It's Week 3 of the new series of Doctor Who, and it's the start of another two-parter, "Under the Lake".
I have to admit that I wasn't looking terribly forward to this episode. Blah, blah, ghosts, ghosts don't exist, blah, blah, we're trapped down here. I'm glad I misjudged it because it ended up being a really interesting episode!
Underwater. Scotland. 2119. Sounds about right.
The crew has pulled up an underwater spaceship, which looks a little LEGO to me. This seems to be a bit of a motley crew -- military (including a deaf woman with her hearing companion), scientists, corporate goon. There is strange writing. There are shifty shadows. There is a ghosty-looking guy with a Play-doh face and a top hat. Play-doh Man launches at the oil company guy, and the ship starts up. The Big Guy pushes deaf woman out of the way of propellor jet, sacrificing himself. They all run and escape, except Big Guy is now Big Ghost!
Three days later, we're still on the base and hear the TARDIS sound. The TARDIS isn't happy. Clara is whiny -- I wouldn't be happy, either. The base looks abandoned, but The Doctor reckons it hasn't been for long -- 7-8 hours. No high fives for you, Clara.
The Doctor spots Play-doh and Big Ghost and shouts "Hello, sailors!" -- but those are ghosts! They are, in fact, curious ghosts.
The TARDIS isn't translating the strange writing. The ghosts are arming themselves and attacking -- but only briefly, then walking through the wall, not taking the weapons with them. There is some more creepy grabbing and floating, and the base's crew comes to the rescue, shouting for The Doctor and Clara to join them! The ghosts are mouthing but can't get in the pod with them. I think Cass's deafness is going to quickly become an asset (for lipreading).
The Doctor speaks sign! Wait, no he doesn't (he has deleted it for semaphore -- much more useful!). The ghosts are cowardly, despite their attacking. The Doctor realises they are in a Faraday cage. At "morning", which is artificial thanks to being so far below the surface, they can go out -- ghosts only come out at night. (And, yes, I am singing it, too.)
There is a sense of a greedy capitalist undertone to all this so far. The company guy has made the call that they won't abandon the base because there is so much expensive equipment there -- he doesn't want to lose his bonus. He also has to correct himself: "I image they are pretty valuable -- I mean powerful". I don't mind a moral to a story, but I could do without some of the preachier moments of years past; hopefully it doesn't go on forever.
It's interesting to note that there is no sign of sonic anything yet either.
They ARE ghosts! Despite The Doctor swearing they don't exist, they clearly do. Other things didn't exist until they did. Flashback to some of The Doctor's previous issues -- Flesh Avatars, Autons, etc.
Clara has apology cards for The Doctor! All-purpose apologies, how lovely! I want a set for myself. Could be useful.
Everyone has questions for the dead. Death is no longer the universally constant -- for everyone but Time Lords, of course. Right? The Doctor is as excited to talk to ghosts as he was to meet Shirley Bassey. Aw, even The Doctor gets starstruck.
Night mode engages suddenly. There is clanging, and The Doctor identifies it as the TARDIS cloister bell. The TARDIS was unhappy because she doesn't want to be near aberrations (and, I'm willing to bet, also because Clara was whiny). How do you solve her unhappiness? You don't; you "put the handbrake on". This gives The Doctor and Clara to have a bit of touchy-feely stuff, and I love that he asks permission to stop the touchy-feely stuff.
This one sentence sums up Capaldi's Doctor so well for me: "I like adventures as much as the next man, if the next man is a man who likes adventures."
Corporate guy was diving, and the ghosts don't like him. They override the diving door -- he's not got his gear on! -- and kill him. New ghost alert! He threatens the crew with a chair, but Alice gets day mode back on, and he disappears.
Cass is a very strong leader, and she decides they must abandon the base, but the rescue sub was already on its way -- requested via Morse code a half hour ago. The Doctor gives his UNIT security code (7-1-0-Apple-0-0, for anyone wondering) and tells them to turn it back. He has declared a quarantine. Alice is such a fangirl of The Doctor, and it's adorable. I feel like she's good companion material.
The Doctor wants the base back in night mode. They are baiting ghosts. They clearly have a plan, but we are only let onto it as it happens. They are leading them through the tunnels and distracting them when necessary before running to safety. There'a problem, though; the ghosts split up, and one followed the path, but two are following Clara. Clara gets through a flood door and gets away. Lunn is seen, and Corporate Ghost comes through the door. The ghost grabs a giant spanner, threatens Lunn with it, and then we see it clatter to the floor, Corporate Ghost striding away. Lunn is okay, but why didn't the ghost hurt him?
Bennett is hiding near the Faraday cage, but he's also near the ghosts. All three back are in action together. They trap them with a Holographic Clara in the Faraday cage -- and there are the sonic shades! The Doctor insists that they open the door and he walks into the Faraday Cage with the ghosts. Big Ghost pulls a Regina from OUAT, reaching straight into his chest.
Cass can lip read. "The dark. The sword. The forsaken. The temple." Coordinates! Space, Orion's sword, the abandoned town ... and more ghosts = a stronger signal to send out their message. What is the fourth part of the signal, though? Whatever is happening is not a natural phenomenon; someone is deliberately killing people to highjack their souls. The temple is the church of the flooded military town.
It's The Doctor's Patented Guilt Trip Time(TM)! He is appealing to sense of duty in the members of the military and desire for discovery in scientist. Cass, fearless leader that she is, suggests that her crew leaves and she stays behind. The others band together, too. The scientist is the final hold-out, but he wants to know about ghosts so badly. He says to them, "At least if I die, you know I really will come back and haunt you ... all".
They have a diving drone investigating the church. They find the suspended animation chamber from the spaceship and bring it on board. It should be the pilot of the LEGO ship, but The Doctor doesn't think it is. Back to the strange writing, which is still not being translated by the TARDIS or sonic. The Doctor reckons Cass is the smartest in the room when The Doctor isn't there, so what is bothering her about this whole thing? The writing in the ship is her answer -- the four markings -- and how they already kind of already knew the coordinates. The markings are an earworm!
By the way, The Doctor's clockwork squirrel -- I need to see that!
The Doctor is so intrigued by it all. All the messing with day and night has made the computers malfunction, and the system is flooding the base to "protect" the non-malfunctioning core. They run to get to the TARDIS before the whole place floods, but The Doctor and Clara are split up into separate pods, and she must trust him. Hasn't she learned that already? We get a flash of Doctor/Donna love with them talking through opposite panels of glass (with a little Doctor/Rose love thrown in with the hands pressed "together").
Bennett is with The Doctor and is immensely impressed with his being able to travel in time. Clara, on the other side, explains that to Cass and Lunn that The Doctor will go back and fix everything, unless ...
GHOST DOCTOR... To be continued.
What is your feeling on the two-part strategy of Series 9? Do you miss knowing things will be (at least a little) wrapped up by the end of the hour? Do you long for the days when Doctor Who required 4-5 episodes to tell a tale? Are you tiring of the Moffat-y explanations in this series (Missy isn't dead. Nevermind. The Doctor has a cuppa. Just accept it. Ghosts don't exist. Now they do.)? Were you hoping the sonic screwdriver would make its glorious return in this episode? And, oh yeah, IS THE DOCTOR DEAD?!