After the spectacular episode the week before, Under the Lake was always going to be under huge pressure, but the 3rd episode of the series delivers a solid first partner which is sure to keep millions tuning into the climax next week.
After the complications of the opener, this time the Doctor and Clara stumble into the action (no thanks to the Tardis) and are immediately chased by what would appear to be ghosts. The monsters this week are perfectly scary, eery and the idea of having no eyes, due to the ship markings I imagine, is a stroke of genius. Their ability to pick up weapons, disable controls and contact the mainland make them very much a credible threat albeit their reluctance to kill at points of the episode.
Like many episodes over the past few years would have, this story benefits from being a two parter. The story is able to slowly unfold, the tension slowly rises and valuable characters are given more on-screen time. Many of the actors are very inspired choices, Steven Robertson played the rich asshole role well and casting deaf actor Sophie Stone was a masterstroke, especially as she was then able to lipread the villains later on. The only disappointment when it came to casting was Colin McFarlane’s role being so short before being turned into a ghost. Capaldi gives another strong performance in the titular role, but Clara on the other hand went back to annoying me this week. However, this ‘getting too big for her boots’ storyline is interesting and must surely be linked to her exit.
Many of the scenes are impressive, the chase scenes bring back memories of RTD era, the dialogue fairly impressive and the direction is absolutely top drawer. The scene with the Doctor’s cue cards is witty, it fits both Capaldi’s character well with the unsociable skills and with Clara’s control freak issues. This episode does have its faults. Much of the humour falls flat and is too forced, the ending although dramatic is a bit overdone, and the sonic glasses idea is doing my head in!
The idea of the next episode being the Doctor going back in time to understand the situation is an interesting idea, and the monster in the suspended animation cube looks absolutely terrifying. So next week’s looks a corker. Under the Lake is solid, if unspectacular, but it builds the story well for next week. 7/10.