After an hour of brilliantly claustrophobic material in an underwater base, the Doctor travels back to 1980, and the village that was flooded. It was abandoned several years previously, and had been dressed as a typical street in the Soviet Union for Cold War-era military intelligence training. It reminded me a little of “Target” in The New Avengers. There and then, we meet the sniveling alien undertaker whose ghost was setting the events of 2119 in motion, and a great big alien menace called the Fisher King.
I absolutely love “Before the Flood,” and told our son that this two-parter is among my very favorite Doctor Who adventures. He not only agreed that the second half was better than the first – 45 minutes of creepiness and scares locked in a base with no way out? no, he wasn’t completely happy, no – but said “the second part more than made up for the first part, it made up for some bad parts in some other Doctor Who stories I didn’t like.”
I think this is an incredibly intelligent and very surprising story that uses time travel really well, introduces a character who’s familiar with the Doctor and has read about some of his 21st century adventures, introduces another character who’s even more familiar with the Doctor and the Time Lords and how bloodthirsty they got in the Time War, and it does them effortlessly, without sounding like it’s bogging down with fannish references. The resolution turns out to be a really clever example of the “bootstrap paradox,” which is delightful, and the acting and the direction are simply full of clever surprises. I love it to pieces and want Toby Whithouse to come back and write more for this show.