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Doctor Who - Under the Lake - Review: "It's a ghost story"

© BBC Pictures
Episode: 9.03 "Under the Lake"
Directed by: Daniel O'Hara
Written by: Toby Whithouse
Air date: 3 October 2015

Reviews so far:
Episode 9.01 - "The Magician's Apprentice"
Episode 9.02 - "The Witch's Familiar"

This week seems more like a standard Doctor Who episode. But the monsters/aliens of the week are pretty much ghosts. It's a good start of another 2-part story, though I haven't enjoyed it as much as the last one. I do like the fact we're getting to see more of Twelve's interactions with humans, as he's still pretty terrible at that and we're taking a closer look at Clara and her ongoing changes. It also appears that ending the episode with either Clara or the Doctor seemingly dead is starting to become this season's tradition. Let's see where this goes. Can't wait for next week's conclusion.

Clara's choice
Clara has certainly changed since the episode we met her. The one thing that kept getting clearer last season is that she's not just the Doctor's companion, his friend, but she's actually trying to become more like him. Despite his flaws and often the lack of understanding of the human concepts and emotions, Clara's been following his footsteps for quite a while now. But it's possible it was never really as obvious as this week when the Doctor himself confronted her with his suspicion about that. "There’s a whole dimension in here. But there’s only room for one… me." said by the Doctor is a great starting point for a long time coming discussion about Clara. First the Doctor's regeneration, then Danny's death and the aftermath hit her hard. And now, with her return to the adventures in the TARDIS, she's becoming almost addicted to the danger and the monsters. She's Clara, the one preparing the Doctor the cards with the proper respectful response to the emotional conversation, but she's also someone far too willing to risk her life in the next adventure they're starting. Her job as a teacher has become more of a hobby and her real work now is saving the world. It seems impossible to come back from that, from fighting over such high stakes and seeing all the wonders, even the dark ones, of the universe. Hopefully she hasn't crossed the point of no return, as I'd to see Clara ending her journey with the Doctor only to start another, finding her place in the world with both peace and passion in her heart. In this episode, Clara and the Doctor find themselves under the lake facing what appears to be the actual ghosts. And despite a few clever ideas, we end the hour with Clara trapped with two other crew members and confronted with the fact that her best friend now appears to be a ghost as well. Looks like next week, Clara might just get her chance to be the Doctor once again.

The Doctor's idea
The Doctor loves a good mystery and this one - with the "proper ghosts" at the centre - had him really excited at one point. He's obviously his usual self and I really enjoyed the cards idea and how crazy and awkward can his behavior be for others. He's also very much using and having fun with the new sonic glasses. I'm still not sold on this change but he's making it work pretty well. The Doctor is getting worried about Clara, though, with all the risks she's taking without a good consideration, he's showing how much he really cares about her by confronting her about the issue. Also, like often before, the Doctor ends up with some of the best and funniest quotes of the hour! And with the final scene of the episode, I can't wait to see what happened after the Doctor left in the TARDIS.

The Crew's adventure
Quite a standard group for an adventure episode, complete with a guy always looking for a profit, even in the face of death, none of the characters really stood out for me but they were still fun to watch. Bennett acting as bait to guide the ghosts, Cass' strong personality and the way she cares for her crew, Lunn the translator and O'Donnell, a straightforward fan of the Doctor and UNIT's work - all the little things made for a good team and I'm rooting for them to figure their way out of this situation. Also, I'm interested to see how things we'll go with the Doctor, O'Donnell and Bennet in the TARDIS and everyone else in a long-submerged town.

The proper ghosts
Though not exactly the ghosts, the creatures, including the one taking form of the crew's killed commanding officer, Moran, managed to really surprise and impress the Doctor for a while. It turns out that someone is actually creating transmitters sending the signal with the unknown location - coded in words: "the dark, the sword, the forsaken, the temple". And the message gets stronger with every dead man who has read the symbols on the inside of the alien ship (which are also the same co-ordinates but in written form). Sounds like quite a complicated plan to put in motion. Obviously, I can't not mention the new ghost appearing at the end of the episode - the Doctor's. Either something went really well or... Would love to know where the message leads and who's behind this.

Whovian notes and questions:
1. How did you enjoy this new episode? Do you prefer these "case of the week" ones?
2. Any thoughts about Clara's change? What do you wish to see for the character on her last season?
3. Ghosts - echoes or monsters? What's your take on the new threat?
4. The Doctor as the new ghost - any guesses, theories on how he's getting out of this one?

Memorable quotes:
1. Doctor: "Who’s in charge here? I need to know who to ignore."
2. Doctor: "These people are literally, actually dead! Wow. This is amazing! I’ve never actually met a proper ghost."
3. Doctor: "I’m very sorry for your loss. I’ll do all I can to solve the death of your friend/family member/pet."
4. Bennett: "Sorry, have you gone insane? We can go home. Well, they’re ghosts though. How can they be ghosts? Well, at least if I die, you know I really will come back and haunt you all."
5. Doctor: "Clara, why don’t I have a radio in the Tardis?"
Clara: "You took it apart and used the pieces to make a clockwork squirrel."


What did you think about "Under the Lake"? Any favorite scenes, quotes or theories? Feel free to let us know in the comments. And check out the trailer and episode info for the next week's "Before the Flood" here. As always, thanks for reading!

Justyna JJ Kubica
23. SpoilerTV Writer. Loves Movies (especially Marvel Cinematic Universe), TV Shows (The 100, Agents Of SHIELD, Teen Wolf, Sherlock, Person Of Interest, Supernatural (especially 1-5), The Musketeers, Agent Carter, The Flash, Doctor Who, Fringe, Psych and many more) and Books (Harry Potter!). Fantasy & SciFi geek! Scene Of The Week articles author. Writes reviews for Doctor Who, Sherlock & The Musketeers. Member of SpoilerTV team since 27th November 2011.
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