Doctor Who: Under the Lake

Another two-parter! Which is a little annoying as we're extremely unlikely to get a chance to watch the next one live ... OK so fewer people I read/follow online seem to be talking about Doctor Who so there's less chance of inadvertent spoilers, but even so it's a bit annoying to have to wait even longer to find out what happens!

SPOILERS AHEAD! Hover mouse over text to read, or read on entry page:

Felt like a very classic Who episode in some ways - a locked base episode with running down corridors as the dominant activity, complete with monster of the week that baffles/intrigues the Doctor and a Reason the TARDIS won't be terribly useful. A big difference, tho, was that once the Doctor introduces himself everyone (nearly?) is all "oh, the Doctor, UNIT, yes we know these things", he probably didn't even need the psychic paper. So we don't have so much faffing about with people trying to assert authority (except Pritchard and it was quickly established he was the one no-one was going to miss when he died).

Ended with a somewhat less easy to unpick cliff-hanger than the last one. I mean, it's again obvious that the Doctor isn't dead just like Clara & Missy weren't. But I've less of any idea of how they're sorting it out: teleport seems less plausible ... holograms? we've had that flagged as a possibility by the Clara-hologram in the "faraday" cage room (so not a faraday cage, but hey it's science fantasy not science fiction, that's the mantra to keep in mind). J pointed out that two of the deaths previously were off-stage with no body visible (top-hat-alien dude and the heroic commander) so maybe the ghosts don't require death to be formed, but in the case of Pritchard the Creepy Corporation Guy we did actually see his body so that too seems less than plausible. We'll find out in a week (or two) I guess :)

I liked that Cass (second in command, deaf) was characterised primarily as "cleverest in the room when the Doctor steps out" and "sensible", and deaf was not her defining feature. I think it's going to turn out to be plot relevant though - we had her skill at lip reading used this episode. But the thing we had flagged up several times during the episode and not resolved was that she won't let her translator into the ship because it's dangerous. So she's perceiving something the others aren't - could be just she's the cleverest one, but also maybe not a coincidence that "earworm" was the analogy the Doctor chose?

Odd little interlude in the middle with the Doctor cautioning Clara about "going native", and the offhand reference to the TARDIS only being big enough for one of him. Clara as wannabe-Doctor or Apprentice Doctor (to be more fair) has been a running theme for most of the time she's been in the show. That and her seeming inability to take any of the threats seriously - it's all an adventure and she quickly forgets/doesn't care about the risks. They'll win in the end, right? No-one important dies ... Which sits oddly against the compassion>* theme of the previous episode. So, yes, odd. Also odd was the Doctor being again ill at ease with the social politnesses of human society - I have a feeling that Moffat Who in general has been keen to use such things to play up the alieness of the Doctor. But it doesn't sit well with me - in that I don't expect the Doctor to need cue cards and Clara's help to remember to say "oops, yes, sorry for your loss" when he tactlessly holds forth about the exciting possibilities of someone's friend's death. I do think the tactlessness in the first place is in character tho ;)

I don't think the titles have anything particularly season-arc significant about them after all, in fact I'm at a loss there - either there's nothing obvious for the red-thread running through the season or I'm being dumb. Both are eminently possible ... and I did forget to look for the wedding ring this time, I don't think it was a shoved under our metaphorical noses. I like that the sunglasses are a Thing that we appear to be keeping - fits with the "don't believe what you see" sort of themes too, changing perceptions though the right lenses etc. Even if not significant to the arc (if they're not) titles are still interesting to think about - I so rarely notice titles (yes, I know, bad reader/viewer, no biscuit) that I forget to think about how they tie into what they're titling. Under the Lake still pings as Arthurian to me, and we do have a sword popping up as prominent feature of the episode, abeit not literally. Before the Flood is more biblical tho: the sinful world before it was cleansed. And an Ark, a survival pod if you will ...

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Comments

The reason she doesn't let her translator in the ship is perhaps just a plot device. He's never seen the markings on the wall, which is the reason the ghost doesn't kill him later in the episode even though it's got him cornered. Later on in the episode the Doctor explains that point without making reference to the translator. No point killing until you've had the image imprinted... So I think what will be relevant in the next episode is that he can move freely... But perhaps she does have perception too... You never know. :)

I like it. Classic Who tension building in episode 1... :)

Well, yes, that's the obvious reason for having someone who hasn't seen it. It's just that she made such a point of forbidding him to go in when he wanted to because "it was dangerous" - you could've achieved the same thing by having him say "nah, I don't investigate anything, my job is to stay back and translate" without making it about her awareness of danger. And she didn't stop him from running round the ship being bait for the ghosts when everyone thought they might kill him ... tho that may well fall into the category of plot-hole ;)