Review: Doctor Who: Series 9 Episode 3: Under the Lake (spoiler-free)

Who 9.3Scotland 2119 – is a mysterious artefact found beneath the surface of a lake genuinely haunted?

The strong start to Series 9 continues with Toby Whithouse’s return to the show after taking a year out to work on his unjustly-unrenewed series The Game. It uses classic Doctor Who tropea – a base under siege from outside forces which aren’t playing by the normal rules of the game, some form of alien interference, and the Doctor arriving and taking charge within minutes.

There are some real shocks in this episode as every ghostly cliché is unearthed and mostly given a new twist. Whithouse has clearly established the rules for their appearances – even if as an audience, we don’t necessarily know them straight off – and he plays absolutely straight. Every clue to what’s going on is in plain sight, although chances are that you won’t necessarily get them first time around (like any such tale, watching it a second time once you know the secrets is a completely different experience).

We get some clear movement on the Doctor/Clara front – there’s a scene between them in the TARDIS that works well because of Capaldi’s ability to communicate so much without words – and the guest stars are used in interesting ways, with Sophie Stone’s character particularly well suited to the nature of the tale.

Verdict: A sometimes claustrophobic, and often chilling story – amply justifying its late broadcast slot. 8/10

Paul Simpson

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