I’m here to review the two-parter “Under The Lake”, and “Before The Flood”. I liked this story, I thought it was scary, and that the ghosts were amazing. I also liked that it wasn’t connected to the ongoing Missy plot from last season, which (as I’ve mentioned before) I have problems with. And I liked this story as a two-parter – I think that it would have been way too much for one episode, and the cliff-hanger when Clara discovers The Doctor’s ghost was a good one.
While the ending to “Under The Lake” was great, I really disliked the opening monologue in “Before The Flood”. Once The Doctor broke the fourth wall, I immediately forgot any stakes and the episode seemed more like “history time with The Doctor – today we’re learning about Beethoven, kids!”. It lost all of the drama and tension from the moment when we discovered The Doctor’s ghost. I really wish we had just jumped into it. We didn’t need the Beethoven story to get to the point that The Doctor and Clara were in a time loop and didn’t know where the idea for The Doctor to make a ghost hologram had originally come from. If the point had just been brought up naturally in the conversation, it would have been so much scarier, because it would have hinted upon a larger mysterious force at work.
I have mixed feelings about The Fisher King. Some Who villains are a little hokey (Okay sometimes they’re a LOT hokey. I’m looking directly at you the Abzorbaloff and Zygons!) However, this one had the potential to be so scary… if only it had kept to the shadows. The skull-like face and the mouth were very creepy, so was the hood and general angel of death-like appearance, not to mention the whole concept of robbing people of their deaths. And when he snuck up on poor O’Donnell, and all we saw was a shadow? Super scary, that was great. However, once I actually got a good look at The Fisher King, the neck was so stiff and it’s lumbering walk was so out of place for me that the effect was lost. I really wish this one had stayed in the shadows – it would have made the list of my creepiest Who villains, had I not seen it walking around outside.
Clara is now acting very erratic and I’m not sure how I feel about it. While sometimes you can see her grief from Danny, most of the time she just looks careless. Specifically when The Doctor and Clara first arrived in “Under The Lake”, and she literally prances around looking for danger. This really bothered me, because Clara is smarter than that. I really did love the conversation Clara had with The Doctor when they thought he was going to die. I thought it was interesting that she told him to not leave her like that, to wait for whoever came after her. It must be very strange to know that you are one in a string of companions, all of whom are equally important to The Doctor in different ways, and so I really loved that Clara knows this, and is apparently bottling her feelings about it right up.
Two quick complaints. One, I really hate the sonic sunglasses. I miss the screw-driver so much. I was on the fence about the sunnies until I saw The Doctor stick them into the control panel at the end of “Before The Flood”. It looked so stupid to have them sticking out of the computer. Two, The Doctor is making a little too many current pop culture references for my taste. He is a man out of time, and as Capaldi’s seasons progress, I think it seems like The Doctor is trying to be trendy. This goes back to his hoodie, first seen in the Christmas special, that for some reason he is continuing to wear. When I saw the hologram safety announcement, I was reminded how much I loved the crisp white shirt that was his first uniform. Bring it back please!
All this being said, I did enjoy these two episodes. They are in the running for my favorite Capaldi episodes to date. And it is well worth mentioning and celebrating Sophie Stone’s performance. Not only was it great to see a deaf woman in charge, it was great that the role was actually played by a deaf actress.