“Doctor Who” kicked off another two-part spectacular on Saturday with “Under the Lake,” a story that proved itself almost right away to be entertainment gold. This was odd, twisted, funny, and creative.
Let’s start with one thing in particular that we want to praise the show for: Including a deaf actress in this story completely naturally was a lot of fun. It didn’t victimize her or put her on a pedestal, and gave her a chance to experience the same adventure as everyone else. Hopefully, this sort of thing become a little bit more of the norm.
Now, let’s turn to the central story of the hour: An underwater base that was seemingly haunted by ghosts. It was the closest thing to a ghost story that “Doctor Who” has done in some time, but the real thing to remember here is that these were not really ghosts. Instead, they were hijacked souls, transmitted by someone seemingly from another planet with a specific mindset in mind. Someone is using them for a particular purpose, and for a time it appeared that it was to scare away some of the men and women working on the base.
Also, who presented the “earworm” that was created as a way to turn people into spiritual transmitters after they died? By the time we made it to the end of the episode, the Doctor and the team figured out for the most part what was truly going on, but there was a problem: The “ghosts” struck again, forcing water to pour into the base. Everyone appeared to be safe for now, but the Doctor is rushing back in time to try to figure out the origins of this creation, and how to ensure it can be stopped.
At this point in time, we figured that the entire episode was figured out; he would go back, uncover the mystery, and then return to the present and save the day. However, Clara in the closing seconds saw the arrival of a new ghost … one with the Doctor’s face. Boom.
The thing that we perhaps most about this episode, the cliffhanger, humor and Doctor-snark aside, is that it really kept things fairly simple. We didn’t bounce around to a million different settings or complicate the storytelling with a few narrative devices. They just made it about ghosts, the search for truth, and adventure. This spirit of imagination is to us what “Doctor Who” is all about, and this was simply a blast to watch. Grade: A-.
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