Ghost on an underwater base! That’s what the Doctor and Clara are facing this week. But can they solve the problem of the ghosts and rescue the crew? Between a mystery spacecraft and a suspended animation chamber found in a submerged church the answers lie in the past where the Doctor must go and leave Clara to a potential deadly fate.
Season 9’s formate is very two-part centric thus far. Now, I can’t tell if this is good or bad. Two parts are great when you have a great two-part story. Two-parts are bad if you are just trying to pad a series out. We won’t know until next week if part two confirms my suspicion that the first four weeks of series 9 could have been reduced into two week.
Compared to the lacklustre opening with Davros and a bunch of chit-chats, this week has a bit more happening. The Doctor meets a group of scientist/oil miners based in an underwater town. They have recovered a spacecraft from the town, which was flooded when a broken dam some years back. While the Doctor and the crew try to work out what the ghosts are, if in fact they actually are ghosts, he notices pieces missing from the ship. The crew attempts to trick and trap the ghosts in order to learn what they are/what they want. Having successfully done so the ghosts trip the nuclear reactor and flood the base. With Clara trapped the Doctor vows to go back in time to the point where the spaceship landed/crashed and solve the problem. Clara is shocked when moments after the Doctor leaves she see something is floating in the water outside the base….it is the Doctor, he’s been turned into a ghost sometime in the past.
I said it in my last review, can we please think up other storylines that do not involve the Doctor dying? I mean really. How many times can we watch him die? The more he ‘dies’ the less of an impact it is when he’s in danger. So the cliffhanger for this episode has already left me rolling my eyes.
Now onto the ghosts and the rest of the story; there was more happening this episode than the opening two. It was as close to a standard part 1 of 2 than we’ve seen recently. The style of the episode is like Cold Blood/Hungry Earth & The Almost People/Rebel Flesh. When it comes to things happening in part 1, they happen. It’s not weighed down entirely with plotless exposition. I think the ghosts were scary looking, I wouldn’t want to see them in a dark hallway. I do wonder if they could have been more threatening. Now don’t bite my head off, I know they killed people and that’s bad stuff! I just wonder if they could have been more threatening to increase the episode’s adrenaline and urgency to work it out. Similar to say Mummy on the Orient Express or even Waters of Mars.
There might have been a hint with what will happen to Clara by the end; the Doctor worries she has become a thrill seeker for these big scary adventures and if she’s not careful it could be the end of her. As a companion she’s been through a lot with the Doctor. She’s been ripped apart through time and died multiple times, been put back together, watched the 11th Doctor die, and lost Danny Pink. If I cared about Clara and her storyline(s), which I don’t because she’s terrible, there is a real chance to play up on her past experiences and see how, if someone isn’t careful, life with the Doctor can be very dangerous. This was an idea I was hoping Steven Moffat was going to play with when it came to the Ponds, after Rory expressed how dangerous it was to travel with him. Sadly this wasn’t done and they were ‘lost in time’ in the weakest way possible. Will this happen with Clara?
Sonic glasses. Some fans aren’t pleased with the departure of the sonic screwdriver. I understand, it’s like batman without his utility belt, but sometimes that’s a good thing. I think the only drawback is the style. While Peter looks dope in his ray bans, perhaps a more quirky and more Doctor-ish style would have been more suitable. However, for cosplayers it sure makes it easy to dress like the 12th Doctor. But style concerns aside, I’m glad to see the Sonic taking a much needed backseat.
So far Under the Lake could shape up to be a decent story. Part 2 will confirm this. But I echo my earlier concern: let’s not have two parters just because we want them. The story must demand it. What did you think?
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