By Ken Parker
After watching a fairly good and sort of creepy episode in "Under the Lake" I was eager to see how the story would conclude, thinking that we were in store for a Moffat like tale from the Russel T. Davies era. What we got was something that resembled that quality but not quite.
With expectations a bit high I am reminded of the highly disappointing season 6 where yet again, the Doctor is killed but it ended up not being him but an easy and depressingly underwhelming out. In this story, we see that the Doctor will soon be dead and the Doctor now must work harder in keeping his companion alive. None of the audience is thinking that the Doctor is really dead - no one is that stupid but the producers and writers might think that. It is "how will the Doctor get out of this one" and it better be good because audiences are more sophisticated these days. We won't go for "a dream" or "a hologram" or some"lame timey wimey explanation." Well, okay, I guess we have no choice.
Anyhow, so we have all that. We have the Fisher King plan. Okay, you win. Boneless from "Flatline" is no longer the stupidest name in Doctor Who. Fisher King is unimaginative but the lest of our problems. So his plan is convoluted so that it results in deaths and tension. Do the writers have only 2 days to write these stories?
The Doctor has a few of his usual revelations where he figures things out, tricks the audience here and there, comes up with a brilliant answer and finishes the plot in another sky punching moment. Well done Doctor.
So we have a few more things. That 4th wall scene is a great monologue that would have worked better with him addressing another character and not the viewers. Some shows have to condescend to their audiences but Doctor Who feels it must remind us that they do it better than most series by actually having the Doctor speaking directly to us.
A few more notes - The aliens who constantly get take over is a neat concept until the writer went way too far with it. An entire race gets off on being controlled by other aliens - please....
The pacing, effects, namely the Fisher king design and characters are all handled well in this story and after a second viewing I enjoyed some of these elements even more. Having a deaf character in the story was great and a good step forward. It wasn't forced.
I do like the entire "Bootstrap Paradox" idea. It often exists in sci-fi but in this case, the Doctor makes reference to it. I think it was handled better this time than with the whole season 6 linking story, which in some ways is the same plot as this.