In 1941, esteemed science fiction author Robert Heinlein published a short story titled “By His Bootstraps”. In it, a scholar Mr. Wilson writing a thesis on metaphysics and time travel, is met by individuals claiming to be from the future. After a series of argumentative and even physical confrontations, Wilson is brought to the future and becomes a man of great power, and realizes after some period that he must inherently become one of those individuals venturing back to meet his former self, and ensure the process occurs as it had. The story concludes, however, with his reflection on who (if anyone) first set him on the path to future greatness, if he himself was the one who continually circles back to assist his ‘predecessor’.
Toby Whithouse has taken this inspiration and forged a conclusion to the previous “Under the Lake” ghost tale that is not only unexpected, but when viewed as a two-episode set, makes for a most glorious return to the timey-wimey story manipulation that so many Whovians revel in. What we thought we understood of a deep-sea siege with spectral overtones suddenly becomes a paradoxical challenge to the Laws of Time, and our good Doctor once again has to stare hard at the immutability of the “known future”, the morality of “risking one to save all”, and other elements of Doctor Who that make for most enjoyable episodes…and series.
This week, we stare into the dead eyes of our own electromagnetic residual images in “Before the Flood”, and wonder if the Bootstrap Paradox and its seemingly inescapable causal loops are the greater villain than the underutilized Fisher King.
- A Little Circuitous Explanation of the Bootstrap Paradox
- Toby Whithouse on Sonic Sunglasses and the Bootstrap Paradox
- Video Interview with Toby Whithouse
- Yes, Capaldi Did Actually Riff Over the Opening Credits
- Official Synopses Released for Episodes 5 & 6