The third episode of Doctor Who‘s Season 9, “Under the Lake”, is another two parter. The TARDIS lands in an underwater base, but she not happy about it. Clara, on the other hand, is thrilled. She wants an adventure with monsters and running and such. They get just that, in abundance, as it appears that the base is haunted by two spirits; one an alien who looks like a Gentlemen from BtVS, and the base commander who we see killed at the beginning of the episode. The Doctor must figure out what the spirits want before they kill everyone on the base.
There were more bits I like than didn’t this time. I liked the Doctor talking to the TARDIS when they first arrived, with him more interested in finding out what was bothering her than indulging Clara’s craving for “adventure.” The cloister bell ringing was a great way for the TARDIS to try to warn the Doctor, even though he just ignored her, as usual. I also liked how giddy the Doctor got at the prospect of possibly meeting real, “live,” ghosts. The running around the base, trying to lure the ghosts to the Faraday cage without them realizing that’s what they were doing was actually a clever use of “running through corridors.” I also really liked the Doctor’s interactions with the crew of the base. His call for who was in charge for him to ignore was classic, and his dismissive attitude toward Pritchard was great. O’Donnell’s almost fanish reaction to meeting the Doctor was cute, while the Doctor’s almost grudging respect toward Cass was a pleasant surprise.
I loved that Cass, a deaf woman, became the next in charge after Moran and Pritchard. You didn’t have to hear her to know how she felt. She portrayed her emotions incredibly well. She had the foresight to keep her interpreter, Lunn, out of the alien craft, thereby protecting him, and the common sense to want to get out of there after Pritchard was dead. The fact that the Doctor recognized her as the next most intelligent person there (after him of course) says a lot about her character, since it is rare for the Doctor to recognized most humans like that.
This episode had some gag moments, such as the cards the Doctor could refer to in order to seem more sympathetic. I prefer Clare being his Carer; she cares so he doesn’t have to. I’m not sure about the scene in the TARDIS, where the Doctor feigned concern for Clara. I preferred to read it as the Doctor not wanting Clara to act so much like him. There only needs to be one Doctor and one companion, not two Doctors. The psychic paper identifying the Doctor as from UNIT was a nice touch, since it gave him a lot more leeway than usual.
I’m going to say this episode was okay, but I’m reserving full judgement until I see the second part. I’ve liked some of the episodes writer Toby Whithouse has done for the show previously, namely “The God Complex” and “School Reunion,” so hopefully this one will end up being one I do like. It’s nice that he got to bring back the Tivoli, a race that he had created for “The God Complex.” At least it’s off to a good start with more things that I liked than disliked.