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Review: ‘Doctor Who’ Season 9 Episode 3, ‘Into the Lake,’ Goes Deep

Review: 'Doctor Who' Season 9 Episode 3, 'Into the Lake,' Goes Deep

PREVIOUSLY: Review: ‘Doctor Who’ Season 9 Episode 2, ‘The Witch’s Familiar,’ Plays With Mercy

Who Ya Gonna Call?

After the high-octane opening episodes, “Doctor Who” drops instantly into a more muted, quietly threatening mood with the Toby Whithouse-penned “Under The Lake.” For an episode that includes ghosts, a spaceship and a nuclear reactor, it feels pared down rather than a checklist of cool stuff, foreboding rather than dramatic, and all the better for it. The re-introduction of the multi-episode story arc may actually be the thing that has saved the show — rather than sacrifice plot for big set pieces and madcap eleventh hour rescues, we can feel the tension build, get to care about the guest characters and enjoy the genuine character development of our protagonists. It’s not the detail-glutted four or six episode arcs of yesteryear, but not the elephant-packed-in-a-suitcase feel that has characterised much of the Moffat era to date.

The Doctor Ain’t Afraid of No Ghosts

Capaldi is at his bonkers best here, revelling in the mystery of the impossible ghosts, concerned about Clara and having to rely on flashcards to handle basic human niceties. There’s even a lovely shout-out to “School Reunion,” Toby Whithouse’s first Who episode, with one of the cards apologising for dropping someone off in Aberdeen just as we once learned he did with golden age companion Sarah Jane. The Doctor has finally hit the perfect balance between preening intellectual vanity and hyperactive child who just wants everyone to have some of the tasty, tasty knowledge — his brilliance is enjoyable without making you want to slap him into his next regeneration.

Fangirl of the Month

First Osgood, now O’Donnell – while it’s plausible that the Doctor’s reputation has indeed spread far and wide, can we please have a moritorium on easily impressed geek girls? A bit of fan service is always nice, but it’s starting to feel pointedly gendered. Besides that, O’Donnell is glorious and absolutely companion material, and therefore clearly not long for this world.

Rest In Peace, Doctor

Although, of course he isn’t really dead – just like Missy and Clara weren’t at the end of “The Magician’s Apprentice.” That doesn’t mean seeing an even-more-cadaveric-than-usual Capaldi floating lifelessly in the depths of the ocean isn’t completely terrifying. Because it is. It really, really is.

Quoteable Who

Clara on the fate of the Doctor’s radio: “You took it apart and used the pieces to make a clockwork squirrel.” There’s something about Jenna Coleman’s delivery here that sums Clara up in that one sentence — on the one hand, she’s exasperated by just how wacky the Doctor can get, on the other hand, clockwork squirrels are inherently awesome.

The Doctor to himself: “Calm down, you were like this when you met Shirley Bassey!” If ever a deleted scene were called for, the Doctor fangirling over the Welsh disco diva is it. Seriously, are the writers just begging for fanfiction this season?

Questions (That Aren’t The Oldest Question)

Why is it called “Under The Lake” when Caithness is by the sea?

How come the TARDIS translation matrix can’t translate sign lanuage? #diversityfail there, Sexy.

Why would you make a clockwork squirrel out of a radio rather than, say, a clock?

And what’s Missy up to? Just because we haven’t seen her, doesn’t mean she’s not causing trouble…

Grade: B+

READ MORE: BitTorrent Partners With BBC for ‘Doctor Who’ Bundle — The Modern-Day Box Set?

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