Doctor mentions that this never happened, by the way, as he has met Beethoven. The time traveler then decides to publish Beethoven's music himself, essentially 'becoming' Beethoven. "But," the Doctor asks, "how did the music first originate, then? Who composed Beethoven's Fifth?" and plays said piece on his electric guitar.
The Doctor arrives with Bennett and O'Donnell at the Army base in 1980, before it was flooded, on the day the spaceship landed. They encounter the Tivolian Prentis, still alive at this point, and find that the writing has not yet been scratched into the wall. Prentis reveals that the spaceship is actually a hearse carrying a deceased conqueror called The Fisher King. Back in the future at the underwater base, Clara, Cass and Lunn realise that the Doctor's ghost is uttering a list of their names instead of coordinates. When the Doctor contacts Clara and is informed about his ghost, he is badly shaken by this certain knowledge of his future. Clara forcefully encourages him to try to change events, but the Doctor argues that he cannot and ultimately accepts the eventuality that he must die to keep events in motion. He tries to get information from his ghost, but instead it unlocks the Faraday cage, releasing the other ghosts. Back in 1980, the Fisher King is revealed to be alive, writing the words on the ship's wall and killing Prentis before fleeing.
O'Donnell, Bennett and the Doctor run, but they get separated and O'Donnell is killed by the Fisher King. Bennett chastises the Doctor for allowing O'Donnell to die after the Doctor reveals that the list of names his ghost was repeating was the order in which the crew members will die. Since Clara will be next, the Doctor tells Bennett that he is attempting to save Clara, not himself. He tries to return to the future to achieve this, but the TARDIS won't let him leave - the Doctor is locked in his timestream - and instead goes half an hour back in time. The Doctor and Bennett observe the earlier events, unable to interact or interfere. O'Donnell's ghost appears in the future and steals Clara's phone, her only means of contacting the Doctor. Clara realises that, as Cass refused to allow Lunn into the ship, he never saw the writing on the wall. Therefore, the message is not encoded in his brain, and the ghosts won't attack him.
Meanwhile, Lunn leaves the cage and locates the phone, but the ghosts chase him and manged to trap and lock him inside the main room. When Lunn fails to return, Clara agrees to accompany Cass to search for him.
Leaving Bennett in the TARDIS, the Doctor confronts the Fisher King. The creature reveals that the ghosts he's created will signal his people to send an armada to conquer Earth. It also taunts the Doctor's unwillingness to alter the future, but the Doctor chastises it for violating the souls of those it killed simply for its own ends. The Doctor then tells the Fisher King that he's erased the writing from the spaceship's wall, meaning no-one in the future will discover the message. The Fisher King races back to the ship only to discover the writing still there. He realises the Doctor tricked him and has used one of the power cells (shown as missing in the earlier episode) to destroy the dam wall, flooding the town and killing the Fisher King. TARDIS Security Protocol 712 activates with Bennett still inside, but the Doctor's whereabouts remain unknown as the town floods.
After narrowly avoiding being killed by Moran's ghost, Clara and Cass regroup with Lunn in the hangar. As they arrive, the stasis chamber opens and the Doctor climbs out. The Fisher King is then heard roaring and the ghosts follow the sound, only to be trapped again inside the Faraday cage with the Doctor's ghost, revealed to be a hologram the Doctor controlled using his sonic glasses from the stasis chamber.
The Doctor informs the survivors that UNIT will come to cut the Faraday cage from the base with the ghosts inside, and he erases the memory of the writing from everyone's minds. After Clara comforts Bennett over O'Donnell's death, he convinces Lunn and Cass to admit their love for each other. The Doctor and Clara leave in the TARDIS. The Doctor tells Clara that the order the people would die in was entirely fictional, but he placed Clara's name second to motivate himself to action. Clara asks the Doctor how he knew what to make his ghost's hologram say. He informs her that he only knew what he had to do because he found out through future knowledge of what had been done. He begins to explain to her the idea of the bootstrap paradox...
- The Doctor - Peter Capaldi
- Clara - Jenna Coleman
- Moran - Colin McFarlane
- Cass - Sophie Stone
- Lunn - Zaqi Ismail
- O'Donnell - Morven Christie
- Bennett - Arsher Ali
- Pritchard - Steven Robertson
- Prentis - Paul Kaye
- The Fisher King - Neil Fingleton
- Voice of the Fisher King - Peter Serafinowicz
- Roar of the Fisher King - Corey Taylor
|Executive Producers Steven Moffat and Brian Minchin|
|Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.|
- According to the Doctor, Beethoven was a "nice chap, very intense, who loved an arm wrestle".
- Upon learning that they had time travelled back to 1980, O'Donnell notes that they were in a period before Harold Saxon and the Moon exploding, both of which the Doctor is aware. She also mentioned the Minister of War. The Doctor, however, does not understand this reference and tells her not to elaborate, as to avoid the spoiler.
- The name of the building where the TARDIS arrives is Краснодар, which is Russian. The entire town, before the flood, had a Russian theme due to being at the height of the Cold War.
- The Doctor said that the military were being trained for offensives on Soviet soil.
- O'Donnell states that she used to work for the Military Intelligence.
- The Doctor mentions the Bootstrap paradox.
- The Doctor mentions Google.
- Albar Prentis' card says "may the remorse be with you", a play on a famous line in Star Wars; "May the Force be with you".
- The Doctor and Clara are FaceTiming each other between time zones via her iPhone and his TARDIS screen.
- Prentis is writing down notes in a Celestial Almanac.
- The Doctor has a statue of Beethoven's head in his TARDIS.
- Posters of Russian leaders Joseph Stalin and Vladimir Lenin are seen.
- The life of a person who is deaf is explored, in which Cass walks down the base hallway unable to hear the Moran ghost dragging an axe along the floor, and further when Cass stops to touch the ground, feeling the vibrations in the floor from the axe Moran is dragging.
- When Bennett throws up outside the TARDIS due to being sick during time travel, O'Donnell said "One small step for man, one giant... Bleaurgh.", a reference to Neil Armstrong's famous line upon landing on the Moon: "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
Food and beverages Edit
- Bennett said he had eaten a prawn sandwich.
- The Doctor had a collection of vinyl records in his featuring the works of a number of great composers: (two unidentified[source needed]), Haydn symphonies, Beethoven's 5th.
- The Doctor says that the Faraday cage will be extracted and taken by UNIT into space, where the ghosts will eventually disappear without the electromagnetic field of the Earth to sustain them.
Story notes Edit
- This episode adds an electric guitar counter-melody to the title theme, played by Capaldi himself, tying off of the Doctor playing Beethoven's Fifth Symphony on his electric guitar at the end of the cold opening. This is a one-off variant that is not repeated in the succeeding episodes.
- The Radio Times programme listing was accompanied by a small colour head-and-shoulders shot of the Doctor meeting Prentis, with the accompanying caption "Doctor Who / 8.25 p.m. / Raising the dead: the Doctor comes face-to-face with a reanimated Prentis (Paul Kaye)".
- The working title of the story (and the prior episode) was Ghost in the Machine. (DWM 492)
- According to an interview she gave on the US chat show Conan in September 2015, the clockwork squirrel glimpsed sitting on top of the Magpie speaker in the pre-credits sequence is now in the possession of Jenna Coleman.
Filming locations Edit
Caerwent Training Area
Production errors Edit
- The "Next Time" trailer for The Girl Who Died features an unfinished effects shot of Clara floating in space.
- The Fisher King's gun is missing when he sees the dam break up, but is back in his hand when he roars in defiance of the oncoming flood.
- The guitar amplifier at the start of the episode features the Magpie Electricals logo. (TV: The Idiot's Lantern)
- Upon the amplifier is the Doctor's clockwork squirrel. Clara had previously mentioned that the Doctor dismantled the TARDIS radio and used the parts to make the clockwork animal. (TV: Under the Lake)
- The Doctor uses his electric guitar. (TV: The Magician's Apprentice)
- Upon learning from the Doctor that they have travelled back in time to 1980, O'Donnell notes that it is pre-Harold Saxon (TV: The Sound of Drums / Last of the Time Lords) as well as "pre-the Moon exploding and a giant bat coming out." (TV: Kill the Moon)
- When O'Donnell notes that Bennett is throwing up, the Doctor says that time travel does that sometimes. (TV: The Caretaker) O'Donnell doubts that Rose, Martha and Amy did so on their first trips. (TV: The End of the World, The Shakespeare Code, The Beast Below)
- O'Donnell mentions the TARDIS is "bigger on the inside" (TV: An Unearthly Child, etc), but is one of the few to stay calm about it (momentarily). (TV: The Vampires of Venice, COMIC: Assimilation²)
- When meeting Albar Prentis, the Doctor notes that he has met Tivolians before and that he isn't "a fan." (TV: The God Complex) In that story, one ruined his plans and cost additional lives.
- The current masters of Tivoli who have sent Prentis to Earth to bury the Fisher King are the Arcateenians. (TV: Greeks Bearing Gifts, Invasion of the Bane)
- The Doctor says "I've had a good innings" when he prepares to meet his potential end. The Sixth Doctor said this right before regenerating in two differing accounts, AUDIO: The Brink of Death and PROSE: Spiral Scratch.
- The Doctor repeats the phrase "tick-tock" while contemplating his apparent death. During his previous incarnation's life, the Peg Dolls' nursery rhyme also used the phrase for the same purpose (TV: Night Terrors, The Wedding of River Song).
- The Doctor calls his current regeneration a "clerical error", referring to the fact that it is in fact the first of a new regeneration cycle, given to him by the Time Lords. (TV: The Time of the Doctor)
- This is the second time the Doctor has landed the TARDIS in a location at the height of the Cold War. (TV: Cold War)
- The Doctor has finally got around to patching the TARDIS phone back through the console unit. (TV: The Time of the Doctor)
- The Doctor tried before to fight time itself. (TV: The Waters of Mars) only then he went insane in his fight for victory.
- The Cloister Bell rings. (Logopolis et.al.) this is the second time in a row, having sounded only hours before. (TV: Under the Lake)
- Clara mentions the words the ghosts are saying. (TV: Under the Lake)
- The Doctor mentions that even the tiniest change of history can change the future. (TV: The Aztecs, et al)
- The Doctor tells the Fisher King that people who know they're going to die have nothing left to lost. His predecessor voiced a very similar sentiment when confronting the Mara during the Siege of Trenzalore. (PROSE: The Dreaming)
- Clara reminds the Doctor that he owes her and that it means he has to come back. (TV: The Magician's Apprentice)
- Clara tells the Doctor that she "isn't ready yet" to lose another person she cares for. (TV: Death in Heaven)
- The Doctor's blackboard is seen. (TV: Into the Dalek, Robot of Sherwood, Listen, Time Heist)
- The Doctor states that Earth is under his protection. (TV: The Christmas Invasion, The Eleventh Hour)
- The Doctor uses his enemies' resources against them. (TV: The End of the World, Tooth and Claw, The Shakespeare Code, Flatline, etc)
- The Eleventh Doctor also encountered a bootstrap paradox in the form of a Time Lord hypercube. (AUDIO: The Time Machine).
- Clara tells Bennett to trust that she knows what it feels like to see a loved one die. (TV: Dark Water/Death in Heaven)
- Security Protocol 712 is activated again. (TV: Blink) The protocol has been updated to use an image of the Twelfth Doctor who is seen wearing his formal Series 8 suit (last seen in TV: Death in Heaven, this is its only appearance in Series 9).
- The Doctor said the Fisher King played around with life and death. He previously told the Bad Wolf Rose Tyler to stop as she couldn't control it (TV: The Parting of the Ways)
- The Fisher King mentions how the Time Lords became the most warlike race in the galaxy. (TV: The End of Time, The Night of the Doctor, The Day of the Doctor) and how the Doctor is more willing to sacrifice himself rather than change the past or future, (TV: The Fires of Pompeii', The Time of the Doctor)
- The Doctor said his ghost was a hologram like the one made of Clara. (TV: Under the Lake)
- The Doctor mentions the base's day mode. (TV: Under the Lake)
- The Tenth Doctor had already claimed to have met Beethoven. (TV: The Lazarus Experiment, Music of the Spheres)
- The Doctor encountered a similar bootstrap paradox during his original incarnation, when he gave the idea of the Trojan Horse to the Greeks based upon accounts of that very incident. (TV: The Myth Makers) Another specific one was the "Fall of the Eleventh' Arc, which was complete accident on part of the Kovarian Chapter. (TV: The Time of the Doctor)
- Another bootstrap paradox was shown when the Tenth Doctor met the Fifth Doctor during an accidental melding of their two TARDISes (TV: Time Crash). The Twelfth Doctor uses a similar line as the Fifth Doctor, who remarks on the Tenth Doctor's solution to their dilemma, "You remembered being me watching you doing that. You already knew what to do because I saw you do it." A nearly identical scenario also occurs between two versions of the Eleventh Doctor in TV: Time.
- Clara also previously created such a paradox in TV: Listen in which she accidentally creates the nightmare that the Doctor later investigates; she creates a second one by implanting the concepts of "fear is a superpower" and "fear makes companions of us all" in the young Doctor's mind after hearing the Doctor utter them.
- When the Doctor goes back 30 minutes in time, he sees himself and watches the scene, much like when the Ninth Doctor and Rose did. (TV: Father's Day). He holds Bennett back from saving O'Donnell, fearing an incident like when Rose prevented her father's death.
- Upon arriving at the town in the 1980's, the Doctor licks his finger and raises it to the wind to confirm the date, as done previously by his predecessor. (TV: The Time of Angels)
Home video releases Edit
DVD releases Edit
The Witch's Familiar was released on DVD as part of "Doctor Who: Series 9, Part 1" on November 2 in region 2 and November 3 in region 1.
Blu-ray releases Edit
The Witch's Familiar was released on Blu-ray as part of "Doctor Who: Series 9, Part 1" on November 2 in region 2 and November 3 in region 1.