Monday, October 12, 2015

Doctor Who Season Nine, Episode Three: Under the Lake

Location: The Drum Underwater Mining Facility in Scotland.

The captain reports that they have located a craft and after visual scans revealed nothing, they have decided to bring the vessel aboard for further investigation.  Pritchard immediately wants to label the craft a spaceship and argues that the company he works for owns the rights to it.  Moran notices markings on the ship and asks Lunn to bring him a flashlight.  The crew begin to speculate on how long the ship has been in the ocean.  Moran suggests that it's something which got left behind when the military pulled out.  Pritchard is inside the ship checking out what look like controls, when something which appears to be a ghost comes through the wall, forcing him to back up in alarm and in the process, he sets off a fire which shoots out the rear of the ship.  Moran moves quickly to push Cass out of the way and gets incinerated for his trouble.  The team rushes out of the room as the computer announces that safety procedures have been started.  Moran then appears to the group in ghost form.

Three days later, who should arrive but The Doctor and Clara.  The Doctor stands outside of the Tardis talking to her.  He asks what's wrong and why she isn't happy. (yep the Tardis is officially female, remember the episode The Doctor's Wife?) Clara is impatient because she wants to head off for an adventure.  The Doctor however is more concerned about why the Tardis brought them to some sort of underwater base in the 22nd century.  The Doctor sets off to look for the crew, as Clara continues to whine about another adventure and pointing out that The Doctor must be itching to save another planet.  I guess with Danny gone, Clara has given up the pretense of a normal life.

In the galley area, The Doctor and Clara find that provisions are missing, a knife is in the wall and the food has been cold for about 7-8 hours.  This perks Clara up because now she has her mystery and adventure.  They come across two of the ghosts and the Doctor initially mistakes the intent of the ghosts as simple curiosity. The ghosts stand nose to nose with Clara and the Doctor before walking away.  The Doctor decides to follow them and tells Clara though he has no idea who or what they are,  and that he finds it all exciting.  They enter the room with unidentified vehicle and the Doctor is surprised when he cannot instantly understand the markings on the wall.  The Doctor tries to communicate with the ghosts again under the mistaken belief that they wanted to show him the ship. The ghosts grab weapons off the shelf and so The Doctor and Clara are forced to make a run for it.  In their attempt to escape, The Doctor and Clara learn pretty quickly that the ghosts can make it through walls.

Fortunately for the Doctor and Clara, they manage to make it to the place where the crew is hiding. The moment the Doctor introduces himself, the crew immediately get excited and reference the Doctor's connection to Unit.  It seems by this time at least, the Doctor has developed a human following. The Doctor asks about the specters and is told that they are ghosts. Cass starts to speak to the Doctor in sign language and when Bennet trist to be Cass's voice, the Doctor quickly dismisses Bennet saying that he can understand sign language. Cass only has time to sign a few words before the Doctor admits that he cannot in fact understand her. The Doctor learns that the ghosts first appeared after the ship came aboard.  The Doctor asks who is in charge, so that he knows who to ignore.  Cass indicates herself but Pritchard, who represents a petroleum mining company, says that it's actually him.  The Doctor tosses Pritchard's card on the ground with disdain.

The ship goes into day cycle and the crew leaves the safety room.  The Doctor heads back to see the ship and questions why the crew hasn't abandoned the base.  Pritchard informs that Doctor that there's too much money invested in mining equipment to consider leaving the base.  The Doctor calls Pritchard an idiot and is doubly not impressed when he learns that the base is essentially a nuclear reactor. The Doctor notes that there are items missing from the alien ship, including a power cell and naturally, the missing power cell is what get's Pritchard's attention.  After some thinking about the timing of the appearance of the specters, the Doctor finally concedes that they are dealing with ghosts. He is the only one who is excited about this.  One of the crew members points out that Moran was their friend and Clara nudges the Doctor, and tells him to use the cards.  The Doctor pulls the cards out of his jacket and gives his condolences for the loss of their crew mate and promises to do what he can to solve the death of their friend.

Clara takes the cards away from the Doctor and after a brief pause, his excitement is back.  The Doctor talks about wrestling the ghosts to the ground to find out what death is like.  When he still gets no response, the Doctor asks what a ghost is and what it wants. Before The Doctor can finish his thought, the ship shifts back into night mode.  The Doctor hears the Tardis power up and rushes back to his ship.  It seems that the Tardis desperately wants to get away from the ghosts, so the Doctor, "puts the hand brake on".  Clara moves to leave the Tardis and the Doctor tells her not to go native because there's only one him.  The Doctor suggests that Clara needs another relationship but Clara assures him that she is fine. Once Clara assures him that he has done his duty, it's back to the ship.

O'Donnell announces to the crew that the ship is back on night settings and advises them to head back to the protected area.  Pritchard, who has determined that everything non indigenous is an asset, is suited up to go and look for the missing power supply.  When Pritchard looks up, Moran makes an appearance.  Moran opens a seal allowing the water to rush in. O'Donnell sends out another message over the P.A. to alert Pritchard to the fact that he needs to get back to the safe room. Pritchard next makes his appearance in the kitchen area and it's not long before Clara realises that he has turned into a ghost.  O'Donnell works furiously and manages to get the ship put into day mode before Pritchard can hurt anyone.

In the engine room, the Doctor quips that the ghosts are learning.  Cass announces that they are abandoning base and when the Doctor objects, Cass informs him that her first priority is to protect her crew.  Cass orders Topside to be contacted and alerted that they are abandoning ship.  It seems that the ghosts are one step ahead and have already alerted Topside that a rescue submarine is needed. The crew is informed that Topside received a morse code message asking for evacuation 30 minutes ago.  The Doctor takes over and orders the rescue ship to return to base, claiming that they have a hazardous contagion on board.  The Doctor disconnects with Unit and says that the ghosts are the ones who sent the message.  The Doctor then questions why the ghosts only come out at night and says that they have to put the base back into the night mode to ask the ghosts what it is they want.

The ship goes into nightmode with the crew strategically set up around the ghosts. The crew and Clara, under the leadership of the Doctor start strategically leading the ghosts to an area where they can be trapped.  Unfortunately, the ghosts are smarter than first thought and the separate.  Lunn is trapped by ghost Pritchard but instead of killing Lunn, Pritchard drops his weapons and disappears. The three ghosts unite to chase Bennet, who leads them into the safety room, trapping them there.

Using his sonic glasses (yes, they still suck), the Doctor streams what he is seeing to the crew. When Cass says that she cannot see clearly, The Doctor demands that the door be opened so that he can confront the ghost crew. The Doctor snarks to the ghosts that without their weapons, they're not so scary. Through the video footage, Cass is able to read the lips of the ghosts who are saying, "the dark, the sword, the forsaken, the temple."The Doctor tries to figure out the ghost's message is and tells Bennet that he needs a map.

Back with the live crew, The Doctor tells them that what the ghosts are saying are co-ordinates. It's a message beaming out across the universe and every time the ghosts kill someone, it strengthens the signal. Cass questions if the ghosts are sending a distress call and the Doctor concedes this could be the case but adds that it could be a call to arms. The Doctor realises then that the ghosts are not a natural phenomenon and O'Donnell questions where the co-ordinates lead. Cass then asks what the temple in the directions means.  The Doctor looks at the map and shows them a church and says that whatever they are looking for is in the church.  Lunn points out that they are safe now and the Doctor guilts the group into helping with his investigation. Cass says that she is going to stay and the others agree.  Lunn again points out that they can all go home and then questions how there can be ghosts. Lunn snarks that if he dies, he will come back and haunt them all.

They've let out an exploratory vehicle to search the church since it's underwater. They quickly find the church and it's The Doctor who notices a suspended animation chamber.  The chamber is brought on board but the Doctor cannot open it because it is dead locked sealed.  The chamber should contain the pilot but the Doctor is convinced that it doesn't. The Doctor starts to think through everything they have seen and experienced. The Doctor looks at the writing on the walls of the vessel which he still cannot translate.  The Doctor approaches Cass and asks her what the one thing is that she keeps thinking about.  The Doctor explains that no one was surprised by the words the ghosts were saying because that is what the markings say.  The Doctor believes that the words re-write the synapses connections in the brain.  The Doctor calls the words an ear worm that you cannot stop humming, even after you die.

The alarms go off calling for everyone to evacuate immediately.  O'Donnell checks the computer and says that the computer is opening the hull doors and flooding the base to keep the reactor cool.  The Doctor realises that they need to get to the Tardis because it's their only way out.  Everyone starts to run through the halls which are now flooding with water.  The Doctor gets separated from Clara, Cass and Bennet.   The Doctor yells through the door to Clara that he will come back for her, after going back in time to when the spaceship landed.  The Doctor asks Clara if she trusts him and she nods her head yes,

Clara assures Bennet and Cass that the ghosts aren't going to hurt them because they are trapped in the cage.

The Doctor starts the Tardis and he has Lunn and O'Donnell as passengers.

Clara assures Bennet that The Doctor won't just leave them behind.  Bennet signs for Cass everything that Clara is saying. When they look out the window, they see a ghost coming towards them. As the ghost moves closer, Clara realises that they are seeing a new ghost and that something must have happened in the past. When the ghost comes closer, it turns out to be The Doctor.

Okay another cliff hanger. Come on Moffat, stop dragging out the stories.  I have to say that I didn't find myself really invested in this story.  Somehow, it all felt like something I've already seen, though I cannot pin point a particular episode.

One of the things I did like is that the writers bothered to show just how much Clara had effected the Doctor and the Doctor has effected Clara.  Without Clara he never would have tried to offer his condolences to the crew because he would have been too caught up of the excitement of a new mystery. Sure, it didn't work very well but it's the thought that counts right?  In Clara's case, she's clearly chasing the excitement. Clara didn't even want to stay at first because it didn't initially seem exciting enough. I do like that the Doctor pulled her aside to point out that only one of them can have that attitude, I however didn't like the racist and colonialist phrase "going native".  The implications of this are bad particularly given that when it comes to good racial inclusion, Doctor Who doesn't have a good history. And no, do not throw Martha Jones or Mickey at me.  It's also worth noting that the first person to die in this episode was Moran.

I liked seeing Cass in this episode. I love that she is smart and capable.  Too often, disability has negative representation on Doctor Who.  If you doubt this just think about Davros.  I hope that she makes it through the conclusion of this two part episode.  I did however find it interesting that the Doctor could not understand sign language.  With all of the things that he knows and all of the languages that he speaks, it doesn't make sense to me that he hasn't taken the time to getting around to learning ASL.

I am still very much loving Capaldi as the Doctor but I have to say it again, the sonic sunglasses need to go.  I know that it's a gimmick that Moffat is trying out but I think the gimmick has run its course.