Okay, last week’s episode was another two parter, hence the delay. …Also midterms. Sorry about that. From now on, I’ll just assume every episode is a two parter. On to the episodes ‘Under the Lake’ and ‘Before the Flood’
WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS FOR DOCTOR WHO SERIES 9 EPISODES 3 AND 4
The Doctor and Clara arrive at an underwater mining base in the year 2119 that’s been attacked by ghosts, as the result of an unearthed alien vessel found by base’s crew three days prior. These ghosts are homicidal trying to kill the crew during the base’s night hours. Now the Doctor and Clara must figure out what’s going on, how to stop it, and what it has to do with the spaceship.
Alright, first off, let’s talk about the supporting cast. The second I saw Prichard, played by Steven Robertson, I instantly knew he was gonna be like the guy from the ‘Silence in the Library’ two parter from series 4. Low and behold, I was right. What I thought was really interesting was that the main supporting characters are all women and people of colour. Heck, the one in charge is a deaf woman and is the next smartest after the Doctor. Major props to Sophie Stone (Who is deaf herself) for her portrayal as Cass. That was a nice touch and I like that they made that decision…also she’s apparently Toph. …You’ll understand when you see it. The rest of the cast does really well as well, mostly the women. Or, maybe it’s better to say their performances stood out to me more.
Anyone else notice that Clara’s beginning to act more like the Doctor in this season? Either hanging out with Missy has rubbed off on her or it’s been sometime between the Christmas special and this season. Speaking of which, the main cast are still going strong. Capaldi’s Doctor’s excitement about the ghosts is held in check by Clara’s humanity, but she also sees the Doctor’s point of view. I can’t help but think this season is giving Clara a lot of PTSD and dejavu. That’s two stories in a row that’s had something to do with something she’s dealt with in the past. Maybe the ‘Clara Doctor’ attitude is a coping mechanism? The 12th Doctor, from what I’ve seen seems to have caught up with his age physically (Matt Smith’s Doctor being more of an old man in a young man’s body), but his style seems to be more modern. It’s kinda cool to see an older person play electric guitar, have a dark sense of humour, and such.
This is the ‘base under siege’ story that was common during Classic Doctor Who. Yes, the revived series has done a bunch of them before, but they’re doing something new with it. An isolated undersea base with homicidal ghosts? That’s definitely new. The name drop to UNIT and the fact that all of the supporting characters know who and what the Doctor is a nice touch. Saves time on explaining things. The fact we get to go outside in part 2 instead of sticking in the base the whole time is nice as well. Also, there are so many references to classic Doctor Who, this season looks to be continuing the anniversary flow they had in the previous story. This one’s just more subtle about it than the last one.
The effects on the ghosts is pretty good, though the few times they look solid make me scratch my head compared to every other time they’re on screen. The makeup on the aliens is also really good. The big spoiler in part 2 was also really creepy. The whole two parter is really creepy, honestly and rightfully so for a ghost story. This one is far better than ‘Hide’ from series 7. Sorry Matt, but it’s probably because it doesn’t involve a psychic and ghost hunters, but scientists…real ones. The twist at the end was clever, even if I did call half of it during The Doctor’s confrontation with the Spoiler.
The second part also takes time out of the prologue scene to explain some time travel theory to the audience to help them understand better, similar to what happened last season in ‘Listen’. That was helpful.
All in all, I liked this episode. It’s a great follow up to the last story and I think I’ve gotten used to the Sonic Sunglasses by now. So that helps. It’s a nice use of time travel theory and is suspenseful, even if you already now the Doctor and Clara are gonna make it out okay. Go watch it. Another two parter is next so, I’ll be back with another review after ‘The Woman Who Lived’.
(Photo via BBC)