Ghosts in a underwater mining base...who you gonna call? The Doctor (Doctor Who Series 9, Episodes 3 and 4)

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Doctor Who Series 9 - Episode 3 and 4 - Under the Lake/ Before the Flood

Writer: Toby Whithouse

Director: Daniel O'Hara


  • Peter Capaldi - The Doctor
  • Jenna Coleman  - Clara Oswald
  • Colin McFarlane – Moran
  • Sophie Stone – Cass
  • Zaqi Ismail – Lunn
  • Morven Christie – O'Donnell
  • Arsher Ali – Bennet
  • Steven Robertson – Pritchard
  • Paul Kaye – Prentis
  • Neil Fingleton – The Fisher King
  • Peter Serafinowicz – Voice of the Fisher King
  • Corey Taylor – Roar of the Fisher King

Quick Synopsis: The Doctor and Clara find themselves in an underwater mining base in the year 2119.  The base is being haunted by ghosts after finding an alien vessel in a nearby town that was flooded about a hundred years ago when a dam broke.  As the crew are killed off, they become ghosts too.  In order to solve this mystery and save the survivors, the Doctor has to go back in time to find out what caused this crisis in the first place.


  • Typically, I haven't enjoyed a lot of the two-part episodes in modern DOCTOR WHO.  They always start with an interesting premise and usually a pretty awesome cliffhanger.  But more often than not, the second parts have felt overwhelming.  Many times, it felt like one episode that drags on for far too long.  Because of this, when I heard that series 9 would be mostly two-part episodes, I was definitely concerned.  Thankfully, so far, both stories have been very good and made the most of the extended run time.  There hasn't been a lot of padding or filler in the first four episodes of the season.  Both stories really felt like they needed a full two episodes to tell the whole story.  Part of me wonders if maybe 90-minute episodes like they do for SHERLOCK would work for DOCTOR WHO.
  • I especially loved the beginning of the second part, where the Doctor has a lengthy monologue directed at the audience explaining what a bootstrap paradox is.  This scene was made unintentionally funny because the Doctor instructs viewers to Google it...but at the moment, most of the top Google entries for "bootstrap paradox" are reviews about this episode.  The whole sequence was great, including the end with DOCTOR WHO playing a rock version of Beethoven's Fifth.  From the beginning of the episode, they tell you how the story will be resolved, but they still manage to keep you guessing on exactly how that will work until the very end.  That was really cleverly done.
  • This episode had a real strong supporting cast.  One of the characters was deaf, and they never made they a plot point.  WIN ONE FOR DIVERSITY!  I also liked that one of the characters happened to be a huge fan of the Doctor's work.  Unfortunately, that never really went anywhere.  But it was great to see her so excited by the chance to go in the TARDIS. 
  • The ghosts were suitably creepy, but it wasn't until the second episode that things got real disturbing.  Most of the action of BEFORE THE FLOOD takes place in an abandoned Soviet army town. There are mannequins everywhere, and it was just the perfect horror movie setting.  And the creature behind all the ghosts (The Fisher King) had a terrific costume, and he had a tremendous prescience.  Although in the end, he seemed more bluster than any real threat.
  • One thing my wife and I noticed is Clara's fearless streak seems like it can only lead to a bad end for her.  The Doctor even commented on it, acknowledging that since Danny's death, Clara has been pushing herself into far more dangerous situations.  He also comments that she needs to find a better hobby. I thought this whole scene was great. I can't help but wonder if Clara is going to make it to the end of the series.  As far as I know, Adric is the only companion who has died while traveling with the Doctor...but Clara seems determined to become number two.
  • I also really liked the Tivolian, Prentis.  He comes from a race that is constantly being conquered, and they seem pretty enthusiastic about that.  I was reminded a little of Ferangi from Star Trek.  An alien race with a distinctive alien perspective that shapes all kinds of traits for the culture and society.  We usually don't get to see a lot of details about alien cultures in Doctor Who, so this was a nice change of pace.
  • Toby Whitehouse has written some great episode of DOCTOR WHO. When the time comes for Steven Moffat to move on, I kind of would like to see Whitehouse as the next show runner.  Don't get me wrong, I am in no rush to get rid of Moffat.  He's done a great job with DOCTOR WHO for the last few years, and I will definitely miss him when he goes.
  • So far, there doesn't seem to be a big thread running through series 9.  I kind of hope they go without one for a change.  Bad Wolf was great in the first series.  Then we had Torchwood, Saxon, the Medusa Cascade, Cracks in the Universe, Silence will Fall, The Fall of Eleven at Trenzalore, The Impossible Girl, and last season, it was all about Missy and her Promised Land.  It's been done to death by now.  I think DOCTOR WHO works better as a series of individual adventures, not all tied in to one big story. 
  • There were some great comic relief moments in this episode.  When the Doctor shows his psychic paper to the people in the base, they see that he's from Unit.  It looks like the paper was finally tired of giving lies and just with the simplest and most accurate answer it could give.  There was also a great scene where Clara gives the Doctor flashcards to help remind him how to act in awkward social situations.  If you look at the cards, there were some great in-jokes, including reminding himself to apologize for dropping someone in Aberdeen (that is where he left Sarah Jane Smith when she left the TARDIS instead of bringing her home like he promised).  I also loved seeing the Doctor's sheer joy as discovering something he had never encountered before, GHOSTS!
  • Series 9 has been excellent.   Peter Capaldi is getting great stories to match his great performance as The Doctor.  There was some shaky episodes in series 8, but so far, series 9 has been damn close to perfect. 

Next Episode: The Girl Who Died - This is part one of the long-awaited episodes starring Maisie Williams.  There has been a lot of speculation about who she is going to play.  I have heard people say she's playing The Rani or Susan, or Romana.  Basically the same speculation that happens every time we see a female actor in a mysterious role.  The teaser shows what appears to be Cyborg Vikings attacking some village, so this should be an interesting episode either way.

4.5 / 5.0