…this is called “The Bootstrap Paradox”. Google it
So there’s this man. He has a time machine. Up and down history he goes, zip zip zip zip zip, getting into scrapes. Another thing he has is a passion for the works of Ludwig van Beethoven. And one day he thinks, “What’s the point of having a time machine “if you don’t get to meet your heroes?” So off he goes to 18th-century Germany. But he can’t find Beethoven anywhere. No-one’s heard of him, not even his family have any idea who the time traveller is talking about. Beethoven literally doesn’t exist. This didn’t happen, by the way. I’ve met Beethoven. Nice chap. Very intense. Loved an arm-wrestle. No, this is called “The Bootstrap Paradox”. Google it. The time traveller panics, he can’t bear the thought of a world without the music of Beethoven. Luckily he’d brought all his Beethoven sheet music for Ludwig to sign. So he copies out all the concertos and the symphonies… and he gets them published. He becomes Beethoven. And history continues with barely a feather ruffled. But my question is this. “Who put those notes and phrases together?” Who really composed Beethoven’s 5th?
I am really starting to enjoy these Twelfth Doctor openings. (and I hope the new theme song is sticking around)
We first encountered Tivolians in Toby Whithouse’s The God Complex, where Gibbis failed to impress the Eleventh Doctor – his old school motto was ‘Resistance is Exhausting’. It is interesting seeing a race of ‘cowards’, it’s almost like the Tivolians are a foil for the war-like aliens we usually see. Paul Kaye was terrific as the very funny Prentis.
Bennett: My first proper alien, and he’s an idiot.
Die with whoever comes after me. You do not leave me.
I am finding this new wholly-devoted Clara somewhat exhausting after a full Series 8 of her being suspicious of, arguing with the Doctor and constantly questioning his motives under the onerous influence of Danny Pink. Last week’s touch with the cards worked perfectly to show the alien dependent on the human for social niceties. I love the chemistry between the characters. But the emotional bond between the two of them feels heavy-handed, as if they are making up for lost time. Hopefully the writers won’t spend an entire series working towards a companion leaving next time, by the end of Series 9 they’ll have been writing Jenna out for two of them.
The Doctor talks to the Doctor
There is nothing as delightful as watching the Doctor talk to himself, even if this one was a ghost/hologram of himself.
The Doctor: Doctor. Such an honour. I’ve always been a huge admirer. This is really a delight. Finally someone worth talking to.
The Brave One Dies
Of of the odd couple of Bennett and O’Donnell, it’s inevitable that the brave one is going to die, especially when that brave one is a huge fan of the Doctor. O’Donnell’s scenes with the Doctor, where she casually displayed her encyclopaedic knowledge of his travels and companions, were fantastic. So there really should have been more time spent on her death and the aftermath, which was completely overshadowed by Bennett’s accusation that the Doctor let O’Donnell so he could test a theory, making most of those scenes about the Doctor, and not O’Donnell.
…always do what has to be done
The wonderful irony in this two-part episode is that the women are much braver than the men. In fact Lunn and Bennett are about the antithesis of a ‘typical’ soldier, which was explored in detail last series. It had already been discovered that as Lunn had not seen the writing inside the tomb he was perfectly safe from the ghosts, so Clara was not really putting him at risk when she sent him out to retrieve their only means of communication with the Doctor, her phone. But her calm demeanour when she was accused by Cass of not caring about other people’s lives was interesting. The old Clara would have flared up at such a statement. The new Clara is more unfeeling – which is, of course, supposed to be a reflection of the Doctor.
The Fisher King
The Fisher King was portrayed by three actors. Neil Fingleton, who is one of the 25 tallest men in the world at 7 ft 7.56 in (2.33 m), was under the suit. Peter Serafinowicz, who also voiced Darth Maul in Star Wars: Phantom Menace, voiced the Fisher King and Slipknot’s Corey Taylor was brought especially to do the Roar of the Fisher King. The exchange between the Fisher King and the Doctor was superb.
Fisher King: Time Lords. Cowardly, vain curators who suddenly remembered they had teeth and became the most warlike race in the galaxy. But you, you! You are curious. You have seen the words, too. I can hear them tick inside you. But you are still locked in your history. Still slavishly protecting Time. Willing to die rather than change a word of the future.
Cass Stalked by the Ghost
This really was a fantastic scene where we “hear” with Cass’s senses. Sophie Stone really nailed this, and along with the sound and visuals, it was the stand-out scene of the episode. Narrowly followed by…
The Doctor Releases the Dam
The Fisher King’s death is a memorable one, as he waits with arms outstretched for the roaring water of the dam to overwhelm him.
Obvious, but fun all the same.
Who composed Beethoven’s 5th?
Infodumps in Doctor Who are usually clever and fun enough not to be annoying, but Peter Capaldi’s style of engaging the audience makes them work especially well, answering Clara’s, and the audience’s, lingering questions one by one.
Next time, Maisie Williams guest stars in The Girl Who Died.