Doctor Who - Series 9, Episode 3

Under the Lake

Is Reece Morris-Jones waving or drowning as he watches Under the Lake...

Doctor Who has had it's problems in the past season. From cold emotionless stories that still expect us to care about the characters, a new Doctor still finding his way and stories that think they are smart but are actually pretty dumb, it's been in a bit of creative slump.

The first two episodes of this season showed promise and episode 3 is the best yet. A two part episode written by the same guy who wrote Being Human, it's a science fiction ghost story that seems to be using the extra time to introduce pacing and smatterings of characterization, to an otherwise standard 'base under siege' story. It's those unique elements that make the episode so lets start with the best thing; the monsters.

Which is just as well then, because the monsters are good. Well, more than good. Horrifying. Though they're a little more high tech than the monsters of old, they demonstrate that same ethic that made them work; taking the everyday and twisting it just so, that you are left with the terrifying.

These hollow eyes ghouls menace the Doctor and Clara and the surviving members of an underwater UNIT exploration team, only coming out a 'night' on the base and seemingly unstoppable. The reveal as to reasons behind their actions ties is nicely to the big mystery of the episode, namely an alien spaceship with a space coffin inside, mysterious writing etched on the interior of the ships hull.

Also of note is the inclusion of a deaf mute character who communicates via a translator and is in a command position. Though it doesn't quite make exact sense and you can hear the lines that excuse her inclusion clunking into place every few scenes it is a welcome inclusion. All the talk of 'Social Justice Warriors' by certain elements of online culture (or as I call them; the moronic element) obscures the fact that Doctor Who is the perfect vessel for this kind of representation, acting as inspiration to children that they too can achieve whatever they want in a not too obtrusive way.

Other than that there isn't much to say about the episode. As usual Clara isn't really given much to do, other than run away from monsters and be a counterpart to a rather acidic Doctor. It was a funny inclusion to see just how this Doctor has to practice social interaction as he doesn't quite understand it.

This also smartly and retroactively explains the behavior of this Doctor so far - if he's so removed as to be the Doctor more out of curiosity and self aggrandisement than altruism, then it explains his behavior without undercutting it by suggesting something that doesn't ring true.

Bar the ending, which was completely pointless when it came to the dramatic stakes, it was a good well rounded episode that introduced a slower pace to a show that so far hasn't had time to breathe of late. Let's see what next week brings.

Image - BBC