The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), transporting O’Donnell (Morven Christie) and Bennett (Asher Ali) in the TARDIS, lands in a Scottish town in 1980, before it will be flooded. That day, an alien craft landed there. It has the familiar stasis chamber, two power cells, but no glyphs on the walls. They are met by a Tivolian funeral director named Prentis (Paul Kaye), whom O’Donnell recognizes as one of the ghosts in the future. He has come to Earth to bury the Fisher King (body by Neil Fingleton, voice by Peter Serafinowicz), the Tivolians’ enslaver.
In 2119, the ghost of the Doctor appears outside the mining facility and mouths the names of Prentis, the Doctor, and Clara (Jenna Coleman). Clara sends this to the Doctor in the past, who is dismayed to know his own future. The Fisher King, still alive, escapes from the stasis chamber, kills Prentis, and scratches the glyphs on the walls. He then takes the stasis chamber to the church and kills O’Donnell. People are dying in the same order as the ghost list. The Doctor and Bennett try to return to the future to save Clara, but the TARDIS sends them back half an hour.
The Fisher King confronts the Doctor. The glyphs and the ghosts will send a signal attracting an armada that will enslave humanity. The Doctor says he erased the glyphs, and when the Fisher King runs to the ship to check, the Doctor uses the power cell to destroy the dam, flooding the town and killing the Fisher King. In the future, the Doctor’s ghost releases the other ghosts from the Faraday Cage. Clara, Cass (Sophie Stone) and Lunn (Zagi Ismail) are cornered in the hangar bay. The stasis chamber opens, revealing the Doctor, who used it to survive the flood. He created his ghost to lure the ghosts to the Faraday Cage until UNIT can come to take it away. He removed the memory of the glyphs from everybody’s mind.
In the prologue, the Doctor plays notes from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony on the electric guitar. Prentis has business cards reading: May the Remorse be with You. The opening theme was accompanied by Peter Capaldi on electric guitar. Fans loved it. The episode received mainly positive reviews, with praise for Capaldi and Coleman, and the pretty terrifying Fisher King. Sophie Stone (Cass) was the first deaf student in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. The Doctor speaks to the audience, which only William Hartnell and Tom Baker did before him.
Neil Fingleton, who played the Fisher King, was the tallest man in the UK. Peter Serafinowicz, who did the voice, played opposite Karen Gillan in Guardians of the Galaxy. Corey Taylor did the wonderful roar. The Doctor calls what he did a bootstrap paradox, referring to a Robert Heinlein story “By His Bootstraps.” Another bootstrap episode was “Listen,” in which the Doctor tells Clara something that she later tells the Doctor as a child in the past. The Doctor, apparently, sacrificed O’Donnell to save Clara.