Whithouse Win   Leave a comment

‘Under the Lake’ is another strong showing for S9 and writer Toby Whithouse.

Whithouse’s prior credits include ‘School Reunion,’ ‘Vampires of Venice,’ ‘The God Complex,’ and ‘A Town Called Mercy.’ All are at least decent stories, all have intriguing elements, and ‘Lake’ is no exception.

The standout element in this new story is the deaf commander. Cass is the boss, she is in charge, she takes no crap. The only concession to her deafness is her interpreter – no more than if the leader of an international organization had a different language than the rest of the team. At no point is her deafness made an issue of disability, inability, or weakness. Sophie Stone plays her brilliantly, full of determination and strength.

I haven’t watched it yet, but here’s a moment with the actress and the interpreter:

I also enjoyed UNIT fangirl O’Donnell, following in the footsteps of Osgood and Malcolm Taylor; the Doctor taking control to turn back the rescue sub, UNIT ID and all; the fact that no one listened when the Doctor asked who was in charge – so he’d know who to ignore. I liked carefree-to-the-point-of-careless Clara: like Rose in ‘Tooth and Claw,’ she nearly matches the Doctor in her failure of compassion. I like her new recklessness, and I’m interested in what sort of trouble it’s going to get her into – especially knowing she’ll be out by the end of the season.

The cliffhanger was a bit of a jolt; we’d forgotten that this season will be all two-parters. As if we wouldn’t be looking forward to next week anyway. 🙂

Another interesting element is the quick death of Pritchard. Doctor Who has done a number of things with its most obnoxious characters:

  • ‘Silence in the Library:’ Corporate bureaucrat Strackman Lux survives the episode with a change of heart.
  • ‘Voyage of the Damned:’ Rickston Slade gets away with all his odiousness to survive unscathed and unrepentant. ETA This episode is notable in that all the “nice guys” die while the jerks live.
  • ‘The Impossible Planet:’ There isn’t really a bad egg; sweet innocent Scootie is the first to die by monster. ETA Not really a good example.
  • ETA ‘Flatline:’ Fenton survives with his worldview more or less intact while other, less unpleasant characters die.

This is the first time I recall an annoying character being taken out so quickly – and so horribly. Though we didn’t miss him once he was gone, we didn’t dislike him enough, or long enough, to cheer his fate.

Whithouse gets to finish his story next week with ‘After the Flood.’ Though it seems like standard practice for a writer to write both parts of a story, not every story this season follows the pattern. Three different writers cover the ‘Girl Who Lived/Woman Who Died’ pair: Mathieson/Moffat for part 1 and Tregenna for 2. Gatiss and Dollard share the penultimate pair with ‘Sleep No More’ and ‘Face the Raven.’ It’s an unusual arrangement, and I’m curious to see how well it works.

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