|One last nitpick - the Black Guy Dies First in this episode.|
Not sure whose fault that is.
The Doctor and Clara arrive at an undersea base an unspecified amount of time in the future, in which a group of terrified scientists and soldiers have been attempting to avoid the ghosts of an ancient alien and their former commander. The ghosts silently mouth the same phrase over and over again, are attempting to kill and resurrect the crew, and vanish when the floodlights come on. The Doctor and Clara choose to stay and investigate, even after another crew member joins the roster of the dead. With the help of the leader of the group, Cass, and her interpreter, The Doctor realises that the words spoken by the ghosts are in fact riddle-like co-ordinates pointing to the church in the sunken town the base is adjacent to. As The Doctor chooses to go back in time to before the flood to find out what was in the church, Clara is left behind - and is shocked to find the ghost of the Twelfth Doctor.
So, standard NuWho variation on a Base-Under-Siege story - largish group of secondary characters, following several archetypes - harsh but fair leader, scientist voice of reason, cowardly guy, traitor guy (although in this case he only turns traitor because he dies) and, in this case, we also have Cass' sign interpreter. I like the inclusion of a deaf character, both for the way it provided representation and for the way it worked into the story seamlessly. Cass' ability to lipread was a crucial point in the story, and I loved the fact that her deafness was so completely normal. It also didn't hurt that the team wasn't wonderbread this week, which is sometimes a problem in BuS stories.
|The Doctor helps a team of well-developed scientists.|
Aside from a few nitpicks, I was able to watch Under The Lake and easily, unironically enjoy it. This format has, in the past in NuWho, been the undoing of some other writers - Chibnall never developed his "base" members enough, and RTD's attempt at the genre in Voyage of the Damned went as well can be expected. I perhaps wish that Whithouse would step outside the bounds of this genre, and it looks in fact like that's what he's about to do with this story's conclusion, but either way he's still a fantastic writer and I really enjoyed this episode. Which makes a nice change.
NEXT WEEK: The thrilling conclusion, in Before The Flood.