Doctor Who Recap: “Under The Lake”
Only Doctor Who would take a haunted house story twenty thousand leagues under the sea and make one half of the haunting team an alien ghost.
Much to the displeasure of the TARDIS, the Doctor and Clara travel to the bottom of a lake in Caithness, Scotland for this latest episode, where a corporation called Vector Petroleum has been mining the depths for oil. The year is 2119 (sorry, alternative energy enthusiasts) and the crew of the military-manned base has discovered a strange craft under the water and brought it inside for an examination. There’s a debate over whether or not the vessel is alien or earthly but everyone is unanimously creeped out by the indecipherable writing on the ship’s interior—and they’re right to be alarmed. Quickly, the crew’s commanding officer becomes the first casualty. Here he is, right before he gets toasted-and-ghosted by the ship’s jets.
Now part of Team Ghost, the C.O. and his new old-timey pal begin to terrorize the rest of the crew, attempting to recruit them into ghostdom for a some unclear purpose. Enter the Doctor, who’s elation over the discovery of something new under the sun (ghosts!) is irrepressible, even in the presence of a crew who has just lost one of their members. Luckily Clara had the foresight to arm him with a set of social nicety cue cards for just such situations.
Rehearsed expressions of sympathy out of the way, the Doctor begins his investigation into the ship, the ghostly aberrations, and what it is they want from the humans they’re holding captive. The discovery that the spacecraft is missing both a powerful energy cell and the suspended animation chamber that would typically house the pilot is coupled with a revelation about what the writing on the craft’s wall means: the etchings are coordinates in the form of an earworm—the ghosts are broadcasting their location to somewhere in the universe and they more beings they recruit, the louder their broadcast gets. Hence the murderous rampage.
With the Doctor’s help, the remaining crew members work to trap the ghosts in the base’s Faraday Cage. The next step is to follow the coordinates to an underwater church (the lake was a town before a flood permanently wiped it out) where the missing suspension chamber is discovered and brought back to the base, intact but unopenable.
At the same time, the ghosts are getting smarter—though still trapped in the cage, they’ve figured out how to manipulate the base’s systems and are flooding it with seawater. The flood separates Clara from the Doctor, who decides the only way to solve the puzzle is to travel back to the time before the town flooded. At the episode’s close, with the three existing ghosts still trapped in their cage, Clara and the two remaining crew members spot a new ghost approaching the base from outside. This guy: