Doctor Who Round Table: Fisher King Fail

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Well, guess we were dealing with ghosts after all. Plus, a hologram Doctor.

Did you feel cheated by that hologram reveal? Were you surprised the Fisher King was so easily defeated or that the Doctor emerged from the stasis pod? Was the bootstrap paradox way too timey wimey for your taste?

Join TV Fanatics Kathleen Wiedel, Hank Otero and our friend Tom Gardiner from threeifbyspace.net as we chat about Doctor Who Season 9 Episode 4 in our latest Round Table discussion...

Dr Who Round Table 660px

How did you feel about the Doctor breaking the fourth wall in the cold open?

Kathleen: I found it entertaining, but it's probably something they should do sparingly. Fourth wall breaks, if overused or done badly, distract from the episode and confuse the audience.
 
Tom: I, like Kathleen, liked it and agree it's something that should be used infrequently. It felt a little like "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" which was a nice touch for what really ended up being a good old-fashioned ghost story (with aliens, time travel, & underwater nuclear reactors).

Hank: I also thought it was fun, and somehow makes the Doctor feel more relaxed. He was so damn grumpy last season, and this year the shades and electric guitar have rejuvenated Capaldi a bit. Sure, they might be trying too hard, but it's been fun so far.

Were you disappointed the Doctor's "ghost" was a hologram? What about the fact they were really dealing with ghosts?

Kathleen: Given the fact that we all knew that the Doctor wasn't going to die, I figured that they were going to cheat in some fashion. The fact that it was a hologram was foreshadowed with the Clara hologram in the first part. I found the fact that the rest of the ghosts were real and stuck like that forever (at least until they could be released into space and dispersed) downright tragic.
 
Tom: I was disappointed that it was such an easy "cheat", especially after I had this entire alternate-universe theory bouncing around in my conspiracy-loving head. The fact that the other dead people were really ghosts being controlled through some technology that the Doctor had never heard of was a bit odd. I know he can't know everything, but how many times has the Doctor exhibited the extent of his obscure encyclopedic knowledge? If some race somewhere had figured out how to harness souls after death you'd think the Time Lords would have heard about it.

Hank: I'm with Tom, I think the alternate-universe scenario you came up with in last week's round table would have been far more interesting. The hologram was a total cheat, and you're right Kathleen that Clara's hologram should have been a red flag. I think the ghosts being real opened up a whole can of worms they simply could not deal with in an hour. Will the writers revisit the topic this season? I certainly hope so, otherwise why bring ghosts into the Whoniverse?

Was the Fisher King fooled too easily? Did you know the Doctor was in the suspended animation chamber?

Kathleen: I thought it was pretty likely that the Doctor was in the cryo pod. It only became glaringly obvious when Security Protocol 712 activated, taking the TARDIS away. Therefore, since we knew the Doctor wasn't going to die, his only means of survival was that suspended animation chamber. I do feel compelled to point out that the last time we saw Security Protocol 712, "Blink," the TARDIS actually left its passengers behind. Maybe the Doctor's changed the protocol since then...? As for the Fisher King being fooled: he seemed supremely arrogant and assured of the success of his evil plan, but I figure that he knew that if anyone could throw a monkey wrench into it, it was the Doctor. That gnawing doubt would be more than enough reason to double check if the Doctor's lying. Which he totally was. (Side note: why didn't the Fisher King himself become a ghost of his own machine?)
 
Tom: At first I thought the Fisher King was a bit too easily fooled, but he was from a race the Doctor had apparently never heard of (and vice-versa, I assume), so maybe he didn't know of the Time Lord's reputation for pulling rabbits out of TARDISes. Maybe I've watched too much Doctor Who, but having the Doctor emerge from the stasis pod wasn't much of a surprise at all.

Hank: Yeah I totally expected the Doctor to pop out of the suspended animation chamber. I thought the Fisher King was going to be brighter, considering he managed to get souls to do his bidding as disembodied transmissions. However, I see Tom's point, the Fisher King had no idea what the Doctor was capable of so he fell for it. This was a fun adventure, but you just can't overanalyze it. 

Share your favorite line, moment or unexpected twist from the installment.

Kathleen: I loved, loved, loved it when Cass was being stalked by the Moran ghost. Her horrified realization through the vibrations in the floor was beautifully done.
 
Tom: Kathleen hit the nail on the head, at least for me. It was kind of a classic horror scene with the hearing-impaired Cass being slowly stalked by Moran's ghost dragging that axe along the metal floor.  The whole time my mind was screaming, "Feel the vibrations!" and then she stops, touches the floor and we see a Daredevil-esque (the crappy Affleck movie, not the excellent Netflix series) image of what she's feeling.

Hank: Same here, I mentioned in my review for Doctor Who Season 9 Episode 4 that the axe scene was not only creepy, but I loved how they used sound (or lack of sound) to add tension. I thought Cass proved to be a truly resourceful and strong woman. It was refreshing to see a hearing-impaired character not victimized but kicking ass. Let's have some more of that eh?

Escaping the Ax-wielding Ghost - Doctor Who Season 9 Episode 4

Overall was the "bootstrap paradox" entertaining or just too darn confusing?

Kathleen: Sadly, I didn't even need to Google the bootstrap paradox. At my house, it's the "Captain Kirk's Glasses" paradox: in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Dr. McCoy gives Kirk a pair of glasses as a birthday present. In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Kirk travels back in time and pawns the glasses for $100, knowing that Dr. McCoy will one day find the antique glasses and give them to him as a birthday present... So who made the glasses? It's worth noting that this is not the first time the bootstrap paradox has appeared in Doctor Who, perhaps most obviously the Children in Need special "Time Crash," when David Tennant's Tenth Doctor met Peter Davison's Fifth Doctor: "You remembered being me watching you doing that. You only knew what to do because I saw you doing it!" Less obviously, the bootstrap paradox was played for laughs in the 2011 Comic Relief short "Time," when Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor only knew which lever to throw ("The wibbley lever!") because his future self told him.
 
Tom: Since this time-travel trope is probably the most (over)used one of all, ahem, time, I liked the way they handled it. They just came right out and said what it was. No wasting time wondering where it began or expressions of false wonder at the paradox itself.  It was presented as a something that's bound to eventually happen when you time travel enough. Much like the magically-appearing cup of tea in "The Witch's Familiar" it was given no more wonder or explanation than said beverage. This was a simple, "he's the Doctor, just accept it," moment, really.

Hank: I admitted in my review that I Googled it... lame haha. I've heard this paradox called by other names, but "bootstrap" didn't ring a bell for me. Like I said above, this just wasn't one of those episodes you could analyze to death. The writers told us what type of paradox they were playing with and we just had to go along for the ride. I did feel confused about certain plot holes, but eventually gave up stressing about it. Was I entertained? Absolutely and that's the whole point, right?

Check out the teaser for Doctor Who Season 9 Episode 5, airing this Saturday.

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Doctor Who Season 9 Episode 4 Quotes

Doctor, such an honor. I've always been a huge admirer. This is really a delight. Finally, someone worth talking to.

The Doctor

The Doctor: What are you doing here?
Prentis: Ah yes, of course. This is the Fisher King. He and his armies invaded Tivoli and enslaved us for 10 glorious years.